North Texas Alamo Drafthouse Drought is Over

It's just about official: the beloved Austin theater chain plans to open up in Richardson.
Thu May 3, 2012 10:18 pm
Richardson, Texas | City Plan Commission

Last month, when Alamo Drafthouse announced plans for its first location in New York, one of TEXAS MONTHLY’s Twitter followers made an excellent point:

Indeed, the beloved theater chain has four multiplexes in its original home of Austin, plus three in Houston, two in San Antonio, and one outside of Washington, DC (Winchester, Virginia). And in addition to the upcoming New York City spot, Alamo has announced plans for a San Francisco theater.

But the Metroplex’s Drafthouse drought may finally be over. Jerome Weeks of KERA’s Art and Seek  blog got the scoop , noticing an item in the City of Richardson’s City Plan Commitee agenda for its meeting on May 1. 

At the meeting, Hartman Richardson Heights Properties, LLC, requested “a change in zoning from C-M Commercial with special conditions to PD Planned Development to accommodate the construction of a movie theater on a property located at 100 S. Central Expressway.”

Weeks said the agenda packet didn’t specify the theater was a Alamo Drafthouse, but inside of the site plans, “wham, there’s the name and logo on what looks to be 35,000 square feet of movie-lovers’ heaven.”

The request was  approved (you can watch it all on  video if you’re so inclined), and Richardson’s city council will act on that recommendation May 14. 

The Dallas-Fort Worth area has been waiting … and waiting … and waiting … for Alamo to come to the city since at least 2005, which is when the  Dallas Observer  wrote about plans to make the old  Casa Linda theater  an Alamo. In 2008 the  Observer’s Robert Wilonsky  linked to a report by the  Fort Worth Business Press  that said North Texas would be getting six new Drafthouses (back then, Alamo was going to grant franchises, but it now does only company-owned expansion).

Bill DiGaetano of Alamo Drafthouse confirmed the planned location, which was previously a Pep Boys store, to Theresa Gubbins of Pegasus News . Gubbins reported that if the city council gives approval, “construction would begin almost immediately,” and Alamo’s lease will be for fifteen years. 

“Residents and commission members spoke of feeling ‘euphoric’ about the prospect of an Alamo coming in to a cherished but faded center that’s been pining desperately for national tenants,” Gubbins wrote. 

“Our newly little hip neighborhood and longtime strip center now has the potential to be a ‘go to’ spot for those who are craving a little Texas Hill Country,” blogger Camille Musick, who works in the commercial real estate business,  enthused. “This could mean we are ready to ‘ Keep Richardson Weird .’” 

The theater is close to the campus of the University of Texas-Dallas, but UT-Austin fans in Dallas are excited too. On the sports fan message board Shaggy Bevo, one poster  wondered:

Is Richardson part of the North Dallas area that also gets Verizon Fios (aka The Longhorn Network)? If yes, I’ll take this as a “Yes, you should move to Richardson.”

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