21 Aug 2014
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Roland Park on Rotunda Arcade: Tilt

Members of the Roland Park Civic League worried the arcade may entice the wrong crowd to hang out at the struggling mall.

Roland Park on Rotunda Arcade: Tilt

Ira Miller, owner of the Rotunda Cinemas and would-be arcade impresario, agreed to delay his scheduled hearing with the city’s zoning board on Tuesday.

Miller was seeking support from the Roland Park Civic League to open an old-fashioned arcade, featuring games such as pinball and skeeball, across from his theaters in the Rotunda. To open the arcade Miller needs approval for a "conditional use" from the Board of Municipal and Zoning Appeals that will depend heavily on neighborhood support.

"I just want to do something nicer for the Rotunda," Miller said.

But members of the civic league were skeptical of Miller’s plans, and expressed their dislike for the concept of the arcade. Several members worried aloud about teenagers hanging out and hurting business further at the struggling Rotunda.

Miller said that he would like to have 25 machines in the space and have it open from 1 to 9 p.m., seven days a week.

"I would like to find a way to use this space but not for that use," Roland Park Civic League President Phil Spevak said.

Miller tried to assuage fears by telling the civic league he has no intention of opening something that would hurt his more than $750,000 investment in the . He has added two screens to the theater, brining the total to four, upgraded the sound and projection systems and will open a coffee shop at the theater shortly.

"It was just an idea, OK. It was just an idea to get more families into the Rotunda," Miller said.

Civic league members also expressed concerns about supporting the conditional use because that use would be allowed at the space going forward, even if Miller’s arcade doesn’t succeed. Spevak argued the use could end up with someone using the space for "peep shows" or electronic gaming.

Miller agreed to delay his meeting and to possibly seek an "accessory use" that would tie the use of the space as an arcade to the operation of the theater, and not the physical space in the mall.

"I get it," Miller said. "I’ll do whatever you want me to."

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