Ronald Goldman spared no expense on his vision of a movie house.
At K/B Annapolis Harbour 9-Plex, the city's newest movie house, theatergoers will find themselves in another world long before the projectors roll.
Outside is Annapolis, Route 2 and Patuxent Boulevard. Inside, it's Miami Beach.
A 30-step staircase lined with movie posters leads to a lobby paved in Italian marble, where white-column palm trees sprout gold-leaf fronds. Lines of neon, in pastel blue, pink and green, arch over the concession stand, topping off the art deco look.
In each of nine theaters, viewers get roomy, cushioned seats and six-track Dolby stereo sound. Some of the screens nearly rival the giant 20-foot-by-38-foot screen at Baltimore's landmark Senator Theater. The two largest K/B theaters, the bigger one with 500 seats, have 20-foot-by-35-foot screens and 70-millimeter projectors.
In the lobby, theconcession stand stretches 50 feet and offers something besides the usual snacks: Ocean City-style french fries, with vinegar and Old Bayseasoning.
Goldman, a third-generation theater operator, knew he could have spent half the more than $2.5 million it took to create his new showcase and still pack the place every weekend.
But he never set out to economize, he said, pointing out marble trim along wallsin the hallways.
"We didn't scrimp in any way," said Goldman, K/B's president, who patterned the complex after the Senator and European theaters, with high ceilings, large screens and elaborate lobbies.
"We decided to build one of the finest complexes in America," Goldman said. "We decided to build something spectacular and special. We think people will come just to see the theater. Ten years from now, it will still be state of the art."
Goldman's grandfather started the K/B chain in 1926 and handed the family business down to his son, who handed it down to Goldman. The theater chain is one of the country's last family owned and run operations.
K/B operates 62 screens at 18 theaters in Maryland, Washington and Virginia, including a four-screen theater at Annapolis Mall. Goldman considers Annapolis his best market. Shows there sell out each weekend, forcing the theater to turn people away.
Because of the demand, K/B had been searching for a second Annapolis site. Goldman jumped at the chance to create something unique when space became available at the new Annapolis Harbour Center at Route 2 and Patuxent Boulevard.
The 280,000-square-foot center, designed to look like a harbor village with lighthouse tower accents, opened its first store in mid-March. Annapolis Harbour will have seven anchor stores and several restaurants by its mid-August grand opening, said manager Renee Leibman.
Already, the center is 80 percent leased, she said. Several stores have opened: the Pennsylvania Dutch Farmers Market, Office Depot, Bed Bath & Beyond, Annie sez:, Ross Dress for Less, Parade of Shoes, Kidsmart, Rack Room Shoes and Cantina D'Italia.
Coming this summer are The Stuffed Cupboard, Tower Records, Drug Emporium, TGI Fridays, Kay Bee Toys, Poppets, Yogenfruz/Lee's Ice Cream, Jennifer Convertibles, Learning How, The Framing Gallery, Enchanted Art, Foot Locker and The Hair Cuttery.
The developer, Bethesda-based Lerner Enterprises, also built the Galleria at Tysons II and Tysons
Corner Center in Virginia, Wheaton Plaza in Wheaton and White Flint in North Bethesda.
K/B introduced Annapolis to its newest theater with a night of free movies last Thursday. By midafternoon, moviegoers already were lining up for free tickets.
Each week, the theater will bring in one new film.
Tickets are $3.75 for all shows before 6 p.m. Evening shows run $6 for adults and$4 for children and senior citizens. Moviegoers can buy same-day or advance tickets.