94 Comment

  • Oh good, another condo building. Maybe they’ll put in a Cheesecake Factory, too.

    • You like abandoned buildings better?

      • Yes, finally someone who notices that replacing blight with condo buildings has swamped the city with Cheesecake Factories! The redevelopment of 14th Street, for example, has resulted in three Cheesecake Factories and zero quality local restaurants. We must preserve blight at all costs.

      • No… But I would prefer, i don’t know… oh yeah, A THEATER!!!!!!!!!

        • Yeah… But there, i don’t know… oh yeah, no market for A THEATER!!!!!!!!!

          There is, however, one for condos.

          Condos, by the why, bring resident and vitality to a neighborhood like a theater doesn’t

          • Why do I have the feeling you haven’t written or read one market study about whether a theater would be feasible at that location. No? Okay.

          • I don’t know how long you’ve been in D.C., but those of us who saw Visions Cinema (on Florida Avenue near the “Hinckley Hilton”) come and go would likely view its tale as sufficient evidence.

            I love independent theaters and music venues at least as much as the next person… but it appears that these days, multiplex theaters are the only ones that can make it. The Uptown is an exception, but I’m assuming it can get by because it’s enormous and shows very popular films. The Avalon is another exception, but it’s a community-supported/subsidized theater.

          • Is there no vitality in Adams Morgan?

          • Yeah, what textdoc said. The cinema industry has changed a lot since the original theater building was constructed. It would be impossible to be profitable with a huge single-screen in a ultra-prime location when the vast majority of DC ticket sales are at the big megaplexes in town. Don’t believe it? Look at the failure of Visions, the Janus on CT Ave, the second-run places in G’town, etc….

            I think this mockup looks awesome. So much outdoor space for every unit, it appears. I would love a balcony on my apt.

          • West End Cinema is always packed, despite the tiny screens and lousy sound, and E St always seems busy when I go. So I wouldn’t say there’s no market for an independent theater in DC. I haven’t done any market research or focus group studies, but would think that Adams Morgan/Columbia Hts might have some ability to fill theater seats.

          • Hmm, West End definitely wasn’t packed the one time I went there (and discovered that it was exactly the same theater layout/flaws as when it had been the Cineplex Odeon Inner Circle).

            A lot of D.C. theaters that used to show art-house films have closed in the past 15 or so years. Nobody much mourned the Cineplex Odeon Dupont Circle 5 or the Cineplex Odeon Janus (often referred to as the “heinous Janus”) because they were chain-owned and — although they showed good films — the theaters themselves were small, had sight obstructions, etc.

            There was also a Cineplex Odeon Outer Circle on Wisconsin Avenue (I think with 2 or 3 screens); that’s gone. And there was a Cineplex Odeon at 4000 Wisconsin Avenue that’s gone too. (It had 6 or 8 screens, but was old and didn’t have stadium-style seating.)

            E Street seems to be doing good business, but I think that’s because it’s a multi-screen theater. (And it seems to have been offering increasingly mainstream films over the past few years alongside its original art-house/foreign fare.) It doesn’t occupy much street-level space; it’s mostly below ground.

            As for West End, I don’t know how it stays in business. It does have a niche as far as showing more experimental/obscure films that Landmark E Street and Landmark Bethesda don’t show, and occasionally showing a more mainstream indie film after it’s finished showing at one of the Landmark theaters.

            I love film and independent theaters, but if I were looking to open a business I wouldn’t risk my money on a theater.

          • I use to run the Ontario. Movie Sound of Music ran for two years, but times have changed. Theatre became outdated and the public stopped attending. Multi-screen houses make much more financial success. The Ontario survived because it ran first run movies on an exclusive basis. That is no longer an option. One needs to look forward and not backwards.

    • Whoa whoa whoa, back up off the Cheesecake Factory. DC would be so lucky to get another one. The current one may as well be in MD. Nothing ever wrong with broadening the tax base and keeping people from leaving DC to go to the Cheesecake Factory. Love me some Cashew Chicken.

