Regal closes: building to make room for Purple Line

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Regal closes: building to make room for Purple Line

Graphic by Charlotte Alden.

Graphic by Charlotte Alden.

Graphic by Charlotte Alden.

Graphic by Charlotte Alden.

By Carmen Molina

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It’s time to roll the credits on Regal Bethesda; the staple movie theater in downtown Bethesda closed Dec. 16 in anticipation of the Apex building’s upcoming demolition this spring.

Along with Regal Bethesda, the Brown Bag Cafe and the optical store For Eyes will also close. The demolition makes way for the construction of a future Purple Line station, as well as a Capital Crescent Trail tunnel for pedestrians.

The Purple Line is a light rail that will connect the Red, Green, and Orange Metro lines, extending from Bethesda to New Carrollton and connecting Bethesda directly to Silver Spring and University of Maryland. Light rails are “modern street cars powered by overhead electrical wires”, and the line is predicted to begin service in 2022, according to the project’s official website.

Easier access to local areas is an exciting prospect for some students.

“That building wasn’t being used that often, other than for movies, and the Metro has gained a ton of popularity over this past year,” sophomore Natalie Goldstein said. “Having another station in the center of Bethesda is a great idea, and it helps transportation for teens.”

Once the underground construction on the station and tunnel is done, developers plan to build an office building and a residential building, which could potentially be the tallest buildings in Bethesda. Both will have ground-floor retail space around an open plaza, where a future Regal may actually relocate, according to the Bethesda Beat.

But the original Regal Bethesda theatre, which was built in the early 90’s, was one of the oldest in Montgomery County, Matthew Dimitrov (‘16) said. Dimitrov and other Bethesda Regal employees were transferred to other Regal locations in the area.

For many Whitman students, Regal was symbolic of a Bethesda childhood.

“It was basically my childhood movie theater,” sophomore Jeremy Wenick said. “I found out that it was closing and it was really weird and shocking for me.”

Though there are numerous other theater options nearby, the notion of attending another theater is unsettling for some.

“I’ve been seeing movies there since I was a kid,” junior Priya Voetsch said. “I made plans with some people to see the new Star Wars at some other theater and it’s just weird.”

Regal’s closing may bring more business to other cinemas and open theatergoers up to new film repertoires, Voetsch speculated.

“[People] could go see movies at Bethesda Row, which would be great because they could get some exposure to critically acclaimed independent movies,” she said.

For now, the outdoor screen that used to advertise movie titles has only one message left:

“Thank you, Bethesda. We will miss you.”

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