Rooftop Cinema Could be Coming Soon to 1212 Lincoln Road

Susan Askew
Susan Askew

Rooftop Cinema Could be Coming Soon to 1212 Lincoln Road:

Outdoor theater use approved by Commission; project now needs Planning Board okay

An outdoor cinema could be coming soon to 1212 Lincoln Road in Miami Beach. Crescent Heights, the developer, proposed using excess parking spaces on the roof of the newly built garage there but needed an amendment to the City’s Land Development Regulations to make outdoor theaters a permitted use. City Commissioners approved the change earlier this month. Next the project goes to the Planning Board for a Certificate of Use Permit (CUP) in which the operations and potential neighborhood impact are considered. 

Crescent Heights has been working with Rooftop Cinema Club to activate the garage roof with its version of the “dinner and a movie” concept. The company 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. That aspect of its operations, however, is what also gave Commissioners comfort that the theater would have less of an impact on neighboring properties.

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. With social distancing requirements, Rooftop Cinema has expanded its concept from urban rooftops to include Drive-In theater experiences

After the Commission approval of the text amendment, Crescent Heights' Russell Galbut said in an email, “This is an incredible family activity that is outdoors and safe for all!”
“Our City leaders must do all they can to encourage quality investment and development in our community. And with amenities and activities like Rooftop Cinema our residents and tourists alike will have something to enjoy!” he said.
The proposal – to be approved by the Planning Board – is for a single screen theater with up to 3 showings each evening. Movies would start once it is dark. Hours of operation are 5:00 pm to midnight on weekdays and 5:00 pm to 1:00 am on weekends. Outdoor bar counters are required to close at 11:00 pm on weeknights and midnight on weekends. The amendment allows for alcoholic beverage sales and consumption.  

Seating is expected to accommodate 250 people according to a memo from City Manager Jimmy Morales to Commissioners. 

The text amendment requires any noise from televisions, radios or recorded background music not exceed ambient levels and audio from the movies must be delivered only through individually-worn headphones. Movie projectors and screens must be “oriented away from immediately neighboring residential areas and projections may not be substantially visible from the right-of-way.” Sound attenuation is required around the bar area.

To address resident concerns that the space could be used for non-movie events, the amendment states that the bar counter may only be open and operational “during times when the theater use is operational.” In addition, “Theater seats shall be required at all times and shall not be removed from the movie viewing area during all times the business is open.”

In his memo, Morales noted, “The concept of an outdoor, roof-top movie theater venue is intriguing, as it would provide a unique and forward-thinking level of roof-top activation. Additionally, with the use of individual headphones, the negative impacts of spillover noise are reduced.”

With regard to location of the movie screen, bar, and sound attenuation, Morales wrote, "[A]s part of the conditional use process, any potential impacts must be verified."

“The proposed regulations would allow for the development of a roof-top theater, while ensuring that the quality of life for nearby residents is not negatively impacted,” he said. “The conditional use and design review processes provide additional safeguards and opportunities for public input.

Commissioner Mark Samuelian added a requirement for a sound study as part of the Planning Board process which was included in the approval. He also asked for a status update to the Commission after one year with regard to the operations and impact which would be over and above any progress reports that may be required by the Planning Board in any future issuance of a Conditional Use Permit. 

Marisa Galbut said she expects Rooftop Cinema to be before the Planning Board in November and the Design Review Board in December.

Photo above: Rooftop Cinema in San Diego before COVID and social distancing measures

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