AMC Backs Out of New Downtown Spot

The theater is no longer interested in opening its fourth Santa Monica location where Parking Structure 3 stands today.

Building its fourth Santa Monica theater at Fourth Street at Arizona Avenue doesn't make financial sense, AMC has told city officials.

The theater was the city's pick to open on the public property where Parking Structure 3 stands today, mainly because it already operates all three cinemas on the Third Street Promenade and planned to eliminate some seats at an existing location.

The City Council requested bids from interested companies for a new movie theater at the site in 2007. It picked AMC in 2009.

AMC proposed erecting a 70,000-square-foot theater with 2,167 seats, plus restaurant and lounge space open to the public. A study found the new theater would increase traffic in downtown.

But AMC's withdraw doesn't mean the city is giving up on its plans to open a new theater. Leaders believe the existing cinemas are outdated  and want to lure more visitors with IMAX screens and stadium seating.

"This is Santa Monica, we're in the middle of the movie industry, and we're not living up to the potential here," Robert O. York, a consultant for Downtown Santa Monica, Inc. said in the district's winter newsletter.

In a report to the City Council, planning staffers said they want to the OK to enter into negotiations with other development teams. They believe they might still be able to reduce the number of theater seats elsewhere in downtown because the planning department gave approval in November to change the zoning on land where the 1,500-seat Criterion 6 currently operates to "general retail use."

"If the approved conversion to retail ultimately occurs, it would result in a 27 percent reduction in the number of cinema seats downtown," the report states.

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suzie suz December 08, 2012 at 04:15 AM
great news ! too much traffic downtown already. Theaters might work a few blocks east of mid town where parking is plentiful and new parking can be built.
Tom hays December 08, 2012 at 04:20 AM
Maybe they couldn't face the years of battles to get the new theater built. I would think they could convert one of their existing theaters to enable pre- assigned seating. Perhaps no IMAX.
JohnCySmith.com December 08, 2012 at 09:36 AM
How about a park? At the Downtown Specific Plan workshop last Wednesday, almost everyone there feel that Downtown needs more open space. Now's our chance. Don't develop it. Grab it. Seize the opportunity while we have the chance. And we don't have to spend $50 million on it either. Just grass, trees, a few paths and benches. Open space in the heart of our city that everyone can enjoy.
Glenn E Grab December 08, 2012 at 03:35 PM
good, they finally caved to public pressure...real pressure, not like that of the phoney anti- Airport wackos or the City Council banning Christmas on Ocean Blvd...
Captain Liberty December 08, 2012 at 03:55 PM
What are our city planners smoking? Downtown SM has become a traffic nightmare. Frankly, I will avoid Christmas shopping there because I refuse to drive and park in the area. Is there no one with a functioning brain at City Hall who can rein in these destructive fools? Has the number of cars clogging the streets become a symbol of virile manhood or some such?
lahope December 08, 2012 at 05:25 PM
Why would the city of s Santa Monica turn public space over to a private developer? To further the political ambitions of the city council members. Richard Boom never met a devoloper he didn't like. It sure has paid off for him. I vote for a park.
Brenda Barnes December 08, 2012 at 08:16 PM
I like this idea. Other places people even donate their efforts and materials and build parks for nothing, once the land is available. Time to get creative and realize not everything can be in nine square miles and still have any kind of quality of life for residents.
stewart resmer December 08, 2012 at 09:11 PM
yes I dont know what the developers are ever going to do, hey wait a minute hold on? Dick has a greater palet than puny ol SM to paint with now? You dont suppose he has bigger plans for developers dreams and caviar wishes do ya?
judith brown December 08, 2012 at 09:44 PM
Yes, because the City Council has powers over the space-time continuim and was able to abolish December 25 on Ocean Blvd. Grow up, the Christianist had a hissy fit when other beliefs were allowed to display, vandalized the Atheists' display, and the City Council were able to finally wash their hands of the plywood boxes decked out in department store dummies draped in sheets. And you can motor on over to the 2800 block of Ocean Park for your dose of Christmas kitsch, Mr. War on Christmas bullshit.
Brenda Barnes December 08, 2012 at 10:15 PM
Absolutely right, lahope and John C. Smith. The City built parks in front of City Hall really to provide green space for the Village of SM, which they had approved with insufficient green space for 300 units of luxury housing, even with the beach two blocks away. Parks should be everywhere to provide some respite in air quality, peace, a place to sit down, a chance to appreciate nature, and all the other benefits parks bring, not just financial ones for City politicians backers. I hope the reason this did not make financial sense is AMC and the City finally figured the public WILL fight such developments. We've had enough. I read that article quoted where the development promoter said this is SM, with the conclusion we need to provide a giant spot for film showing. That is just not so. Just because we are close to the film industry, that does not mean we must locate everything about it here. In fact, the Media Center of LA over by the Metrolink yards between Mount Washington and Glendale off Riverside Drive and is it North Figueroa? is brand new and half empty. SM is just pursuing what in planning is called a "beggar thy neighbor" policy when it steals businesses from adjacent cities. Burbank and Hollywood have had the movie industry for decades and are aggressively building to enlarge and modernize it. We should stick to what we have been, a beach town, and let them do what they are already good at too.
Captain Liberty December 08, 2012 at 11:52 PM
Here's a thought. Pull down the old garage and build a new one with 2 or 3 times the capacity. You want commerce in downtown, you need parking.
Glenn E Grab December 12, 2012 at 06:01 PM
judith, name calling and low-class cursing doesn't strengthen your weak argument....


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