Planners like La Plaza Cinemas in downtown Atascadero

The North County businessmen proposing to build a second 10-screen movie theater in downtown Atascadero recently cleared their first municipal hurdle.

The Atascadero Planning Commission has recommended approval of the La Plaza Cinemas across from Sunken Gardens on El Camino Real.

La Plaza Cinemas has been met with some pushback from the public, because it would put two theaters nearly across the street from each other.

The long-touted Colony Square’s Galaxy Theatres, which will also feature 10 screens, is under construction and expected to open by the holidays.

Some Atascadero residents have expressed concern that the city cannot support two 10-screen movie theaters.

John Roush, Larry Wysong and Michael Sherer are La Plaza’s co-developers. Roush, who owned Atascadero’s only movie theater before it was demolished in 2006, had long planned to build a theater as part of Colony Square. But rising project costs and long delays prevented Roush from getting the financing he needed to build a theater there, he said.

Roush also owns Park Cinemas in Paso Robles.

The Planning Commission’s vote was 6-1 in favor, with Commissioner Chuck Ward objecting.

The project is set to go before the Atascadero City Council on Tuesday.

Roush made it clear at a spring workshop with the city that getting a permit to build the theater is the most important step, because he and his partners won’t continue to pursue plans for the shopping portion of the project if the theater isn’t allowed, he said.

Negotiations for parcels for the shopping development continue. Roush isn’t submitting those plans until the theater receives the go-ahead and they have all the land needed for the project.