SALA is evolving, and Phase 2 marks our ambitious leap forward.
We’re transforming a former movie theater into a dynamic community hub, fostering a space for entertainment, education, and engagement.
Dive deeper to understand how this transformation not only revitalizes our facility but resonates with the very pulse of Los Alamos.
Your involvement is vital!
Let’s co-create a brighter, bustling Los Alamos together!
In a town where vacant buildings and the closure of small businesses cast a shadow, there's a story of resilience and renewal. Remember the Reel Deal movie theater, which had fallen silent? It could have been another casualty of these challenges, but thanks to the determination of Sammi Owens and Allan Saenz, it's now a vibrant symbol of hope. Phase 1 marked the beginning of a transformation that went beyond simply reopening its doors. They breathed new life into this space, with a revamped lobby and revitalized theaters. Today, it's not just a place to catch the latest movies; it's become the beating heart of our community, hosting a diverse array of events, including the beloved Oppenheimer Festival. This remarkable transformation wouldn't have been possible without the dedicated support of our members, individuals who share our vision and have taken action to keep the doors open for everyone.
Now, let's talk about Phase 2 – an exciting new chapter in our journey. This phase is all about enhancing our facility and introducing new services to our community. We have big plans: creating stages in front of The Roxy and Social Center, installing state-of-the-art stage lighting, and updating the exterior signage on the East Building Wall with a digital display. But that's not all; we're partnering with the renowned 4Pi Productions to convert one of our theaters into an immersive experience wonderland. This will include the production of a captivating starter immersive experience that will transport you to new dimensions.
The renovated theater, known as the Hill Augmented, holds immense importance for our community as it ushers in a new era of entertainment, education, and cultural enrichment. By transforming one of our theaters into an immersive experience theater, we’re opening doors to a world of possibilities. This renovation will not only benefit the locals but also extend its offerings to Northern New Mexico and visitors from far and wide.
Our collaboration with 4Pi Productions, experts in immersive experiences, has allowed us to envision a state-of-the-art theater that will captivate audiences. Through this innovative space, we’ll bring the unique stories of New Mexico to life, offering a blend of entertainment and education. Visitors will not only be entertained but also gain insights into our rich scientific heritage, making complex concepts accessible to all.
Moreover, the immersive theater will serve as an educational hub, empowering students to create their own 360-degree immersive experiences across various subjects. This prepares them for careers in new media arts, film, and other cutting-edge professions. It’s an opportunity for our community to harness the power of immersive technology, bridging the gap between art and science.
As we embark on this journey, we envision the Hill Augmented theater becoming a hub for diverse experiences, from entertainment and edutainment to private events, gaming, and more. It’s not just about renovating a theater; it’s about creating a dynamic space that enriches lives and fosters creativity. The future of immersive experience programming in the Hill Augmented theater promises to connect us with the best offerings worldwide, forming an international network of immersive venues. We’ll have the ability to showcase a wide range of content, including 360 videos from the extensive library on YouTube, ensuring that SALA remains at the forefront of immersive entertainment and education.
Our vision at SALA is closely aligned with the goals and aspirations of Los Alamos County. Phase 2 of our project is not just about enhancing our facility; it’s about increasing sustainability and enriching our community. In the 2022 National Community Survey, a resounding 73% of residents identified “enhancing support and opportunities for the local business environment” as the top priority for the County in the coming years. This underscores the importance of nurturing small businesses and elevating our commercial quality of life for a thriving community.
To illustrate this alignment, we’ve created a cross-walk that showcases how SALA’s social enterprise harmonizes with Los Alamos County’s strategic goals and plans, including the County Council Strategic Goals, the Economic Development Strategic Plan (EVSP), the Tourism Strategic Plan, and the Los Alamos Creative District Plan. This cross-walk makes it abundantly clear that our project is in sync with the County’s stated objectives, reinforcing our commitment to community enhancement.
