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.

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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Daniel Ewald July 06, 2012 at 01:56 PM
Peep shows? Gramps, we have the internet now to satisfy our peep show desires. And it seems highly doubtful Miller would invest $750K to now think of ways to screw up his business.
Dorothea July 06, 2012 at 02:02 PM
I think an arcade of this type would also attract some of us "boomers" who remember playing at arcades in the summer at the beach. I have met Mr. Miller and I know he makes his plans with a great deal of thought for the community.
digglesworth July 06, 2012 at 03:18 PM
I Live in Roland Park, am 47 years-old, and am astounded by the closed-mindedness of RPCL. What a bunch of idiots.
Jeff Dicken July 06, 2012 at 03:41 PM
Pinball is a great idea for the space, and I second the ice cream as well. Having safe and fun places where teens can hang out is necessary, and it's not necessary to demonize them before the fact, or be overly controlling about this. Let's approve it, do it, and have fun with it!
HampdenHon July 06, 2012 at 04:20 PM
PLEASE don't let those pinheads stop this really great idea from happening - some old people just need to shrivel up and go away already and leave the world to the living.
AmyLynn July 06, 2012 at 04:56 PM
Can you win tickets with skeeball at the new place? That always seemed like a gateway into a gambling problem, to me. (Sarcasm). Sounds like these are NIMBYs who get off by controlling people.
pajones July 06, 2012 at 05:00 PM
i don't live in your neighborhood, but i have a mother @ keswick, so i visit a lot. what type of people do you think will come? not all kids are bad. the same kids that live in the area will come. if these"kids" were going to come to your area-they'd already be there. the major crimes that happens in the roland park/gilford area is done by the people who live there or their relatives. so maybe you think they are like you.-could that be the problem???-just saying !!!
Daniel Ewald July 06, 2012 at 05:04 PM
Had to check into re-hab after a bender in Chuck E. Cheese. Man I was a wild 10 yr old...
Jill Blum July 06, 2012 at 06:10 PM
I am not a hooligan, but I am a 30-something with just enough expendable income to want to come and spend it in the Rotunda at an arcade. It would be nice to see a new venture bring some life back to that plaza, what with all the businesses jumping ship.
Daniel McIntosh July 06, 2012 at 06:32 PM
push on with the project these community grope very rarely really represent the communities wishes
Mimi July 06, 2012 at 06:59 PM
I'm really surprised a the negative reaction to this idea. An old-fashioned arcade with real pinball machines sounds like a tourist attraction or a family-friendly place. It does not sound like the kind of place where teenagers would go looking for trouble!
BobKat July 06, 2012 at 08:55 PM
Kids need something to do besides hang out on the streets. People are so quick to take things away from kids who need something better to do with their time. The city is closing down rec centers left and right, frankly I think this would be a public service. Get your heads out of your holes, people.
Jamey Hebb July 06, 2012 at 09:01 PM
I grew up in Roland Park, and have also lived there - though not now - in my adult life. I don't think the RPCL is worried about the kids who live in Roland Park coming to the Rotunda -- I am sure it's the kids from neighboring communities (Hampden, Medfield, Remington, Woodberry) that they are concerned about. Remember where the Rotunda sits -- if that is indeed Roland Park, it's right on the edge. It all comes down to behavior, though, not zip code. I do understand their hesitation and, at the same time, applaud Miller for his commitment to revitalizing the complex.
skullmandible July 06, 2012 at 11:04 PM
What, exactly, is wrong with the kids from those communities?
Bawlmore Hon July 06, 2012 at 11:41 PM
Sadly this has to be said. I have lived in the area for some time now and have noticed that the sophistication level of the cinema has dropped significantly. As successful as this discount cinema may have become the people that they attract to the area have certainly saddened my neighbors and I. We had two gentlemen get into a fight right in front of my house after crossing the parking lot away from the rotunda arguing the entire time until it escalated too far a few weeks ago. Add an arcade to the discount cinema and you're just asking for trouble. Hopefully the management of The Rotunda finds a better tenant for the empty spaces. My husband and I were seriously considering searching for a new home because the area just doesn't feel as safe anymore.
Jamey Hebb July 07, 2012 at 12:26 AM
I am not saying that there is anything wrong with the kids from that community. I no longer reside in Roland Park, and I have never been on the Civic League. Nor do I have any reason at all to go to the Rotunda based on where I live and work. But if you drive through Remington and Hampden you will definitely see that *some* of the kids (especially teenagers) that run the streets in those neighborhoods might be of concern to those who are expressing reservations.
JRO July 07, 2012 at 01:29 AM
I don't know of any kids who play pinball machines. I think this would be an older demographic. Besides, there's not much else going on at the Rotunda right now anyhow.
