The update will consist of what the developer describes as "three overlapping components." The first of these will include the reintegration of a "medium-sized" stage into main audience chamber, which aims to accommodate 500-600 concertgoers. The backstage area, or "Stage House" as they say in the biz, is to be outfitted with all of the state-of-the-art, modern amenities found in any venue worth its weight in Victrolas: theatrical rigging, motorized winches, soundproofing and the rest. A new level will be added 25 feet above the stage, in order to accommodate administrative offices.
Another phase of the historic revamp will include the addition of a new upscale restaurant, meant to accommodate up to 300 customers at any one time. Cuisine at the waiter-serviced eatery and bar is being described as “upscale,” with more details to be hammered out as the project approaches its targeted 2010 completion – and 100th birthday. A 1,200 square foot kitchen will round out the area.
However, the component of the most immediate significance to the local Shaw community is the “education area” – a pair of class-cum-rehearsal rooms directly underneath the stage. In keeping with the developer’s pledge to “enrich, educate and enlighten,” the space will be available to the local artistic causes.
And what would a DC landmark be without tchotchkes for sale? Rounding out the theatre’s redevelopment is a 600-s.f. museum and gift shop that will presumably detail the musical hall’s rich history as a host for acts like Duke Ellington, The Supremes, Marvin Gaye and Redd Foxx; faces you will now find on a coffee cup or mousepad, we suppose.
"We have 60% of the cost solved and we need to raise the rest to try and retire the debt, and/or raise as much we can to begin construction," said Chip Ellis of Ellis Development. The not-for-profit associated with the developer, Howard Theatre Restoration, Inc., will continue to accept donations until the project is complete.
According to Ellis, the $25 million worth of renovation procedures are expected to commence in Auguest 2009. Whiting-Turner will serve as the general contractor on the project.