  • And pretty much most of it is a matter-of-right project. They need a curb cut and relief from parking requirements and I think that’s about it. The “Committee of No” (Kalorama Citizens Assoc. and a handful of crazy neighbors) won’t really have much to fight on this project.

    • Does the reach of the Kalorama Upright Citizens Brigade really stretch this far east of 18th Street? I thought those folks kept to themselves beyond the boundaries of gentrification.

  • I like the balconies, but the building is ugly. Something about it screams Chinatown.

  • Wow! I like it. It’s too bad the theater, or some other use, didn’t work out, but this is going to really change this corner.

  • I think its awesome. Will be great to get rid of that blight and get something nice on that corner. Terrific news.

    • I used to live in an apartment across the street and could see that building from my window. Heard a guy get shot, saw him bleeding on the ground, saw the police (quickly) arrive. I still loved the neighborhood! Is the Amarylis restaurant still on the next block up? They might have changed it, but for a long time it was among my collection of businesses with different spellings of their names on their signs (my current favorite being Quickie/y Becky’s child care up Georgia Avenue). (Sorry for the digression.)

      • Quickie Becky’s! My husband and I laugh every time we pass by this place. I always wonder who entrusts their child to a woman who proudly calls herself Quickie Becky…

  • saf

    I still miss the movie theater.

    The building is ok. I hope they get good retail.

    I still miss a lot of our old movie theaters. We used to have good theaters. So few remain now.

    Damn, I’m old.

    • Hey at least it’s not becoming a cvs!!!

      • So true. CVS is almost akin to having a McDonalds -kinda. But I am all for redevelopment of this corner. Yes, that rendering isn’t wonderful, but it’s certainly better than the squalor that’s there now. It would just be nice to see something that looks a little more thoughtful, rather than typical Orange line schlop. We don’t need Northern Virginia in our city.

    • If you’re looking for old theaters: My church has taken over an old theater on Barracks Row (formerly the Peoples Church) and sometime this year will actually start playing movies. Still has original seats from 1929 and similar decor – beautiful!

  • The balconies over the street is interesting… but the balcony in the front doesn’t seem like it would work very well- not sure how you’d make curved doors? I have always daydreamed about the renovation of this site. I really wish that it stayed with the art deco feel a bit more…

    • Curvilinear windows are prohibitively expensive for a condo building in this part of town. The curved look is achieved by stacking regular flat glass at slight angles. Looks curved from afar, while in reality it’s just a several flat panes side by side.

  • Something needs to be done with the theater, preferably just using it as a theater, although of course that’s easier said than done. Although given a choice of more bland DC architecture, it’s hard to say which is better. Can we at least pick a different color besides “Dockers brown”?

  • Did anyone snicker at “The Coffee Shop”? Talk about pandering.

  • awful. does the same hack of an architect design all the new buildings in DC? this depresses me.

  • Yes, it’s ugly.

    …but for anyone that actually lives over there, a vast improvement over the creepy old squatter-fodder that’s presently occupied by a gang of loogey-hocking drunkards.

  • Meh, but let’s face it–anything more than meh won’t get through DC’s soul-sucking approval process. It seems the architects here just decided to give up before they started. Can’t say that I blame them.

    • What approval process? Like someone else said, it is largely a matter of right project, and no one is reviewing the architecture. Poor architecture (and I’m not saying anything about this example) is the result of either 1) bad architects, 2) cheap developers, or 3) lenders who need a higher ROR than a developer would get by spending a little more on design/materials/labor.

      • You must be new here. It’s amazing how quickly “concerned citizens groups” form whenever an architect in this town tries to do something beyond even the most remotely ordinary. Even on a rights project, it still immensely slow down the process and add costs.

  • Meh, I like Adams Morgan, but that stretch is kind of an eyesore. DC needs more housing as well. I’m in favor of it.

  • Why do 80% of the new buildings in DC use these same bricks? It was fine at first, but now it’s getting tired.

    • I always kind of hoped it was architects paying homage to the bricks that local kilns turned out around the turn of the century (those bunker-like structures on NY Ave inside the Arboretum fence? Brick kilns.) The particular local clay composition gave them the tan/yellow color that many “Wardman style” townhouses have. Now I’m just assuming it’s because tan bricks are cheaper than red. I’m sick of it, too.

