The once bustling construction at the future site of University of Wyoming Plaza on Grand Avenue between 24th and 26th streets came to a halt in the summer. A tarp draped over a gaping hole on the tall brick structure of a partially constructed theater. Nearby equipment that sat unused slowly started filtering off the lot.

But in the last six weeks, the wheels have started turning again. Project Manager Paul Baker of River Valley Builders said he expects workers should be back on site by the middle of February.

Though construction efforts are gearing to begin ramping back up, a representative for the McMurry Group, the owners of UW Plaza, LLC., said the only certain plan at this point is to finish the theater.

“We do have hopes for additional plans, but nothing definitive,” said Tim Smith, operations manager for the McMurry Group.

Smith said there are discussions among the UW Plaza owners about what options to explore, but as of now, he is unable to say for sure.

A liquor license was purchased from the former Cowboy Bar on Third Street for use in the plaza more than a year ago by the Casper-based McMurry Group. There is currently no building at the 2415 Grand Ave. location identified in the agreement, but Bob Jensen, a consultant to the McMurry Group, said during a Laramie City Council meeting July 7 it will likely be a restaurant.

“The lot has been internally designated as a site for a restaurant,” Jenson said during the meeting. “We don’t have any specific restaurant yet, but we have some conversations going on with folks.”

The theater is still scheduled for a 10-screen design, but Smith said he did not know anything about the technical or operational features that are planned.

“We’re not the theater operator,” Smith said. “We’re just going to lease it to another company to operate.”

Delays also manifested in changing contractors to Casper-based River Valley Builders. Smith said he could not comment at this time as to why the contractor change occurred.

The delay in the project, Smith said, came after the death of Mick McMurry, a successful Wyoming businessman and philanthropist. Investigators ruled McMurry’s death a suicide, which, in statements released after his death, the family attributed to a difficult struggle with health problems after a major surgery.

Smith said McMurry was a strong supporter of UW and a fan of its athletics programs. McMurry thought the project could be a nice amenity for fans on game days, as well as throughout the year for the whole community, Smith said.

“Mick loved UW and the cowboys,” Smith said. “I think (the UW Plaza) was a standalone entity, but being right there next to the stadium was definitely a good thing.”

McMurry and his father were innovators in the natural gas business, including taking part in pioneering natural gas discovery from Jonah Field and Pinedale Anticline. In later years, McMurry and his wife donated to UW and other projects around the state through the McMurry Foundation.

A completion date for the theater could not be determined at this time, Smith said.

(3) comments

Formula for Success

What a poorly-written article (thanks, Minnesota-owned newspaper. You do care). Here sits the half-dead, no property tax paying UW Plaza... and the "local" newspaper is chortling about the obvious over-reach of mindless, state-financed/ millionaire money- financed "values" of corporatism, elitism and its destruction of downtown Laramie! But the wheels are turning! Ye haw!

The newspaper ignores the fact that the projects described have been delayed by firing the prime contractor (Stewart). We don't need that fact in a story about real estate. No, we Laramie liberals LOVE blue sky nonsense about the joys of having a beer(s) before driving back to Casper from a UW football game! Drink and drive 101! No comment on why a full liquor license is (now) going into a restaurant.

The newspaper never reported the City Council over-riding the recommendation of the Laramie planning commission on UW Plaza parking lot spacing. UW wanted more cars (to better destroy downtown) and the corrupt City Council gave UW so many parking spaces you can't squeeze into them. Wait until the feedlot cinema makes all of that worse. Imagine 200 cars trying to find parking at 9pm! (2) "widening" Grand Avenue from 15th to the UW Plaza was designed to create a 40mph cattle shoot to the UW landlord properties- while cutting off 16th, 18th and 20th to local needs.

The "Imax like" cinema (in the empty box) is the biggest joke! With 10 screens at UW Plaza, seven at the Fox, one at the Wyo Theatre and DVD's playing from the Gryphon, Laramie Library and various venues on campus: Albany County's 30,000 people will have more screens than 90,000 people in Laramie County! The Casper exhibitor, Movie Palace isn't coming to the UW Plaza. Nobody is. Why? Because it's a half million to build, then $5,000/month rent joke! The Fox Theater is owned by the gorilla of the movie business (8000 cinema, 50,000 screen Regal Entertainment)... and the beautiful and locally owned Wyo Theatre is about to re-open in support of Laramie family values and an ongoing and vital Downtown Laramie.

Matthew Brammer

Ladies and gentlemen, the latest nonsensical rant brought to you by John A. Guthrie.

At least you provide entertainment, John. Unfortunately, you seem honestly oblivious (even after all these years) that it's at your own expense.

Formula for Success

Hilarious! Here's Brammer today, visiting his own image from an internet address in Britain!
2.31.113.229 - - [31/Jan/2016:08:02:51 -0500] "GET /brammer-words.jpg HTTP/1.1" 200 1054313 "-"
You know lots of people in the UK want to read about Brammer!

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