Payson's second-largest retail building will be converted into a four-screen theater, George Harrison of C&H Properties said Thursday.
Harrison, owner of the Payson Village Shopping Center, said he plans to open a four-plex movie theater inside the old Wal-Mart building, once the discount store moves to its superstore location at the corner of Beeline Highway and Rumsey Drive.
"We don't have anything signed yet," Harrison said, "and we won't be able to do anything until at least March. Even though Wal-Mart should be moved by the end of January, they won't be completely out of their building for a couple of months."
Harrison said it will take 60 days to close escrow after the store is vacated. After that, he plans to begin renovations as soon as the designs are approved.
In addition to the 12,000-square-foot four-plex, Harrison said the renovated complex will include an atrium just outside the theater and eight additional suites, ranging in size from 3,000 to 21,500 square feet.
Gordon Whiting, vice president of Kaibab Industries, said he'd heard rumors of Harrison's plan, but said the news would not affect his plans to open a theater in the proposed Sawmill Crossing Shopping Center on Main Street.
Whiting was the first to step forward to announce plans to build a theater after the Payson Picture Show, the area's only movie theater, closed in March 1998. Kaibab began negotiating with E&W Theaters, a California-based company, to operate a four-screen theater as an anchor attraction for Kaibab's planned Sawmill Crossing Shopping Center. Negotiations broke down a few months ago, and Kaibab officials have been reviewing their options ever since. One of those options, Whiting said last month, was to operate the theater themselves.
"We're not going to worry about the competition," he said. "We'll make our decision by the end of January and do what's best for our property."