In April 2008, Mayor Adrian Fenty announced a Request for Proposals (RFP) for the district-owned property abutting the U Street theater, with a September, 2008 application deadline for the "Lincoln Lots." According to sources in the office of the Deputy Mayor for Planning and Economic Development (DMPED), no developer was selected and the RFP has been pulled for "economic concerns." The DMPED's office will not comment on when the RFP was pulled, how many offers were received, or any explanation for dropping the plans. Other city officials seemed unaware of the Lincoln's status; spokesmen for the Lincoln refused to comment (unless a hang-up is a comment) for this story.
At least part of the impetus for development was the theater's shaky financing, which required annual payments from the District and led to a cash infusion from the District in 2007 to prevent it's imminent closing. Proceeds from development were to seed the theater with extra cash to keep it operational.
The two parcels on V Street total 11,788 s.f. of space in a neighborhood bursting with new and planned development. At the time the RFP was released, the Mayor suggested a hotel or office would be an ideal development to share parking with the theater and provide "flexible event space, including a restaurant-quality kitchen, which would be managed by the theater management." The new structure was meant to help solidify "the Lincoln [Theatre] in the regional cultural market."
**UPDATE 08/10/09** The Office of the Deputy Mayor for Planning and Economic Development sent DCMud the following statement as a follow-up to our post:
The District remains firmly committed to the success of the historic Lincoln Theatre. The U Street Theatre Foundation Board, its Executive Director, and overall team have made significant improvements in the operations of the theatre. Theatre management has formed strategic partnerships with a variety of cultural groups to further enliven the U Street corridor and to make the institution an anchor for the broader community. The District’s issuance of the Solicitation was to intended to provide supplemental support of the theater’s operations. The District’s decision to terminate negotiations with the potential development team last year was made to ensure the public interest in being able to produce that supplemental support. It is anticipated that a Solicitation will be issued for those same properties once the current economic climate changes.