Movie fans and hoagie lovers, rejoice, your day is coming.
A new Wawa convenience store, famous in the Northeast for their subs, is due to open in Riverview this month, and a high-tech movie theater is also on schedule to open in Gibsonton later this year.
Wawa, 9617 U.S. 301 S., is set to hold its grand opening Thursday, Jan. 15. The 14-screen Goodrich Quality Theaters multiplex at Gibsonton Drive and I-75 is due to open in November.
The new theater and convenience store are expected to bring more than 30 full-time jobs as well as more than 40 part-time positions.
“Progress can be a beautiful thing,” said Tanya Doran, executive director of the Greater Riverview Chamber of Commerce. “Having these companies come in and invest in our community will help provide jobs in our area, which is also great for local businesses, especially if they turn around [and] buy homes in the area, go out to local restaurants and shop in the community. It’s an economic benefit that will help boost the community.”
South Shore movie lovers now have a choice of navigating the third circle of Hades, otherwise known as Brandon traffic, to watch a film at the AMC Regency in Brandon or heading south to Bradenton or into Tampa to catch a film. Or they can watch an outdoor movie at the Ruskin Family Drive-In.
“Having a movie theater in our area is going to be great,” said Daryl Clark, a longtime Riverview resident. “Brandon, for us, normally takes about 25 to 30 minutes to get to, and then you have the traffic and the crowds, so having a movie house closer to our area will just make things a little more convenient.”
Clark expects other businesses to ride the coattails of the megaplex. “I know with big-time movie theaters such as this, it will also bring other goods and services to the area. My whole family is excited,” he said.
The 14-screen state-of-the-art 80,000-square-foot theater features one large-format auditorium, and a bar and grill with theaters featuring recliner seating. The new facility is being developed by Anthony Properties of Dallas, Texas, and designed by Paradigm Design of Grand Rapids, Mich.
The theater will feature “GDX” (Giant Digital eXperience), Goodrich’s large-format auditorium, with an 80-foot-wide screen and floor-to-ceiling viewing. The new theater will also offer all-digital projection and 3D, as well as:
• Premium sound featuring Dolby Atmos
• All stadium seating
• Bar and grill menu
• Self-serve ticket counters
• Private party and meeting rooms
“We are thrilled that we can build a brand-new theater in Gibsonton in conjunction with a premium retail development,” said Martin Betz, chief operating officer of Goodrich. “Gibsonton is our first location in Florida, and we are proud to be a new member of this community. We are committed to providing our patrons with the very best theater entertainment experience, including our GDX premium large-format screen, Dolby sound systems, luxurious seating and a wide variety of concessions,” added Betz.
Headquartered in Grand Rapids, Goodrich operates 273 screens in 29 theaters in Michigan, Indiana, Illinois and Missouri.
In just two years, Wawa has opened more than 50 stores between the Tampa and Orlando markets.
Headquartered in Wawa, Pa., the company operates a chain of more than 630 convenience stores in a six-state area, including New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Delaware, Maryland, Virginia and Florida. The company was founded in 1803 in New Jersey, taking its name from an American-Indian name for Canada geese.
The new businesses are just the latest indicator that the local economy is in good health, with the housing market acting as a barometer for growth, said the Chamber’s Doran.
“We have a tremendous amount of housing development coming to our area, and I suspect that the companies coming here to build have done their research and found that Riverview is a great community to live in.”
She’s also hoping the new movie theater is a catalyst for more restaurants opening. “I know from many of our local community boards we are constantly hearing about the need for different choices in the restaurant industry here, so I suspect we will see companies come in and do demographic studies and see this is a great area to bring those types of businesses,” Doran said.