By ADAM SCHRADER
Published in The Dallas Morning News on Sept. 18, 2015
Flooding in the spring slowed construction on a new drive-in theater complex in Lewisville, but it also paved the way for an added benefit.
Fort Worth-based Coyote Drive-In plans to have new screens open for business in Lewisville in time for summer blockbuster season in 2016.
The bad weather in the spring set back many construction projects in Lewisville, but particularly outdoor projects, Mayor Pro Tem R. Neil Ferguson said.
If there’s good news about the delay, the heavy rain created an opening to add a sixth screen to what was originally planned as a five-screen experience, Ferguson said.
In January, neighborsgo reported that Coyote Drive-In was making plans for a Denton County location. Coyote Drive-In planned to open its second location on 35 acres in eastern Lewisville near U.S. Highway 121 Business, Sam Rayburn Tollway and Fish Hatchery Road.
It marks the return of a drive-in theater to Lewisville since a two-screen theater on Business 121 closed in the early 1970s. Coyote Drive-In opened its first theater in Fort Worth in 2013.
“This one’s gonna be even better,” said Glenn Solomon, a partner of Coyote Drive-In.
At the time of the original plans, officials hoped to open by the end of the 2015. However, plans have changed and construction should begin next month, ending just in time for 2016’s blockbuster season sometime in the spring, Solomon said.
“Right now, we are still fighting an uphill battle with construction costs,” he said. “We have not pulled the trigger even though our plan was, and is, to start in October.”
On Sept. 14, the Lewisville City Council unanimously approved an amended special-use permit for the theater, upgrading the theater from a five-screen venue to a six-screen venue.
“It has been great to work with all of the staff and elected officials in the city of Lewisville,” Solomon said. “They have been really first-class people to work with.”
Last month, Solomon made a presentation to the Lewisville Planning and Zoning Commission. He explained that, at the time of the original application, he was not aware that they had land available where they could add the sixth screen, according to a report in The Lewisville Texan-Journal.
“But [the new screen] isn’t the biggest change,” Solomon said. “It’s really the entrance that has changed.”
The entrance has moved down more into the middle of the property, further east on Midway Road, to improve traffic flow. The new plans also add an exit on Holford’s Prairie Road to ease traffic after movies end.
“Parkway Contractors had been working all summer preparing the site,” Solomon said at the council meeting. They hoped to start construction in early October to start next year.
Ferguson said he has seen “an avalanche of local interest” in the drive-in.
“The plans for the whole complex is just dynamite,” he said. “It has so much to offer, like entertainment that goes beyond movies such as live music.”
The best part of the drive-in, he said, is that the interest in the venue is far-reaching.
“I expect folks from several counties and, over time, more than a few states, to come sample Coyote, and many will return over and over,” he said. “It is like the roller coaster aficionados: Some will want to come just to say they have been to this drive-in. But I believe there is a solid long-term return crowd that will keep Coyote Drive-In thriving for decades.”
Ferguson, who has worked in retail site planning, said the drive-in could be a draw for other businesses to move into the area. But, he has not seen any specific plans for other developments yet, he said.
“It is fair to say that savvy developers constantly look at opportunities around the country, and their radar attuned particularly to emerging regional draws,” he said. “I can tell you successful retailers are already noticing the future potential of this location.”
Coyote representatives expect about 250,000 annual visitors to the Lewisville location, according to the Texan-Journal. The company expects 140 cars each weeknight and 750 cars each weekend night during summer months.
The Lewisville City Council unanimously approved the original special-use permit on Jan. 5 for a drive-in theater that would fit 1,500 cars on the property. The new plans show the theater can accommodate 1,711 cars.
The company plans to keep admission prices the same across locations: $8 for adults, $6 for children ages 4 to 10 and free for kids 3 and younger.
The theater will also have an open-air pavilion, a kids play area and a 10,000-square-foot restaurant. Beer and wine will be available in the restaurant.
The main difference between the Lewisville and Fort Worth locations will be that Lewisville will have an indoor, air-conditioned and heated space for the restaurant in addition to outdoor beer garden seating, Solomon said in January.
Jenna Duncan contributed to this report.