Frustrated Eagle Road commuters will have two new options for cooling their heels until the traffic abates. One luxe, the other maybe even more luxe.
Luxe Reel Theatre, a higher-end relative of the Boise-based movie chain, plans to open a venue in fall 2019 near the TSheets headquarters at Colchester Drive in Eagle. And The Village at Meridian said Wednesday that it will get a second theater, along with upgraded seats and sound equipment in its current one.
Reel’s promised luxury theater “is not the same dollar house they’ve operated in the Valley currently,” said Paul Stephens, senior development partner with Hawkins Cos. in Boise. Instead, it will screen first-run movies, unlike many of its other theaters, and “it will be all recliner seating.”
Hawkins owns the 25-acre development called The Bridges at Lakemoor, where Luxe Reel Theatre expects to break ground toward the end of the year. Reel Theatre and Luxe Reel Theatre are owned by Casper Management. The Boise company did not respond to several requests for comment. Luxe Reel Theatre also is opening a movie house in downtown Caldwell in coming weeks.
The increasingly flashy offerings along one of the busiest roads in Ada County are no accident. In an effort to entice high-end tenants to its mixed-use development, Hawkins’ sales brochures boast of the rapidly growing area’s wealth.
The average annual household income within a one-mile radius of the development is $109,240, according to a demographic analysis commissioned by the company in late 2017. Within three miles it is $97,866, and five miles, $83,395.
“High incomes are an important factor for this development,” Stephens said Wednesday. “I go to The Village for my movies. I love what Cinema West has done. Their upgrade is a direct result of our sign going up, in my opinion. It’s a little coincidental. … I don’t blame them. They even see there’s a demand for more screens. Why wouldn’t they want to capture that instead of having it go to a competitor?”
Cinema West, based in Petaluma, California, operates the theater at The Village and will build and operate the new venue in the shopping center’s Phase 2 expansion.
James Howard, director of product development for Cinema West, said the company's current venue in The Village has 15 screens and more than 1,200 seats. As part of the renovation, all existing seats will be taken out and replaced with full-sized, electric leather recliners. The process will take about six or seven months because only two auditoriums can be done at a time. Construction will begin in June.
"Those recliners, given the size that they are, will reduce the capacity by almost half," he said. "However, as we have seen at other theaters where we've done this, attendance increases at least 20 percent or more, given the better amenities."
The new theater will be smaller, fancier, and part of Cinema West's specialty chain called — wait for it — Luxe Brand. Yes, there will be two Luxe theaters along the same major thoroughfare, about four miles apart.
"I know that [Reel] is building in Caldwell, but I was unaware that they have a signed agreement in Eagle," Howard said. "Pretty bizarre that they're using the same Luxe name we've been using for years."
The new six-screen Luxe theater from Cinema West won't have a concession stand. Howard said there won't be teenagers texting on their cell phones. The experience, he said, will be like walking into the lobby of an elegant hotel, an "adult experience."
"The theaters will have plush recliners where waiters bring everything that you would need," he said. "With the press of a button, you can have that popcorn refilled, a second martini, order dessert. ... It's where adults can go out and have a nice date night."
Luxe Reel offered scant details about its coming location. Stephens said he did not believe that Luxe Reel planned to have a sit-down restaurant as part of its proposed theater.
Stephens said he does not view The Bridges as competition for The Village. His complex currently has one office building. TSheets, the digital time-sheet maker recently bought by Intuit, occupies the bottom two floors and will move into the top floor in July for a total of 65,000 square feet.
Another office building is in the offing, along with at least one restaurant. And an organic grocery story “has shown significant interest,” Stephens said.
The Village offers restaurants, retail, arcades and other amenities and bills itself as "the perfect gathering place for friends and families."
“The Village is its own unique setting,” Stephens said. “I think Eagle is lacking in quality restaurants, office space, retail, entertainment." The Bridges will serve"Eagle, West Boise, North Meridian and Star. … There’s a gap. We’re trying to fill that demand.”