Theater to re-open in Fairmont

FAIRMONT – A movie theater in Fairmont will soon become a reality, following action by the Fairmont Economic Development Authority on Monday.

Todd Frager of Sioux Falls will become the new tenant at the theater, with Jamie Fries of Armstrong as the general manager. Fries estimates the theater will be opened in six weeks. It has been closed since July 2011.

Frager also owns the West Mall 7 movie complex in Sioux Falls, as well as multiplexes in Madison, S.D., and Worthington.

Financial aid of $75,000 was requested from FEDA. This amount will be separated into a $40,000 loan with principal and interest amortized over 10 years, but paid out in seven years, and a $35,000 forgivable loan. The loan is contingent on the creation of seven full-time equivalent jobs, three first-run movies each month, and seven years of continued operation.

“We’ve done this kind of thing before,” Mike Humpal, city administrator, told the FEDA members. “The project probably is not going to be as feasible without our assistance.”

FEDA member Andy Noll said that Frager, who has more than 30 years of experience in the theater business, will be upgrading the existing projection equipment to digital in addition to remodeling the interior and repairing the roof.

“He’s very excited to come here,” Noll said. “There’s as many as 60,000 people through (the theater) in a year’s time.”

“We benefit as a community, not only having a theater, but also having a building occupied,” Humpal said.

The loan was approved unanimously, with Noll abstaining due to conflict of interest.

Fries said her job will be a full-time position, as will the assistant manager’s slot. There also will be maintenance personnel, a cleaning crew, ticket sales and concession workers. She said at least three of those will be full time.

“If we can get it up and running in five weeks, we will,” she said. “The sooner, the better.”

Custom carpeting will take about four weeks to arrive and a week to install, Fries said, but they will be cleaning and organizing during that time.