News Archive: 2009
DC Historic Preservation Review Board again denies application to raze Takoma Theatre. Owner likely to appeal to Mayor’s agent
[October, 2009] Takoma Theatre owner, Milton McGinty, once again sought review by HPRB of an application to substantially demolish the building. The project would raze the entire back of the Theatre, including the auditorium and stage, and leave basically the front facade and its corner continuation on Butternut Street. The Historic Preservation Office (HPO) recommended denying the application, and the Board unanimously agreed, because razing the building would again be inconsistent with the purposes of the Act. However, the Board also agreed with the HPO recommendation to allow the application to go forward to the Mayor’s Agent for Historic Preservation to appeal on the grounds that the building has no economic value or the replacement has ‘special merit’. Board Chair Tersh Boasberg implored Mr. McGinty to rethink his plans and reconsider the design of the project, noting that the HPO staff report and those testifying suggested that it would be possible to develop the site and meet preservation regulations without demolition. Conservancy President, Loretta Neumann, and representatives from ANC 4B and other community organizations testified against the project application citing the Theatre as an historic asset that once again could be a community asset and anchor the Takoma DC retail corridor.
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— Takoma Theatre Conservancy Testimony
DC ANC 4-B votes to oppose application by owner to demolish Theatre for 43-unit, 5-story residential building
[October, 2009] At the Special Public Meeting on October 15, 2009, the ANC 4B Commissioners voted to recommend that DC’s Historic Preservation Review Board oppose the latest application of the owner Mr. Milton McGinty to demolish most of the Takoma Theatre and construct a 43-unit apartment building. The vote followed presentations by Mr. McGinty and his architect, and questions and statements from the Commissioners and several attending ANC 4B residents, including Loretta Neumann, president of the Takoma Theatre Conservancy. The application was also discussed at the prior regular meeting of the ANC on September 28th.
The adopted resolution cited that the Theatre is a key asset in the Takoma Park Historic District and is therefore protected by law from substantial demolition. Additionally, the Theatre is the southern anchor for the business corridor which is the focus of economic revitalization efforts. The resolution also cited that there is strong and active support among people in the community to keep the Theatre, with the prospect of at last having an active cultural arts and education center to serve all residents in the ANC 4B Commission, as well as the wider North Washington and nearby Maryland community.
City of Takoma Park newsletter highlights status and history of Takoma Theatre
[June, 2009] Newsletter reporter Joy Lawson Jones writes in the July edition that the Takoma Theatre’s location at the crossroads of Takoma DC and Takoma Park MD is symbolic of its current status and future. “What everyone seems to agree on is that the Takoma Theatre building itself is historic, structurally sound, and can be put to good use benefitting the general Takoma district. The question is, what is the highest and best use of this local resource, a community cultural center or well-located apartment dwellings . . .?” The current owner, Mr. Milton McGinty, has outlined intentions to raze most of the structure for a 4-5 story apartment building. The Conservancy seeks to acquire, renovate and revitalize the 516 seat theatre. ()
Takoma Park’s City Council supports efforts to revitalize Takoma Theatre as community cultural arts & education center
[June, 2009] At the June 1st session of the City Council, Conservancy officers Loretta Neumann, Carolivia Herron and Stephen Smith presented an update of the status of the Conservancy’s efforts to acquire, renovate and revitalize the Takoma Theatre to serve northwest DC, Takoma Park MD and surrounding areas. While located in DC, the Theatre has linked the Takoma area since its start: A former mayor of Takoma Park MD established a corporation to build the theatre (1923). The first Takoma Park Folk Festival was initiated to raise funds to support its continued operation (1970’s). Following the presentation, Council members and the Mayor expressed their support for their Conservancy’s efforts and for following that with a formal resolution at a later session. (See video here)
Theatre building found to be structurally fit for reuse as performance venue
[March, 2009] A significant component of the February theatre walk-thru facilitated by the owner was the visual observation of the building by a professional structural engineer from the engineering firm of Robert Silman Associates (RSA), and engineers from the Conservancy’s architectural consultants, Martinez+Johnson Architecture(M+J). RSA noted some structural issues and made recommendations that these be further studied or mitigated. These include water infiltration due to a failure of the roof waterproofing, and a large crack in the north brick wall. However, most significantly, the structural engineers concurred with the architects that the building “as a whole is fit for reuse as a performance venue” and that “substantial structural repairs are not anticipated.” RSA is a nationally recognized expertise in the repair, remediation, and rehabilitation of existing buildings including some of the country’s most significant historic buildings. Among M+J/RSA collaborations are the award-winning Paramount Theater in Charlottesville, VA and the current Meridian Hill Baptist Church project in DC. This work was funded by grants from the National Trust for Historic Preservation and DC Neighborhood Investment Fund.
Conservancy’s professional team explores Theatre condition in walkthru with owner
[February, 2009] Mr. Milton McGinty, current owner of the Takoma Theatre, graciously took members of the Conservancy Board and its professional team of architects and structural engineers on a walkthru of the Theatre to observe its current condition. The team was able to explore the Theatre completely from the roof to the basement. An appraiser also accompanied the team to help establish an “as is” value to support financial lending requirements. The Theatre was judged to be generally in reasonable structural condition, with major needs for HVAC and other infrastructure. The team will be analyzing the renovation needs and estimated costs. Shown in photo: Professional team with
Mr. McGinty (2nd from right) on Takoma Theatre rooftop
Address for City of Takoma Park MD Special Session and Worksession that included a testimony on the theater.
Robert Silman Associates
Takoma Theatre At the Crossroads, Takoma Park Newsletter July 2009 pdf