ST. PETERSBURG — It has been seven years since the AMC theater at Tyrone Square Mall showed its last movie and equally long since officials from the shopping complex announced a new, free-standing luxury theater and restaurant would take its place.
That never happened.
But on Wednesday, Cobb Theatres and Simon Property Group, the company that owns the mall, announced in a news release that construction on a Cobb Luxury 10 Theatre outfitted with full-service restaurant and bar will begin early next year. The multiplex is expected to open by early 2016.
The new free-standing structure will be in the mall's northwest parking area, which faces Tyrone Boulevard, and contain 10 auditoriums with 1,200 total stadium-style seats, or a little more than 100 seats per theater.
"It's more about the quality of the experience than the number of people we can cram into the space," said Jeremy Welman, Cobb Theatres chief operating officer.
The theater will feature wall-to-wall screens with 3D capabilities, electronically controlled reclining leather seats with footrests and specially equipped D-BOX auditorium chairs that react with the action of a film for an "immersive movie experience," the news release stated.
Welman would not discuss the cost of the project.
Moviegoers will have the option to dine at Cobbster's Kitchen and Bar, a family-friendly eatery that will serve "fresh and from-scratch" food and beverages that can be consumed in the movie, at self-seating tables in the lobby or in the bar and lounge, where full-service dining is offered.
"For a long time, it felt that area specifically was ripe for a much larger, nice, new amenity-driven concept," Welman said.
He added that Cobb has been eyeing Tyrone Square for several years and that the company is excited to claim the spot.
"It has just taken a long time," he said.
In January 2007, after three decades of operation, AMC closed its six-screen theater at Tyrone Mall — an Old Navy is in its place — and vowed to open a luxury multiplex with a restaurant in the northwest corner parking lot. The city's Development Review Commission approved plans for the larger theater at the end of 2007 and in 2008 — around the same time the economy tanked — the mall asked for a three-year extension as it negotiated with AMC.
A theater never emerged, and just before the approved plan expired, the mall submitted a modified plan for a 44,000-square-foot building to be built beyond JCPenney, which the city approved in 2013. At that time, the Tampa Bay Times reported it was unclear whether the mall was simply buying time or had concrete plans for a theater seven years in the making.
Contact Katie Mettler at firstname.lastname@example.org or (727) 893-8913. Follow her @kemettler.