Published On: Tue, Jul 19th, 2011

Planning Board eyes Bowling Alley, Theatre Expansion

By SCOTT MCKIE B.P.

ONE FEATHER STAFF

 

                If funding and project plans fall into place, Cherokee could be looking at a 24-lane bowling center and an expansion of the Cherokee Phoenix Theatre in the near future.  The EBCI Planning Board discussed both projects during its regular monthly meeting on Monday, July 18.

Bowling Center

                “We are not just looking at building a bowling alley, but a bowling center,” said Jason Lambert, EBCI Economic Development manager.  “We could support a 16-lane center with our permanent population alone.” 

                Doug Cole, EBCI Economic Development strategic planner, said the Tribe has been working with Brunswick Lanes and its Build a Bowl Program.  The project would occur in three stages with the first being a combination feasibility/marketing study. 

                “With our resident population being able to support 16 lanes and with all of the other people we have coming to Cherokee, we could easily support 24 (lanes),” said Cole. 

The Cherokee Phoenix Theatre may soon expand to six screens if plans discussed in Monday's Planning Board meeting come to fruition. (SCOTT MCKIE B.P./One Feather)

                He said a 24-lane bowling center would require a little more than four acres of land. 

                Lambert related that once the initial study is complete, and a business plan is ready to present to Planning Board and the Tribe, a concrete list of sites for the bowling center would be developed. 

                During Monday’s meeting, Planning Board approved for the Economic Development office to seek a $150,000 no-match RBOG (Rural Business Opportunity Grant) grant for the project through the USDA.

Theatre

                “The theatre (Cherokee Phoenix Theatre) has shown a profit in 23 of the last 30 months,” Lambert said. 

                A total of 1,800 signatures from community members were garnered on a petition to expand the theatre, and on Thursday the Planning Board discussed plans to add four more screens for a total of six fully-digital, 3D capacity screens. 

The seating capacity would increase to almost 1,000 from its current 440. 

                Lambert related that the expansion would not interrupt the business and that there would be no changes in the existing rest rooms, concession area or ticket windows as those would be adequate to handle the increased customer flow. 

                “We do not anticipate any closures,” Lambert noted when asked about business interruptions due to construction.  “We can’t afford to close down.” 

                Planning Board directed the EBCI Budget & Finance Office to work with the Economic Development office to explore various funding situations and possibilities and bring their findings back to the committee for further review. 

                Lambert related the entire project, as planned, would be in the ballpark of $4 million.

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