by David Martin
AMC will receive a tax rebate of more than $40 million to leave downtown and build a new headquarters in Leawood. The company is taking advantage of an economic development program that richly rewards employers who set up shop in Kansas. Dozens of Missouri companies have reached for the cash.
AMC chief executive Gerry Lopez signaled the move was coming in an interview with The New York Times earlier this year. Kansas was offering a package so lavish that Lopez sounded almost disturbed by it. “In all candor, it’s unusual and a little disconcerting,” he told the newspaper, adding, “I do wonder whether this is an appropriate role for government to be playing.”
Founded in 1920 as Durwood Theatres, AMC operates 24 of the 50 highest grossing movie theaters in the United States. The company has had only four chief executives. The most notable, Stanley Durwood, opened the first theater originally designed as a multiplex in 1963 at the Ward Parkway shopping center.
Though the multiplex became synonymous with suburbia, Durwood cared about the urban core. He made several attempts to build an entertainment district in downtown Kansas City. The Cordish Co. made the concept a reality several years after Durwood's death in 1999.
AMC opened a six-screen movie theater inside the Power & LIght District in 2009. In a press release, Lopez says the company intends to maintain its "commitment and contribution in downtown and beyond."
More than 450 workers will move to beyond in 2013, the planned opening date for AMC's new headquarters in a development adjacent to Leawood's Town Center Plaza.