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Philly Developer Could Expand Ritz Five Movie Theatre, Add Apartments on Top

By Veronica Grecu, Associate Editor

A Philadelphia developer is in the preliminary stages of a redevelopment project at the Ritz Five movie theater located at 214 Walnut St. in the Society Hill neighborhood. Founded in 1976 by Ramon L. Posel as a three-screen theater, the venue was expanded to five screens a decade later. In March 2007, the Ritz Five was acquired by Landmark Theaters—a large movie theater chain that owns and operates 52 theaters with 229 screens in 21 cities across the U.S.

According to PlanPhilly.com, Mosaic Development Partners—which serves as Landmark Theaters’ partner on the Philadelphia market—has started working on a plan to modernize and expand the existing Ritz Five structure into a mixed-use development that would include a multi-story residential building. While the actual project is still in the early design stages, the developer shared some ideas with the Society Hill Civic Association’s Zoning and Historic Preservation Committee.

The upgraded theater facility would feature eight screens. Though the screening rooms would be smaller, they would have comfortable furniture. Additionally, alcoholic beverages would be served by waitresses, and each screening room could be rented for private parties or showings, Zoning and Historic Preservation Committee Chairwoman Lorna Katz Lawson told PlanPhilly.com.

As for the project’s residential component, the developer would build a new facility with around 90 apartment units. The residential building would sit atop the theater and be at least 14 stories high, which would not require any height variance, said Lorna Katz Lawson.

Over the past year, developers have completed and delivered 877 market-rate rental units in Philaldelphia, and another 1,500 units are slated for delivery in 2013, according to a recent market report by Marcus & Millichap.

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Image via Google Maps; Chart courtesy of Marcus & Millichap