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  • Agreed. There has also been no progress that I’ve seen or heard of lately in the building of the Broadcast Center One over the Shaw-Howard Metro at 7th & S, adjacent to the Howard Theater — groundbreaking was supposed to be in “early 2009” but that certainly hasn’t happened (http://dcbiz.dc.gov/dmped/cwp/view,A,1365,Q,606070.asp). I wonder if the hold-ups on the Howard Theater are also related to that.

  • how will a city-owned howard theater be any different than the city-owned lincoln theater that is completely underused and require regular cash infusions? the city needs to sell this ASAP to a private developer who will build and operate something that people want rather than exist as a liberal fantasy charity case that is shuttered 350 days a year.

  • Good things take time. CH was not rebuilt in a day.

    If you want to get things started, then give a donation, or for more information about the Howard Theatre go to http://www.howardtheatre.org.

    Here is brief rundown from a news story back in May…

    Board Member Myla Moss of the Historic Theatre Restoration Incorporated says, “We as a board are currently underway with a capital campaign to raise $10 million.”

    Even though times are tough, donations are coming in.

    Moss says, “There is a worldwide economic crisis, but there are people who are dedicated and committed to the rebirth of this theater and who are sending in funds.”

    Chip Ellis of Ellis Development Group says, “We plan on bringing this facade back to its 1910 version.”

    Today, the inside of the old theater is filled with broken pillars, crushed seats, and ripped balconies.

    Plans call for “Cabaret-style” seating, which will attract corporate gatherings along with live concerts.

    Ellis plans to replace the balconies with large projection screens.

  • eric nailed it. This development is not high-end residential or high-margin office blocks, but entertainment. It was a risky investment from the start, made riskier by the craptacular economy. And the Lincoln Theater Board of Directors is a joke. It’s pretty bad when your most motivated member is Jim Graham, who had to drag them kicking and screaming to accept the G/L film festival (its most popular program). The Lincoln is a money pit. I see no indication that the Howard management would be any different. In both cases, you’d end up with nonprofit foundations coming to the Council every year with their hat in hand to get someone else to cover their annual in-the-red budget. If I’m wrong, someone please enlighten me.

  • it is a complete mystery to me that no one notes this incredibly, glaringly obvious comparison. all you hear about is how wonderful this nice cabaret theater is going to be, run by another useless nonprofit foundation with some vague liberal mandate.

    “corporate gatherings” are absolutely not going to come to the corner of 6th and T for many, many years – the fact that supporters of this idiocy would claim otherwise tells you all you need to know about how realistic their plans are. it needs to get sold at market rate to someone who is free from an obligation to allow the city council to feel good about supporting culture by operating a theater that is used once a year to film a chris rock special or host an August Wilson play.

    also – I’m supposed to DONATE to this? seriously?


  • Gim Jim Graham is the only person on the board with a brain, however; rome was not built in a day

  • well, it was agrand used furniture store years ago….tom and i would buy all oour stuff there when we were young and poor…..at least it in use then…..ah when shaw was the ghetto

  • Tina how oldddddddd R U? Shaw was not a ghetto, it was where blacks lived. It was not covington KY

  • I apologize for being pedantic but it’s Horse’s (not Horses) Ass.

  • @tina

    As a young and poor person myself years ago, I bought used furniture at the Sylvan Theater near 1st and Rhode Island NW. Did the Howard really house another such operation?

    I think the Sylvan’s facade is still there but the building is used for something else. Sheesh, I ride within a block of it twice a day on my commute, I should pause and look.

  • eric, someone might actually look to see whether you might have a point if your every sentence didn’t include an insulting adjective preceded or followed by the word “liberal.” as it is, your posts just read like a transcript of another drug-induced Rush Limbaugh broadcast. “mumble, mumble LIBERAL mumble sigh mumble pontificate mumble LIBERAL….”

    has anyone seen the inside of this place to know if there is really anything left to “save?” from the outside, it looks like it may be gutted, and if so, there may be nothing to restore.

  • lol – i am quite a liberal myself (classical liberal I might add). however if you can’t see the ridiculousness of some of the liberalism of this city you are completely blind.

    and hard to see how ideology would color the fact that there is already a city-owned theater 3 blocks from this one that is empty 300 nights a year and regularly needs hundreds of thousands of dollars from the city.

  • also i used the word liberal once. sheesh. thin skin much?

