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Popular Vali-Hi drive-in still isn't open; fans left wondering why

The movie theater in Lake Elmo is the last remaining drive-in across the metro area.

LAKE ELMO, Minn. — Fans of a popular drive-in movie theater are wondering whether it will ever open this season -- or at all.

Vali-Hi is the last remaining one of its kind in the area. As of now, its website doesn't list any showings and the phone number that's listed just keeps ringing. 

Jim Trost lives nearby and said the location drew him to buy a home there in February. 

"It was kind of a perk to see we did have a movie theater out our back door, actually our front door because we live right across the street," he said.

The decades-old Vali-Hi drive-in is a local staple that draws fans from afar, many of whom are now nervous about its future.

"The rumor on the street was it's not going to be open," said Trost.

Besides the ringing telephone and lack of movie listings, there are also gates and no trespassing signs located on the property.

A Facebook page dedicated to the movie theater is filled with fans frantically offering to volunteer or even help buy the property.

"I'd hate to lose an iconic building like this and property for families and generations that have been there to enjoy it," said Trost.

While the owner hasn't commented publicly, Lake Elmo City Councilor Jeff Holtz says no one has submitted official plans to change the theater and he confirms it's not been sold either. 

Further, the council enacted a moratorium last month on any new development plans for at least a year as it sorts out water supply issues. There is a 30-acre business park being built right next to the theater. Holtz says it's not impacted by the moratorium because it had gotten all the right approvals before that.

Holtz admits though, as the city grows, so too does the theater's property value.

"It's extremely reasonable that at some point its use would change given the value of the property," Holtz told KARE 11. "But nothing officially has come to the city."

Still, there is a sense of sadness playing out across the community as the famous big screen stays dark. 

"I hope I get to see it at least once," said Trost. "We did see the screen come on and we thought it was a glimmer hope that we might get one more season out of it."

KARE 11 called the owner several times and left multiple messages on Monday to try and get answers, but he did not respond, leaving the fate of the drive-in still up in the air. 

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