  • Any revamping of this corner will be good for the neighborhood. Maybe the ground floor can be the location for Eataly DC….

  • Good use of this space. If the market demanded and supported a theater – it would be there already.
    The brick color is ugly but the ornamentation on the cornices looks nice. I wish the balconies could be a bit less boring – but yeah for apartments with balconies.
    Overall – I’d give it a B+

    • ditto on all points (I’m too lazy to write my own comment, apparently…)

      • I do have one question – if the proposed hotel ever gets the go ahead down the street would that change the equation for what should go here?

        If the neighborhood ANC/Kalorama Citizenz Assoc. were for the hotel then I say a decent strategy would be to stall on this – let the hotel go up and then let the developer revise their plans. But since they aren’t – “Hey Mrs. Developer – factor in the future hotel into your plans.”

        • Why should/would the hotel make any difference in relation to this project? I’m not clear what you’re implying.

          Frankly, I think both projects will be good for the area.

        • Current development/zoning decisions are made based on current zoning & regulations. The construction of the hotel would not result in any immediate change to the zoning or regs. Not to mention – you have described an underhanded approach to the public process.

    • I imagine once they get through their first round of construction estimates much of the ornamentation will be gone in the name of meeting their proforma.

  • Much better for this corner. It’s currently an eyesore, and most of the back of the old theater was gutted for the old CVS anyway. Good riddance.

  • brookland_rez

    Looks good to me.

    For those that don’t know, this theater was a key venue in DC’s punk scene in the 80′s. Minor Threat, Black Flag, etc all played there as well national acts like Blondie, U2, REM, The Clash, and more.

    http://www.streetsofwashington.com/2011/10/ontario-theatres-many-past-lives.html

  • Yes, please, let’s get it built!

  • Zzzzzzzzzzzzz

    But something is better than nothing, I suppose. I wish they would do more interesting loft residences, like those around Harris Teeter. Super cool buildings, inside and out.

  • The nice thing about Adams Morgan is it’s uniqueness and limited commercial stores. I think this space could be greatly utilized as a public market. Helping local vendors and adding more character to the already fantastic neighborhood.

  • brookland_rez

    Looks good and will bring needed residential units to the area. Building is kind of generic and I’m sure many will criticize it, but I think it looks fine.

    The Ontario theatre was a key venue in DC’s punk scene in the 80′s and even hosted national acts like U2, REM, Blondie, and The Clash.

  • Sure, the design is somewhat generic but it’s definitely an improvement over the sorry neglected structure that’s there now.

    The 1700 block of Columbia Road NW has remained somewhat downtrodden-looking even as other blocks in D.C. became more attractive. Maybe this project can help change that.

  • awesome. hopefully the people reflexively opposed to any and all change won’t be able to hold this development up for too long.

  • Agree that more housing is needed and that building it is better than having blight. In this case they are just replacing blight with something like this rather than designing something that is well designed and in sharp contrast to the neighborhood or something that is designed to blend with and reflect the surrounding architecture. Buildings like this just leads to further “blandization” of the city and makes it look ever more like Bethesda or Clarendon or any other interchangeable suburban architecture found outside most North American cities.

  • Bleh. I like that stretch of Columbia Road (yeah, I know, yell at me all you want–but I do). Prefer something there over a vacant theater, sure, but would also prefer something a little more in keeping with the character of the surrounding area.

    However, if a place with really, really good bagels moved in I’d welcome absolutely any development there. GIVE ME MY BAGELS, neighborhood.

  • Removing the eyesore sounds great, but I sincerely hope that the building includes enough parking for six stories of residents. Heck, even include rentable parking spaces for it’s neighbors! :)

    • If I remember correctly, this project was trying to get a variance to provide 25 parking spaces rather than the required 35.

      IMO, people need to get over the idea that an apartment building in a high-density area needs to provide a parking space for every single resident, and that everyone in a high-density area well-served by bus (if not all that well by Metrorail) needs a car.

      • And in that part of the neighborhood, the Green line is really only four longish blocks away.

