Magic Johnson theater to grace Landover project Megaplex to have 16 screens, stadium seating

Development

October 15, 1998|By Lorraine Mirabella | Lorraine Mirabella,SUN STAFF

Magic Johnson Theatres will build a 16-screen, stadium-style movie megaplex as an anchor of the planned Capital Centre entertainment and retail complex on the site of US Airways Arena in Landover, the project's developers plan to announce today.

Loews Cineplex Entertainment and Johnson Development Corp. formed the chain three years ago to bring upscale, first-run cinemas to minority neighborhoods in metropolitan areas, said a spokeswoman for Magic Johnson Theatres. The chain runs similar theaters in Los Angeles, Atlanta and Houston and plans to open three more next year in Cleveland, Harlem, N.Y., and Carson, Calif.

The 4,000-seat theater is the first tenant to sign on to the $150 million Capital Centre project, announced in April by its developers, the Cordish Co. of Baltimore and Abe Pollin, owner of the Landover arena and its 70-acre site off Interstate 95. The megaplex will employ 75 to 100 people.

The arena was the former home of Pollin's two professional sports teams, the Wizards of the National Basketball Association and the Capitals of the National Hockey League. Both moved to the MCI Center in Washington.

Plans call for the 19,000-seat arena to be redeveloped as the project's centerpiece -- a 5,000-seat performance theater and a recreational area for limited skating, soccer and basketball practice. The centerpiece will be surrounded by a network of pedestrian-friendly streets and plazas lined with shops, restaurants and small entertainment venues, said David Cordish, chairman of the Cordish Co.

About 383,000 square feet of new shops and cafes -- and the movie theater -- will be built on much of what is now the arena's parking lot, Cordish said.

Although no other retailers have signed up, Cordish has said he anticipates tenants similar to those at his other urban entertainment centers, such as the Hard Rock Cafe, Barnes & Noble and Walt Disney Co.'s ESPN Zone. The Capital Centre's $85 million first phase should open in 2000, he said.

Multiplex theaters, such as the proposed Magic Johnson Theatre, are "the crucial engine driving retail and entertainment projects in the next century," Cordish said.

Basketball legend Earvin "Magic" Johnson, chief executive officer of Johnson Development Corp., is expected to attend ceremonies at the arena today to announce the new theater,

Pub Date: 10/15/98

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