DCMud is always happy to report project groundbreakings, especially when historic preservation is involved. But when redevelopment plans, mired in financing complications, have remained in holding patterns for years, it is only natural to question the legitimacy of a phoenix-like ground breaking, especially in election season. Despite that, it seems that Shaw's Howard Theater groundbreaking scheduled for tomorrow is paid for and ready to build.
Plans to redevelop the historic Howard Theater have been in the works for years, but like so many idling Shaw development plans and Ellis Development's other nearby project Broadcast Center One turned Renaissance Project, the financial hurdles have been frustratingly difficult.
Earlier this March, the Washington Business Journal confirmed that fund raising efforts for the Howard Theater redevelopment non-profit group and their development partner Ellis, through both private fund raising means, an eight million dollar public grant, and tax credits, had secured 74% of the needed $15.5 million. But developers were reported to have still been laboring fruitlessly for further bank financing.
Martinez & Johnson Architecture, which also redesigned the Strand, continues to carry the burden of design planning. Architect Naomi Ueki said the most important goal in this project, like so many restoration efforts, is to "keep the historical elements that define the theater in tact and work around them." The first order of business is the demolition of the interior - a complete gutting - while making sure to protect the footprint of the building. Excavation of the ground floor will follow in an effort to dig out a basement level. In addition to general masonry improvements, replica windows, signage, historical lamps, openings and architectural details will all help bring the famous theater facade back to life. The available financing and long to-do list is expected to keep construction crews busy through January; by then developers hope to have secured the additional funds to transition smoothly into phase two.
Shaw residents who are tired of being strung along by promises without much action to follow will finally hear some racket from the construction site at at the corner of 7th & T Streets. This is at least reason to put on a jazz record and smile. Now, we can hope for the Wonder Bread Factory to provide an overture.
Correction: Steve Cassell of Four Points LLC has informed DCMud that while the name "Renaissance Project" was thrown around the idea table it was never finalized. "Progression Place" is the official project name for the development formerly known as "Broadcast Center One," while the residential aspect of the project has been dubbed "7th Flats."
Washington D.C. Real Estate Development News