When Hesperia's movie theater opens in 2012, it'll offer two amenities that make it unique among Victor Valley theaters: IMAX screens and alcohol.


"We're looking for mid-September" groundbreaking for the theater, Steve Lantsberger, Hesperia's Director of Economic Development, said Thursday. "Of course, we have a small dirt pile to remove" where the theater will eventually go.


The mountain of dirt, located west of Hesperia Civic Plaza Park, will be used in the construction of the Ranchero Road Underpass. Construction on the underpass is waiting on a bid to be awarded in August.


"As soon as that's awarded, the first effort is to remove that stockpile of dirt."


Residents have waited for Hesperia to have its own movie theater almost as long as they've waited for the underpass, but Lantsberger said the theater's groundbreaking is imminent.


"We're not looking at 2012. We're looking at third quarter 2011."


Two of the Cinema West theater's 12 screens will be IMAX large screen format-compatible, making it the Victor Valley's only theater able to show films in that format.


"That'll be available when the doors open," Lantsberger said. "We're thankful that we'll be the only one."


The 36,000-square-foot theater will also show digital films, and have a stage for live performances.


The theater will also be allowed to serve alcohol.


"It's a little something different here. It enhances our ability to bring other businesses and restaurants here to downtown."


City officials envision the theater, which will be located adjacent to the park and across from Hesperia City Hall and the branch library, as the anchor of a commercial plaza with restaurants and shops.


Officials estimate that the theater will open for business about a year after its groundbreaking.


"It's possible that it could open up sooner, but it'll be a function of weather and materials," Lantsberger said.


Beau Yarbrough can be reached at 760-956-7108 or at beau@hesperiastar.com.