Plan for upscale movie theaters at Block 37 a reversal for city

SHARE Plan for upscale movie theaters at Block 37 a reversal for city

Seven years afterformer Mayor Richard M. Daley dropped his long-held opposition tothe idea of building movie theaters at Block 37, a deal has been signed.

An 11-screen AMC Dine-In Theatre is set to open byearly 2016atthe mallat State and Randolph streets in the Loop.

The mall’s owner, Los Angeles-based CIM Group, announced Monday alease with AMC for the theaters and a MacGuffin’s Bar & Lounge to occupy44,000 square feet on the fourth floor of the five-story mall. The bar and grill will be located inthe theaterlobby. CIM recently announced plans to build a 34-story, 690-unit apartment tower above Block 37.

Movie-goers will be able to reserve posh seating and eat meals while they watch their favorite flicks.The new theaterswill feature what AMC calls its “premier Cinema Suites experience,” where adults ages 18 and older may reserveseating in plushrecliners with individual swivel tables. People ages 21 and older may order cocktails too.

The announcement comes seven years after the Sun-Times reported that the mall’s previous developer, Joseph Freed & Associates LLC, had sold Daley on a plan to bring a seven-screen, 800-seat complex by Muvico Entertainment LLC to the site. The property declined into foreclosure five years ago. CIM Group bought itin April 2012 from Bank of America, which had purchased it as part of a foreclosure lawsuit.

The mall now includes retailers Anthropologie, The Disney Store, Godiva chocolates, Sephora and Zara, among others. It is slated to open a dining hall on the third floor and a new restaurant and bar on the ground floor at the corner of Randolph and Dearborn streets.

Daley’s opposition stemmed from his fear of a repeat of the decline of the old Loop movie houses.

Daley remembered how those rundown theaters and the seedy crowds they attracted hurt the business image of downtown Chicago during his father’s tenure as mayor.

Downtown Ald. Brendan Reilly (42nd) said Monday he’s “aware of Mayor Daley’s past concerns with movie theaters in the Loop.”

But Reilly said he would “reserve judgment” on AMC’s new plan until he is “properly briefed.”

The alderman bemoaned the fact that no one from property owner CIM or the AMC movie chain reached out to discuss the plan with him before it was announced.

“I’m not surprised major, national brands like AMC want to be in the Loop,” Reilly wrote in an email to the Sun-Times.

“The Loop has seen a total transformation over the past decade, evolving from a 9-5 business district into a 24-7 mixed-use neighborhood,” he said. “The 42nd Ward is the city’s Central Business District and the Loop is at its heart. I’m excited about all of the new investment and job creation happening here in the Loop – that can only be good for the City of Chicago.”

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