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Loveland council approves incentive for IMAX

LOVELAND — Owners of the Metrolux Theatres in Loveland will be able to build an IMAX theater in the Promenade Shops theater complex with support from the city as a result of a city council vote Tuesday night. The council voted 7-2 to support a proposal that commits a $200,000 cash incentive and up to $50,000 in waivers of building-permit fees and construction-use taxes.  Kelly Jones, economic development director for the city, told the council that the proposal fits both with the city’s five-year economic development strategy and the Visit Loveland three-year strategy. In responding to criticism of the plan, she said that economic vitality was rated second only to public safety in community surveys. She said the project fits within four of the six core principles of the five-year plan because it affects tourism, retention of existing businesses, attraction of people to the community and expansion of existing businesses.  This project is different from many brought before the council, she said, because the direct economic benefit in the form of sales taxes or high-paying jobs are not present. But the impact on tourism is significant — 65,000 visitors to the community annually are projected — and the potential impact of increased sales taxes collected by other businesses in the community will result in a return on investment, she said. She said the city does not give out incentives easily and every case is different. Three of the past 22 incentives, she said, have gone to large businesses and the rest to small businesses.  “The only way we give money out is in the hopes that it will bring in much more,” she said. In the years 2013 through 2018, she said the city has spent $2.5 million in incentives to spur $83.3 million in private investment. David Corwin, CEO of Metropolitan Theatres Corp., the owner of Metrolux Theatres, said his company will be bearing 94% of the cost of converting two existing theaters within the Metrolux complex to one IMAX theater. The remainder of the investment cost will come from the city incentive and from assistance from the landlord at the Promenade Shops. City council member Steve Olson said that to him, the incentive is performance-based because of the number of people it will attract to the community. “We have here a company that has been here for decades and is willing to invest in their business,” he said. The city investment is small in comparison, he said. Councilwoman Andrea Samson, who changed her vote from yes to no between first and second reading, said she changed her mind because of constituent calls that pointed out the timing of the request. It comes at a time when the city is asking for a sales-tax increase, she said. Mayor Jacki Marsh also voted against the incentive.
Source: BizWest

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