MADRAS — There’s a bit of a buzz going around here.
The Madras Cinema 5 on U.S. Highway 97 opened June 3, and people are visiting.
It’s difficult for local business people to quantify the economic impact the cinema has had on the city after the grand opening. But anecdotes suggest there may be a little more business in Madras now, and the amount could grow as people realize the advantages of the cinema.
One of the screens at the cinema can show movies in 3-D. For Warm Springs and Jefferson County residents — and people from more remote areas, such as Ashwood and Fossil — its opening means a shorter commute for a movie night. And the cinema is charging lower prices than some others in Central Oregon.
“We’re booming now,” said Holli Van Wert, executive director of the Madras-Jefferson County Chamber of Commerce.
Besides stimulating other business nearby, she said the cinema opening, which was delayed for months, is a positive development in the city, as it gives visitors and residents something fun to do indoors.
On Tuesday afternoon, several cars were parked in the cinema parking lot, and customers were coming and going. Van Wert said every night as she passes by the cinema, she sees the parking lot is packed.
“So it hasn’t worn off,” she said, referring to the original burst of excitement about the grand opening.
If anything, she believes the cinema will only become more popular.
“The teenagers are talking about it on Facebook, you know, and that’s how it works,” she said, adding that last week her son, Ricky, 18, saw movies at the cinema with friends three times.
Nick Snead, Madras’ community development director, said the cinema’s opening has encouraged him and his colleagues to be more optimistic about the future.
The Madras Redevelopment Commission, Snead said, decided to put $500,000 of urban-renewal district property tax dollars — $100,000 each year — toward the cinema’s establishment, because a cinema was one thing city residents had said they wanted. In addition, about $50,000 in annual property taxes paid by cinema owner Chuck Nakvasil will be used to encourage development by improving infrastructure and revitalizing the city’s urban-renewal district, Snead said.
Nakvasil could not be reached for comment.
Scott Goodrich, co-owner of Jefferson Square Properties LLC, the development that includes the new cinema, said the cinema’s opening has triggered more inquiries about leasing space next door and the closing of a land deal with O’Reilly’s Auto Parts. The national company is expected to start construction at the property near the cinema this summer, Goodrich said.
At the KFC-A&W restaurant a short walk away from the theater — inside the Jefferson Square development — manager Jessica Taylor said business has picked up slightly on Saturday and Sunday nights, especially with a pair of movie tickets for $5 each available to any customer who buys an eight-piece bucket of chicken or larger, which costs about $20.
And Trudy Cunningham, deli manager at the Tiger Mart&Deli gas station and convenience store, said sales at the gas pumps have increased since the cinema’s opening.