Third screen still in Skyview’s plan. Until then, city may recover part of its money.

Car wash may open next to Skyview Drive-In

A Rainstorm car wash may open next to the Skyview Drive In in Belleville IL. The city in Southern Illinois could get some money back because it paid for the demolition of the BAC Quad Cinema on North Belt West.
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A Rainstorm car wash may open next to the Skyview Drive In in Belleville IL. The city in Southern Illinois could get some money back because it paid for the demolition of the BAC Quad Cinema on North Belt West.

Nearly 10 years ago, the Belleville City Council agreed to pay for the demolition of the former BAC Quad Cinema on North Belt West as part of an effort to get the Skyview Drive-In theater to build a third movie screen.

While the Skyview has not yet built the proposed third screen, the city may recoup some of the $118,581 it spent on asbestos abatement and tearing down the old indoor theater that was located next door.

The Skyview has proposed to sell 1.4 acres in front of the drive-in theater at 5700 North Belt West so a Rainstorm car wash could be built there. If that sale happens, the Skyview owner will be asked to pay back a portion of the cost to demolish the BAC Quad Cinema, according to requirements in a development agreement between the city and the drive-in.

If the 3,192-square-foot car wash is built, it would not affect current operations of the Skyview or prevent the construction of a third screen, said Steve Bloomer, the drive-in’s owner.

Construction of a third screen is not imminent but Bloomer said it remains in his future plans. For now, he looks forward to this year’s movie season, which begins in March and marks the 70th anniversary for the drive-in established in 1949.

The amount of money that the Skyview would pay back to the city has not yet been determined.

“That’s being reviewed now by staff and the attorney,” Mayor Mark Eckert.

City Attorney Garrett Hoerner and an attorney for the Skyview have discussed the issue, Eckert said.

An amended development agreement dated Feb. 22, 2011, states the city would receive a second mortgage on the BAC Quad Cinema site now owned by the Skyview. In lieu of a lien, the second mortgage was valued at $78,081. This amount was compiled from two figures: $40,500, which was the one-half of the BAC Quad Cinema demolition cost of $81,000, and all of the city’s payment of $37,581 for asbestos abatement, according to the development agreement.

The development agreement states that if the Skyview sells any frontage property, proceeds of the sale shall be applied to the amounts owed on the mortgage within one year following the sale of the property.

Bloomer declined to release the amount he expects to get from the sale to Rainstorm.

A representative from Rainstorm could not be reached for comment.

Bloomer said he expects the sale to be completed this spring.

The City Council has approved request to allow the Skyview to subdivide its property to make way for the car wash on a parcel zoned for heavy commercial. A site plan for the car wash has not yet been approved.

If the car wash gets built, there would still be room in front of the Skyview for the annual Belleville Kiwanis Club Christmas tree lot, Bloomer said.

2019 Skyview movies

Several “family friendly” movies are scheduled to be released this year and Bloomer is excited about that because those types of films draw larger crowds to the drive-in.

“Dumbo” by Disney is set to be shown when the new season kicks off March 29. Other movies scheduled for 2019 include “Aladdin” in May, “Toy Story 4” in June and “The Lion King” in July.

Owner Steve Bloomer shares the history of the sign that came to Belleville, IL in 1950. Designed by Kirn Signs, the Skyview Drive-In sign is one of the most recognizable signs in the country.

Also, plans are being made to celebrate the theater’s 70th anniversary, Bloomer said.

“They continue keep that very nostalgic business open,” Eckert said. “It’s good for the area and if the weather is right, they fill that place. We want to continue to see them reinvest and continue to make progress in their facilities and keep it strong.”

Mike Koziatek joined the Belleville News-Democrat in 1998 as an assistant editor and is now a reporter covering the Belleville area. He graduated from Marquette University in Milwaukee and grew up in St. Louis.