Photo: Todd Gill, Fayetteville Flyer
FAYETTEVILLE — The owners of the 112 Drive-In are seeking a rezoning that would allow for a redevelopment of most of the 36-acre property along Highway 112.
A request earlier this month was submitted to change the land from a strictly commercial zone to an urban thoroughfare district which allows a wide variety of commercial and residential uses.
The property is set to be sold to Dave Anderson’s CL Partners, LLC, according to a March 2 letter submitted to city planners from Steve Brooks, an attorney with Eldridge Brooks Partners who represents the developers.
In the letter, Brooks said the requested district is in line with the city’s future land use plan for the area, which designates the property as an Urban Center Area intended to accommodate residential, retail, and entertainment uses.
A site plan designed by Hodges Architecture of Dallas shows a variety of housing options and several commercial uses across the property.
While the current movie screen at the north end of the site would be replaced with housing units, the site plan does show a smaller outdoor movie screen on the southeast corner of the land next to an 805-seat cinema with a beer garden. The southwest portion of the site includes a proposed 10,000-square-foot retail or restaurant space with associated parking.
Site plan courtesy City of Fayetteville (enlarge)
A representative from the 112 Drive-In said the owners do not plan to be involved in the operations of either new cinema space, “but are thrilled with the new prospective owners’ plans for the project and land development.”
A request for more information from the developers on Monday was not immediately answered.
The Planning Commission is set to discuss the rezoning request at its April 11 meeting. Once commissioners decide on a recommendation, the City Council will make the final decision.
The drive-in property is located on the east side of Highway 112 about a quarter of a mile south of Van Asche Drive.
Fayetteville recently received a $500,000 grant from the Arkansas Department of Transportation to put towards the cost of a trail tunnel under Highway 112 where the state plans to rework the intersection at Van Asche.
The state’s plans include a two-lane roundabout, so city planners opted for a tunnel for users of a future Clabber Creek Trail extension along Highway 112. That project will add another construction phase to the recently extended trail which will follow the west side of Highway 112 and then go under the highway to link up to the existing bike path and sidewalks along Van Asche Drive.
The 112 Drive-In is one of three remaining permanent drive-in movie theaters in Arkansas, along with the Kenda Drive-In in Marshall and the Stone Drive-In in Mountain View.
The United Drive-In Theatre Owners Association states there were 318 drive-ins across the U.S. as of September, down from 374 theaters in 2010. The industry has seen a drastic reduction from its heyday in 1958 when there were 4,063 drive-ins in operation, with the hardest hits coming from 1978-1988 when over 1,000 screens closed.
Closures of drive-ins, the association says, are commonly due to land value increases that make selling for redevelopment attractive financially, especially for aging owners who wish to retire, who have difficulty obtaining first-run films, and who face increasing competition from other entertainment options.