Friday Question of the Day – What Neighborhoods Could Support a New Movie Theater?

Rendering via ANC Rep David Garber’s Facebook page

Last week a commenter pined for a movie theater in Columbia Heights (I also wondered about that possibility back in 2009.) On March 1st, Navy Yard ANC Rep David Garber posted a rendering for a proposed movie theater in Navy Yard:

“Curious to hear what you think of the design for this new 16-screen ShowPlace ICON movie theater near the ballpark!”


Personally I think a movie theater would do very well in Navy Yard as more and more development continues to sprout near the baseball stadium and coming soon to the nearby SW Waterfront as well. Anyway, it got me thinking about what other neighborhoods – could realistically – support a movie theater? I think NoMa probably could as well. Which neighborhoods do you think could support a 16 screen theater? How ’bout a smaller independent two screen theater like West End Cinema?

57 Comment

  • Florida Market in NE.

    • Edens (Union Market developer) has been consistently saying that they want to put a movie theater in the Florida Market/Union Market area. They’ll be competing to land a theater tenant with NoMa’s Greyhound station redevelopment, which also wants one.

  • They couldnt handle 16 screens but the Takoma Theatre could definitely have multiple screens like E St or Shirlington

  • The NAVY yard theatre makes a lot of sense, that area is segregated from the rest of the city it seems. But with a movie theatre in Chinatown, Georgetown and up by Friendship Heights, I don’t think we need to saturate the city with them, as the focus should be on grocery stores. People don’t go to the movies as frequently as they used to, Hell I don’t. it’s a hassel and expensive. Now movies are out faster online and through net flix. Watch it on your big screen at home while eating chicken wings and wearing your pajamas. Drink a 2 dollar soda from your fridge rather than a 7 dollar one from the concession stands

    • Not sure I agree with segregated from the rest of the city. Unless you mean “downtown” or northwest. Navy Yard is relatively short walk from Eastern Market and even shorter from Southwest.

      If only some of these baseball fans would venture over a few blocks and try Kruba or Lot 38 instead of heading home right away after blowing 40 dollars on 4 beers at the park.

    • It’s interesting people perceive a place 8 blocks from the Capitol as segregated from the rest of the city. I think the Gallery Place theater took business from other theaters in the city/area. Dupont used to have multiple theaters.

      I guess, more generally, I’m just not sure the market is there to keep building new nightlife / entertainment destinations without it hurting other parts of the city. Sometimes I think developers’ eyes are bigger than their stomachs, as there’s lots of empty office space in Navy Yard – an entire empty building, empty floors, whole biuldings that have been signs for years now – yet plans for significantly more of it in The Wharf.

      I just don’t understand the economics of it all.

      • Segregated only that it has physical boundaries separating it, the highways and the water.

      • I think the key point is that Navy Yard is disconnected from most other residential neighborhoods. Aside from a few oddball congressmen making a point about fiscal something or other there’s not many people who reside in the blocks immediately surrounding the entire national mall.

        So, yes, of course technically it’s just blocks from lots of offices including the capitol, but that’s different than being part of the city’s residential fabric.

        • It is, but if you’re thinking of its connection via the mall, which is only in the west side, you’re not thinking of right.

      • Yeah, that’s office space. The demand for retail and residential is high at Navy Yard. Pretty much every building in the area is fully leased and all those new townhouses are bought. Even the condo building is like 90% sold.

  • I thought the old Ontario Theater, currently being destroyed for condos, in Adams Morgan could have done well as a brew-and-view or a West End style theater.

  • 1. Columbia Heights
    2 u street
    3. Noma
    4. Navy yard
    5 Georgetown

    • Georgetown already has a big movie theater down by the waterfront.

      And I agree with the two people below: a movie complex in Columbia Heights isn’t a great idea.

      • i wasn’t thinking multiplexes for any of the places i mentioned. i guess i should have clarified that, especially given that every thinks it’s such a bad idea for columbia heights.

        i’m partial to places like e street.

    • And the West End theater isn’t so far from Georgetown, either.

  • Columbia Heights has enough problems and drama without adding in a movie theater. Theater in gallery place is a hot mess on the weekends.

    • +1 Columbia Heights would do well to discourage the kind of congregating and loitering that happens at Gallery Place. Having a multiplex movie theater would do the exact opposite.

    • Seriously. All I can think of with a big movie theater in Columbia Heights is LOITERING TEENS.

    • completely agree. A movie theater in Columbia Heights is the worst idea ever.

      • ledroittiger

        It can’t get any worse than it already does. What makes you think Columbia Heights is actively trying to discourage that kind of loitering with the development that’s already taken place there so far?

      • I’ve lived in Columbia Heights for 15 years and have seen how it has changed from one year to the next. Adding a theater in CoHi won’t attract additional floods of people now that DCUSA has become an economic fulcrum. It would add a little to the current foot traffic, but that would only be a noticeable issue if DCUSA wasn’t already there and booming.

