Megaplex plans proceed in Linthicum County officials say Sony is interested in Airport Square deal

January 22, 1996|By Consella A. Lee | Consella A. Lee,SUN STAFF

Plans for a megaplex theater in Linthicum are moving forward, and a county councilman said he will contact County Executive John G. Gary this week to arrange a meeting with Airport Square officials.

American Multi-Cinema Inc. (AMC), which had been a principal in the project, bowed out last month. Sony Theaters, a New York-based company that operates 150 theaters with 900 screens in 15 states, primarily on the East Coast and in the Midwest, has stepped in to negotiate with Airport Square.

"The chamber is definitely in support of the theater moving into the area. It would increase the tax base, increase jobs and make good use of the property," said Nicole Clary, executive director

of the Northern Anne Arundel Chamber of Commerce. "We're just pleased that business is moving into the area."

Though county representatives confirmed the company's interest, Marc J. Pascucci, vice president of advertising and public relations for Sony Theaters, declined to say if the company was negotiating with Airport Square officials.

"All I can say is we're always looking to expand and you can draw your own conclusions from that," said Mr. Pascucci, adding, "Baltimore is one of our strong markets."

The company has 20 theaters with 120 screens in the Baltimore-Washington area.

Sources said Sony's plans are similar to those of AMC, which had proposed buying 18 acres at Airport Square Industrial Park two miles north of Baltimore-Washington International Airport. Plans called for a 20- to 24-screen complex with space for a restaurant similar to T.G.I. Friday's.

Last year, County Councilman George F. Bachman introduced a bill at the request of Airport Square officials to clear the way for commercial businesses to move into industrial areas.

Mr. Bachman said he will discuss the project with Mr. Gary this week.

Sam Heffner, one of the developers of the project, was out of town and could not be reached for comment Friday. His partner, Mitchell Weber, did not return phone calls.

Megaplex theaters, often with 20 screens or more, are becoming more common as theater owners search for ways to operate more screens and sell more tickets.

Benefit for hotels

North County business leaders said they would welcome a large theater. A multiplex would give guests staying at one of the 14 hotels in the BWI area another source of entertainment.

"The area can support it because you're talking about a lot of travelers staying in hotels," said Neil M. Shpritz, executive director of the BWI Business Partnership.

"It's not just a community issue," he said. The hotels around here are doing good business, and it would give people something else to do besides sit in their room."

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