This morning, Mayor Adrian Fenty held a press conference to raise the curtain on the city's plan to save and develop U Street's historic Lincoln Theatre. The project will entail development of the parking lot behind the historic D.C. theater, with some of the resulting profits being earmarked to save the beleaguered venue. The 88 year old District-owned theater had received much press as of late, issuing warnings of closure unless it receives funding sufficient to cover its operating expense shortfall.The Deputy Mayor's Office for Planning and Economic Development has now issued a Request for Proposals (RFP) for developers interested in the space, located in back of 1215 U Street NW. We're guessing that few people will miss the 40 surface parking spaces; the Mayor opined that, when developed, the lot could hold a 90,000-s.f. building, possibly occupied by a hotel, offices, or residences.
Among the requirements for any potential developer: the stipulation that at least 30 percent of any housing units be set aside as affordable housing, as would be obligatory in any DC-owned property. Also, projects must include "at least 7,500 square feet of flexible event space, including a restaurant-quality kitchen, which would be managed by the theater management."
Ward 1 Councilmember Jim Graham, also in attendance, expressed his obvious excitement that the project has begun “moving and shaking.” He and Mayor Fenty both emphasized the importance of the lot’s development to the continued economic growth of the U Street area —and its benefit to Lincoln Theatre. As Mayor Fenty put it, “This is and was black Broadway” - and he wants to keep it that way - and by combining affordable housing, some needed development on U Street, and saving the theatre all in one act, we're guessing he'll get a standing ovation.