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F.C. Council To Act On Movie Deal Changes

The Falls Church City Council at its business meeting this coming Tuesday (instead of the usual Monday due to Indigenous Peoples Day) will take up the issue of approving some late changes to the deal for the construction of long-awaited motion picture theaters at the Founders Row 1 project on W. Broad.


With the announcement by Mill Creek that the theater company of Paragon has been secured for the project, a timetable that set Sept. 30 for a formal lease signing upon approval of terms and conditions by the City Council has been put off pending Tuesday’s vote, which would modify tentative earlier terms with some late changes to the voluntary concessions and shared economic agreement.


The proposed modifications, allowing for an arcade-like entertainment area in the theater lobby and adjusting the economic agreement with the City to permit the theater group to receive 10 percent of not only the entertainment tax proceeds from ticket sales but also the meals tax proceeds from meals and concessions sold on site, will be on the Council’s agenda this Tuesday.


While the City’s Economic Development Authority has recommended an OK on these modifications, the Planning Commission was deadlocked in a 3-3 vote on the matter last month and therefore stopped short of a recommendation.


In a letter from Mill Creek’s Joe Muffler to the City this summer, it was noted that “the new theater operator “is proposing to utilize a portion of the ground floor lobby as a full service restaurant and bar with entertainment features such as gaming and bowling,” noting “this is a fairly standard component of any theater operation today.”


Modifications also call for reducing the minimum number of seats to 550, down from the earlier agreed-upon number of 750, while the maximum number remains at 850. Muffler wrote that the new number if based on “the quality of the theater environment, larger more luxurious seats reducing the quantity,” along with “the inclusion of a premium large format theater experience.”


The modifications proposed are “fair and justifiable in light of all that has transpired” in the recent period, including the way the pandemic impacted the theater business, from which it is now recovering, Muffler wrote.


Still the industry remains a little shaky, with the news last week that the CMX CineBistro at the Tysons Galleria nearby has delayed its grand opening, originally from last month to the middle of this month, but now has no new date announced.


That outfit has 33 locations with 358 screens across the U.S. and the one set for Tysons has 43,268 square feet and 800 seats across eight screening rooms and doubles as a restaurant with full food and drink service and films starting after 8 p.m. limited to patrons 21 and older.


Paragon will bring a slightly more modest operation to Falls Church, but its chances for success are augmented by the wider entertainment options it is now seeking the OK to include. Falls Church City Manager Wyatt Shields told the News-Press that it is outfits with an array of entertainment options that are faring far better in the movie business now.


Paragon’s current operations are in Fredericksburg, Virginia, Cary, North Carolina, and DelRay Beach and Naples, Florida. The Naples operation has undoubtedly been impacted by Hurricane Ian, but there are no official reports yet.


The Planning Commission action last month on the proposed changes the Council will vote on next Tuesday saw three “yes” votes – Teates, Stevens and Caumont – and three “no” votes from Weiss, Krasner and Hyra.