Enzian Theater plans two new screens for 2016



The Enzian, the Orlando area’s art-house and independent cinema, hopes to break ground this year on an expansion that will roughly double its size, the theater announced Sunday during its 30th anniversary celebration. Construction is expected to take about a year, Enzian President Henry Maldonado says, with fall 2016 as the completion target.

“We want to give you more movies [and] maintain an environment that cares about the viewer,” Maldonado says. “As we move on, we are adding, for lack of another word, audiences to ourselves.”

The permitting process is expected to begin soon. The plans, called Enzian Forever, are similar to those revealed by Orlando Weekly in 2013. Two theaters, one seating 80 and another seating 50, will be added to the existing 230-seat venue, increasing the movie-going capacity by 57 percent. The addition, planned for the north and east sides of the existing structure, will also feature restrooms, an expanded kitchen, a box office and a large lobby with an indoor eating area.

The rest of the property will remain mostly unchanged. The current entrance will morph into either additional eating space for Eden Bar or a staging area for special events, but the marquee will remain.

Parking, too, won’t be significantly altered, except for the loss of a few employee spaces and the addition of some handicapped-parking spots. Valet service will be available more often, but speculation that a portion of the main lot would be designated as valet parking is unfounded, Maldonado says, adding that Park Maitland School will continue to provide space for valet parking and self-parking overflow.

On especially crowded days, guests may have to park on the other side of Orlando Avenue, although Maldonado says the city of Maitland does not plan to add a crosswalk at Magnolia Road.

“Parking is not a problem for the permitting, and it’s not going to be a problem for the festival,” Maldonado says.

The Enzian does not plan to acquire additional land or significantly alter the forested area on the north and east. The 400-year-old live oaks will remain, as will virtually all the landscaping on the south and west sides. A small citrus grove will be added on the northeast side, and some native plant species will be reintroduced.

The expansion, designed by Malcolm Holzman, will require raising $6 million, $3.6 million of which has already been acquired through major contributions from nine organizations, including the Tiedtke family, which owns the Enzian.

“We are committed to maintaining a sense of place at Enzian, a home where friends come together to appreciate and discuss film,” says Executive Vice President Elizabeth Tiedtke Mukherjee, the project’s manager.

Maldonado says he anticipates no lengthy closures during the construction and no interruption to the Florida Film Festival, which he calls Enzian’s “tent pole.” Indeed, once the project is finished, the festival will probably expand to five screens: three at the Enzian and two at Regal Cinemas at Winter Park Village. And the number and variety of the smaller events might also be expanded, Maldonado says, with an African-American and a Hispanic festival among the possibilities.

Though the new theaters will be small, they will offer table service, and, perhaps most importantly for Maldonado, the screens will be close to the size of the current one.

“The experience that we want to give you is the big screen. OK, we’re not IMAX or anything, but we are a big, traditional silver screen.” Maldonado says. “We’re maintaining the experience.”

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