Dear PoP – What’s Going on at Columbia Road?

DSCN0918, originally uploaded by Prince of Petworth.

“Dear PoP,

Do you have any information about what’s moving in on Columbia Road right next to the Safeway? All the surrounding stores went out of business at roughly the same time so I’m thinking maybe they’re putting some new megastore in there.”

I have received a number of emails asking about this. Back in April we learned that CVS will be taking over this spot. They will be closing their store across the street when this new spot opens. At the time Kristen Barden from Adams Morgan BID wrote me that:

“Combined Properties ( is combining all of their stores along that stretch – Popeye’s, the beauty supply store, Citibank, etc… and the CVS on the south side of Columbia Road will move over there. I also don’t know what will go in the old CVS space yet…”

And of course construction has also begun on the Safeway which will stay open during renovations.


25 Comment

  • The syntax on that banner in Spanish is incorrect, it ought to read ¨Continuamos abiertos¨

  • Don’t get me started about spanish translations. I don’t understand half of the signs I read. One church had a big sign for years that read “Oir el Buenos Nuevas”

    roughly “To hear the good new things” rather than Buenos Noticias which is “Good News”

  • So they rob us of delicious Popeyes chicken so they can move a CVS? Heathens.

  • If some developer would turn the old CVS back into a movie theatre, that would be great.

  • saf

    Hm. When I lived over there, those were all one store – a Thriftway. Interesting to see it returning to what it was 20 years ago.

    Now if we could get someone to buy the Ontario once the People’s is out and turn it back into the movie palace that it was, that would be such a dream come true.

  • saf – We’re on the same wavelength. Let’s create a non-profit to bring back the movie theater.

  • Wait, the wording is a bit confusing. Are they saying they’re going to reopen Popeye’s? What does it mean it’s being combined. Like being “combined” into a new CVS, or that it’s going to be a part of CVS somehow. Please clarify!

  • saf

    EPF – not an easy task. Have you watched how hard it has been for the folks at the Avalon? And even with the AFI, the Silver wasn’t an easy recovery either.

    Still, I loved that theater. And it has SO much history.

  • If they aren’t going to do anything useful with the building that housed the old CVS (Ontario Theater), they should tear it down and put something useful there. Not more condos, please.

  • I agree that condos shouldn’t go there, but can condos really be called useless? Isn’t housing, like, one of the MOST useful things in the world?

  • tear down the ontario? are you nuts? yes it would be amazing to have an avalon style movie theater there that served beer. Not likely to happen as it wouldnt be all the profitable. A small music venue / bar would be amazing as well. that would make money hand over fist.

  • can’t believe the lobby is so well preserved. thats nuts. With CVS out the whole theater is available. Maybe that will peak the interests of some developers. A Blackcat type venue. or you know what else would be cool. a comet ping pong there. only less kids hoggin the tables. Or just put a barcade there and im there everynight

  • The single screen movie theater probably won’t fly. What about a bowling alley?

  • EPF, you are joking now right? Movie theaters are failed businesses as a whole and within 20 years DC will probably have 2-3 theaters in the entire city and maybe another 12 theaters in the suburbs. the era of movie theaters is over.

    when I was 16 I used to go see 1-3 movies per week. When was the last time you saw more than one movie in a given week and no, movies in 1984 weren’t magically “better” than they are now, so no comments like, “If they made a movie I liked, I’d go.” No one cares to see movies anymore and the teenagers who would pay to see 3 movies a week have Netflix or downloads.

    Bowling alleys, book stores, record stores, drive in movie theaters, regular movie theaters, vacuum cleaner repair, fabric stores, small electronics stores, independent butcher shops, independent computer stores, etc, are all disappearing from our landscape. Please don’t seriously expect them to return, that’s never going to make you happy.

    If you want movie theaters to succeed then go out to them 10 times a month and they will. I once did.

  • here’s a book I heard about concerning disappearing stores that won’t return:

  • saf — it would be SO easy to raise money for the restoration of an old movie theater. It took a while but Avalon did it. It was a great success. People like to return to nostalgia in times of crisis.

  • “within 20 years DC will probably have 2-3 theaters in the entire city”

    Aren’t we down to that now? Off the top of my head, the past 10 years have seen the closing of the Outer Circle, Inner Circle, Janus, Foundry, 4000 Wisconsin, 5100 Wisconsin, the Dupont Odeon, Visions, the Avalon (now re-incarnated, though maybe not much longer), plus probably others I don’t recall.

    In their place, three multiplexes have popped up: Georgetown, Mazza GAllerie, and E St. (yes, it’s a multiplex even though indie/foreign).

  • I live 1/2 a block away and would love to participate in an effort to bring back the Ontario Theater.

    The Clash played there. Unbelievable.

  • Awesome, we just don’t have enough CVS’s around! Thank goodness…. I wonder if this one will lock up the deodorant.

    As for the theater, I thought it was the corner where that random luggage/clothes/fake jewelry shop is, not where the CVS is.

  • OH, and the Cure recorded a live album at the Ontario theater in the 80’s. SIGH!!!

  • Yes, let’s create another non-profit to restore a hopeless movie theater! It’ll be just like the Howard Theater–one of PoP’s very own Horse’s Ass Awards!

    Brilliant. You couldn’t make it up.

  • Betamax and LaserDisc emporium!

  • Ahoy !


    You point out a poignant part of our narrowing urban retail environment.

    The big screen theatres can’t compete with these small screens we sit before in our homes that are changing the world in so many ways, both good and bad.

    As with most problems, we just need to take a look in the mirror.

    When uncle Oscar dies and we don’t bother to walk down the street to the local florist, or walk around the corner to the local bookstore to pick up the latest book because we choose do it all on-line, we can’t complain about seeing the neighborhood around us slowly declining to mostly bars and food stores.

    There are consequences to these economic choices.

    Retail establishments have to be viable on-going concerns with regular local patrons.

    Our growing on-line culture is contributing to urban quality of life issues and local neighborhood decline in that sense.

    The days of seeing well dressed people walking down a clean civilized Columbia Road to see Cesar Romero and Ida Lupino arrive in a limousine from The Uptown Theatre for another Washington movie premier at The Ontario Theatre, after dinner at Avignon Freres, and later join in a coat and tie jazz session at the Showboat Lounge are long gone and mere nostalgia.

    Not wanting to be negative, but just pointing out the free choices we make in these times we live in.

    With our Prince, we could all be better citizens and neighbors.

    Reformed Somali Pirate “Tantum Eruditi Sunt Liberi”

  • Neener –

    Just because you no longer go to 1-3 movies a week doesn’t mean that teenagers don’t. So long as kids need to get away from their parents and find a dark place to make out, movie theaters will remain very popular with the under-18 crowd.

    It’s the rest of us, who actually watch movies and thus consider Netflix an adequate substitute, that are driving movie theaters out of business.

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