The developer of University Plaza says the pace of theater construction has picked up, and audiences could be watching movies in the new 10-plex by the end of the year.

“I’m thinking sometime in the December timeframe,” says Cary Brus, president and CEO of McMurry Companies and manager of University Plaza, LLC. Forward Development, LLC purchased the plaza's lease from Beta Properties in 2013.

“We got the roof on and we are in the process of buttoning up the exterior so we can turn our attention to the interior work,” says Brus. “If we can get done before the end of the year I’ll be really happy, and so will the rest of the partners.”

Construction is on track, but there is no agreement in place for a company to occupy and operate the theater.

“We’re still in negotiations with them on the lease,” says Brus.

Brus declined to name the potential lessee.

“It’s a theater company that is known throughout the state,” says Brus. “I want to give them the opportunity to conduct their negotiations without any outside pressure.”

Brus also declined to comment on the project’s budget or whether work is currently on budget. He did say that a new contractor was hired halfway through the project – but declined to say why, citing ongoing negotiations with the original contractor.

River Valley Builders is the current contractor, and Brus says they are doing a wonderful job.

“From the time they took over, and through the completion date, we will hit the progress numbers and the budget numbers that make the owners pleased,” says Brus. “Let’s put it that way.”

Brus says construction stalled after primary owner Mick McMurry passed away in March 2015.

“When Micky passed away – which will be one year ago next week – this entire project was kind of put on hold… until we got some clarity on how the path forward was going to reveal itself,” says Brus. “Once we got that, the owners recommitted to this project as did Mrs. McMurry.”

Brus says the finished 10-plex theater will have electric reclining seats with footrests. The theater is being built into the ground, which presents another construction challenge – particularly during the winter in Laramie.

“Rather than stepping up to your seat, you’ll come in at ground level and go down into the theatre,” says Brus. “It’s very modern, state-of-the-art, and a similar theater to that is the Mesa Theater here in Casper.”