SPRINGFIELD, Mo. — The future is uncertain for a staple in one Springfield neighborhood. The Premier Palace has been on the south side for 25 years and could become a church by next year.
But Hundreds of people don’t want that to happen. Movie-goers don’t want the theater to close, or they would like to at least see another family entertainment business take its place.
Betty Lile and her family have been coming to the Palace for about ten years, before it changed its name to Premier and before it showed first-run movies.
“It’s quieter, it’s cheaper, and we come during the day it’s all older people like we are,” she said.
But there are plans in the works to close its doors. And Lile is one of many who doesn’t like that.
Life360 Church has a contract to purchase the property. But the deal will only be finalized after a re-zoning proposal goes through to allow a church to operate here. Those who live in the neighborhood aren’t happy with what could happen.
“They’re quite disturbed,” said Zone 3 Councilman Mike Schilling.
He says he’s heard from constituents who don’t want the movie theater to move out.
“That’s sort of an icon service, you might say, of that neighborhood,” he said.
But it’s out of his hands until it makes it to council. The planning and zoning commission has to vote on it first. An online petition has gathered more than 1,700 signatures asking the zoning change not to be approved.
One concern for some is the property tax.
“If it becomes church ownership, it takes it off the property tax rules,” Schilling said.
Schilling says it’s up to the property owner what happens to the building, but he’d like to see another business move in.
“So we could continue to receive the property tax and whatever sales tax might come out of that,” he said.
For now, patrons will just have to wait to find out exactly what will replace the movies.
“Well, if they close I don’t care what it becomes,” said Lile. “I just hate to see the movie part be gone.”
There’s only one thing Lile can say for sure.
“It will be missed,” she said.
The Planning and Zoning commission will vote on the rezoning on June 15. If passed, City Council will hear the proposal in July.
Life360 will be selling their current property to New Covenant Academy, which will use it to house their 5th through 8th-grade students.