The Joplin Globe, Joplin, MO

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December 14, 2013

Joplin master developer to announce contract with company for library/theater project

JOPLIN, Mo. — Joplin residents could learn next month what movie theater operator will be coming to the proposed Joplin Public Library/movie theater project at 20th Street and Connecticut Avenue.

David Wallace, CEO of Wallace Bajjali Development Partners, the city’s contracted master developer, said the firm will disclose the movie operator and other details about the project in a presentation to the Joplin City Council.

Asked if a movie theater company has been secured for the project, Wallace said, “We’ve already got our operator. We’ve already got the brand. We’re ready to go.”

The federal Economic Development Administration, which granted the city $20 million to build the project, has to approve the next steps of the library before the project proceeds, but Wallace said the project has not been dropped or relinquished to the city and his firm’s work with the city on it is going “full force.”

Wallace said his staff and city staff met last week to form a plan for steps toward construction to be submitted to the EDA for approval.

“We want to make sure with the EDA we’re all in sync with what the process is going to be with respect to the procurement of architecture, engineering design, and all those different components. We want to have a project that the city, the EDA, and all of us are very proud of,” Wallace said.

City Manager Mark Rohr said the details will be ready to be discussed publicly soon. Wallace said he hopes by the end of January.

“We are in the final stages of staff review and will be looking for an opportunity to present the project to Council in the near future,” Rohr said.

Asked how much longer before construction could start, Wallace verified that a previous timeline his firm devised is still on target. In it, February 2015 is cited as the move-in date for the new library, though the entire theater project may take a few months longer.

Under the requirements of the EDA grant, construction must start by November 2014 with completion by November 2017. Library officials have said the new building is needed because they have outgrown the existing building in downtown Joplin. They also wanted to move to a more central location.

Asked what company will operate the theater, Wallace said there is a confidentiality agreement in place that prevents him from disclosing that yet.

Asked if there would be IMAX screens, Wallace said, “We have got certain confidentiality agreements that will cover the different types of shows and the quality the shows would be, but at this time we are not at liberty to say.”

Gary Box, the Wallace Bajjali operations manager for Joplin, said the theater company currently is conducting its evaluation of the terms of the agreement and site.

“We have done our due diligence. But the company — the theater operator — they do their own as well. It is like any major chain. They are going to look at it first. They are not going to go in blind.”

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