UA theater chain shuts downtown 9-screen cinema

Harbor Park fell into disrepair, hurt by megaplex trend

Cordish signals interest


April 08, 2000|By Lorraine Mirabella | Lorraine Mirabella,SUN STAFF

United Artists has shut down its nine-screen movie theater at the Inner Harbor, which opened as a showpiece more than a decade ago but had fallen into disrepair.

Colorado-based United Artists Theatre Circuit Inc., which runs about 300 theaters with nearly 2,000 screens, has been closing underperforming theaters, according to the company's financial documents. The theater chain, which has been closing mostly smaller, older theaters, said it has seen sales drop as competitors built stadium seating megaplexes in some of United Artists' markets.

Kurt Hall, chief executive officer of the chain, and Neil Pinsker, executive vice president of theater operations, were unavailable yesterday to discuss the March 28 closing of the Harbor Park theater, at Market Place and Lombard Street.

The brick building also houses a parking garage, the Baja Beach Club and McDonald's and sits next to the Port Discovery children's museum.

Harbor Park's landlord, Leonard Sachs, was traveling and unavailable for comment.

At United Artists' Englewood, Colo., headquarters, questions about the theater closing were referred to Charles Fogel, vice president of the eastern region in Princeton, N.J., who did not return several phone calls.

The theater is not expected to reopen.

When it opened in December 1985, the $3 million theater was hailed as the largest in one building in the Baltimore area and the first new movie palace to hit any downtown in years.

Reed S. Cordish, a vice president of Cordish Co., which is redeveloping the nearby Brokerage into a downtown entertainment district with bars, nightclubs, restaurants and outdoor performances, said it might make sense to extend its planned Power Plant Live development to the theater site.

Power Plant Live will be a block north of Harbor Park, across from Port Discovery.

"We certainly have an unbelievable amount of interest [from tenants] in Power Plant Live," Cordish said.

The closing of the theater offers a chance for the space to be upgraded and become an asset to Market Place, said Joe Weinberg, a Cordish vice president developing Power Plant Live.

"There hasn't been any money put into the place for a long time," Weinberg said. "It's an opportunity for the landlord to upgrade the space."

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