Developer to demolish theater, expand South Crossing


MISSOULA, Mont. - A plan to tear down an abandoned theater on Missoula's south end just got a preliminary OK from the Missoula Redevelopment Agency.

The Woodbury Corporation recently bought the old Village 6 Cinemas. Woodbury owns strip malls, hotels and office buildings.

NBC Montana found out Woodbury wants to replace the old theater with more retail shops and restaurants.

The old theater is located at 3804 South Reserve Street. Plans call for Woodbury to build on the theater site, south to the gas station that sits on 39th.

"Building up to four buildings, we believe on the land for restaurants, retail, similar to what we've already done to the South Crossing," said Manager of Leasing and Development for Woodbury Kraig Erickson.

Erickson's company owns the land right next door and leased it to the Boot Barn and Cabela's Outpost.

One reason Erickson's in Missoula is to make sure his request for $336,000 in special tax district money is approved to tear down the old theater. The Missoula Redevelopment Agency signed off on a similar deal for the old Kmart.

"This is injecting a lot of new life for that area in South Brooks," said the Director of Missoula Redevelopment Agency Ellen Buchanan.

"The property has been very successful, tearing down the Kmart and putting in Cabela's and putting other tenants in this project, and we've had a lot of demand in this area," said Erickson.

NBC Montana spoke with a number of folks, from out of town, all in the area to shop.

"I'd prefer to see instead of a vacant building, if a business can go in or some businesses can go in, and make it, it's better for the town, it's better for the economy," said Corvallis resident Laurel Young.

"We just desperately need that here in our economy," said Superior resident Donna Lewis.

"Leaving an old building empty is only going to invite young people to tag, young people to do things that we as a community, are upset about, don't want," said Superior resident Rick Lewis.

The corporation was approved for preliminary plans on Tuesday to demolish. They want to start redeveloping or demolishing within 30 days, meaning they will demolish the movie theater and parking lot and start resurfacing it first.