A date can finally be set for the opening of the Conway Cinema 12 at 201 Skyline Drive after a groundbreaking ceremony between developers and city officials Tuesday morning.

Developers said the facility would be ready for movie goers by mid-November, "in time for the season’s Christmas movies."

Mayor Tab Townsell spoke of the general benefit to the community from an entertainment destination like a new cinema. 

"I can tell you the question of when the new movie theater would be coming is one of the biggest issues I’ve faced in these 12 years. We can finally say November is the date."

Townsell said the theater would be a large market draw, not only for Conway, but for the surrounding region.

Derek Alley, international program director for VCC Global and member of the family who purchased the Towne Centre for the purpose of redevelopment, said the decision to develop the shopping center was an easy one.

"We purchased this over a year ago. The potential was obvious. There are great things to come. It’s going to be a large amenity destination for the area," Alley said.

Alley said extensive facade work, perpendicular parking, new landscapes, lighting and signage would all center around the theme of the theater. It is the first in line for the development of the shopping center.

Gary Smith, director of business development for Flake and Kelley Commercial, said his team was meeting with several retailers for potential presence at the Towne Centre.

"We’re working with clothing stores, ladies accessories and apparel, two national restaurants, an ice cream place. The restaurants are very popular. Retailers have been very aggressive in approaching us. And we are trying to get a good tenant mix," Smith said. "It will be a place for people of Heber Springs to visit, Wooster, Greenbrier and all surrounding areas."

Smith said he could not name specific retailers at this time.

Randy Recer, vice president of development for Cinemark, said the theater complex will include a new technology offered by Cinemark, an XD auditorium with 300 stadium seats and a screen stretching from floor to ceiling, wall to wall, which will be used for popular 3D features.

The 40,000-square-foot facility will house 12 screens in all, and prices, Recer said, would be similar to new theaters that have opened in the Little Rock area.

(Staff writer Courtney Spradlin can be reached by e-mail at courtney.spradlin@thecabin.net or by phone at 505-1236. To comment on this and other stories in the Log Cabin, log on to www.thecabin.net. Send us your news at www.thecabin.net/submit)