La Quinta’s new 12-screen Cinemark Century Theater hasn’t shown a single film yet, and it is already getting mixed reviews.

Some people are happy to know the ragged construction fence will be gone once the complex is built along Washington Street.

But a few others are vehemently opposed to the project, saying the increased traffic and bright lights will become an annoyance when the theater opens next summer.

City leaders have so far sided with those who think the theater complex is beneficial to the community, with the Planning Commission recently approving the project’s environmental review and necessary permits.

Construction should start within 60 days, according to Bill Sanchez, project manager for Washington Park, a commercial plaza located south of Highway 111.

“We’re hoping this will be the catalyst to get our center … and whole Highway 111 corridor going again,” Sanchez told The Desert Sun.

The environmental study looked at the potential impacts of a theater and restaurants, and found the project would “not have a significant impact on the environment,” according to a city staff report.

The traffic impact analysis determined that 4,842 daily trips would be generated by the project.

But residents such as Judie Harrison question the findings, saying the “lighting alone far, far exceeds anything that has been accepted in the valley.”

Harrison, who lives in nearby Lake La Quinta, also argues the area is already busy from the nearby St. Francis of Assisi Catholic Church, and nationally recognized events that are held at the Indian Wells Tennis Garden and at Indio’s polo grounds.

“The impact during these times is going to be mind-boggling,” Harrison said of traffic for those events.

Sanchez said street modifications of turn lanes on Highway 111 and Washington Street will help ease traffic flow.

Plans also include a traffic light near the church.

“The site will have access from Highway 111, Washington Street … and Avenue 47,” Sanchez said. “That will help traffic disperse to different directions. They won’t all be funneled.”