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A rendering of the new ArcLight cinema complex proposed for the third floor of Santa Monica Place.
Courtesy Of The City Of Santa Monica
A rendering of the new ArcLight cinema complex proposed for the third floor of Santa Monica Place.

News, City Council, Santa Monica Place, Santa Monica

ArcLight Twin Billing In Santa Monica’s Sights

A possible floor plan of the new ArcLight cinema complex.
Courtesy Of The City Of Santa Monica
A possible floor plan of the new ArcLight cinema complex.

Posted Apr. 25, 2014, 8:28 am

Parimal M. Rohit / Staff Writer

The drama at Tuesday’s Santa Monica City Council meeting was not quite an edge-of-your-seat thriller, but in the end local residents came away with a storybook happy ending.

This real life feel-good story is also of the reel life nature, with Santa Monica finally ending its decades-long drought of no new movie theaters built within city limits. Council members voted on two agenda items April 22 that could result in two ArcLight Cinemas coming within a proverbial stone’s throw of each other in downtown Santa Monica.

Council members first unanimously approved a development agreement (DA) to bring a 10- to 13-seat movie theater to the Bloomingdale’s building at Santa Monica Place, making it the first cinema house to be built in the City since the 1980s.

During the discussion on the dais about the ArcLight Cinemas DA, council members urged the movie theater operator to make every effort to maintain an effective local hiring program that actually resulted in Santa Monica residents being employed at the multiplex.

A second vote authorized City Hall to enter into an exclusive negotiating agreement with ArcLight Cinemas and developer Macerich to bring up to 16 movie-viewing auditoriums to 1320 Fourth Street (currently occupied by Parking Structure 3), about a quarter-mile away from Santa Monica Place.

The ArcLight Cinemas approved for Santa Monica Place would be built in a vacant space on the third level of the Bloomingdale’s Building. Its 10- to 13-screen space would fit an estimated 1,500 moviegoers, City staff stated.

Proposed community benefits for the Santa Monica Place chapter of ArcLight Cinemas include funding for Esplanade development and downtown wayfinding, having three screens made available for the American Film Market (AFM), ensuring local hiring provisions for concessions and theater operations, and providing for a Transportation Demand Management (TDM) program and sustainable design.

ArcLight Cinemas’ second potential movie theater a couple blocks away could be larger if negotiations go as planned. According to City staff, the freestanding ArcLight Cinemas at 1320 Fourth Street could house between 12 and 16 auditoriums and maintain a capacity of up to 2,700 people. City staff also stated the theater would also have street-level access and at least one IMAX-style screen.

According to the City staff report, the height of the Bloomingdale’s Building would be increased from its current 56 feet to somewhere between 78 and 84 feet. However, no additional floor area is proposed for Santa Monica Place’s ArcLight, City staff stated.

If ultimately built, the ArcLight Cinemas on Fourth Street would not exceed the 84-foot height restriction.

Construction on the Fourth Street ArcLight Cinemas could begin either in 2016 or 2017, depending upon council approvals and the entitlements process.

With the exclusive negotiations unanimously approved, a project team is now expected to develop conceptual designs and seek community feedback on those concepts. Once feedback is received and incorporated into the design plans, City officials and the developer would perform an environmental analysis on the project.

The process would conclude with the DA process.

City staff stated the project must beet the criteria and standards of the Downtown Specific Plan (DSP).

The forward-moving plans to bring a pair of ArcLight Cinemas to Downtown Santa Monica come in light of a movie theater recently shutting down on the Third Street Promenade and a failed attempt to bring a new AMC multiplex to the area.

Also, City staff pointed out movie-going attendance has dropped about 55 percent between the 1990s and 2012, compared to just 11 percent during the same period nationwide.

The declined continued from 2012 into 2013, when the closure of the Criterion Theater in March 2013 lead to a 12.5 percent drop in movie-going attendance.

Movie-going attendance in Santa Monica is expected to drop again this year.

The reported sharp decline in movie-going attendance is why City Hall is proposing having two ArcLight Cinemas built in downtown Santa Monica.

“While a new cinema has been proposed for the third floor of Santa Monica Place, such development, even if approved and built, would not satisfy even a portion of the demand for contemporary cinema experiences in the downtown and in Santa Monica generally,” City staff stated.

Council member Bob Holbrook was not present for the April 22 council meeting.

Post a comment


Apr. 25, 2014, 9:44:32 am

Xander said...

Gee, what a novel idea. A theater atop a mall, as is the standard these days in mall developments! Would have been there, as it should have been, when Santa Monica Place was redeveloped, if not for City meddling. Well, just glad we're getting there eventually. At least someone saw the absurdity of not having a theater atop SMP with all that top-level dining.

Apr. 25, 2014, 11:33:54 am

Erik said...

What "demand"?? People are NOT going to movie theaters so we need 2 of them?? 1. Ticket prices are WAY too high and we're still in a recession. 2. Concessions are too expensive. 3. Competition from Amazon and RedBox, combined with the declining cost of HD TV's means people don't need to go to the theatre. 4. There is no choice options - all theaters play the same mainstream crap and 2 weeks later (after millions of ad dollars), they're out of theaters and on to DVD. 5. Bootlegging movies is ridiculously easy so unless its 3D, I'm not going to pay around $50 for me and my date to go see some steaming pile of a Hollywood remake since they stopped making original movies 10+ years ago.

Apr. 25, 2014, 1:51:52 pm

Kevin said...

I disagree. I would love to go watch some movies at a nice theater locally. Right now I go to the new AMC at Marina Del Rey. The person above is obviosuly angry about something but there is no need for profanity and name calling.

Apr. 28, 2014, 8:29:18 pm

ARIZA said...

I'd like to see more written about the environmental impact of the project. Additional traffic, pollution, and litter in an already dense area, isn't a positive impact to the area. If they can make it a "win win" by modernizing surrounding highways and improve beach boardwalks to accommodate larger crowds, it could be a positive venture if funds are available to maintain the improved ares. My 2 cents

Nov. 7, 2014, 12:48:26 pm

Chet said...

@Erik - I don't think you are the target demographic for this build out. Enjoy your redbox DVDs though. I on the other hand will be sitting in a plush seat, sipping wine and enjoying my movie experience. @Xander - totally agree with you. City. Planning. Fail. Better late than never though. @Ariza - the homeless people puking and peeing in our streets probably have a larger environmental impact (collectively) on our city than a theater who is on the hook to build a sustainable facility ever will.

Jan. 17, 2015, 4:15:17 pm

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