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New life for an old cinema: Developer plans to turn former Chestnut Hill theater into restaurants, shops, gathering spaces

WS Development is planning to turn a long-vacant movie theater on Route 9 in Chestnut Hill into shops, restaurants, gathering spaces, and offices.Images courtesy Bloomimages, design by WS Development

WS Development has unveiled plans to turn the long-vacant Chestnut Hill movie theater on Route 9 in Newton into space for restaurants, shops, offices, and outdoor gathering spots, the company announced Thursday.

The renovation project is designed to revitalize a key building in the center of The Street Chestnut Hill, a row of more than 40 stores and restaurants located near the city’s boundary with Brookline between Hammond Pond Parkway and Hammond Street.

The former theater closed in 2013, the same year Showcase Cinemas SuperLux opened in another area of The Street. Work began in recent months to gut the vacant structure.


Spanning 90,000 square feet across three levels, the renovation project will utilize the existing structure to provide space for about 20 retailers and restaurants, the developer said in a statement.

The project, which does not require a special permit, will be completed in the fall or winter of 2023, according to the developer.

“We brought our passion for community and placemaking to this quirky existing building to enhance the original architecture into a series of dynamic pedestrian & retail experiences,” Jared Ramsdell, senior design director of WS Studio at WS Development. said in the statement. “We love the history of the building and embraced that through sustainable design choices to make a place for everyone to enjoy.”

The project will be completed in the fall or winter of 2023, according to the developer.Images courtesy Bloomimages, design by WS Development

The project at 27 Boylston St. “will embrace and highlight some of the original features of the existing building to pay homage to its history,” the statement said. The curvature and brickwork will remain while the building will be “reimagined with masonry, metal, wood, enlarged windows, and lush greenery crawling up, around and above, enhancing the architecturally distinctive structure.”

An elevated walkway will wrap around three sides of the building and allow people to access storefronts created along the sides of the former theater building. The walkway will also connect to a 64-foot bridge connecting the building to the property’s southern façade.


More outdoor gathering areas will be created, including a 765-foot sunken patio and pedestrian space located at the building’s former loading dock. Those areas will be available for “open air experiences, dining, and community programming,” the statement said.

The building’s existing overhang facing Hammond Pond will be modified to allow light infiltration and views of the sky, the statement said.

Alana Stein, general manager of The Street Chestnut Hill, said in the statement that more details about the project will be shared in the coming months.

“It will welcome so many incredible new businesses to the neighborhood as well as add even more personality to the property and new experiences for our community to enjoy,” Stein said.

John Hilliard can be reached at john.hilliard@globe.com.