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Fayetteville to build duplexes beside new movie theater

The 36-acre real estate development in Fayetteville called the Aronson will host an Alamo Drafthouse movie theater, and rental complex.

ARKANSAS, USA — A new 36-acre real estate development in Fayetteville called the Aronson will have the state's first Alamo Drafthouse movie theater, including a take on the old 112 Highway Drive-In.

But Arkansas Business has learned there's a much bigger storyline at play. Dave Anderson, one of the two partners behind the Aronson, told Arkansas Business that they envision a mixed-use development inspired by cinema— and even named for one of its earliest American stars.

That would be Little Rock native Max Aronson who gained fame in the silent film era as Broncho Billy and was likely the first true Western movie star.

It's that love of film and its history that's giving the project its unique spin. Anderson says he and partner Chris Akbari think they're building the best cinema destination in America.

So what does this new project look like?

Firstly, The Alamo Drafthouse is a famous movie chain founded in Austin, Texas, in 1997. It's famous for its themed movie nights like "Terror Tuesday," and showings of classic movies.

Beyond that, the partners aim to build around 200 affordable, rental duplex-style units in a community with walking and biking trails, along with restaurants and retail stores.

Chris Akbari has a background in residential development, and his Houston company ITEX Group has put up more than 8,000 units worth more than $800 million. And both men see the need for more residential space in the region.

Together, they've formed a partnership and bought the former 112 Drive-In and its 36 acres for $5.5 million before going through the planning process with the city.

The partners are planning to retain the drive-in theater as part of the development— it won't have the same capacity as the original 112, but a piece of it will remain.

Anderson said they recognized the drive-in as a magical place that will be enriched through a tie-in with the Alamo Drafthouse.

In all, the partners hope that once the planning process ends they'll be able to start construction this year.

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