Cinetopia likely to lure shoppers to mall

Moviegoers expected to become customers for other tenants

By Cami Joner, Columbian retail & real estate reporter

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When moviegoers head to Westfield Vancouver mall's new Cinetopia movie venue this weekend, they likely will end up visiting other businesses within Clark County's largest shopping center.

That's one of the reasons Westfield officials are looking at the newly opened Cinetopia Vancouver Mall 23 as the crown jewel of an 18-month project to make over the mall. The 23-screen movie complex, which celebrates its official grand opening on Friday, features a slew of creature comforts, such as wide seats with more leg room, and huge movie screens designed to make going to the movies more exciting, said Sarah Williams, marketing director for Westfield Vancouver mall.

In turn, some theater patrons also will shop at some of the 120 stores, kiosks and restaurants at Westfield Vancouver, a 940,230-square-foot shopping complex west of Interstate 205 at state Highway 500.

"We expect Cinetopia to bring an increase in traffic and an uptick in sales," Williams said.

Replacing an empty Mervyn's department store, the $18 million Cinetopia was part of a multimillion-dollar remodel that gave the mall new entrances, fixtures, carpeting, flooring, seating and rest rooms, and moved its escalators to the eastern-most and western-most ends of the shopping center.

Westfield Vancouver mall originally opened in 1978 as Vancouver Mall. It had not been remodeled since the 1990s.

"Cinetopia is really the key to the entire transformation," Williams said.

The Cinetopia location was jointly financed by its owner, Rudyard Coltman, and the shopping center's owner, The Westfield Group, an Australian company with a global portfolio of 119 shopping malls in the United States, Australia, New Zealand and the United Kingdom.

Cinetopia's presence could also help Westfield stores convince local shoppers to do less online shopping and spend more time in the mall's brick and mortar stores, said Jan Teague, president and chief executive officer of the Washington Retail Association in Olympia.

"Especially if we're shopping for clothes, because we want them to fit a certain way," she said.

Williams said mall officials expect Cinetopia to draw a diverse group of patrons to the mall, from families with young children to the older-than-21 crowd. The new theater venue will offer beer and wine to moviegoers in its second-floor living room and parlor-style theaters.

Cinetopia's new restaurant, Brewtopia, will feature more than 30 varieties of beer on tap.