Bryan residents will have more options for fun activities for the whole family with the installation of a Schulman’s Movie Bowl Grille recreation and entertainment facility at Travis Bryan Midtown Park by 2024.
During a special session Monday night, the Bryan City Council unanimously approved a leasehold agreement with SMBG Bryan, LLC to build a 5.6-acre multipurpose recreation and entertainment facility at Travis Bryan Midtown Park on the southwest shore of Midtown Lake near the West Villa intersection Maria Road and South College Ave.
“It’s a huge leap of faith to have interesting recreational opportunities at the park — in a park this big — with tens of thousands of our families able to take advantage of it, but also people coming from out of town,” Mayor Andrew told Nelson before one voting took place. “It will support well over a million visitors to the park and I’m honored that this council could be a part of it and support it.”
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According to city officials, the facility includes indoor and outdoor non-shooting target sports, including 24 bowling lanes, darts, ax throwing, bocce ball, and shuffleboard; four indoor and two outdoor pickleball courts and/or other racquet/paddle sports; technologically advanced auditoriums that enable films, live events, e-sports and conference rooms; an arcade and an outdoor amphitheater; and complementary food and beverage services.
Midtown Park is parkland and cannot be sold, but the land can be leased if the company provides recreational facilities to the community, according to Lacey Lively, Bryan’s communications and marketing director. At full operation, the city’s minimum annual revenue would be $443,560, not including the indirect economic impact; and the proceeds will offset the city’s costs of providing utilities to the site, interior street access, public parking and a public boardwalk, she said.
The SMGB building is 58,000 square feet and the Pickleball Courthouse is 11,200 square feet with a total projected cost for the building and facilities of $26.5 million per leasehold.
SMBG’s Mark Schulman, who also runs the Queen and the Palace Theaters and Billy’s Grille & Bar in downtown Bryan, was present at the meeting to share his enthusiasm for the project.
“This investment and development at Midtown Park and the vision that the City Council, the Mayor and the City have is one of the most dynamic things I’ve seen,” he said. “It started with your deal with BigShots, it moved on to Legends, and now we’re hoping to put a cherry on top of the whipped cream with the SMBG [Schulman’s Movie Bowl Grille Company] Recreation and entertainment facility Bryan Midtown Park.”
Charles Hodges of Hodges and Associates Architects spoke after Schulman to give a detailed presentation of all the amenities of the facility.
“There’s a tremendous amount of outdoor components here,” he said. “The goal would be to take the kids off the screen and reintroduce them to what outdoor recreation is all about. … We will add the element of paddling to the lake itself. … The Grove [located near the boardwalk] there will be a combination of seating, grass seating or ceiling seating in the areas directly in front of the stage.
“The five cinema halls actually have a dual purpose where they can be available with PA and sound system so we want to use them for religious events if we even want to use them for Ted Talks, any kind of information sharing, business can use these spaces, staff meetings or hire any of the above.”
Hodges said there is a lower level with bowling, a large arcade area and adult games room, an outdoor dining area, and indoor live music opportunities.
Assistant City Manager Joey Dunn said this is a 30-year agreement with the potential for a 10-year extension.
“It’s a leasehold, so not a property sale, similar to the structure that was used for BigShots,” he said. “The landlord or the services of the city, these are all public improvements. All of these are non-exclusive public improvements for everyone to enjoy. The promenade in particular is a very special feature that has been talked about when looking for ways to use this space and carry out these types of activities.”
The facility must operate to meet certain performance requirements imposed by the city, noting that if actual gross sales do not reach $10 million, they reimburse the city for the difference between the sales taxes actually collected and the amount of sales taxes the city claims would have received at least $10 million in gross sales each year, Dunn said.
The other requirement relates to ad valorem taxes. If the actual ad valorem value of improvements does not reach $19 million, they reimburse the city for the difference between the actual ad valorem city taxes collected and the amount of ad valorem city taxes the city would have received each year from the minimum ad valorem value of $19 million, Dunn said.
During the public hearing portion of the meeting, Charles Mancuso, a downtown Bryan real estate owner, spoke out against building the entertainment facility.
“There’s a lot of money being spent in Midtown,” Mancuso told the council. “Have you seen our roads, how bad the roads are? The potholes in the streets? We have lots in downtown Bryan that don’t even have sidewalks. … Where is our law enforcement? We need money, let’s get law enforcement to work. Every day I see people driving just horribly. We need money, let’s do this. Let’s not take it from the citizens. Now look at the citizens who are having a hard time living. … The city of Bryan spends money like they have a money tree somewhere, maybe they do.”
Patrick Giammalva of Bryan, who ran for Bryan City Council At Large, No. 6 and lost to Kevin Boriskie, also spoke during the public hearing and said he opposed building the facility.
“The citizens of Bryan will no longer abandon our parkland. … all you worry about is spending millions and millions of dollars; millions of our money. This is the citizens’ money. They all want to set this up, put it to the vote of the citizen. I won’t tell you everything anymore. Take that to the citizens, let’s see,” he said. “This is the first time I’ve seen it, the first time I’ve heard of it. They all won’t have these secret special meetings; this is for the public and for the citizens. And that’s what the citizens decide.”
Councilor Buppy Simank began the council discussion by saying that the City of Bryan does not spend taxpayers’ money.
“The private sector spends the money, that has to be understood,” he said.
All councilmen thanked the Schulman family for their efforts on the project and said they are excited about the opportunities it will bring to families in the city.
The facility is expected to open by September 1, 2024.
- In addition, the Legends Event Center grand opening is scheduled for December 10 from 10:00 am to 2:00 pm and will feature a variety of free activities, games, performances, dining and demonstrations on how to use the 122,000 square foot facility. Demonstrations include volleyball, basketball, pickleball, strength and conditioning training, and a live e-sports competition.