The Willow Grove Mall has submitted a Conditional Use application to open a Studio Movie Grill movie theater in the former JC Penny's store. The Mall's application differs from the recent proposal to redevelop the Abington YMCA in that a movie theater is a contemplated use for the Mall under our zoning ordinance. As such, the Mall is entitled to a hearing, and the Board may approve the application without an amendment to our zoning ordinance provided the application meets certain criteria.
Last night, the Board of Commissioners conducted a hearing to consider the Mall's application. We heard from representatives of the Mall's owner and Studio Movie Grill, as well as the Mall manager and a traffic engineer. Two residents also spoke. Based on this testimony, I was satisfied that the theater would have a positive impact on our Township as a whole as well as the neighbors closest to the mall. In my opinion, the Mall is a critical component of the Township's economic engine. As malls across the country fail, we should do all we can to support Willow Grove's efforts to attract new tenants which will ensure that the Mall is a viable enterprise for many more years to come. I think that the addition of an attraction like a movie theater is an important step in that direction, and I was happy to cast my vote in favor of the project. The Board voted unanimously to approve the application.
The Mall hopes to open the theater by Labor Day of 2019 without expanding the existing footprint of the property. If you are unfamiliar with the concept of Studio Movie Grill, it is restaurant and movie theater similar to Movie Tavern in Flourtown. SMG will have a full menu and bar, and you can eat and drink while watching a movie. Aside from the positive economic impact -including 250 new jobs-, I am excited to have a theater so close by! I hope you and your family enjoy this added convenience as well.
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