Minutes - Advisory Neighborhood Commission 4B

Special Public Meeting - October 15, 2009

Adopted on October 26, 2009

 

The meeting started at about 7 p.m. at Emery Recreation Center, 5801 Georgia Avenue, NW, Vice Chair Faith Wheeler (4B02) presiding.  Also present were Commissioners 4B01 Sara Green, 4B04 James Sydnor, 4B05 Brenda Speaks, 4B06 Idriys Abdullah, and 4B08 Yvonne Jefferson.  A quorum was present for all votes.

 

Actions

1.    In a unanimous show of hands following a motion made by Commissioner Green, the Commission adopted the agenda with one change.  The September 28, 2009 minutes were excluded.

 

2.    In a 1-4-1 show-of-hands vote, the Commission did not adopt a motion made by Commissioner Abdullah to table until the October 26 public meeting a resolution proposed by Commissioner Wheeler opposing the substantial demolition of the Takoma Theater.

 

3.    In a 4-1-1 show-of-hands vote, the Commission adopted a resolution made by Commissioner Wheeler to oppose "demolishing most of" the Takoma Theatre.

 

The Complete Resolution:

 

"TAKOMA THEATRE:  RESOLUTION TO OPPOSE THE DEMOLITION OF MOST OF THE THEATER

 

WHEREAS, the owner of the Takoma Theatre, Mr. Milton McGinty, proposes to demolish most of the historic Takoma Theatre; 

 

WHEREAS, the Theatre is a key resource in the Takoma Park Historic District and is, therefore protected by historic preservation law which prohibits demolition of historic buildings;

 

WHEREAS, the history of the building for this purposely integrated community of Takoma, Brightwood, Manor Park and Shepherd Park is of particular interest in that it was one of the first theaters in DC to integrate; 

 

 WHEREAS, the Takoma Theatre is considered the southern anchor for the Old Takoma business corridor which we are working hard to revitalize -- with the Takoma Underpass Mural, the Façade Improvement Program, and DDOT’s Takoma Transportation Improvements program; 

 

WHEREAS, in Ward 4 there is no other theater of any kind, and in all of North Washington there is no other cultural arts and education center other than university centers, such as the Hartke Theatre in Catholic University in Ward 5;    - more -

 Adopted Minutes - ANC 4B - Oct. 15, 2009 Special Public Meeting - Page Two

 

 

WHEREAS, 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 our ANC 4B Commission, as well as the wider North Washington and nearby Maryland community and to celebrate, present and represent the rich diversity here in our part of Washington DC;

 

We hereby recommend that the Historic Preservation Review Board does not approve the proposal to demolish most of the Takoma Theatre. "

 

The vote followed a presentation and discussion with Takoma Theatre (4th & Butternut Sts., NW) Owner Milton McGinty and Architect Paul Wilson, along with questions and statements from Commissioners and six residents, including Paula Nersesian, of 4th St., NW, Georgia Herron, of 7th St., NW,  Wanda Oates, an ANC 4B05 resident, Loretta Neumann, the President of the Takoma Theatre Conservancy, and Piney Branch Rd., NW resident, Richard Holzsager, of Piney Branch Rd., NW, and Kevin Costello, of 4th St., NW.

 

When asked to raise their hands, one resident supported the owner's proposal to substantially demolish the theater and nine residents opposed it.

 

Resident comments opposing the demolition included concerns that the owner has not been responsive to a request to remove an abandoned vehicle on the theater parking lot, that he might be able to demolish most of the building but might not be able to construct the apartments and that Ward 4 needs a performing arts center but not the apartments the owner proposes to build.

 

One resident who lives close to the theater said he supports the apartment proposal because the empty building now contributes nothing to the community and it may take many years to raise the money needed to convert the building into a performing arts center.

 

During her brief presentation, Ms. Neumann said that her group would like to work with Mr. McGinty to buy the property and design a performing arts center that might also include some apartments.

 

Mr. McGinty responded to concerns by stating that, if approved, only his death or a significant financial problem will prevent the apartments from being built and that he has $4 million in his own funds to spend on the project.  He said that he has invested hundreds of thousands of dollars in the building since 1983 and has a right to recoup his investment.

 

The meeting adjourned at about 9 p.m.

                                                                        --- Submitted by Sara Green, Secretary