    • i think an arlington cinema draft house style movie theater would be awesome in CH and if it were 21 and over so it wouldnt draw the teens.

    • I highly doubt building a new movie theater would cause there to be more teens in DC. Instead this would provide people with options on where to go to the movies, some of those people being the teens that are loitering in China Town. Splitting the teens between two parts of the city would result in a more pleasant movie going experience for all of us.

  • I think Brookland should reclaim the old movie theater building currently being occupied by CVS on 12th st. NE. For that matter, all buildings being occupied by CVS in DC should be taken over by…well, anything BUT CVS. The one in Brookland still has the old art deco sign out front. It would be cool, but given the horrendous customer servicer you get at CVS (this one and pretty much all others), the sign actually looks like CVS is throwing you a giant middle finger.

    • Totally agree, although I’m sure it’d never happen. There are a few old theaters around town that have been turned into CVS stores, and it kills me whenever I pass them. The one on MacArthur and the one on the east edge of Georgetown come to mind.

      And agree about the absolutely terrible service at the 12th St. CVS. Unreal!

    • brookland_rez

      I’m no fan of CVS. Overpriced everything. But I do get an occasional prescription filled at the one in Brookland. I’ve never had a problem. I’m not a needy customer though. I just walk in, pick up my prescription, pay, and leave.

      I’m curious, what are the bad customer services issues you’ve had?

  • The building for rent on U St and 15th (next to the Sunoco station) would be great for a small theater. The clientele is certainly there, too.

    The bile really flowed on here when they used the Lincoln theater for movies a while ago, but it was still a great idea that should be repeated, learning from the mistakes of the first go-round.

  • I miss the crazy that was the movie theaters in Union Station.

    • WOW! That really takes me back. It was maybe 2000 or so, and they were showing Spiderman. Guy behind me drops his gun on the ground and his friends make fun of him. Woman in front of me whipped out bread, meat, cheese, mayo and made a sandwich.

      • Oh we need to start a new thread on this 🙂 I kid you not, I went on a date at the Union Station Movies with a girl to see A Beautiful Mind (around 2001 I think) and there was a guy to our left in a HEAVY petting sesh with his girl with moaning , to our right someone was clipping their nails, and behind us someone was having cell phone calls for the entire movie.

        • That sounds about right. In a way, that theater was the great equalizer. People from every walk of life, in the same theater, watching a movie. And the endless cell phone calls and people yelling at the screen. Peter Parker kisses Mary Jane and “Oh girl! GET SOME OF THAT MAN”

  • wasn’t there talk of putting one across from Howard U? maybe near that Harris Teeter that has been proposed?

  • I’d say NOMA because there is a lot of redevelopable land still or Columbia Heights Petworth because there is nothing anywhere nearby. Now if the question is do we need another movie theater, then I would say not really.

  • Dude, Columbia Heights already has the old Tivoli just sitting there for bog’s sake! It’s getting a little use, but that could easily be a Landmark E Street of the 20009. Tons of foot traffic with Target/Bestbuy/Marshalls.

  • It’s remarkable how many theaters in DC have closed down even within the last decade or so, with very few opening up.

    Union Station
    Dupont (the small one next to Krispy Kreme)
    Outer Circle (Tenley/Friendship)
    4000 Wisconsin Ave.
    The Cinema (Friendship Heights next to Rodman’s)
    Visions (Florida Ave.)
    Janus (Dupont)

    Would love to see some new ones open after all these closings!

  • orderedchaos

    Bring a small-ish theater/bar like the Arlington Cinema Drafthouse to DC USA or somewhere along Georgia Ave–seems a better fit for 20010 area than a multiplex like the one at Gallery Place (which is only a couple miles away anyway).

    • I’d love that. I know the Fishermen of Men church on Georgia b/w Princeton & Quebec isn’t going anywhere (and I’m not advocating that they move elsewhere), but as a nearby resident I’d love for that building to become the York Theater again. Don’t know what other locations would be a good fit for something like that.

  • What if a new theater opened up in DC like the recently remodeled one in Court House? You reserve your seats (like in Europe) and they recline. I never want to go to any other theater besides this one ever again.

  • How about just turn the Lincoln Theater into a movie theater permanently?

  • There are no movie theaters in either of the East quadrants as far as I can tell. Navy Yard is a good choice. I also think where H street meets Bladensburg and Benning roads could use some redevelopment, possibly containing a movie theater.

  • 2 or 3 screens in the former Budda Bar space in Mount Vernon Triangle might work nicely.

  • This is a bit of wishful thinking, but what about turning the Fire Station on North Cap and Florida into a small-scale “view-pub” of sorts? Seems like it’s large enough to accommodate a large screen with seating/tables and a small stage in front of the screen.

    They could frequently rotate the films / genres to draw crowds. The space could also double as a comedy or arts venue. Off-peak time could be “donated” to the community for smaller-scale community events.

    Anyone here have funds to do something like that? Let’s talk 😉

  • U Street would be an awesome, and very profitable, locale for a movie theater.

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