New Movie Theater Has Park Businesses Worried

By Guy Leonard, The County Times

HOLLYWOOD, Md. (Dec. 19, 2013)—For years county residents have been waiting for a new, more modern movie theater to augment the one currently open on FDR Boulevard in Lexington Park. But, business community leaders there are worried that the coming of a new 12-screen cineplex at the Oak Crest development in California will draw even more patrons away from what was once the retail center of the county.

Robin Finnacom, director of the county’s Department of Economic and Community Development, said their worries are well founded.

“Their concerns are fair and we see that with any new shopping center,” Finnacom said.

For a decade, commercial development on Route 235 north of Lexington Park has grown quickly and the addition of a new movie theater -- a key anchor business in any large development to bring in shoppers and restaurant goers -- could draw away even more customers from an area trying to revitalize itself.

Finnacom said there was an air installation compatible-use zone in effect in Lexington Park, which effectively restricts revitalization and reinvestment in older properties in favor of safety from aircraft accidents.

“It’s more competition and the revitalization community is competing with Route 235,” Finnacom said. “There are fewer things you can accomplish downtown.”

The new theater would be built by R/C Theaters and have a 2,400 seat capacity while being situated back in the center that will accommodate about 900,000 square feet of commercial space.

Despite its age, business owners in the park are thankful for the AMC Theater’s presence since it still attracts customers to local shops.

Finnacom said she still goes to the theater.

“They have excellent popcorn, it’s better than other theaters I’ve been to,” she said. “It’s convenient and it’s close to restaurants.”

Still, she lamented the condition the theater has come to over the years since it was built in the 1990s.

“It has been disappointing that the ownership of the theater haven’t chosen to reinvest [in it.]” Finnacom said, despite being offered assistance from the county and nearby private investors. “They’ve declined every offer.”

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