EVERETT — A long-planned cinema at the Riverfront development in Everett could be shelved in favor of privately owned pickleball courts and a food court, according to a new proposal from the developer.
Last week, Shelter Holdings, the company developing the 70-acre property along the Snohomish River, asked the Everett City Council to formally approve the change of plans in the developer’s agreement with the city.
A final council vote is expected Nov. 29.
The vast development has been in the works since 2009. Residents now occupy the 190 townhouses and 235 single-family homes on the property. Once a landfill, the early stages of construction have begun for a 31,290-square-foot commercial and retail site in the center of the neighborhood.
Council member Liz Vogeli expressed concern about the whiplash of shifting from movie theater to a complex for the country’s fastest-growing sport.
“I have heard from some residents that one main reason they chose to move to the Riverfront was because of the promised movie theatre,” Vogeli said in an email. “I would certainly prefer what was offered (first) if it were me.”
There are already several free pickleball courts in the city, she added. Vogeli was curious how those moving to the Riverfront development feel about the switch.
The new pickleball courts would not be free to use, as they would be owned by a company, Eric Evans, director of development for Shelter Holdings, told the council earlier this month.
The amended agreement included a map showing plans for indoor and outdoor courts, as well as a “chef-catered” restaurant that could host concerts and events, Evans said.
Evans attributed the change to the pandemic altering what consumers want in their entertainment, saying people want “interactive and immersive” recreation.
Shelter Holdings was in talks with a Midwest-based pickleball company, but needs the council’s approval to continue, Evans said. He did not name the company, saying it was “confidential,” but added it would be revealed in the next month or so. The pickleball company hopes to open in Everett by mid-2025.
“We need to reserve the theater for a future phase and let that industry recover,” he said at the council meeting earlier this month.
Evans did not respond to a Herald reporter’s phone call or email Friday.
The proposed movie theater was initially delayed two years in 2021, with the developers blaming the pandemic.