City of Lincoln
2005 Media Releases
Mayor Coleen J. Seng today said she would oppose efforts to gut the City’s current theater policy of maintaining downtown as the main entertainment district with regional theaters of up to six screens each serving the neighborhoods.
“The theater policy has worked well for our City and does not need fixing,” said Mayor Seng. “It is a balanced approach that encourages movie theater development equally in regional shopping centers appropriately sized for the neighborhoods they serve while preserving downtown as the main entertainment district. The vibrant night life in the heart of our City has spurred additional investment in downtown.”
A developer is seeking to end the current policy of maintaining downtown as the location of megaplex movie theaters by tripling the six-screen limit currently allowed at regional shopping centers. The Lincoln-Lancaster County Planning Commission has scheduled a public hearing on the proposed change for June 8. The policy is part of the City-County Comprehensive Plan and the City Zoning Ordinance.
According to a report from an independent theater consultant, Lincoln has more movie screens per capita than the national average. Seng said the current policy helps the economy by promoting downtown as a tourism and entertainment destination while fostering moderately sized theater complexes to serve the neighborhoods. The policy also helps the City use public tax funds wisely by encouraging the use of existing infrastructure, including streets and utilities.
The City-County Planning Department is recommending denial of the requested change based on a market study conducted by the consultant. The consultant’s report said allowing more than six screens at any one location outside of downtown would have a serious negative affect on existing downtown theaters. The report also says there would be secondary effects on downtown businesses, which would hamper downtown economic revitalization efforts. (The complete 10-page report is available on request.)
“The current theater policy has done a good job of spreading the availability of movie theaters all across town equally in the regional shopping centers that serve neighborhoods,” Seng said. “Lincoln’s careful theater planning has spared this community from the ‘boom and bust’ cycle of overbuilding theater complexes that then, in some cities, stand vacant and weedy because the market really wasn’t there.”