RIVERVIEW — Commercial and retail developers are answering the call to bring supporting services closer to the burgeoning new communities in this SouthShore community, and entertainment is at the top of their list in the form of two.
Xscape Theaters and Goodrich Quality Theaters both plan to open separate 14-screen multiplex movie theaters in the fall of 2016 in the area. The luxury theaters will be built just one exit apart from each other along the Interstate 75, and only a few miles away from AMC The Regency 20 in Brandon, which has served the entire SouthShore and Brandon area for years.
The future theaters signal more growth, but what does that growth portend for an area that may need help adding infrastructure to accommodate the spate of single home and multifamily dwellings and retail development?
When approving the rezoning of both theater sites earlier this year, County Commissioner Stacy White said he was concerned about whether they met the county's land use Comprehensive Plan, which they did. He's asked for a close analysis of traffic circulation around both theaters once they are built.
"There is no doubt that projects of these magnitudes come with infrastructure needs," said White, who represents a sizable portion of the Riverview area. "What we have today will almost certainly not meet the added demands of these facilities, so I will be listening closely to my constituents regarding traffic circulation and safety in these areas."
Meanwhile, developers see the theaters as a natural response to the growth. Metro Development Group president Greg Singleton, developer of Park Creek and Waterleaf homes in Riverview and Sereno, the latest active community, near Sun City Center, says the movie theaters are a logical response to an underserved area.
"I think the retail and commercial growth follow our rooftops," Singleton said. "This is the featured sales pipeline of the new deals going down. Some of it happens organically as neighborhoods add households and there's more consumer demand."
Xscape Riverview 14, a $17 million, 14-screen cinema, broke ground earlier this month at Progress Boulevard and Valley Dale Drive in Riverview .
Developed by investor Patoka Capital and Xscape Theatres, an Indiana-based company with 30 theaters in 12 states, Xscape Riverview 14 is the first to be located in Florida. Calling the 60,000-square-foot parcel near the busy Bloomingdale Avenue retail corridor the perfect location, Xscape Theatres CEO Chance Ragains says he is confident it will succeed, despite a reported steady decline in movie attendance and box office sales.
"There's no doubt we're in a mature business, and we're facing increased competition from DVDs and streaming services like Netflix," Ragains said. "But we try to differentiate ourselves and offer a different experience that cannot be easily duplicated at home."
Ragains also feels confident because the company did their homework before choosing the Riverview location.
"We're really excited to come to this area. There's a very large population south of Brandon that's not being served, so we'll service that niche with a premium experience at a similar price point to Brandon. We'll definitely be able to compete," Ragains added.
Ragains is confident even though Xscape will face competitioin from Goodrich, which plans to open an 80,000-square-foot 14-screen multiplex at the crossroads of Gibsonton Drive and Interstate 75 in Gibsonton.
The Goodrich, headquatered in Grand Rapids, Mich., and the Strathmore Development Company, have to be steeled by the fact its theater will be surrounded by a growing a population of over 129,000 single-family homes within a 5-mile radius.
The success of Pavilion Crossing on U.S. 301 on Falkenburg Road, just north of the proposed Xscape site, also lends confidence to other developers. The shopping center, anchored by Publix and surrounded by Pavilion Homes and several new apartment communities, has only one remaining vacancy according to retail broker Ben McLeish of Colliers International Tampa.
McLeish says the proximity and visibility of the two proposed theaters to the area's major roadways will serve them well.
"Part of the challenge is to make sure there are enough folks, but if you look at southeast Hillsborough County, it's certainly an area of very, very active growth," McLeish said. "Obviously, they will try and maximize the I-75 visibility since the theaters are only one exit away from each other."
The boom also is attracting other retailers. Rivercrest Commons, a 15.31-acre retail complex at the intersection of U.S. 301 and Symmes Road, is scheduled for completion in June 2016 with Publix again serving as an anchor and a large, family-oriented franchise restaurant also expected at the site.
Rivercrest Commons developer Jim Dunphy says he's very confident about the area and the sustainability of his project.
"We're doing very well on our leasing and marketing of the property and we should have machines on the site ready to go soon," said Dunphy, president of Dunphy Properties.
Contact Kathryn Moschella at [email protected]