Sunday, June 05, 2016
Public meeting set for Apex Building redevelopment in Bethesda
Carr has previously shown its sketch plan for the project, which will replace the existing Apex Building with a mixed-use development of three buildings, with residential, retail and office space. One of the two sketch plan options contained a potential below-grade space for a cineplex to replace the existing Regal Cinemas Bethesda 10. However, it is dependent upon moving the historic Community Paint and Hardware Building, and the interest of Regal or another chain in signing a lease (assuming the theater space remains in the site plan).
We've got to make sure the replacement theater does remain in the plan, as the loss of a mainstream cineplex would be devastating for restaurants and shops that rely upon the "dinner and a movie" business. An economic development study prepared for Towson, MD showed that a multi-screen movie theater like Regal draws 20,000 additional people to a downtown area on weekends who wouldn't ordinarily show up.
Some will say, "let the market decide." I am confident the market will indeed have great interest in operating a theater; there is no competition for one in downtown Bethesda. The problem will be if the market never gets a chance, should the theater space be axed from the building before the market can weigh in.