15-Screen Theater, Upscale Restaurants Coming to Montgomery Mall
More screens and better food options are coming next year to the Westfield Montgomery Shopping Mall.
The Movies at Montgomery Mall will be rocketing into the 21st century with a modern 15-screen, 2,300-seat complex, including stadium-like seating and digital equipment, to replace the current three-theater spot, according to plans unveiled by Westfield Development Corp. officials.
The upgrades, on-hold for nearly five years, will also feature a major overhaul and expansion of the Westfield Montgomery Shopping Mall’s food court, with a considerably larger seating area (the existing court is almost always packed) and more eateries of the upscale variety.
Catharine C. Dickey, a spokesperson for Westfield, confirmed the plans with Patch earlier this week.
"The new state-of-the-art theater will be located above the new 'dining terrace,' Dickey wrote in an email to Patch.
"New restaurants will reside in reconfigured spaces throughout the center," she added.
The new movie complex will be built on top of the food court, according to the plans, and the former theater space will be converted to retail space, the Gazette reported last week.
Westfield Development received county approval for the 525,000-square-foot retail expansion nearly five years ago, but the economic collapse of 2008 put those plans on the back burner.
Now, Westfield is ready to move ahead, starting work this fall, with a target opening late in 2013—in time for the holiday season, Dickey said.
Westfield is also seeking permission to make some minor changes to its original plan, involving lighting, way-finding signage and traffic control, according to documents (attached to this story) on the Montgomery County Planning Board website.
The revised proposal for what appears to be a major development of the popular mall was presented to the Montgomery County Planning Board earlier this month, and final approval is expected shortly. Members of the planning board staff have already recommended approval.
This would mark the first substantial overhaul for the mall since Westfield purchased the property at the intersection of Democracy Boulevard and Westlake Drive in Bethesda in 1994. The Nordstrom store wing at the mall was added in 1991 before Westfield acquired the property.
In its latest application, Westfield said it originally envisioned more sweeping changes for the mall, with new structured parking aimed at creating what it called “more of a lifestyle” center.
“Now the applicant wishes to proceed with more minor modifications to the center,” the Los Angeles-based development company said.
But, for movie and food fans, these ‘minor’ changes look like a significant plus.