$60 mil venue proposal on table for spot near UCLA
In a suddenly fluid L.A. exhibition market, Mann Theatres is proposing to build a state-of-the-art five-screener in Westwood, while AMC Theatres has closed a Hollywood multiplex and appears to be mulling the shutdown of a West Hollywood venue.The Westwood project involves a $60 million proposal by Mann and L.A. developer Beitler Commercial, with the venue accommodating 1,100 patrons in a stadium-seat design. Cinema would be located on what’s now a parking lot, situated at the intersection of Broxton and Le Conte avenues directly behind a delicatessen near the Mann Bruin and Mann Village monoscreens and the UCLA campus. Medical offices, a grocery store, retail space and a parking garage are also planned as part of the development. Neighborhood groups have been briefed on the project, with early signs showing substantial support. “We think it’s terrific, and we’re looking forward to working with them,” said Sandy Brown, president of the Holmby-Westwood Property Owners Assn. “I can’t think of anything better than a mixed-use project replacing a parking lot.” Project is being designed by architect Francisco Behr of Behr Browers Architects in Westlake Village. Plans are expected soon to be submitted to a design review board for the L.A.’s closely zoned Westwood neighborhood. Separately, execs at Mann — which is co-owned by Warner Bros. and Paramount — are also considering a possible stadium-seat retrofit of Westwood’s Mann National. A well-placed source said it’s unlikely both that proposal and the new five-screener would be pursued simultaneously, with the $5 million retrofit now viewed as a back-up plan in the event the more ambitious venture proves unfeasible. Meantime, Hollywood won’t have the Galaxy Theater to kick around any more. Part of a much-panned redevelopment project back in the 1980s, the Galaxy cinema has been operated by AMC Entertainment ever since its acquisition last year of General Cinemas, original operator of the seven-screen venue. But with nearby theaters operated by rivals Mann and Pacific Theatres outperforming the never-loved Galaxy, AMC finally allowed the kitch-decored multiplex to go dark. “We’ve settled our remaining lease obligations with the landlord,” AMC spokesman Rick King said. Theater’s shutdown in December followed the previous abandonment of retail space in the property by a handful of other tenants. Site is expected to be redeveloped anew eventually by CIM Realty, which is also set to take over the nearby Hollywood and Highland complex where Mann operates the Chinese 6 cinemas. AMC, whose suburban presence is greater than its urban footprint in L.A., is currently retrofitting its Century City megaplex for stadium seating. Project is expected get under way in earnest later this year following ongoing review by local zoning and planning officials. But over in West Hollywood, the clock could be ticking on AMC’s Beverly Connection six-screener. Site continues to operate, but Apollo Investments — which holds a 60% stake in AMC — is mulling a proposed mixed-used redevelopment of the site. One proposed scenario would see the multiplex razed and its real estate reconfigured as senior-living residential units.
Follow @Variety on Twitter for breaking news, reviews and more