Fans of the Wally-Hi Drive-In at Lake Elmo are concerned about the future of the last drive-in theater in the metro area.
A recruitment program for theater located on Interstate 94 at 11260 Hudson Blvd. N., was recently canceled, and it appears as if the theater has been disconnected. Vali-Hi’s website was still up on Thursday, but no current movie shows are listed.
Concerned fans are calling Lake Elmo City Hall, which is owned by Bob O’Neill, to ask about the future of the business.
“We’re getting a lot of calls from people who are wondering what’s going on,” City Administrator Christina Hand said. “We haven’t heard anything definitive from the property owner.”
Members of the Wali-Hi Drive-In fan page on Facebook were mourning the possible closure on Thursday.
“We’ve always been to Memorial Day weekend, and the website doesn’t show any movies,” wrote one fan. “The phone number has also been disconnected.”
“Looks like they opened later than usual four years ago with a lack of similar information on their website,” wrote another. “So, hopefully, it will be the same this year. I would hate to see them permanently close.”
A member of the Facebook page, which has more than 9,300 members, wrote that they would voluntarily work at the ticket counter if it meant the drive would open.
Vali-Hi is located in an area of Lake Elmo where new plates have been put on hold due to concerns about the city’s water supply. The one-year moratorium, enacted by the Lake Elmo City Council last month, prohibits new plates — for both residential and commercial development — in the downtown area located between Keats Avenue, Manning Avenue, Interstate 94 and Union Pacific. Rail tracks in the Old Village area of the city.
As long as the moratorium is in force, the city cannot consider any applications for development on the site until April 2023, Hand said.
The developers are building a 30-acre business park next to Wali-hi. The Launch Crossroads development, which includes two light-industrial buildings with a total of 298,000 square feet, roughly the equivalent of six football fields, was approved last year and is under construction. Handt said that since the developers had got the approval of the plot before the moratorium was adopted, they are able to proceed despite being in the moratorium zone.
The area’s other drive-in theater, Cottage View Drive-in Cottage Grove, closed in 2012. Now it’s Walmart.