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Is Enzian Theater hoping to expand? 

City of Maitland has plans on file for a bigger, better arthouse at Enzian

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The Enzian Theater could be seeking to almost triple its current size by adding two screens and two lobbies to its existing building, according to the city of Maitland and other sources with knowledge of the plans. The independent art cinema currently has just one screen, in addition to an outdoor bar and restaurant.

In November, the Enzian submitted a proposal to the city of Maitland, according to Jacqueline Holt of the city’s planning department. The proposal is only a preliminary one, and subsequent plans must be approved by the city before construction begins. But if the ideas come to fruition, the expansion would be an exciting and welcome boost for independent and art-house cinema in Orlando.

The Enzian has not made an official announcement, and would not directly confirm its plans for an expansion, instead saying that the theater is simply “exploring the possibilities,” adding, “it will get much more interesting in time, if there ends up being a story at all.”

The preliminary proposal on file with the city of Maitland lists Chronus Construction as the builder and calls for a second theater on the north side of the current building and a third one on the east. The two new theaters would be connected by a concessions lobby, while a main lobby and additional restrooms would be situated to the south of the third theater. The current entrance, fountain area, iconic trees, Eden Bar and outdoor movie area would be untouched. It’s not known whether the two new theaters would be built in a café style, mimicking the current auditorium, or whether they would contain seats only.

Despite the specificity of the current plan, any final proposal would likely look quite different. “The drawing … is simply an expression of area to see if that space would be usable,” says Enzian general manager Hollie Mahadeo. “It is in no way actual construction plans, and the interior layout is not a design we would consider bringing to life [exactly as it appears in the preliminary proposal].”

The Florida Film Festival, which just completed its 22nd year on April 14, might also be in for exciting changes. Instead of being split between the Enzian and Regal Cinemas in Winter Park Village, the event could become a single-site affair. However, the preliminary proposal depicts the two new Enzian theaters as smaller than the current one – and considerably smaller than the largest of the Regal theaters – perhaps necessitating the continued involvement of Regal. But the festival’s future configuration is difficult to predict, as sources say the positions and sizes of the new theaters may change drastically from the depiction in the current drawing if and when the Enzian chooses to submit a final proposal.

The expansion depicted in the preliminary proposal would be the largest in the Enzian’s 28 years, bringing the building’s square footage from 7,629 to 19,127. The entire site covers about three acres, and the proposal calls for keeping almost two acres of green space while also preserving virtually all of the parking area. The height of the proposed structure would not exceed 50 feet.

The Enzian is already in the midst of a major renovation, this one on the inside of the current auditorium. The carpets, wall coverings and most of the tables and chairs are being replaced. The theater has sought donations for those improvements, but it’s not known whether funding for the proposed expansion would also come from donations or from another source. No timetable for fundraising or, indeed, any of the new plans has been announced.

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