›› Photos: Alamo Drafthouse groundbreaking

In Hollywood style, several city leaders celebrated the soon-to-be built Alamo Drafthouse Cinema-Montecillo on the West Side by putting their hands in cement blocks Thursday.

The hand-printed cement was part of the ceremony by Triple Tap Ventures LLC and CEO and president Neil Billingsley-Michaelsen, owner of the Houston, Lubbock and future El Paso Alamo Drafthouse theater, 5001 N. Mesa.

About 50 people including state Rep. Marisa Marquez, County Judge Veronica Escobar and Mayor Oscar Leeser attended the event Montecillo, a partner and 300-acre community district across from where the theater will be on North Mesa.

The theater is the latest and biggest footprint building within the smart-growth community of Montecillo that has exceeded the expectations of developers, officials said.

"This is where we take a piece of our history from the vision side and we move it over to the reality side and the more times that we can do that I think the more fun for the city," said David Bogas, director of development for EPT Land Communities, developer of Montecillo.

Billingsley-Michaelsen said he was excited to bring the Alamo Drafthouse experience to El Paso.

"We've been working on this for a couple of years now...and we couldn't be more excited. We are very invested in what we think is the best in the movie concept out there," he said.

The Alamo Drafthouse theater, founded in 1997, is known for providing a unique combination of movie and restaurant experience, Billingsley-Michaelsen said.

"When you come to an Alamo, you can expect basically all of the best movies that Hollywood has to offer but we combine that with special events. For example, we might show "Sex and the City," with the best cosmopolitan you have ever had. It creates a great environment to watch a movie," he said.

María Cortés González

In addition, film goers can order high quality made to order food and enjoy a large selection of draft and bottled beers.

"It's set up so you don't ever really see the waiters...and we've trained them to be like ninjas. So it's a really old-school system where you write your order on a piece of paper and put it on a rail and they take it and don't bother you," Billingsley-Michaelsen said.

The theater, which is expected to open in the spring of 2015, will feature eight screens and Sony 4K Digital Cinema Projection. Select auditoriums will feature RealD 3D. The cinema also will have 35mm projection capabilities, which means they can show rare and archival prints of select films.

El Pasoan Matthew Mena said he has been to an Alamo cinema in Austin with his wife several times and is looking forward to the one in El Paso.

"It's a one-stop shop where you get to see a movie Hollywood just released and have dinner — it's a great concept. And the food is great, the drinks are great," he said.

Bogas said the addition of the Alamo to the smart-living complex helps cement its promise to be a destination community where people don't have to drive to enjoy various amenities.

"We have air-conditioned hallways, salons for both men and women. We have billiards and a prayer room. We're starting to cater amenities to fit the different lifestyles," he said. "Our biggest premise is to create a quality-of-life choice not just a choice."

Montecillo so far has six businesses in approximately 15,000-square-feet which includes Independent Burger, Gufo di Milano and Surya Yoga Studio.

"We have a diverse range of retailers and we're not going to stop," Bogas said.

Another upcoming retailer will be Ti:ME, a non-traditional entertainment and retail complex anchored by a trio of eateries, scheduled to open July 31.

People are welcomed to let Bogas know what other businesses they would like to see by going to https://www.facebook.com/MontecilloEP

The Montecillo complex attracts a range of leasers from university and medical students to professionals, city staffers and retired people in its 290 apartments. It eventually also will include townhomes and single family homes.

Bogas said the next phase is to build the complex for retired senior citizens within the next 90 days. Leasers will have to be 55 and older.

María Cortés González may be reached at 546-6150.