With a population of roughly 20,000, Pooler, Ga., has never been a destination city, but that could change with the addition of a family entertainment center that recently opened. Located at Towne Center Drive near well-traveled Interstates I-95 and I-16, the complex was constructed to serve both Pooler residents and out-of-town visitors.
The reported $40 million Center features a roller skating rink, a bowling alley and a 350-seat IMAX movie theater with a 40 by 70 ft. screen. Developers also are discussing a 10-acre water park that could be operational by April 2014.
According to Tony Coker, president of general contractor Coker Construction, the site includes Frames and Games bowling alley, the 12-theater Royal Cinema and IMAX, and the Sk8 City skating rink and restaurant. Construction on the 32,200-sq. ft. (2,991 sq m) Royal Cinema began in August 2010 and finished Feb 2011. The addition and the 11,000 sq. ft. (1,022 sq m) IMAX structure were built beginning in March 2012 and completed in September.
“As always, the main concerns in construction are deadline and scheduling,” said Coker. “The Royal Cinema has a dinner theater with a nice bar and a large lobby that has an unusual stucco finish that is a real focal point when you walk in. Construction actually went very smoothly, and we finished a month under schedule.”
Coker explained, “It takes a lot of boom manlifts to build a theater, because the ceilings are so high. We had six to 10 manlifts on the job site working at all times.
It also takes three times as much drywall as a normal building.”
The building exterior is a stucco finish, while the interior is predominantly drywall and paint.
“There’s a lot of carpet on the walls and on the floor. Also, on the floors, there’s stained concrete. The lobby interior is stucco finished.”
Coker said the main challenges were height considerations and coordinating all the subcontractors to get the job done.
“The bowling alley was very interesting. It’s a steel building with exterior stucco finish. It took a lot of scissor lifts and manlifts due to the high interior work. The actual bowling floor consists of six loads of tractor trailer trucks of material. Inside there is a party room, a large arcade area with laser tag and a grill/bar.
“The bowling alley is 36,000 sq. ft. Coker Construction was involved with every phase of all these projects. It’s our job to coordinate all phases of each job and finish in a timely fashion,” Coker stated.
Coker’s crews also built the Sk8 City skating rink, with work beginning in March and ending in late September. It features arcade games, party rooms, a bounce area, a DJ booth and a giant viewing screen. There also is a restaurant attached to the edge of the rink. Total square footage is 28,450 (2,643 sq m).
“In the future,” added Coker, “we will be handling the water park and will be starting the site work soon in the Pooler Family Fun Center.”
Considered a substantial center for commercial development in west Chatham County, Pooler has reason to celebrate the recent construction.
According to Pooler Mayor Mike Lamb, “This entertainment center is a very big deal. It’s very important to our community because it gives children and their parents something to do, and it will bring people here and create new jobs.
“Folks also are asking about the proposed water park, because there’s not one nearby. That’s going to be a huge deal when all the details are worked out. Everyone wants to know when it will come about. They’re almost standing in line waiting for it to open. It will mean a lot as far as bringing in revenues.”
Adam Wall with the Atlanta-based firm Kronberg Wall Architects pointed out, “We provided architectural and engineering services for the original theater, the IMAX addition and the adjacent skating rink. We first began discussing Phase I of the cinema project in June 2009, and construction was completed in January 2011. Design for the IMAX addition began in November 2011. We wanted to design a series of buildings that really appealed to multiple generations. They had to be active and fun.”
One of the biggest concerns for Wall and his design team was coordinating a variety of consultants and meeting all the requirements.
“For the movie theater, it was acoustical engineers, a cinema consultant, lighting, concessions and precise IMAX specifications. For the skating rink, there were skating consultants, lighting and audio/visual.”
Specifically, the firm’s work involved designing a contemporary 10-screen multiplex cinema that was both sophisticated and budget sensitive. Crews had to incorporate a complex set of systems and requirements into the building design by coordinating with cinema equipment, concessions, interiors and lighting consultants. They also had to provide initial site analysis and related calculations to assist in multiple design options.
Wall and his team were called on to create a contemporary roller-skating facility that included additional entertainment elements such as multiple arcade stations, themed party rooms, inflatable games areas, a snack bar and full sports bar and restaurant. Crews had to coordinate with the pre-engineered building supplier, lighting designer, audio consultant, signage consultant and roller skating consultant, along with mechanical, electrical, plumbing and structural engineers.
Shannon Kirby, who issues building permits and schedules all inspections for the city of Pooler explained, “The skating rink will have a restaurant, which will have 55 seats with a total square footage of 28,348. The height of the building is 37 feet and is one story, and the valuation of the work is $4.9 million. The one-story IMAX theater is 43-feet high with a price tag of just over $1 million.”
Added Mayor Lamb, “It’s nice to be able to offer our citizens things to do that do not involve going to a bigger city and wasting the time and gas to get there. This new complex will be great for kids and adults. It’s not far from the airport, so it’s convenient for visitors to our city, while the people of Pooler can stay right here if they’re looking for something interesting to do as a family.”