Skyline Cinema 8 owner says he’s not interested in selling property to developer proposing major changes in Dillon

Skyline Cinemas 8 is pictured in Dillon on Oct. 23, 2023.
Ryan Spencer/Summit Daily News

The owner of the Skyline Cinema 8 in Dillon says he has no interest in selling his property to a developer who just last week discussed building workforce housing there during a meeting with the town council.

Brian Mitchell, who owns Mitchell Theaters with 15 locations across seven states, said on Tuesday, Nov. 14, that he was surprised to learn that his business’s Summit County location had been discussed at the Dillon Town Council meeting a week earlier.

Mitchell said developer Jake Porritt, who has pitched a major redevelopment of the Dillon town core, approached him last year with some of his ideas, but, ultimately, there was nothing the cinema owner was interested in being involved with. He said he had not heard from Porritt or his companies, JGJP Dillon LLC and the Porritt Group, in several months.

“We wished Jake and the Porritt Group the best of luck with their project and have not had any communication with them since,” Mitchell said.

Mitchell Theaters has no plans to sell the Skyline Cinema property to Porritt or be a part of the redevelopment, Mitchell said. Although the COVID-19 pandemic and the recent Hollywood strikes have presented “some interesting challenges,” he said the theater is doing just fine and continues to make upgrades, including plans to install electric vehicle chargers in the parking lot.

The Dillon Town Council last week discussed Porritt’s plans to redevelop parts of town in the context of a public finance agreement. The public finance agreement the council approved, 5-2, grants the developer access to a portion of the town’s tax revenues to fund public infrastructure, such as utilities or parks, associated with the redevelopment.

Caroline Kwak, a lawyer representing Porritt, said in an email response to Summit Daily News questions that JGJP Dillon LLC had been discussing development plans and terms with Mitchell for much of this year and as recently as July.

“If it is the case that Mr. Mitchell expressed to you that he has concluded that he will not sell his property, JGJP Dillon was not made aware of that,” Kwak said.

Kwak said Mithchell had “expressed that he did not want to further discuss the sale of the property until JGJP could present terms which did not attach any contingencies.” She said the developer had planned to reopen conversations with Mitchell after the town council approved the public finance agreement that would make the proposed project feasible.

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But Mitchell said that this is not how he understood his communications with the developer. He said after seeing the Skyline Cinema 8 property listed on a map published in the Summit Daily a number of months ago, he expressed to Porritt that he was not interested in being part of the redevelopment.

“I told him to get our deal off the map,” Mitchell said. “So I don’t know how they could read that any other way because I was tired of seeing our property on the map.”

In a video recap of the Dillon Town Council’s Nov. 7 meeting, Dillon Town Manager Nathan Johnson noted that Porritt has presented concepts but has not formally submitted plans related to his redevelopment proposal.

The town expects that Porritt will file formal plans for the town to review in the coming weeks after the public financing mechanism receives its final approval at the upcoming town council meeting, Johnson said in the video.

Where the Best Western Ptarmigan Lodge now stands, Porritt has proposed another “hotel,” Johnson said in apparent reference to the developer’s previously discussed plans for a branded residential structure there.

Where Pug Ryan’s Bar and Grille is located, Johnson said Porritt has envisioned a multi-use development with the first floor being retail shops and restaurants with residences above.

He also mentioned in the video that the developer proposed 200 units of workforce housing for the movie theater site on Dillon Ridge.

Johnson said by phone Tuesday that the future of the movie theater property is a “a private transaction between those two entities,” so the town does not have any additional comment about the proposed workforce housing site.

Kwak wrote in her email that JGJP Dillon is committed to providing workforce housing for the town and has a number of sites in addition to the Dillon Ridge site that it has been exploring for such purposes.

Kwak added that JGJP Dillon has been communicating directly with property owners who have been “fully informed of the process involved.” She said Mitchell had been part of direct communications about the processes leading up to the the public finance agreement including education about the formation of metro districts and about specific public improvements contemplated for his property.

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