KALAMAZOO, Mich. (WOOD) — It’s been two years since downtown Kalamazoo lost a movie theater to pandemic related problems, but the seats might not be empty for much longer.

AMC still has its letters on the theater on Portage Street that closed in 2020, forcing Kalamazoo area moviegoers to have their night out either at the Goodrich Quality Theater on the west side or drive as far as Portage and Plainwell.

Antonio Mitchell, who serves as the city of Kalamazoo’s director for community planning and economic development, is one of many who have taken notice since the cinema’s screens went black.

“Me and my family miss being able to come down during the week and on the weekends to go out to dinner and go to the show,” Mitchell said.

The downtown theater had a popular past: not under the AMC name, but that of Alamo Drafthouse Cinema. At the time, it was one of just a few West Michigan movie theaters that sold alcohol. AMC took over in 2017, but the pandemic forced them to shut it down three years later.

“A lot of downtowns across the country were affected by COVID because people couldn’t go into the place to buy and to enjoy the environment,” Mitchell explained.

But soon the theater’s lights and projectors could come back on. At their business meeting Monday night, Kalamazoo city commissioners approved a parking agreement from the Downtown Development Authority for MA Kzoo, LLC, a Bloomfield Hills-based company interested in purchasing the property. The agreement provides a 50% discount on rates at the Kalamazoo Mall and Epic Center parking ramps for staff and patrons.

“We really want to make sure businesses understand that we will assist them to be successful, but we expect them to be successful at their investment into the property and creating jobs that are beneficial to the community,” Mitchell said.

However, the property’s overall fate deals strictly with ownership, not the theater operations itself. There is no word on what company could take those reins, but current talks might mark an end to a two-year cliffhanger.

“They think that this is just the beginning of the possibilities of hopefully investing in this area,” Mitchell added. “But they think that this is one of those pinnacle spots in our downtown that can really have an overall impact on the growth and the rebirth of our downtown coming back before COVID.”

An attorney representing MA Kzoo LLC told News 8 they have their fingers crossed since the building is under contract to be sold, but the deal is not finalized just yet. Mitchell says the city anticipates that to be a done deal by the middle of 2023.