Fans of the Vali-Hi Drive-In in Lake Elmo are fretting about the future of the last drive-in theater in the metro area.
A hiring event for the theater, located off Interstate 94 at 11260 Hudson Blvd. N., was recently canceled, and it appears as if the theater’s phone has been disconnected. The Vali-Hi’s website was still up on Thursday, but no current movie showings are listed.
Concerned fans have been calling Lake Elmo City Hall to ask about the future of the business, which is owned by Bob O’Neil.
“We’ve been getting a lot of calls from people who are wondering what is going on,” said City Administrator Kristina Handt. “We have not heard anything definitive from the property owner.”
Members of the Vali-Hi Drive-In Fan Page on Facebook on Thursday were lamenting a possible closure.
“We have always gone on Memorial Day weekend, and the website doesn’t show any films,” one fan wrote. “The phone number is also disconnected.”
“It seems that four years ago they opened later than usual with a similar lack of information on their website,” wrote another. “So, hopefully, that is the case this year, too. I’d hate to see them permanently close.”
One member of the Facebook page, which has more than 9,300 members, wrote that they would volunteer to work the ticket counter if it meant the drive in would open.
Vali-Hi is located in an area of Lake Elmo where a moratorium has been placed on new plats because of concerns about the city’s water supply. The one-year moratorium, enacted by the Lake Elmo City Council last month, puts a halt on new plats — for both residential and commercial developments — in the area of the city located between Keats Avenue, Manning Avenue, Interstate 94 and the Union Pacific Railroad tracks in the city’s Old Village area.
As long as the moratorium is in place, the city could not entertain any application for development at the site until April 2023, Handt said.
Developers are building a 30-acre business park next to the Vali-Hi. The Launch Crossroads development, which includes two light-industrial buildings with a total of 298,000 square feet, roughly equal to six football fields, was approved last year and is under construction. The developers got plat approval before the moratorium was adopted, so they are able to proceed despite being in the area of the moratorium, Handt said.
The area’s other drive-in theater, Cottage View Drive-in in Cottage Grove, closed in 2012. It is now a Walmart.