A rendering by architects Solomon Cordwell Buenz shows the five-story commercial building planned at Fifth and Court avenues. Developer Justin Mandelbaum is in negotiations with an Austin, Texas, movie chain to anchor the project. Rendering special to the Business Record.

A rapidly expanding dine-in movie theater chain based in Austin, Texas, will likely anchor a five-story commercial structure planned as part of the development called the Fifth in downtown Des Moines, the project’s developer confirmed today to the Des Moines Business Record.

Developer Justin Mandelbaum is in negotiations with Alamo Drafthouse Cinema, which has nearly 50 locations across the United States. The 84,598-square-foot commercial building planned for Fifth and Court avenues was designed with Alamo Drafthouse as a tenant, Mandelbaum said. 

“We believe that Alamo Drafthouse is the most exciting theater company in the industry,” Mandelbaum said, emphasizing that a contract with the group has not yet been signed. “They’ve mastered the dine-in movie experience.

“They are like no other theater in the country.”

Information that Mandelbaum was talking with Alamo Drafthouse was included in documents provided to the Iowa Economic Development Authority Board, which meets Friday. The board is expected to approve a tax credit not to exceed $800,000 for the project. The tax credit would come from the state’s Redevelopment Tax Credit Program, which provides financial assistance for the acquisition, remediation and redevelopment of eligible brownfield and grayfield sites.

Mandelbaum said the tax credit is needed for the project to be financially feasible.

The dine-in theater, with eight screens, would occupy the second and third floors of the commercial building and would include a street-level restaurant and bar fronting Court Avenue. 
The remaining two floors would be high-bay commercial space located above the theaters.

The commercial building will be connected to an adjacent parking garage which is now under construction. Three-hour free parking would be provided to movie theater patrons, according to information submitted to the state’s economic development authority board. 

The proposed commercial building will be primarily constructed with brick to match other buildings in the Court Avenue Entertainment District, according to information provided to the state. 

A multilevel glass-enclosed atrium will be located at the corner of Fifth and Court, according to documents. Inside will be escalators and a glass-enclosed elevator. 

The two floors of auditoriums will have an array of shadow box windows that will be available for art displays or creative movie advertising, according to information provided to the state.

The facade facing the alley will be a solid brick wall and decorated with a large mural.
Mandelbaum is developing the Fifth, a $200 million project that includes a 40-story tower with 209 luxury apartments and a 21c Museum Hotel and the public parking garage, which is expected to be completed in late summer 2020. Also planned is the movie theater and commercial building.

Artwork is planned on the facade of the parking garage. 

Alamo Drafthouse Cinema, which has two locations in Omaha, began in 1997.

Mandelbaum anticipates construction of the commercial building could begin in fall 2020.