Century City Marketplace to Debut : Eating Attractions, Theater Seen Perking up Night Life

Opening ceremonies will be held Thursday for the Century City Shopping Center's new Festival Marketplace, a $25-million expansion which the center's owner hopes will create more night and weekend traffic at a complex where most sales are currently made during the day.

The Marketplace, on little Santa Monica Boulevard between Avenue of the Stars and Century Park West, includes five restaurants and an "international food hall" with patio food-vendors. It also includes the new AMC Century 14, a 14-screen theater complex.

The theaters and restaurants comprise the third phase of a program begun four years ago to make the 23-year-old center one of the Westside's premier shopping, dining and entertainment complexes.

San Francisco-based Rosenberg Real Estate Equity Funds, or RREEF, began the renovation program shortly after it purchased the 17-acre shopping center in 1983. The first two phases, valued at $11 million, included the renovation of existing buildings and improvement of signage and parking.

Hope for More Traffic

The fund hopes the addition of several eating establishments and the movie complex will generate more traffic at night and on the weekend, said Michael Strle, the center's general manager.

He said his company didn't want a mall food court "with 17 stalls featuring hot dogs on a stick," but a European-style marketplace with an array of quality eating establishments.

"Then, in later meetings, we decided to take the second-floor space and build the largest theater we could accommodate," Strle said.

The fund hired Cambridge, Mass.-based Benjamin Thompson & Associates to handle the third phase's design. BTA has designed several nationally known projects, including the Faneuel Hall Marketplace in Boston, South Street Seaport in New York and Harbor Place in Baltimore.

'Hangar Doors'

The Marketplace is designed to give visitors "the feel of a huge and colorful open-air market--a gourmet market where you can get anything from sliced meats, to fresh crab . . . to a terrific pastry or croissant," Strle said.

A soaring wood roof has clerestory windows that can be opened to let the sun in, or closed during inclement weather. Visitors enter the complex through huge "hangar doors" that let in more sun.

BTA selected graphics and colors expressing American folk history to complement the design of the building. Colorful tiles along the south and west patios are arranged in designs derived from quilt patterns, and walls are covered with hand-painted murals.

Key to the Marketplace are its four new restaurants. They are Langan's Brasserie, a London-based dining house; Yin Yang, a Chinese restaurant partially owned by the founder of Jade West Restaurant; Stage Deli, a New York-style delicatessen, and Paradise Beach Club, a bar and entertainment facility.

14-Screen Theater

The operator of a fifth and final restaurant will be announced soon, Strle said.

The exterior of the Marketplace is rimmed with patio vendors peddling gourmet hamburgers, European sausage, Mexican food and the like.

The 68,300-square-foot theater complex has 14 screens and 3,000 seats. Four of the theaters have 500 seats and the rest have between 175 to 450 seats.

The Marketplace also includes new retail space, including a large bookstore and Go Sport, a retailer of sporting goods and apparel.

Dinwiddie Construction is general contractor, and exclusive leasing agent is Edward Plant Co. Both firms are based in San Francisco.

Today's dedication ceremonies will begin at 11:30 a.m. at the Little Santa Monica Boulevard entrance. At 8:30 p.m. the center will hold a fashion and light show featuring casual to couture fashions from Century City Shopping Center stores.

The opening celebration will continue for four days, featuring music, dancers, singers and fireworks.

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