Zeus: Important ‘piece of the puzzle’ in Waynesboro economic development
“We could’ve pushed for an Oct. 1 opening. We didn’t want to open and then maybe be in a position to get some things done off the punch list after the opening,” said Brett Hayes, the developer and owner of the Zeus Digital Theaters eight-screen movieplex that is now set for an Oct. 8 opening night.
Sitting in the 235-seat Theater 3 at the complex Wednesday morning, Hayes tracked the journey from 2007, when he hired an engineering firm to do a conceptual design for a movie-theater building on the Dewitt Crossing property in Waynesboro’s West End that he used to pitch to theater companies to his decision late last year to undertake the project himself.
“People told me they’d run the numbers and didn’t see it. They ran the numbers? I ran the numbers, too. This is an ideal location,” said Hayes, who projects 300,000 moviegoers and $5 million in revenues in Zeus’ first year of operations.
The business model for Zeus is similar to the models used by companies like Wal-Mart, Target, Home Depot and Lowe’s, all of whom have set up operations in the West End in the past eight years. Waynesboro is fast becoming the center of a regional economy that draws in consumers from Staunton and Fishersville to the west, Stuarts Draft to the south and significantly Crozet and Western Albemarle from east of the Blue Ridge.
Hayes thinks the addition of a movie theater to the economic tableau in Waynesboro, which last had big-screen movies in 1999, the year the Wayne Theatre downtown closed up shop, will be an important piece of the economic puzzle.
“When people come over from Crozet to get groceries, typically there’s one person in the car. Mom or dad comes over, does the grocery shopping, goes home,” Hayes said. “When they go to the movies, they come and they spend the evening. They get dinner. They come in to see the movie. They look for ice cream, coffee – they look for other things to do while they’re in town. What we in Waynesboro have been doing the last 10 years in Harrisonburg. We drive up to Harrisonburg and go to the movie and go to dinner and go to the bookstore. We’ve done that for 10 years.”
“Now we have people driving to us to do that,” Hayes said from Theater 3. “This is one more piece of the puzzle that flushes out the West End.”
Story by Chris Graham. Chris can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.