If Stephen Sauerbeck has his way, moviegoers will be taking in the latest blockbusters at a new drive-in theater in La Grange by spring of next year.
Sauerbeck is moving ahead on a plan to establish a two-screen drive-in movie theater on a 30-acre site in an industrial area along Commerce Parkway, between the Buckner and La Grange exits off Interstate 71 in Oldham County. He intends to buy the site in the next 60 days from property owner Jim Carpenter, he told me in an interview this week.
Sauerbeck has created a Facebook page for the Sauerbeck Family Drive-In, which is a working title that he said could change before opening day.
Sauerbeck, who works in the health insurance industry but has a background in movie theater work, said he is bidding out work for the first screen, which is expected to be 80 feet wide and 40 feet tall.
Sauerbeck is starting slowly and aims to open the first screen by late March 2018, pending the approval of a building permit and good weather. The second screen would be added within the first two years of operation if the market supports it, Sauerbeck told me. WDRB-TV reported last week that the Oldham County Planning and Zoning Commission approved a conditional use permit for the project.
Sauerbeck said the first screen will be able to accommodate 450 cars and will offer first-run movies, such as Hollywood blockbusters, on the same day as indoor movie theaters in the area. He said the theater would show daily double features, starting around dusk, with an intermission between movies. Prospective prices were not disclosed.
He put his total development costs for the first screen at just more than $2 million. The second screen would accommodate another 350 cars, placing capacity at 800 vehicles.
The Oldham Era recently reported that the site also would include ticket booths, projection buildings and concession and restroom facilities.
Sauerbeck initially proposed the drive-in theater on a site along Old La Grange Road in the Crestwood area last year, but the idea proved controversial in that spot. Nearby residents were concerned about the narrow road running along the property, a nearby railroad crossing and the potential for noise problem.
“The land was physically great for our needs and the demographics were good, but it was on a smaller road,” Sauerbeck said.
The project was placed on hold and Sauerbeck eventually found the new site.
“This one fit our needs,” he said, adding that he doesn’t expect any new obstacles for the theater’s development.
Sauerbeck said his first job was at a movie theater, which helped foster a love for the theater industry that has continued through adulthood. He believes Oldham County can support this type of community amenity, which will stand alone from the larger indoor movie theaters in Jefferson County.
“I think it will be a good match for Oldham County and the community.”