Say goodbye to The Movies at Montgomery Mall.
The independently owned theater will be converted to retail space as part of an expansion of the Westfield Montgomery Mall in Bethesda, said Jim Agliata, vice president of development for Westfield.
“The Maryland customer base is very loyal,” Agliata said. “We’re trying to do it right.”
Westfield is negotiating a lease with a national movie theater operator, he said. The theater would feature 15 or 16 screens, an upgrade from the current three, and will include stadium seating and digital equipment.
It also will be moved to a new location above the food court, which will be renovated and expanded. Shoppers can expect new food vendors, more upscale architecture and sit-down dining options. Cost estimates were not disclosed.
“It will be a dynamic space,” he said. “You will be able to sit in the food court and look 60 feet up and see the lobby of the movie theater.”
Construction would start in the fall and be complete by the winter 2013, in time for the holiday shopping season. The food court and movie theater will remain open during construction.
A call to The Movies at Montgomery Mall was not returned.
Westfield purchased the 1.1 million-square-foot mall in 1994 and has done some renovations, Agliata said, adding that this would be the first substantial upgrade. The company won approval from the Montgomery County Planning Board in 2007 for 525,000 square feet of new retail, but plans were delayed due to the economy.
“That’s not unusual at all these days,” said Robert Kronenberg, a supervisor for the county Planning Department.
The project will go before the Montgomery County Planning Board Jan. 12. Westfield is seeking minor changes to its site plan. Staff recommended approval, according to Planning Department documents. The Planning Board has not received public comments on the amendments, said department spokeswoman Valerie Berton.
“It shouldn’t be a long process,” Kronenberg said. “This should have been approved a long time ago, but it hasn’t been.”
The mall will be expanded up to 525,000 additional square feet as the economy allows, Agliata said.