Johnson County's newest shopping attraction opens - KCTV5

Johnson County's newest shopping attraction opens

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Cinetopia Overland Park 18 opens May 10. Cinetopia Overland Park 18 opens May 10.
Museum at Prairie Fire opens May 12. Museum at Prairie Fire opens May 12.
Prairiefire ribbon cutting ceremony. Prairiefire ribbon cutting ceremony.

One of the largest developments in Johnson County opened its first phase of completion Friday.

Prairiefire's bars, restaurants, shops, movie theater and museum are expected to attract 2.4 million people every year.

Inside the $28 million Prairiefire museum, kids can find prehistoric reptile bones then build their own full-sized replica.

A gigantic Tyrannosaurus Rex will greet visitors. It is home to the nation's first location for hosting traveling exhibitions from New York's American Museum of Natural History.

"We wanted to make sure it's not just a retail development, not just an office development. That is why we brought in the museum," said developer Fred Merrill.

It took years to break ground on the 60-acre project that cost about $588 million off of 135th Street and Nall Avenue.

"We started the project back in 2006 and got derailed with the Great Depression," Merrill said.

"He knew he had something unique. He had a game changer so we worked with him for about eight years," said Carl Gerlach with the city of Overland Park, KS.

After all the hard word work and years, the game changer is about to open.

Included in the museum is a discovery room that allows kids to get hands on. They can dig for their own artifacts and inspect dinosaur bones. The discovery room also allows kids to create their own dinosaur and then step out into the great hall to interact with it.

Another huge draw to Prairiefire will be the Cinetopia movie theater. The entrance to the theater will even be high-tech as they have their own team of graphic designers who will make the hallway look like people are entering a movie scene.

"I had the love before I got into the business," said Rudyard Coltman, the owner and creator of Cinetopia.

Coltman bought his first movie theater 18 years ago. He thought the industry needed an upgrade.

"Movie theaters could do a lot more. Especially adults would have a list of about 15 to 20 things they wish happened in a movie theater that didn't," he said.

Coltman designed Cinetopia theaters to allow moviegoers to catch a flick in cushy seats surrounded by a 4-story-tall, 75-foot-wide screen.

"When things happen in the movie they sound like they are happening beside you, in front of you, all around you," he said.

The Overland Park theater will have a farm-to-table restaurant and wine bar. They offer movie parlors for a more grown-up experience complete with cuddle couches.

"If you had unlimited funds to build your dream home theater you might envision it," Coltman said.

Overland Park will open the Midwest's first Cinetopia.

"This is a game changer," said Mayor Carl Gerlach.

Gerlach said the entire Prairiefire development will offer something new.

"What's unique about Prairiefire is they are bringing stores that aren't already in the metropolitan area," he said.

The entire Prairiefire project already created more than 1,000 construction jobs.

"When you do something of this magnitude it takes an army of people," Merrill said.

Once the project is complete, it is expected to bring about 1,500 full-time jobs to the area.

People visited Prairiefire for events showing off the more than 20 stores and restaurants after its ribbon cutting on Friday and were impressed.

"Oh, we love it. We live just over here in Deer Creek so we've been watching them build it. We've been walking over here a lot and we really love it. We're very, very excited about it," Brandi DeFoor said.

"It's been great. Love the entertainment. It's beautiful. The buildings themselves are beautiful. The interiors are great," said Christina Kramer of Cleveland, OH.

The Museum at Prairie Fire opens May 12. For more information visit

Cinetopia Overland Park 18 opens May 10. For more information visit

Click here for a map of the development.

Projected Economic Impact for Prairie Fire Development:

Jobs during construction:

Phase 1: 382 direct FTE, 666 indirect for a total of 1,048

Phase 2: 605 direct FTEs, 1,049 indirect for a total of 1,654

Payroll during construction:

Phase 1: $41 million

Phase 2: $64 million

Personal state income tax generated by construction payroll:

Phase 1: $2.4 million

Phase 2: $3.7 million

Employment after Prairiefire is operational:

Phase 1: 530 FTE

Phases 1 and 2 at full build-out: 1,536 FTE

Direct and indirect employment after Prairiefire is fully operational: 7,167 FTEs

Direct payroll after Phase 1 is operational: $12.6 million

Direct payroll after Prairiefire is fully operational: $63 million

Direct and indirect payroll after Prairiefire is operational: $181 million

Visitors projected at full build-out: 2.4 million per year

Out-of-state visitors forecast annually: 52 percent of total visitation, or 1.2 million visitors per year

Annual room nights generated by out-of-state visitors to Prairiefire: 282,850.

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