Plans for Union Market Movie Theater Canceled

union market movies
Rendering courtesy EDENS

Well this is a bummer, Washington Business Journal reports:

“Plans for a new Angelika Film Center above the Union Market building have been canceled, though it is unclear whether Edens, Union Market’s owner, has shelved its proposed expansion entirely.”

Back in November 2013 we learned:

““EDENS, one of the nation’s leading retail real estate owners and developers, announced today that they will partner with Reading International, Inc. to open an Angelika Film Center in EDENS growing Union Market district in 2015.”

49 Comment

  • And so it begins…
    Rising interest rates + tighter capital markets + development unfriendly city government + rising tide of urban violence = massive development slowdown in DC.

    • don’t know about that…sounds more like a construction feasability/cost issue. The article notes that Angelika is still interested in a union market location just not right on top of the market itself…

      • “just not right on top of the market itself” — Ahh… somehow I didn’t realize or had forgotten that the idea was to build on top of the existing building _while continuing to use the existing building_. That does sound like it could be rather complicated.
        The fact that they were even considering it is interesting, though — makes me think perhaps all is not lost for the Walmart on Georgia Avenue to someday have housing built overhead.

    • Perhaps at some point this will indeed happen, but this declaration seems premature — it’s not yet clear whether some other commercial tenant will go into the space.

    • Development unfriendly city government? We must not live in the same town because there is literally construction happening everywhere in the city at this exact moment.

      • What rising interest rates? Yeah Libor and other short term rates have ticked up, long-term rates are still incredibly low. All rates for that matter are historically low.

        • Yeah, seriously. Brexit pushed rates down just enough that I finally pulled the trigger on doing a refi on one property I’ve been hemming and hawing about (rate was already good, but given the right circumstances, I could do better). Locked it in LOW and am just smiling that the stock market depression seems very passing in the US, so my stock investments are also doing well (I did take advantage and order some buys when it dipped). If you’re in a position to care about slight fluctuations in interest rates and stock market volatility, it wasn’t a bad week!

      • ^^not a reply to J Jackson

      • seriously, i’ve never seen a city undergoing so many simultaneous construction projects…haha

    • This is an incredibly misinformed opinion.

    • Interest rates aren’t rising, capital markets aren’t tight and I’ve never lived in a major city more submissive to the wants of big developers. Otherwise, great, insightful comment!

    • Accountering

      This is incredibly ignorant. You sir, have no clue what you are talking about,.

      • Maybe, except “development unfriendly city government + rising tide of urban violence” are pretty accurate.

    • Relax, chicken little.
      Concerning this development, I’m actually happy they’re not planning to build over the Union Market warehouse anymore. I think the market building is a great example of adaptive reuse that didn’t lose all of the character of the original building. Building over the top of it would change all that. Plus for now there are plenty of underutilized buildings and land around for the movie theater.

    • All the wildly optimistic commenters above don’t appear to have much insight into the commercial market. Yes, I’m sure you follow local development and it seems booming to you and residential rates are still low. But with the tanking Chinese economy, low oil prices, and now Brexit, the large scale international capital markets that fund things like major commercial real estate projects are really tightening. I’m sure the local developers would like to proceed because it’s clear there’s demand right now, but the finance guys will all tell you the money for these big projects is disappearing
      Look for many more of the large scale commercial investment projects to stall out this year.

      • Do you understand that the tanking Chinese economy and Brexit actually mean that interest rates will continue to be low for the foreseeable future?
        And oil is back above $50/barrel.

      • It’s ticked up a bit from historically low levels, but overall capital market stress is still below average:

      • I wonder if it’s less about commercial development and more about declining box office numbers that make such projects less attractive. Movie industry funded almost entirely on international blockbusters, not the kind of films or market Angelika is targeting.

  • What?? This is really disappointing.

  • bummer indeed…when is the next phase of the union market area development going to kick off…

  • justinbc

    Anyone know wtf is going on with the Dolcezza Factory there? It’s been closed for months…

    • my wife’s family own Dolcezza – after the two car crashes they’ve decided to hold off reopening the retail portion of the factory. they may expand production so also considering other uses for the retail portion of the factory.

      • “my wife’s family own Dolcezza” — That sounds like a delicious family business to marry into. 🙂

      • justinbc

        What a bummer, but glad to find out! We kept seeing the various pop-ups, but every time we would drive by it was always closed for business. Hope things get turned around, it’s such a nice space to sit and enjoy delicious gelato.

        • The selection there was so much more limited and I’d rather just go to Trickling Springs and save a couple bucks. Did notice Dolcezza put up some massive planters a la downtown in front of the building though!

