Donald Wood, president and chief executive of Federal Realty Investment Trust, knows the company’s development on Rockville Pike in White Flint needs a there — something unique to the Washington area that will put his company’s new development on the map.
Wood thinks he has found it.
Federal Realty plans to open a luxury movie theater and restaurant venue by iPic Entertainment to drive the first phase of redevelopment of its Mid-Pike Plaza. When the new project opens in 2014, it will do so under the name Pike & Rose, signaling its location at the corner of Rockville Pike and Montrose Parkway.
Founded in 2007, iPic operates eight high-end movie theaters nationwide that offer luxury amenities including the option to reserve specific seats in advance; large, plush chairs; and dining and drinks that can be delivered to moviegoers in their seats.
Mark Mulcachy, iPic’s vice president of marketing, said the theater would have eight screens with 90 to 120 seats per theater. An adjoining restaurant, called Tanzy, will serve lunch and dinner with a menu featuring local ingredients.
Mulcachy said that iPic, founded by film industry entrepreneur Hamid Hashemi, reflects the industry’s push to develop new theaters capable of drawing movie viewers away from their big flatscreen televisions at home.
Hasehmi said iPic attracts people who want to experience an evening on the town.
“Having a theater at home is sort of like having a kitchen at home. You still want to go out and spend time in a social, intimate environment,” he said.
IPic offers memberships with discounts and specials, and now has more than 400,000 members, Mulcachy said. Ticket prices range from $15 to $22, he said, but can run as high as $29 in some markets for “premium-plus” seats, which offer better views and wait service, as well as pillows and blankets.
The theater will anchor the first phase of redevelopment in White Flint for Federal Realty, a publicly traded real estate investment trust, headquartered in Rockville. Federal has been plotting changes for the area since 1990, when it arranged for many of the leases on the site to expire in 2010, and Pike & Rose is poised possibly to become the first development under the new plan. In addition to iPic, the first phase would include 300 high-rise apartments and 160 low-rise apartments at the corner of Hoya Street and Old Georgetown Road.
Wood acknowledged some risk in signing a nascent company as the headline tenant for the project.
“Trying to find the right use for the next 10 years, not the last 10 years, is a critical process. And would I have preferred iPic to have been in business 20 years, with a longer track record of success? Absolutely.”
Movie theaters do not always make good anchors because they draw few crowds during the day on weekdays and don’t always benefit surrounding stores. But having traveled to Scottsdale, Ariz., to see an iPic theater there, Wood said he liked that the company’s model took the stress out of hustling from a dinner to a movie and trying to get a good seat — something he did not see elsewhere in Washington.
“On balance, that all went into the decision-making here. It is the right tenant to kind of kick off something that you can’t get anywhere else. And there has to be a reason that you are coming to this exact piece of land. And this is that reason,” he said.