Regional planners on Monday approved rezoning plans for the downtown Chattanooga movie theater that will replace the Bijou, though not without questioning the readiness of the design.
The new 12-screen Carmike Cinemas will be at Broad and Third Streets. The back of the theater, with emergency exit ramps, will face the Creative Discovery Museum, on Chestnut Street.
“So, ramps will face the children’s museum,” said Mike Langley, a commissioner with the Chattanooga-Hamilton County Regional Planning Commission.
John Combs, with engineering firm Horvath Associates, confirmed the exit ramps would face the museum.
Mr. Langley and commissioner Vance Travis voted against rezoning the site, now a parking lot, from manufacturing to central business zone use. The commission accepted the plan, however, and the Chattanooga City Council will consider the rezoning case on Dec. 9.
RiverCity Co., which has a permanent easement on the parking lot where the new $12 million theater is being built, will develop the project and lease the new theater space to Carmike for 20 years, according to newspaper archives. The site formerly housed the Haney Building. Construction is scheduled to start in December, with an opening set for November 2009.
The new theater, with five screens more than the Bijou and stadium seating, is part of a new 100,000-square-foot mixed-use development on the block. Once completed, the block will hold 30,000 square feet of new commercial space next to the theater, according to RiverCity officials.
The Bijou will be redeveloped into new commercial space. The Bijou opened in late 1996 and does not have stadium seating.
Union Gospel Mission
Meanwhile, the commission also approved the rezoning of the Union Gospel Mission property at East Main and Market streets. The owner, RiverCity, requested to change the zoning from manufacturing to central business zone to accommodate future mixed uses, including residential.
The commission approved the rezoning change, with questions by several commissioners about the property’s site plan.
Jeff Cannon, representing RiverCity, said that at least part of the Union Gospel building would be retained, contrary to the site plan, which called for three future buildings on the site that now has two buildings.
The owners have not signed up any tenants for the three buildings, Mr. Cannon said.
The Chattanooga City Council will consider the rezoning request on Dec. 9.