Roughly three years after Hollywood Theaters opened as the anchor and only tenant at the $12 million College Station development, another business has joined the party.
Travis Dibben signed a lease for his comedy club and restaurant startup Nine of Clubs. The deal, reached for an undisclosed amount in July, secures 6,700 square feet at College Station, 420 W. College St., according to Tim Roth, senior adviser with Sperry Van Ness/Rankin Co. LLC, the development’s leasing agent.
“It was just a package deal,” said Dibben, who considered the south side but said he was swayed by downtown’s free parking and atmosphere.
Roth said Sperry Van Ness/Rankin, which was hired to lease College Station roughly four months ago, has other retail and entertainment prospects on the horizon. He said he is currently negotiating terms with two possible tenants, one of which is from out of state.
“These are new businesses, entertainment and restaurant businesses,” Roth said, adding that Sperry Van Ness/Rankin has been working to market the site across the state and country. “Although at this time we have yet to land a national tenant, I think it does help to get the marketing information out to a lot of different channels.”
Lease rates at College Station range between $9.50 and $15 per square foot, Roth said.
College Station, which is owned by developer Scott Tillman, was listed by Ken Schwab of Wilhoit Properties since it opened.
Calls to Tillman for comment were not returned by press time.
Construction on the 135,000-square-foot College Station took about a year to complete after an August 2007 groundbreaking. Oregon-based Hollywood Theaters opened College Station Stadium 14 in October 2008.
Officials had hoped the 40,000-square-foot theater would attract neighbors, but then the worst economic recession in 70 years settled in.
“The project has really been looking for someone to step forward and be the first one in, and now that that’s happened, we think others will be looking at that more seriously and this will motivate them to pull the trigger,” said Rusty Worley, executive director of Urban Districts Alliance, which represents downtown businesses and organizes events in center city.
Dibben said he had considered the space for some time. “I talked with Scott Tillman about two years ago, but the timing just wasn’t right,” said Dibben, whose club will face Hollywood Theater when it opens Dec. 2.
Dibben, who also owns Springfield-based Executive Limousines through Dibben Cos. LLC, said he wanted to branch out and help bring quality entertainment to town.
“We want to have a good show to watch – whether it be a hypnotist, whether it be comedy, whether it’s a concert, whatever,” Dibben said.
With the help of national booking agency Funny Business Entertainment Agency, Dibben is working to create his own entertainment destination. According to Funny-business.com
, the agency promotes celebrity comedians such as Jeff Dunham, Kevin Nealon and Jim Gaffigan, and up-and-comers.
Dibben hasn’t booked an act yet, but he expects to post a schedule at NineOfClubsComedy.com
He’s spending more than $500,000 for the project and has hired Butler, Rosenbury & Partners Inc. to design the floor plan, including a 30-foot stage, a lounge with a capacity of 250 and a 90-seat restaurant.
To run and staff the kitchen, Dibben has enlisted the help of James Medlock and Jeff Prantl, the owners of delivery and carry-out restaurant Steak-Out on East Chestnut Expressway. This will be Steak-Out’s first dine-in location in the country, officials said.
Medlock talked with Dibben about the idea for years before Steak-Out Chief Operating Officer Peter Petrosian recently approved the plans.
While declining to disclose terms of the agreement, the partners said Dibben would pay a percentage of his food sales to the Steak-Out operators.
Petrosian said Georgia-based Steak-Out, which operates 30 locations predominantly in the Southeast, has created two prototypes for smaller dine-in restaurants, but those aren’t on the same scale as plans for Nine of Clubs.
“We’ve had the culinary and operating skill sets and expertise, but we just haven’t had the right arena to attempt it,” said Petrosian, who is scheduled to visit College Station on Sept. 26.
Medlock and Prantl are spending roughly $25,000 on upfront costs such as Steak-Out franchise fees and kitchen equipment.
Dibben said he’s pulling out all the stops for the club and restaurant, including hanging 42-inch plasma televisions and supplying his managers with iPads and wait staff with iTouches for quick ordering. The College Station Steak-Out will serve lunch and dinner seven days a week.
This is not Dibben’s first foray into the restaurant and entertainment business. Dibben opened Upper Deck Sports Bar and Grill in north Nixa in April 2007, and it has since closed.