Officials say its show time for a planned movie theater in Hartland Township.

Emagine Entertainment is proceeding with construction of a theater in the Hartland Towne Square development off M-59, despite not receiving a tax abatement as initially hoped. The original plan called for eleven theater screens, but that has since been moved down to nine screens to reduce the cost of the project. A 55,000-square-foot, state-of-the-art facility is planned, featuring 1,140 seats. The project was not without hurdles as Emagine had originally requested a partial tax abatement from Hartland Township in order to make the $15 (m) million project viable. A Commercial Rehabilitation District was approved by the Township Board of Trustees, but later rejected by Livingston County.

Ramco-Gershonson is the developer that owns the property and Hartland Township Supervisor Bill Fountain says Emagine decided to proceed without the abatement, which required them to shoulder a greater risk for the project. Fountain said “Offering Emagine a tax abatement was the most balanced approach for the entire Hartland community; it mitigated risk from all parties involved and fairly shared the responsibilities for success.

There is the option down the road to add two more screens at the theater. Fountain says if the theater does well, he wouldn’t be surprised if there is a future request for an addition. He says attracting the type of businesses they want to have in Hartland takes teamwork at the development level and it’s an exciting project for the community. Fountain noted both companies worked together well at the township level and they’re looking forward for the opportunity for Hartland to have positive growth.

Fountain says there has been strong community support for a theater but acknowledged there were some concerns with traffic and other issues. He says the Hartland Towne Square development off M-59 was built about ten years ago and it was designed to handle tenants like Meijer and Emagine Theater. Fountain says the theater will probably be better because most traffic will likely be in the evening, after the rush hour. He further commented on the jobs that will come with the theater.

Ramco-Gershenson said the company is very excited about bringing Emagine Theatres to the Hartland Towne Square development and views the addition of the theater as a catalyst to bringing more activity to the site, adding they appreciate the efforts of the township and Emagine in bringing the deal to fruition.

Construction is expected to get underway in September and should be completed by summer of 2018. (JM)