Over the holidays, Penn Ketchum nearly gave up on his plan to build a movie theater in downtown York City.

Financing for the $3 million project proved harder to come by than Ketchum initially expected.

But, Ketchum said, he was inspired to move forward by people in the city who want to see the theater built.

"I've been really blown away by how much people want to fight for their city," he said after finalizing a sales agreement with the city's Redevelopment Authority on Wednesday.

For $81,200, Ketchum purchased 1.16 acres in the Northwest Triangle, a longtime target area for economic development and revitalization.

The vacant parcel that is the future site of the "twin, high-end, world-class movie theater" is located on the west side of North Beaver Street between North Street and the Codorus Creek. The site will include parking for movie-goers.

The theater's screens will be the biggest in York County, Ketchum has said.

Ketchum, who owns similar theaters in Lititz and Wilmington, Del., first unveiled his York plans at Mayor Kim Bracey's State of the City Address last May.

Ketchum, who is financing the project by himself, said he encountered difficulty finding a bank willing to loan him money.

"I don't have millions," he said. "I'm not an easy guy to lend $3 million to. A lot of banks said 'no' to me. But I knew that it was a great idea."


Finally, Fulton Bank said yes, he said.

Ketchum said his theaters aim to provide an experience — not just a movie.

Construction will start this year, Ketchum said.

"I think this is a brilliant idea, and I want to get cracking," Ketchum told the RDA.

If everything goes perfectly, the theater could open in November. But, he said, it's more likely the theater will open in the spring of 2015.

And it'll be a good year to open a movie theater, Ketchum said.

"It's just one monster movie after another," he said.

— Reach Erin James at ejames@yorkdispatch.com.