1212 Lincoln Road Developers Propose Rooftop Cinema

Lincoln Road

Susan Askew
Susan Askew

1212 Lincoln Road Developers Propose Rooftop Cinema:

Movie and city views take the drive-in to a new level

UPDATE: Approved by City Commission on September 16, 2020. 

What do you do with excess parking spaces? If you’re the developers of the 1212 Lincoln Road project in Miami Beach, you create an outdoor cinema reminiscent of the old drive-in but with a modern – and very urban – twist.

Crescent Heights is building a parking garage and retail center in the first phase of the 1212 project with a CitizenM Hotel in phase two. As phase one nears completion, the developer is talking with Rooftop Cinema Club to activate the garage roof with its version of the “dinner and a movie” concept. Rooftop Cinema now operates in Houston, New York, San Diego (photo above), and Los Angeles as well as in the UK.

The business model is very urban. “Our locations drop you in the heart of your city’s most immersive skylines,” the company’s website proclaims. “We believe that all experiences should be memorable, which is why we are on a mission to transform nights at the moves to cinematic events like no other. You bring your friends and loved ones, and we’ll bring you city skylines, sunsets, starlit evenings, awesome drinks, delicious food, and great movies on the big screen.”

To bring the concept to reality, however, the Miami Beach Commission will need to approve a zoning change allowing an outdoor cinema on the site. Marisa Galbut, Regional Director for Crescent Heights, presented the idea to the Commission’s Land Use and Sustainability Committee which generally supported it but asked for community outreach first.

Rooftop Cinema uses state-of-the-art wireless headphones which allow move-goers to “live in those memorable cinematic moments, and not get disturbed by the outside world,” according to its website. Galbut, however, said it also prevents any noise from the movie impacting the nearby community. 

The theater area, she said, would be on the south side of the project, with the screen on the east, away from residential buildings. The floor surface would be green asphalt.

Rooftop Cinema provides deckchairs (for one or loveseats for two) “with adjustable seat heights, pillows and plenty of leg room” and on those chilly nights, they’ll even provide a blanket.

“Every location is complete with a food menu and a full bar featuring refreshing cocktails, beer and wine. Our box office is also stocked with classic movie snacks, candy and popcorn. All popcorn purchases are bottomless, so you can refill as many times as you like,” the company says.

It’s the alcohol that concerns a couple of Commissioners. Committee Chair Mark Samuelian asked Galbut to reach out to the neighboring building about the concept. “They may love it. They may think the ability to go to a movie and grab a drink is an amenity,” he said. “On the other hand, I just wonder about something new on the roof where there’s alcohol. I wonder how they’re going to respond and I’d rather have that conversation before we go too far with that.”

Commissioner Michael Góngora said, “When people are ordering drinks, sometimes they’re more boisterous when the film lets out.” He agreed it was good idea to meet with the neighbors. “They may embrace it,” he said.

The third Committee member and sponsor of the item, Commissioner Ricky Arriola, said, “Go do the outreach,” but asked, “How’s it different from people sitting in a café drinking?”

Galbut noted the project is “a full block project” in a commercial district and the location of the cinema is “not close to anything on the other side” but she agreed to meet with the neighboring building.

Other than the alcohol, the Committee expressed support.

“I think it will be a great public benefit, great public amenity,” Arriola said. “Soundscape Park serves as a great example of how movies bring people together so I’m fully supportive of this.”

“I think it’s a cool concept,” Góngora said. “I, personally, love all the rooftop activations that are happening on Lincoln Road so this is obviously an extension of that.”

“The alcohol’s the thing,” Samuelian said. “I love the movie. I think it’s very creative. I’ve never even heard of it.”

Galbut responded, “There’s one theater on the Beach. They serve alcohol as well.” Góngora agreed but noted the location of 1212 Lincoln on the other side of Alton Road from the Regal Cinema is adjacent to a residential building.

The Committee asked for a report on the community outreach and times when movies would be shown. Galbut noted there is only one movie per night but said she would confirm showtimes.

According to Rooftop Cinema’s model in other cities, “Doors open early before the screening, so you can enjoy all the elements of our experience during the most beautiful times – golden hour, sunset and dusk. The movie begins after the sun goes down, just as the stars are coming out and the city lights are starting to twinkle.”

Rooftop calls its model “social cinema” adding activities to the “dinner and a movie” concept. “Our program is hand-picked with a personal touch and features everything from cult films, to classics, to new releases. To make our favorite movies extra special, we curate a monthly set of events with unique elements. Think games, prizes, talent Q&As, movie premieres, sing-a-longs and more.”

The Land Use Committee will get the report on the community outreach and limits on showtimes at its March 17 meeting.  A referral to the Planning Board will be on the Commission’s March 18 agenda pending a positive recommendation from the Committee. Once the Planning Board reviews it, the ordinance change allowing the outdoor cinema would require two readings at Commission.


Photo: Rooftop Cinema

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