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Motor-Vu Drive-In no longer showing movies; land rezoned for housing

By Tim Vandenack - | May 19, 2022
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Coleman's Motor-Vu drive-in movie theater in Riverdale is pictured Wednesday, May 18, 2022. Movies at the drive-in have been suspended indefinitely, the business announced Tuesday.
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Coleman's Motor-Vu drive-in movie theater in Riverdale is pictured Wednesday, May 18, 2022.
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Coleman's Motor-Vu drive-in movie theater in Riverdale is pictured Wednesday, May 18, 2022.
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Vehicles wait in line to enter Coleman’s Motor Vu Drive-in on Thursday, June 9, 2016, in Riverdale.
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Coleman's Motor-Vu drive-in movie theater in Riverdale is pictured Wednesday, May 18, 2022.

RIVERDALE — Utah’s already-dwindling number of drive-in movie theaters appears on a downward slope yet again.

Coleman’s Motor-Vu Drive-In in Riverdale, first opened back in 1947, will no longer be showing movies “until further notice,” reads a post on its Facebook page. At the same time, a Riverdale official says the land where Motor-Vu sits — home to a weekend swap meet — has been rezoned so the land can be turned into a housing development.

“The plan is to convert it for single-family residences,” said Michael Eggett, the Riverdale community development director. The City Council rezoned the 20-acre parcel where Motor-Vu sits from A-1, meant for agriculture use, to R-2, which permits single-family housing development, on Feb. 1.

Reps from Motor-Vu or RD Development Holdings of Sandy, the developer, didn’t immediately respond to queries from the Standard-Examiner seeking comment. But a Motor-Vu Facebook post alludes to the potential for change.

“We are OPEN Sunday’s for swap meet,” the post from Tuesday reads. “Until further notice movies are CLOSED.”

The Motor-Vu land sits at 5368 S. 1050 West in Riverdale, abutted by Interstate 84 on the east, 1050 West on the west and Schneiter’s Riverside golf course on the south.

The drive-in theater has been a popular summer staple for some and Motor-Vu’s post was met with sadness and nostalgia by those who read it. DriveInMovie.com, a website focused on drive-in theaters, reports that only five drive-in theaters remain in Utah, Motor-Vu among them and the only one in Weber County. Nationally, according to the website, the number of drive-ins has dipped from a peak of around 4,000 in the 1950s to about 300 now.

“Oh no! We really wanted to take our kids this year. They are finally old enough,” wrote one poster.

Someone else noted the steady push to build more homes. “The Age of Drive-In Movies has been sacrificed for housing and it is truly tragic,” they wrote.

At any rate, Eggett said his office hasn’t received any formal development proposals from RD Development, notwithstanding last February’s zoning change. Provision of water on the property is a continuing point of discussion, he said.

Indeed, specifics about the potential development of the Motor-Vu site are sketchy. But Riverdale’s general plan, the document that guides development in the city, says housing would fit on the drive-in property.

“Should the drive-in theater no longer be a desirable operation for the property owner, then it is believed that the most logical use would be that of single family detached dwellings to stabilize and enhance the existing neighborhoods to the west and south of the drive-in theater,” the general plan reads.

The plan notes potential synergies between housing if it were built on the drive-in theater location and the golf course to the south. “This could provide some unique housing development in Riverdale and may allow the project to reach higher price levels than if the drive-in site were a typical subdivision,” it reads.

RD Development Holdings didn’t say much in its application, at least in the portion publicly posted with the Feb. 1 City Council meeting information, when the rezone issue came up.

“A new residential area will increase the value of neighboring properties. It will also provide additional housing for Riverdale residents,” RD Development wrote. It said Riverdale’s general plan calls for housing on lots of about 0.2 acres in the area in question.


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