By Steve Plunkett
Coming soon to a shopping mall near you — a decidedly 21st century movie theater with “premium-plus” leather recliners, pillows and blankets, and someone to take your food and cocktail order at the start of the show.
That’s the vision former Muvico executive Hamid Hashemi has for the vacant AMC theater at Mizner Park.
“Mizner Park needs to become that destination that it used to be,” Hashemi, now chief executive of iPic Theaters, told the city’s Planning and Zoning Board on Dec. 8.
The theaters iPic builds are typically eight auditoriums instead of 24-screen megaplexes with 40 to 60 seats instead of 300, Hashemi said. The Boca Raton site would be its ninth location.
“The concept is we’re building lesser theaters but very, very comfortable theaters,” he said.
His cinema in Scottsdale, Ariz., won awards this year for restaurant design, club design and retail space.
“It has all the look and feel of a luxury hotel,” said Hashemi, who also built the Palace 20 by the Boca Raton Airport in 2000.
The reclining seats at iPic are electric.
“You push a button, the back reclines, footrest comes up; push a button and service comes to you,” Hashemi said. “When you enter the auditorium you’re handed a pillow and a blanket.’’
The company will move an interior stairway to the back of the building to open up the front.
Its restaurant will offer outdoor dining along Federal Highway and Northeast Third Street.
“This corner, which is probably the most important corner of Mizner Park, is nothing but walls,” Hashemi said. “There is no place when you drive by, outside of that little cinema sign, you won’t know there is a theater over there. So our goal was to make this really stand out.’’
The theater, which originally had 1,900 seats, will have only 465 when iPic opens in May. That means fewer movie patrons will be looking for parking spaces, Hashemi said.
The new theater, he added, will “put Mizner Park back on the map.”
“It’s beautiful. You’ve brought an innovative design, and I applaud you,” Planning and Zoning Board member Richard Coffin said.
The Community Appearance Board already had approved the project. It now goes to the Community Redevelopment Agency.