Last updated on July 3rd, 2019 at 07:12 pm
Marcus Theatres opened its first BistroPlex earlier this year at Southridge Mall in Greendale, and now wants to open another in Brookfield, even though it already has a movie theater there.
But the newest BistroPlex, which is billed as a restaurant that serves movies, won’t be located at The Corners mixed-use development in Brookfield, in which Marcus has a minority ownership stake.
Instead, the BistroPlex will be built at Brookfield Square Mall as part of an effort to revitalize the mall. The 40,000-square-foot theater will be attached to the shopping center in a separate building as part of the future redevelopment of the Sears building.
The Sears store remains open at Brookfield Square, for now. But eventually, plans indicate the Sears space will be converted into an entertainment center. Officials with Chattanooga, Tennessee-based CBL & Associates Properties Inc., the owner of Brookfield Square Mall, aren’t ready to talk about it.
“We’re thrilled about the addition of BistroPlex at Brookfield Square. It’s the first key component of our Sears redevelopment project,” said a CBL spokeswoman. “We’re unable to announce additional information at this time (regarding Sears) as we’re still in the process of finalizing plans.”
Marcus Theatres was looking at several CBL locations for its second BistroPlex when CBL mentioned its plan to redevelop Brookfield Square, said Rolando Rodriguez, chairman, president and chief executive officer of Marcus Theatres.
It seemed like a perfect fit, Rodriguez said.
“This is a project long sought after by us for many years. Being connected to a shopping center will offer customers an all-day entertainment experience,” Rodriguez said.
The Brookfield BistroPlex will be 5.2 miles from Marcus’ flagship theater, the Marcus Majestic Cinema at 770 N. Springdale Road in the Town of Brookfield, and 5.8 miles from the Marcus Ridge Cinema in New Berlin.
The distance from Brookfield Square to those theaters is similar to the distance from the Greendale BistroPlex and Marcus’ south side theaters, Rodriguez said.
“Traditionally, in our industry, the five mile radius tends to be a good barometer,” he said. “When you look at Brookfield, that area is a really nice growth corridor. We’re putting the (BistroPlex) theater where it makes the most sense.”
Theater at The Corners
The Majestic opened in 2007, replacing two Brookfield theaters, Marcus West Point and the Marcus Westown Cinema.
The vacant West Point building was demolished as part of The Corners project, a $200 million development on a 19-acre site bounded by West Bluemound Road, North Barker Road and I-94.
Marcus Theatres parent company The Marcus Corp. first unveiled plans for The Corners in 2011, and later sold its majority stake for the project to Chicago-based Brookfield Corners LLC, the joint venture formed to build The Corners development.
Rodriguez said Marcus Corp. is still involved in The Corners, but he would not disclose what percentage it owns.
Whatever the percentage, it is apparently not enough to sway any stakeholders on their decisions.
In August, The Corners announced that Miami, Florida-based Silverspot Cinema will enter the Wisconsin Market with a 750-seat, 41,000-square-foot theater at The Corners, a move which Marcus Theatres opposes.
The Silverspot Cinema will focus on cultural programming but will also show first-run movies.
“If we would have thought that was a good strategic location, we would have designed and built a theater there ourselves,” Rodriguez said, adding that The Corners is not structurally designed for a movie theater.
“We’ve expressed as partners and as experts in the business our feelings that this is not logical,” Rodriguez said. “We hope that rational minds come to bear.”
Downtown movie theater plans
While Marcus Theatres has been looking at suburban growth, it has not lost sight of downtown Milwaukee.
In June 2016, plans surfaced on a Baltimore-based architectural firm’s website depicting “Edison Place,” a mixed-use development northwest of North Water Street and East Knapp Street in downtown Milwaukee being developed by The Marcus Corp. Renderings included an eight-screen cinema, fueling excitement for a downtown theater.
“We believe it is time to have a theater downtown, as well,” Rodriguez said.
But the Edison Place site, which Marcus Corp. owns, might not be where its theater is ultimately located, Rodriguez said.
“We are exploring multiple opportunities within the downtown for a theater. It may not be there. There are no definitive plans,” he said.