A new luxury movie theater at Westfield Montgomery Mall will be located above an existing parking garage, according to revised plans that were approved Thursday by the Montgomery County Planning Board.
The mall will feature a 16-screen multiplex by ArcLight Cinemas, which operates several high-end theaters in Southern California. According to its website, ArcLight theaters include reserved seating, commercial-free programming, and screenings where patrons can enjoy a cocktail.
As part of the project, the mall interior and food court will be updated, and three to four restaurants will be introduced, said Clive Mackenzie, senior vice president of development for Westfield.
The expansion was proposed in 2005, but construction was put on hold because of the recession.
“There have been a few hiccups in terms of the economy, but Westfield now believes it’s the right time to move forward,” Mackenzie said.
Construction will begin in the spring of 2013 and end in the fall of 2014, said Jim Agliata, vice president of development for Westfield. Construction will begin with the ArcLight theaters, which will replace The Movies at Montgomery Mall. The Movies will remain open during the construction.
The new theater will face competition from an iPic movie theater complex in North Bethesda that will include a restaurant and bar.
“So what will happen when we have two high-class theaters fairly close together?” Planning Board Chair Francoise Carrier asked.
Agliata said theirs will be the dominant theater, thanks to more screens and a location in the mall.
The Montgomery Mall first opened in 1968 as a regional shopping center and was expanded in 1991, according to planning board documents.
Westfield purchased the 1.1 million-square-foot mall in 1994 and has done some renovations, but this will be the first substantial upgrade, Agliata previously said.