The developers who announced an independent movie theater and event venue in downtown Fayetteville more than a year ago are still waiting to break ground.
Greg Billingsley says the project, which is called Lumiere, is still on the table. He said when the development group — which includes Billingsley, Ross Cully and Brian Hill, all of Fayetteville — received bids for the project back in February, they were higher than the initial project estimates.
“We reworked some of the building over the spring and summer and are bidding it out again,” Billingsley said. “We should have bids back soon and know more in the next few weeks about our updated timeline.”
The project site for Lumiere is 227 W. Dickson St. The building there now — which will be razed — previously housed Fayetteville nightclub Dickson Street Theater. Cully and Billingsley purchased the building from Jimmy and Molly Rapert for $630,000 in September 2014. Hill has the film industry experience of the three developers, Billingsley said, and will operate the theater.
Billingsley said Fayetteville architect Marlon Blackwell is still leading the project design. He also said most of the previous design elements are still the same — approximately 15,000 square feet with two floors plus a rooftop terrace overlooking Dickson Street.
“It’s a one-of-a-kind project for us,” Blackwell previously told Talk Business & Politics. “And it will act as an anchor for the east end of Dickson Street, which I think has been needed for a while.”
There will be four theaters in Lumiere: two primary venues on the ground floor, a large open theater and events hall upstairs and a rooftop theater.
“The main efficiency gained was a reduction in the building height by reworking the upstairs theater/event space,” Billingsley said. “It saved us in labor and materials costs.”
When complete, Lumiere will add to Fayetteville’s existing movie theaters that show widely distributed films — Malco Razorback Cinema, AMC Fiesta Square and the 112 Drive-In.
Blackwell has been involved with the developers since they acquired the property. Billingsley said their idea has always been to take old cinema ideas and bring them to a modern era. Blackwell and his team have made that vision a reality.
“Marlon has been absolutely great to work with,” Billingsley previously said about the project. “They caught our vision early and have taken a lot of those ideas and made them a part of the building. We’re really pleased with his work.”
Blackwell determined during a feasibility study that building a new structure — as opposed to repurposing the existing building — would be the best strategy for development, and the small lot dictated a vertical structure.
“We didn’t want to make it too overly grand; it’s still Dickson Street,” he explained. “There’s lots of wood and street-level bars, and it will connect with that, but we wanted to elevate it and disconnect it. Like it’s otherworldly.”
The glass façade of the second and third floors will suggest it’s a public space, Blackwell said. It’s just not on the street level.
“That’s why we pushed things to the street to make it as urban as we could,” he said. “It will be part of the nightlife of the street, and simultaneously people can look up into it.”
Blackwell said he couldn’t point to any one feature that’s most unique about Lumiere. He did promise, though, the theater itself will be a treat, with something more than your average Malco stadium seating space.
“For me, what’s most exciting about it is the presence on the street,” he said. “It’s more transparent, and I love the fact we have all these activities stacked up on the street.”