      • Car ownership in the city is trending down. With bus, bike-rental, and ZipCars so near, the number of parking spaces required by regulations is too many.

        And yeah, this thing is ugly.

  • Where then, will all those people urinate?

  • Sure, the architecture is more 14th St. than Adams Morgan, but the people who live in that area have to be happy with this. The owner had been holding out, and from what I hear buying adjacent properties, in order for this to come through. He’d even been paying the 10% blight tax and probably wouldn’t settle for any less than the return condos bring. A theater or public market were never an option.

  • Although another anonymous condo/apt building is coming, the derelict building should go. I walk by it and its gathered denizens many times in a week. I welcome the improvement and tax revenue.

    I really had hoped for a neighborhood (not Lucky Strike) bowling alley/music venue.

    Forward

  • This is welcome news… except for those of us downstream on the 42.

  • WOO HOO!!! I own at the corner of 16th/Columbia and lament this stretch every time I walk home from AdMo or Dupont. Agree on the parking (and the cramping on the 42 – put the streetcar back in!), design, desire for a theater (in principle – in practice, I imagine it would get real sketchy real fast) and lots of other things.

    But come on: the block is an eyesore that generally features a few shady characters on the corner; an empty, dingy, always half-lit old CVS and pigeon guano dripping from the rafters. Which of you is going to shell out the cash to give the theater a reprise? … hearing the silence of three years of empty storefronts, I’ll take that as none of you. It’s always easier to poke holes in someone else’s investment when you don’t have any skin in the game.

    I say bring it.

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  • To be honest, I kind of miss the discount store that was in there. The wonderfully diverse Adams Morgan that I loved is dying a slow death, but there’s really nothing anybody can do about it.

  • I like it! – - It incorporates the classic look of the old theater entrance. A-ok in my book.

  • This is the first I’ve heard about the property after SO many years empty. I’ve always wondered what was going to happen to it. A movie theater would be nice since there are none in the Adams Morgan-Mt. Pleasant-Columbia Heights-Shaw area. Other than the Tivoli, which was a movie theater in the 1960′s before the riots. It was a movie theater, the Ontario, over 40 years ago. Saw Mary Poppins there & it also showed Spanish cinema.

  • I say develop something. Anything is better than that blight! It’s an eyesore and just an extension of the stoop from Euclid and 17th. Mixed use is a great idea and I know it’s not practical but a year-round indoor framers market would be great there. Maybe put in a small art-house theater like West End if that’s profitable for an owner. A coffee shop that serves as a music venue/open mic spot could be great too if we want to keep the legacy of music going.

    • also, in case anyone cares, 2920 Ontario down the street looks like it’s getting rehabbed to. It was also a vacant blight for the more residential part of the neighborhood.

  • I don’t live in AM anymore so it makes no diff to me. But if you think what’s there now is “blight”, you really need to get out more.

  • I would love a movie theater, but anything is better use of land than what we have in place.

  • someone put in a brew pub

  • I would love a movie theater that re-shows old moving on the big screen. But let’s face it. For such a theater to be successful, people need to be able to park, which is already a serious issue in the neighborhood.

    I also think the city should be strict on the 42 parking spaces in the building, rather than letting them get away with 35. A lot of neigborhood residents use public transportation, but still have a car that is parked on the street for occasional visits to mom and dad or to Home Depot. Especially when it snows, you can see cars that are parked for weeks without moving, but still take up parking space.

    I don’t think any new building should be allowed in AM without providing underground parking.

    All in all, though, virtually any building would be better than the ugly, abandoned detritus that is there now.

    • I agree – I live in the neighborhood (and love it), but I have to have a car for my job and parking is a nightmare. Not everyone can use public transportation for their work – especially if you have to haul things around on a daily basis. There are upsides to not working in an office, but I’ve found that car ownership isn’t one of them.

  • The fact is that we need more density in AM to attract better retail. The problem with the design is that it does not speak to the unique character of the neighborhood. It looks as though it could be located in Rockville, Clarendon or on 14th Street. Our community should set higher expectations for developers — they usually respond to aesthetic concerns.

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