Takoma Theatre sold

PHOTO: Takoma Theatre in 2013. Photo by Lyle Kendrick.

BY BILL BROWN

Takoma Theatre was purchased May 1 by Rock Creek Property Group, a Washington DC property investment company.

Rock Creek partner Gary Schlager confirmed a May 4 Washington Business Journal report about the sale.

Schlager said his company has yet to decide what to do with the building, located at the corner of 4th and Butternut Streets, NW, Washington, DC.

The historic Takoma Theatre’s fate has been the subject of city hearings and community debate since former owner Milton McGinty tried to raze it in 2007.

Closed for now - Takoma Theatre, 4th and Butternut Streets, NW, Washington, DC, ("Takoma DC")

Photo by Lyle Kendrick.

McGinty purchased the building and lot in 1983. He tried to revive the theater with performances, but failed to make a profit. In 2007 he sought to demolish the theater to build an apartment building. The city denied approval. This was largely due to opposition from the Takoma Theare Conservancy, a citizen’s group formed to stop the theater’s destruction. The Conservancy wanted to preserve it as a working theater. They said it had potential as a community cultural center.

The Conservancy opposed McGinty’s further efforts to develop the theater. The development plan preserved the exterior but gutted the interior to turn it into an apartment building. See the Voice article “Theater development gets mixed reviews” by Lyle Kendrick, July, 2013.

Proposed Takoma Theatre architectural rendering from Cunningham | Quill Architects

Proposed Takoma Theatre architectural rendering from Cunningham | Quill Architects

McGinty was granted the necessary DC Historic Preservation Review Board approval in 2013, a day before he passed away.

Rock Creek Property Group has the option to proceed with that approved plan, said Schlager. According to the Washington Business Journal article, however, the company is taking community changes into consideration. The population is growing, clustered around the Takoma Metro Station three blocks away. A large multi-unit residential development is being constructed nearby and others are planned  Thanks to new venues such as Busboys and Poets bar/cafe the area is becoming more of a dining, entertainment and shopping destination.

The theater opened in 1923. It was built by architect John J. Zink. Zink specialized in movie theaters. He designed the celebrated Uptown Theater in Washington, DC and Senator Theatre in Baltimore. He also built the Flower Twins Theatre at the corner of Flower and Piney Branch Avenues, Silver Spring.

About the Author

Bill Brown
Bill Brown moved to Takoma Park in 1982. He has been involved in journalism in one way or another since he co-published an underground high-school newspaper in the late 1960s.