After years of inactivity, the old Blue Ridge Cinema at Interstate 70 and U.S. 40 is scheduled for demolition to make way for a restaurant and retail strip.

After years of inactivity, the old Blue Ridge Cinema at Interstate 70 and U.S. 40 is scheduled for demolition to make way for a restaurant and retail strip.

The demolition is scheduled to begin Monday morning and is expected to be completed within 10 days by Industrial Wrecking Company.

In February, the Independence City Council unanimously approved the Blue Ridge Crossing East “pay as you go” tax increment financing plan for the proposed $9 million to $10 million retail project.

A “pay as you go” TIF is different than a standard TIF in that the former calls for a developer to front all the cost for the development, but receive sales and property tax revenues in increments over the life of the TIF contract, which is 15 years in this case instead of the normal 23-year TIF agreement.

“Obviously we are very excited that we are moving forward on the project,” said Spencer Thomson, an attorney who represents Cinema East, LLC, the local development group responsible for the project northeast of the Blue Ridge Crossing.

Jennifer Clark, the city’s community development director, said the Blue Ridge Cinema has been a landmark identifying the western border of Independence along I-70 since it was constructed in 1971. It closed in 1995.

“At the time it was put in service, the five-screen cinema was state-of-the-art,” Clark said. “By the 1990s, the technology was outdated that even second-run films were too advanced and the theater was closed.”

Clark said over the past two decades serious deterioration has caused the building to become dangerous.

“The high visibility along the interstate makes it an ideal location for regional commercial uses,” Clark said.

“The cinema, in its current condition, cannot be returned to service,” she said.

“The site is an excellent location, however, and will provide new amenities to surrounding neighborhoods as well as a regional draw.”