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Construction of an ArcLight movie theater on the third level of the Santa Monica Place mall is underway but plans for a second theater, with 14 screens and about 2,400 seats, to replace Parking Structure 3 on Fourth Street, were filed with City Hall earlier this month.

City Council voted last year to enter negotiations with ArcLight over the new theater. Macerich, which also owns the Santa Monica Place mall, would serve as the developer of this project.

ArcLight officials unveiled early design plans for the theater on Tuesday at a meeting of Downtown Santa Monica Inc., the public-private organization that manages the Downtown for City Hall.

Representatives from the architectural firm Jerde showed off renderings of an angular white structure, just under 84 feet tall, with large windows in the front.

Several Downtown Santa Monica Inc. members lauded the designs.

Plans for the site, which currently holds about 324 parking spaces, would include three ground floor retail spaces and three levels of theaters.

Three screens would be located on the theaters’ lobby floor, which is also where ArcLight envisions guests lounging with wine or viewing art exhibits. The structure, they said, is meant to look more like an arts building, rather than a movie theater.

A floor below the theater’s lobby would house two large screen auditoriums and two other screens. There would be sevens screens in the level above the lobby.

The largest theater would seat about 400 people and the smallest would seat about 70.

Until the recent spate of theater development and refurbishing, Santa Monica hadn’t had new theaters in more than two decades.

Executives of the American Film Market, the largest independent film market in the country, complained about the aging state of Santa Monica’s theaters in 2013. The Laemmle began a redesign last year, downsizing from 1,091 seats to 372 and gaining licenses to allow alcohol in the theaters and on-site restaurants.

The Santa Monica Place ArcLight will add 10 to 13 screens and 1,500 seats with construction initially expected to be completed by the end of this year.

ArcLight hopes to go before the Planning Commission for the new Fourth Street ArcLight by the end of the year.

After the Planning Commission weighs in, City Council would have the final say as to whether or not to approve the design.

The theater would add no new parking spaces Downtown. The end of Parking Structure 3 was envisioned when City Hall redeveloped Parking Structure 6, which now holds 700 vehicles. Additionally, a development proposed for public land on Arizona Avenue at Fourth and Fifth streets, very close to Parking Structure 3, will likely include parking garages.

The national theater chain AMC was close to a deal that would have added theaters to Parking Structure 3, but that fell through in 2012.

dave@www.smdp.com

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