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Future unclear for two movie theater projects in Idaho Falls

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From left: ShowBiz Cinemas in Baytown, Texas and artistic rendering of Larry H. Miller Megaplex Theatre in Snake River Landing | file photos

IDAHO FALLS – Two of the most anticipated construction projects in Idaho Falls remain at a standstill.

The pandemic hit eastern Idaho just a few weeks after the ground was broken for ShowBiz Cinemas on Feb. 27 inside Jackson Hole Junction. Construction on the multiplex theater and entertainment complex was supposed to start right away, but the stay-home order went into effect and businesses across the state shut down, putting a temporary hold on the project.

No further development has taken place since then, leading some to speculate the project is no longer happening. But JHJ Managing Partner Matt Morgan tells the future of Showbiz has not been determined.

“The deal is not dead, but it would be fair to say it is on life support,” Morgan says. “We hope to know one way or another what the future holds … at the first of the new year.”

The project was originally slated for completion at the end of the year.

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ShowBiz did not return a request for comment, but Morgan says he is in touch with CEO Kevin Mitchell on a regular basis. The company is heavily focused on keeping its Texas, Oklahoma and Florida locations open after two complete shutdowns earlier this year.

“With no new movies being made during the pandemic, it is still undetermined when new movie releases can (be) expected with the film industry,” Morgan says.

Another theater project — the Larry H. Miller Megaplex — was announced last December in Snake River Landing. It was supposed to break ground during the spring but didn’t due to the shutdown.

Its future is also unclear.

“No official statement or updates to make at this time,” says Liza Leonard, a spokeswoman for Ball Ventures, the developer for the project.

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Despite the uncertain future, Morgan says interest in Jackson Hole Junction remains high and he is working with several prospective tenants for future development.

“COVID-19 was a knockout punch at JHJ as it was for all of us and the world. Jackson Hole Junction is back up again and in the game with a lot of interest, both new interests and projects that went on hold this past spring,” he says.

The Holiday Inn and Burger Theory Restaurant became the development’s first official tenants when it was announced in 2018. It opened in June after several months of construction delays.

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Construction on Idaho Kidney Institute, its third official tenant, is moving forward and is on track to open at the end of the year.

“We have a new maximum flexibility plan that we have just put in place,” Morgan says. “The next several weeks and into the holidays will determine what direction development will head. My partners and I are more than optimistic in what the future holds for JHJ in 2021.”