Rotunda Cinemas shut down for not fixing fire code violations

The Rotunda Cinemas was shut down for not fixing fire code violations.

The Rotunda Cinemas, which shut down last month, was closed for failing to correct fire code violations, the Baltimore City Fire Department said.

At the time, the Hampden theater's operator, Ira Miller, blamed falling ticket sales and the Rotunda Mall's ongoing renovation for the closure. He said sales had fallen 50 percent since construction began and that noise and other issues with the renovations sometimes disrupted moviegoers.

Miller also said he chose not to correct the fire code violations given the other problems the business was facing.

Fire Department spokesman Samuel Johnson, Jr. said in an email that the fire code violations were discovered after a subcontractor called the department for an electrical inspection.

"The violations were reported to the Rotunda Cinema, and they were given several options as to what needed to be done to keep the cinema operating," Johnson said. "The Rotunda chose not to correct the fire code violations and as a result the business is now closed to the public."

The violations included sprinkler and alarm systems that didn't work, as well as blocked exit doors and pathways, Johnson said. The fire extinguishers also needed to be serviced and tagged, and the movie theater needed to reapply for a use and occupancy permit, he said.

The Rotunda, where the movie theater had been a mainstay for four decades, has seen nonstop renovations since its owners announced plans last year to develop the space with new retail, apartments and Cobb Theaters' 35,000-square-foot CineBistro.

Miller originally planned to keep the Rotunda Cinemas open until the new multiplex cinema with upscale dining opened in the spring of 2016.

Baltimore Sun reporter Chris Kaltenbach contributed to this article.

cwells@baltsun.com

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