          • yeah, a fact that was lost on some customers was that the factory only served what was being produced that day, hence the limited, changing menu and slightly warmer/more creamy consistancy of the product…mostly a comms issue on our side, i’m sure – and yes, after the second car in two months smashed into the front, the city finally put some “defensive structures” outfront! haha

  • I think EDENS was hoping to keep Union Market open while constructing the addition above. I’d guess that’s prohibitively expensive, and the immediate returns would be largely negligible. EDENS has already generated sufficient demand at Union Market to draw in major investment $ from elsewhere, with a lot of that construction already underway. They simply don’t need to prioritize this anymore – they own plenty other parcels in the area and have plans to build large projects there that will have much higher ROI. Will they eventually add density over the existing building? I’d guess they will. Do they need to focus on that right this second? Not at all.

  • No plans to close the current Angelika Pop-Up, right? That would be really sad.

  • I wonder if the plans to open a movie theater on N Street between North Cap and 1st NE put a damper on the idea of having one a few blocks away? Seems silly to have two that close to each other, however much I welcome the movie theater renaissance we are experiencing in DC right now.

    • I forget which came first, but both of those plans have been on the books for quite some time now. It’s not like some newfound revelation. Besides, I think the NoMa plans call for a relatively small theater – both could theoretically coexist, especially given all the increased residential density that will surround them by the time either is actually built.

      • For what it’s worth, the plans for an Alamo theater just a little north at the Rhode Island Ave MRP Realty development are newer, so that could have squeezed it out further.
        But I don’t think that’s what happened. Constructing a movie theater above ground seems wasteful, and doing it above an existing building that isn’t closing seems completely infeasible. Fingers crossed that the theater ends up being built in the basement of one of the other buildings and Union Market ends up just putting more apartments/offices up top, maybe a little later on when there’s other spaces to move Union Market’s tenants during construction. That’s my optimistic outlook on the matter.

  • Relax… the Angelika IS still happening it just isn’t happening on top of the market building — that specific project is simply too costly. The cinema is likely going to be built on the site of Maurice Electric adjacent to where the pop up is currently. The WBJ article hints at that but does not offer specifics (typical)… Look for an opening sometime in 2019. My understanding is that the Pop Up will remain.

  • The current popup has never been busy when I’ve been there (always on the weekend).. I wonder if Angelika is backing out. With all the hipster bait going in to the East end of U Street, perhaps te whole project is slowing down.

    • hipster bait – haha!

      • That reminds me of yesterday’s cartoon in the New Yorker Cartoon-A-Day calendar, which shows two hillbilly types with shotguns confronting a guy who has a bowler hat, a handlebar mustache, suspenders, and striped trousers. The guy has his hands up and is saying: “Hold on, I’m not a Hatfield or a McCoy — I’m from Brooklyn.”

  • It does sort of seem like Edens is slow-playing their hand on Union Market. I would have expected some more stuff being done, but its’ really been crickets since the market itself opened up.

    • You clearly have no idea what’s going on. They’ve been very busy accumulating property – the just don’t advertise this for very obvious reasons. Think it through a little chief.

  • anonymouse_dianne

    Does anyone go to the movies these days? The only movie I really wanted to see recently, for sentimental reasons, was Everest. It showed up on Pay per view very quickly, and next thing I know it was on HBO so I DVD’ed it. Love Brashears’ photography!

    • I still think the big-screen experience is worth something… although in recent years it’s been tempered by people who whip out their smartphones and ruin everyone else’s experience of being immersed in the film.

    • I got to about 100 movies a year, mostly indie films like the Angelika shows (a substantial minority at film festivals). I’m obviously quite extreme but I have numerous friends who go more than once a month. With there now being three Landmarks in the city, another in Bethesda, and the AMC in Shirlington mostly playing indie, I just wonder how much demand for another indie theater there is. Not even counting the AFI in Silver Spring or Suns Cinema in Mt. Pleasant. The Landmark West End and Atlantic Plumbing mostly show mainstream movies. Perhaps a sign the indie crowd is tapped out?

    • Dianne, that was my thought, too. Anecdotally, it seems like there are much fewer people going than when I was younger.
      I looked it up, and the trend for ticket sales is definitely done since the early aughts.
      Revenue is up because of rising prices. And God knows if they build this place it’s going to be expensive.
      But given the range of live entertainment options available in DC and the highly educated population here, I would not want to invest in a movie theater.
      Growing revenue with declining unit sales only works for so long. And streaming services make watching a movie or good tv show at home much more appealing compared to the days of Blockbuster Video. I’d rather sit at Union Market and drink a beer than sit in front of a movie screen.

    • i would say i see about 10 movies a year, which seems par for the course with folks i know. the new atlantic plumbing theater has actually encouraged me to see more!

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