I got a personal peek Thursday at the high-tech touches inside — and on top of — Royal Oak’s new $14 million Emagine entertainment complex.

And while the exterior design may have drawn some flak, the interior has plenty of wow, both in appearance and in the latest tech advances in entertainment.

Let’s start with the roof, which features what may be the largest private solar installations in southeast Michigan, courtesy of Commerce Township-based Michigan Solar and Wind Power Solutions LLC. The 162-solar-panel array generates 40 kilowatts. Another green touch: Four electric vehicle charging stations in preferred parking right out front. (That’s one way to beat the parking challenge of downtown Royal Oak, I suppose: Buy a Volt.)

Michigan Solar president Mark Hagerty said the solar panel racks were manufactured by AET in Clinton Township, and the solar cells themselves were built by Oregon’s Solar World, which uses Michigan’s Hemlock Semiconductor as a silicon supplier. The EV charging stations are also Michigan-built.

Inside the building are 10 theaters, ranging from 85 to 350 seats. All of them have high-resolution digital projectors, which are run from a huge second-floor central hallway at the back of all the theaters. All of the theaters also feature reserved premium seating — extra-wide, extra-cushy seats with more room for drinks and snacks. Some of the theaters also feature special seats that move and vibrate with the action in the film.

Downstairs, there’s a 12-lane bowling alley and sports bar. Upstairs is a banquet room and a four-lane private bowling alley available for rent for parties, in a separate room that also includes its own bar, a pool table and the modern version of those vintage bar shuffleboard games.

It’s also the only movie house I’ve ever seen with its own chef, and a fully equipped commercial kitchen.

The 73,000-square-foot entertainment center is expected to create about 100 jobs. And while this is downtown Royal Oak so parking is always an issue, there is a 400-car parking garage adjacent.

Emagine Royal Oak opens this weekend with a series of charity preview events, raising money for Variety Detroit, the Judson Center, Gleaners Food Bank, the Royal Oak Foundation for Public Education and the Royal Oak Boys and Girls Clubs of South Oakland County. Emagine founder and CEO Paul Glantz said it’s hoped the previews will raise $250,000 for the charities.

The building opens to the general public at 5 p.m. Monday, May 16.


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