The Waxahachie City Council approved a tax abatement agreement with ShowBiz Cinemas, which is looking to expand and remodel its existing facility, during its meeting Monday night.

The 85-percent tax abatement of personal and real property and sales tax abatement would run for a period of 10 years and have a $1 million total cap.

ShowBiz’s Vice President of Construction and Purchasing Chris Cline addressed the council about the project.

“We are very excited to be here,” he said. “We have been open since 2009 and 5.5 million people have come through our doors since we have opened. We do zip code surveys every month at our facilities. When we first opened in 2009, we found that 72-percent of customers coming to our facility were coming from outside of the area we serve.

“When we did our expansion in 2013, we noticed that 76-percent of those customers come from outside our market,” he said. “That means that around 4 million people from outside of the market have come into the market and have participated in local business and commerce. We are very excited about that.”

This will be ShowBiz’ fifth family-friendly bowling, movies and more entertainment center.

The project would be built over several phases, with the facility remaining open during construction. The plan is to build the area that would house 14 bowling alleys and the arcade in front of the existing structure. Along with the new construction, each auditorium would be remodeled to add power recliners. There would also be an improved bar area, a self-service snack bar, café, restaurant, prize redemption room and a remodeled lobby.

According to documents filed with the city, ShowBiz plans to add 11,000 square feet to the existing theater. The expansion would see an increase of about 70 employees. ShowBiz’s investment in the expansion is $9.5 million.  

It is estimated the theater will receive its certificate of occupancy for the expansion in July 2020. The abatement would go into effect the next full taxing year in 2021.

Council member Melissa Olson said family entertainment like this “is great” but other new businesses are coming into the community that need this type of support as well.

“I am concerned about giving money to a company that we have given money to before when we have a brand-new local business (an arcade in the Rogers Hotel basement) starting on Oct. 12,” she said. “We have another arcade going to Planning and Zoning soon, I think. You basically would be paying money to take away money from our local businesses and, for me, I have a big problem with that.”

Economic Development Director Doug Barnes told the council that an expansion from a company like ShowBiz would have a significant impact on the community.

“When we look at offering incentives, it is not just offering corporate welfare,” he said. “This is an investment in the city. Any time that we offer incentives we go out to a third party and ask them to do an economic impact.”

Ideal Solutions in Austin prepared the economic analysis, with Barnes saying the report indicated the investment by the city would see “a rate of return of 11.3 percent over 8.8 years.” “The contract agreement is for 10 years,” he said. “So, this investment allows us to get our money back in 8.8 years and hopefully that will be less with the increase of customers coming in. So, we think that this is a good investment with that third-party analysis.”

The tax abatement agreement was approved by the council with Olson voting in opposition.

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