When the Sony Metreon opened in 1999, it promised to be the first urban entertainment destination complex of its kind. However, it turned out to be a movie theater, a mediocre arcade, a food court, and a small mall. The Microsoft store and the Discovery store fled when they realized that people that came to watch movies hardly bought anything. And several restaurants that have opened on the second floor, next to the arcade, have come and gone. The latest victim, LJ’s Martini Bar & Grill, has already announced that it will close but is being asked to stay for reduced rent.

Sony has announced the sale of the Metreon to the Westfield Group, the same company that owns the San Francisco Shopping Centre and the new Bloomingdale’s development that will extend the mall from Market Street to Mission Street, just a half block away from the Metreon. Maybe Westfield will finally allow Lowes Theatres to expand into the fourth floor, adding another nine screens to the existing fifteen. After all, the theatres and the food court are the only things that make any real money at the Metreon.

It’s sad to think that Sony’s experiment to build a mini-Disneyland failed, but it is still a beautiful building in an urban setting nonetheless. The city coaxed Sony to spend money upgrading Yerba Buena Gardens just outside the Metreon, and it’s my favorite park in the city–it’s walking distance from home. I enjoy the theatres and the food court as much as everyone else and hope that Westfield can add more screens and more food establishments to satisfy the South of Market residents who still consider it an entertainment destination.

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