  • i’d try a recount….or maybe a “liberal” count…

    “…some vague liberal mandate…”

    “…exist as a liberal fantasy charity case…”

    (it would also seem english is something of a challenge: “thin skin much?”)

    you are right–it is hard to see how ideology has anything to do with the issue. that was exactly my point. this isn’t an issue that has anything to do with “liberal” or “conservative.” throwing that buzzword out when it has no relationship to whether spending money on the Howard Theatre is a good or bad idea makes the majority of the folks reading this blog stop reading what you have to say and dismiss you as yet another know-nothing reactionary who blames “liberals” (whatever that term actually means) for anything they think is bad.

  • fair enuf jim. as a liberal, i have been challenged in my ideology by living in dc. specifically, by the idea that the city government is best equipped to deal with issues like how to make the howard theater profitable.. we can probably agree that this is a good point – because it’s going to be an unprofitable joke as currently envisioned.

  • I’ve seen interior shots circa 2003 (the last CSNA meeting I attended where the Howard group presented info about their restoration). There has been substantial neglect of the interior to the point where none of the furniture was usable. At some point, part of the roof collapsed, allowing water to further damage the superstructure. One the the major costs associated with the restoration was to halt further building damage. That was six years ago, so who knows what it looks like today.

    I think liberals and conservatives can agree that it’s taking WAY too long to get this project anywhere near completion. Is there any “Plan B” for the Howard Theater as money pit plan, or is the neighborhood stuck with a gutted hulk for the next six years?

  • How about something like the Uptown Movie Theater? That place is often packed, with nowhere near the street traffic of the U Street area. There is nothing like that nearby, and as noted, there is already a traditional theater nearby. Something like that would appeal to a wide variety of residents (depending on what movie was playing, could appeal to anyone on any given night). That would actually have a shot of making money, or at least being more or less self-sustaining. And it would probably not be an uber-expensive restoration.

  • The Uptown is barely holding on as it is financially. That’s why they had to rent out to the churchies on the weekend. Unless you’re a chain cinema googleplex, movie theaters are a losing proposition in DC (the Janus, the Biograph, the Key, the one on Florida Avenue).

  • As much as I love old buildings, the best use for the Howard site would be to tear it down and put up a mixed use facility, preferably with retail at street level and middle-income housing upstairs. Not every “historic” building needs to or deserves to be saved. Put a plaque on the new one.

  • It is moving forward. Here is a recent update on the design work that is going on to restore the Howard.

    The redevelopment plan is very different from the Lincoln, and seeks to avoid some of the flaws in the Lincoln’s financial model. The Lincoln (like the Uptown) is a very large theater that can only be used for large productions, most of which don’t make enough to cover operations. The Howard Theatre uses a variety of federal tax credits to fund renovations along with some DC money, and since it will have much smaller staging and food and liquor, it should have better earnings and won’t be as dependent on fundraising to stage larger productions. There is also some office space being added to the back as well.


    Eric in Ledroit is right.

    I am a liberal who became enamored with liberal entrepreneurialism. This can only be saved by a business. A community group or non profit will screw this up horribly. Someone show me one old theater that was run correctly in such a fashion.

    (Also, all movie theaters are going out of business including the Uptown. Don’t kid yourself, they’re all gone faster than Tower Records.)

  • Count me as another fiscal liberal who agrees completely with Eric (and understood “thin skin much?). Washington, D.C. is a shining example of liberalism run amok; while I support any and all efforts at preservation, this ill-conceived plan for restoration of the Howard Theater is one more way in which local government has thrown money at something without any prudence or consideration for the well-being of local residents.

  • The thing about it is, you hit a certain age and you realize that certain ideas fail 100% of the time. These kinds of preservation projects fail (which is to say they do not succeed to the point that they’re self-sufficient) 100% of the time.

    The only way to decide what parts to save is to put a dollar value on them and look toward self-sufficient companies that generate a profit to do it.

    And those companies could be run by a hardcore liberal with communitarian goals- think about the old DC Space, you know? lefty, but a business.

  • Buxton’s Community Theatre on East Bay Street, downtown Charleston, SC, is a success–and run (with some small city stipend) by a “lefty businessman” for the community. He leases it to non profits and indie theatre groups, community groups etc when they aren’t staging ghost tours and doing free concerts for school kids. But that place is probably THE only one thus filling the niche, and a lot of the patrons are tourists.

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