Dogdaygirl July 07, 2012 at 01:34 AM
We would LOVE an arcade at the Rotunda, and the RPCL can shove their judgements from 1950 in their ears. We are 40 and would play at the arcade before a movie. You really think the bad seeds selling drugs in Hampden, Remington, etc. are going to hang out at an arcade with old school pinball machines?!? Get your heads out of the past and start looking forward. There are a ton of good kids from all walks of life who could really use something like this.
AmyLynn July 07, 2012 at 02:03 AM
I'm not sure what you mean by "discount cinema". I can't imagine you're talking about the ticket prices. Whatever reason you don't like the people in your neighborhood, it is clear to me that you should move someplace where people are perfect, like the moon.
JAM July 07, 2012 at 04:31 AM
My 10 and 13 year old boys love pinball. They never get to play because the games aren't around anymore. I have a friend who has a Dirty Harry pinball machine that they get a big kick out of.
JAM July 07, 2012 at 04:45 AM
"teenagers hanging out and hurting business further at the struggling Rotunda." This is such a stupid statement- passing judgement on a whole a group of people unfairly.
medfield_resident July 07, 2012 at 02:44 PM
I actually worked in Funcade Arcade on 9th Street and the Boardwalk in Ocean City, Maryland a summer a long, long time ago. We had skeeball, packman, pinball, claw machines, cheap prizes and generally just good fun. To this day, it brings back warm memories of the kids cashing in their tickets for the nickel/dime prizes. I think they call it "family entertainment."
HCC President July 07, 2012 at 03:30 PM
It should be noted that the Hampden Community Council voted to SUPPORT this variance at our last community meeting.. Maybe it's a technicality, but isn't the Rotunda really in Hampden anyways.
Genny Dill July 07, 2012 at 08:29 PM
RCPL, if they were a good neighbor, would have contacted HCC and asked what the community opinion was. This arcade is a good thing for the kids and the landlord has assured that the 24 hour security will continue (this was a condition for ACTUAL NEIGHBORS of Rotunda, which is IN HAMPDEN). Mr. Miller is not trying to bring hooligans to the Rotunda, and Hekemian wouldn't dare let that happen with a multi-million dollar project in the wings. RPCL reps are the same folks who were disrespectful to me for voicing my negative opinion about the 22 story building proposed to be built across the street from my house, IN HAMPDEN. I’m pretty sure that if the Rotunda was on their street, or in Roland Park proper at all, it wouldn’t have been so wonderful. That said, do the Civic League members and other Roland Park residents fully understand how RPCL is representing themselves and distancing themselves from neighboring communities (and community members), and the potential affect that may have if/when they need neighboring support? Hampden was kind enough to stay out of the fight over privately owned green space. RPCL should do the same, and save the torches & pitchforks for items that directly affect Roland Park residents. Stuff that happens in Baltimore City might vaguely affect Towson, and vice-versa, but you don’t see SRB all up in arms about the high crime at Towson Mall or the expansion of the YMCA. NINBY (Not In your Neighbors’ Backyard) is really unbecoming.
Karen Beaudouin July 07, 2012 at 09:04 PM
I live in RP as well, and wholeheartedly agree with you. Holy cow - what a bunch of pinheads. I think any help we could offer the Rotunda would be a better stance. I have dropped out of the PR community organizations because of the narrow minded, patrician behaviors, perhaps I'll join again to stir up some trouble.
Karen Beaudouin July 07, 2012 at 09:10 PM
Well stated, Genny. As a RP resident I agree. RPCL - respect and support your neighbors.
Able Baker July 09, 2012 at 03:58 PM
Is this sarcasm?
AnnKangarouse July 09, 2012 at 08:42 PM
Is The Rotunda Theatre a discount theatre now?? Is the theatre the only business left there? What film had the two gentleman fighting in the parking lot? Did someone chck their ticket stubs to determine thta these two were trouble makers from the cinema?
B'More Girl July 12, 2012 at 08:09 PM
This is like deja vu -- does anyone remember the rants of Del. Pat McDonough about gangs of kids taking over the Inner Harbor. I have friends who live in RP would cringe at the thought of being compared to him. And, if RP and other local residents had promoted and purchased from the many retail stores at the Rotunda, then stores wouldn’t be available. Remember The Bead? When I worked at Hopkins I loved going there to shop. And the movie theatre, we all know that story. Shame on the leaders of the Civic League for being so small minded. As for the comments from the HCC president, I think it is great that your group chimed in on this but not because the Rotunda is in Hampden. I’ve worked on many issues where I live and I am always disappointed at the fact that associations see their borders as the end of the problem. When another house was being torn down for a parking lot in my neighborhood, it was across the street from another association’s area. I asked if we could flier the adjacent houses to come to our meeting and presentation and was told that the houses weren’t in our association. Give me a break! So should the RPCL have a say, sure, but I don’t think it represents the opinions of most of the residents of RP.
AnnKangarouse August 10, 2012 at 07:51 PM
Hmmpt. As if.....


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