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Robin Scholz/The News-Gazette The parking lot east of the AMC Theater in Champaign is the site of a car wash on Wednesday, Feb. 5, 2020.Robin Scholz/The News-Gazette The parking lot east of the AMC Theater in Champaign is the site of a car wash on Wednesday, Feb. 5, 2020.

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CHAMPAIGN — The Champaign planning commission recommended the city council approve changes to its parking requirements for theaters so a car wash can open next to the AMC multiplex.

Columbia, Mo.-based Club Car Wash wants to open a tunnel-style facility just east of the theater, but would use about 178 of the 726 parking spaces AMC currently has.

The car wash originally sought a minor variance from the zoning board of appeals. While that bid was rejected, a possible solution was recommended by the planning commission — reduce the number of parking spaces required per theater seat.

Currently, AMC requires a minimum of one parking spot for every five seats (so, 578 spots). Under the change, it would have one spot for every six seats (482 spots).

If the car wash were built, AMC would be left with 548 parking spaces, which city planning officials said should be more than enough.

From October 2018 to October 2019, AMC never filled its lot to its current 726-spot capacity, according to a study the theater conducted.

And only once during that time did it exceed the 578-spot minimum, which happened for the highest-grossing film of all time — “Avengers: Endgame.”

On all other dates, the lot never filled more than 400 spaces, the study found.

The planning commission recommended the change, which still needs council approval, and the theater’s property still needs to be subdivided so the northeast corner lot can be sold to Club Car Wash.

Club Car Wash owner Roland Bartels is optimistic the city will make the necessary changes to allow his business to build at 910 Meijer Road.

“The one in Champaign should be open about the first week of August,” he said.

News-Gazette