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New Cinemas Planned for Fashion Center

July 29, 1993|MARTHA L. WILLMAN | TIMES STAFF WRITER

GLENDALE — An eight-screen cinema complex will be built on the third floor of the former Robinson's department store in the Glendale Fashion Center, developers announced this week.

The cinema, as well as a new restaurant, retail shops and a specialty supermarket, is expected to become the centerpiece of a revitalized 6.7-acre shopping center to be called the Glendale Centrium, Lee B. Hoffman of Minnesota, a partner in the center, said Tuesday.

Robinson's, on Wilson Street at Glendale Avenue, was closed in January by May Department Stores Co. of St. Louis, which is building a three-story Robinsons-May outlet as an anchor department store at Central Avenue and Colorado Street in the Glendale Galleria.

Fashion Center owners announced earlier this year that the first floor of the old Robinson's will become a Pavilions market, to be operated by The Vons Companies Inc. of Arcadia.

The multiplex theater is the second major lessee in the center, where reconstruction is expected to begin either late this year or early next spring, Hoffman said.

The cinema will be operated by Krikorian Premier Theatres Inc., a Redondo Beach firm that specializes in building upscale entertainment centers. The Glendale theater will be the ninth project undertaken by the company, President George Krikorian said Tuesday. He said the Glendale theater is a continuation of the company's efforts to expand into key West Coast markets.

The Krikorian project will be the third multiplex in Glendale, where the once-thriving row of single-screen movie houses along Brand Boulevard were deemed outdated and shut down in the last few years. Two multiscreen theaters, on Maryland Avenue north of Broadway and on Orange Street at Milford Street, have since been built.

"Our new Glendale theaters will highlight many features found in our other operations," Krikorian said.

The theaters will have stereo sound systems, deluxe seating with cup-holder armrests, custom-decorated interiors with lavish use of stone and imported fabrics, specially designed auditorium wall sound panels, infrared sound systems for the hearing impaired and a fully computerized box office that will allow customers to purchase tickets up to a week in advance.

The box office in the Glendale Centrium will be on the second floor of the old Robinson's building. Customers will ascend to the third floor on an escalator flanked by a two-story glass wall, with views of surrounding restaurant and retail activities and the San Gabriel Mountains, said William J. Thompson, spokesman for the center.

Krikorian Theatres, launched in 1984 with development of Peninsula 9, a multiscreen cinema on the third level of a shopping mall in the Palos Verdes Peninsula, also has new theaters in La Habra, Diamond Bar, San Pedro, Whittier, San Bernardino, La Mirada and San Diego.

A conditional-use permit for revitalization of the Glendale shopping mall was granted by the city last month, pending design approval of new facilities. The roof of the old Robinson's building, for instance, will have to be replaced with a higher roof to accommodate installation of movie screens, officials said. Those plans are not finalized, Hoffman said.

Center owners also plan to demolish one wing of the shopping mall to expand a surface parking lot and give the center greater visibility from its main entrance at 211 N. Glendale Ave. The wing to be demolished currently houses the In Cahoots western nightclub, ClothesTime and three other retail shops.

Several retail stores and the once-popular Churchill's Restaurant in the 288,000-square-foot mall have been vacant for more than a year. Prior to the closing of Robinson's, retail sales had stagnated at about $35 million a year over a five-year period, city officials said. Retail sales this year, and tax revenues to the city, are expected to drop further.

Hoffman said owners of the 26-year-old mall filed for bankruptcy in 1991 after a lender, Balcor Pension Investors IV, raised interest rates to 18% and attempted to foreclose on a $6.3-million loan.

Owners have since subleased for their own use a city-owned, multilevel garage at the center originally built for Robinson's and plan to settle the bankruptcy proceeding by rebuilding a more modern, upscale facility, Hoffman said.

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