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A building permit for the first new movie theater for St. Mary’s County in almost 30 years is ready; it just has to get picked up.

R/C Theatres is bringing a 12-screen, 45,000-square-foot movieplex with 2,248 seats to the Lexington Exchange commercial project in California, across Route 235 from the Wildewood development.

Nothing else has been built in Lexington Exchange yet.

Harry Knight, permits coordinator for the St. Mary’s County Department of Land Use and Growth Management, said the new theater’s building permit is approved, and the developer has paid all fees and selected a contractor. He said Monday he expects them “to pick up [the] permit any day now.”

When the theater was approved by the St. Mary’s County Planning Commission last November, the developer intended to start construction this summer and open the new theater in the spring of 2015.

“Assuming there are no hiccups, things are [now] on schedule for the theater to open around midsummer of 2015,” Al Cunnif, director of marketing for St. John Properties, said this month.

The developer has not announced any other tenants at Lexington Exchange yet, though an Aldi grocery store was mentioned at the planning commission meeting last fall.

St. Mary’s County’s other movie theater, AMC Loews Lexington Park Six, opened in June 1986.

County Commissioner Todd Morgan (R) said Monday people ask him about the status of the new movie theater “every week.

“I think there’s a huge demand here locally for a new theater,” he said. People have to drive to Waldorf or Brandywine if they want to see a movie in a new theater, he said.

Morgan said of the existing Lexington Park theater, which has seen little in renovation, “it’s just not good.”

St. Mary’s County government has not put up obstacles to the new theater, he said. “Everything the county has had to do to support the project is in place,” he said.

In other development news, the old Blockbuster video building in California is being repurposed to become another Popeyes fried chicken restaurant and an AT&T Wireless store, according to the land use and growth management office.

The old Blockbuster video building, in front of the Laurel Glen shopping center, was gutted this month. “They’re going to make some changes,” said Bob Bowles, planner with the St. Mary’s land-use office. Popeyes is “going to have a drive-through go around the building,” he said, while AT&T will have a smaller section of the building. Currently there is a Popeyes restaurant in Lexington Park and another in Charlotte Hall.

The California Blockbuster video was built in 1993, according to state land records. Blockbuster was acquired by Dish Network and its 300 remaining company-owned stores in the United States were all closed by January of this year.

jbabcock@somdnews.com