One vital tool available to support these goals is LEDA, the New Mexico Local Economic Development Act. LEDA offers a legal framework for state and local governments to collaborate and invest in economic development projects, without violating the New Mexico Constitution’s anti-donation clause. Los Alamos County has effectively utilized LEDA over the years to partner with various businesses and organizations to achieve our community’s economic objectives.
Earlier this year, SALA submitted a LEDA application to Los Alamos County, seeking a $450,000 grant to facilitate Phase 2 improvements. Our proposal outlines how this project will benefit the community by creating jobs, contributing to the tax base, and enhancing our cultural and commercial landscape. What sets this LEDA application apart is that it’s led by a long-term resident with a proven track record of entrepreneurship in our community. We’ve already made substantial local investments, repurposing a shuttered downtown property into a vital community space.
SALA is more than just a business; it’s a social enterprise dedicated to community enhancement. Now, we’ve done our part, and we urge the County to take action on its goals by leveraging tools like LEDA to invest in our small business community. Together, we can shape a brighter future for Los Alamos, where thriving businesses and a vibrant community go hand in hand.
As part of the LEDA grant, funding will also cover the creation of an initial immersive experience to be showcased in the theater, serving as a gateway visitor attraction for Los Alamos. SALA is dedicated to promoting tourism and enriching the visitor experience, and to achieve this, we propose a unique collaboration with Los Alamos County or its designated partners.
In this collaboration, SALA will provide the County with access to the SALA immersive theater and the Los Alamos Gateway Immersive Experience programming on a daily basis, all at no cost during an agreed-upon timeframe. Our vision is to introduce visitors to the captivating story of our community, encouraging them to explore the diverse attractions in the Los Alamos area.
For instance, we envision a daily mid or late-morning showing of the Los Alamos Gateway Immersive Experience on a one-hour loop, creating a one-of-a-kind attraction. This immersive journey will showcase the distinctive character, attractions, and history of our community, enticing visitors to explore our physical destinations and spend more time in Los Alamos.
Moreover, additional complementary immersive experiences could be developed to further enhance the visitor experience. The County can promote this new attraction through its tourism marketing, visitor centers, concierge services at local hotels, earned media coverage, and other promotional channels.
The Los Alamos Gateway Immersive Experience will align seamlessly with the “New Mexico True” brand and our own “Where Discoveries Are Made” theme. This 15-20 minute experience will introduce audiences to the wealth of attractions in the Los Alamos area, from the Bradbury Science Museum and the Los Alamos Historic District to the Manhattan Project National Historical Park, Bandelier National Monument, Valles Caldera National Preserve, and the numerous high-altitude recreational opportunities available. The experience will highlight the cultural, historical, and traditional elements that make our area unique, inviting visitors to explore as many attractions as they can during their visit or on future trips. It’s also an opportunity to showcase the significant contributions of LANL, tracing its roots from the Manhattan Project to the present day.
This new downtown attraction will not only benefit locals but also enhance the experience for visitors. With the large number of tourists visiting Bandelier each year and the anticipated influx of visitors due to the success of the Oppenheimer movie, our town will become a more attractive destination. This presents opportunities for other local attractions and businesses to thrive, contributing to the overall growth and vitality of our community. Just as Meow Wolf has become a top visitor attraction in Santa Fe, we aspire to create a compelling draw for Los Alamos, further solidifying our position as a must-visit destination in Northern New Mexico.
You can play a crucial role in supporting the revitalization and growth of SALA and Los Alamos by taking action in several ways:
Join hands with Sammi Ownens and Allan Saenz by becoming a SALA member. As a member, you not only gain access to exclusive benefits and member-only events, but you also become an integral part of our project. SALA members play a vital role in keeping our doors open and in creating exciting events for people of all ages.
Sign Up for Our Newsletter: Stay informed about SALA’s progress, updates, and upcoming events by signing up for our newsletter. By subscribing, you’ll always be in the loop and have the opportunity to engage in the various activities and initiatives we undertake.
Letters of Support
Senator Leo Jaramillo
Regional Development Corporation