Construction begins this week on Royal Oak’s first large-scale entertainment complex, a $14 million multiscreen movie theater and bowling alley that sparked months of debate because of traffic concerns.
The 71,000-square-foot Emagine Royal Oak will sit on the northeast corner of 11 Mile and Main Street.
It will feature a 10-screen movie theater, 16 lanes of “upscale boutique” bowling and a banquet room, and it has a liquor license.
Emagine Entertainment Inc. founder and President Paul Glantz and city officials held a groundbreaking at the site Monday. The complex is expected to open in the spring.
“We are extremely excited,” said Glantz in a statement. “It is a pleasure to introduce family friendly state-of-the-art entertainment centers.”
The facility could draw an estimated 500,000 customers a year, and among the concerns of city leaders and residents was traffic along already congested Main Street and parking.
It took six months of debate to address where customers would park.
“It was the biggest concept we’ve ever had to deal with, and we certainly looked at the proposal for a long time,” said Royal Oak Mayor Jim Ellison.
“Downtown Royal Oak always changes; it always grows. What stays the same is that we are very popular — and that brings parking and traffic issues.
“But, ultimately most of us agree it’s a very good thing for the city,” Ellison said.
To accommodate customers, the complex will use spaces in an existing 400-space parking garage.
The complex also will lease parking spaces at the nearby farmers market and offer valet service.
The complex is expected to create 100 jobs.
Emagine has also signed a lease to take over a former AMC Star movie theater complex near Rochester and Auburn roads in Rochester Hills.
Glantz said he will invest $4 million in improvements to the 1,900-seat theater, including a new lobby, concession stand and stadium seating. The theater is expected to reopen by Thanksgiving.
With the Royal Oak and Rochester theaters, Emagine will operate 76 movie screens at six locations in Metro Detroit.