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Right when you thought the Lincoln Theatre was all cashed out, Mayor Adrian M. Fenty announced earlier today that the District plans to develop two city-owned properties behind the theater and use a portion of the funds generated by the properties to support the theater’s future operations.
Fenty says its his hope that the two properties on the 90,000-square-foot parking lot will bring in enough revenue to help keep the cash-strapped 88-year-old theater afloat.
Early last year, Lincoln officials threatened to shut down the once-popular theater due to lack of finances until the D.C. gov put up a $200,000 grant to keep the doors open. The District also spent another $1.5 million last year for capital improvements that are nearly complete.
Ward 1 Councilmember Jim Graham and At-Large Councilmember Kwame R. Brown also attended the announcement today outside the theaterss U Street entrance.
“We want to bring the Lincoln Theatre where it should be,” said Graham, who has been on the theater’s board for 10 years.
It was a shame the announcement did not take place in the back parking lot so everyone could see where all the action was taking place. The District is requiring that any development will provide ongoing financial support for the theater and include at least 7,500 square feet of flexible event space. Bids for the site are due by July 18 and construction is scheduled to begin by October of this year.
Opened in 1922, the Lincoln Theatre is known for hosting big-name performers, including Billie Holiday and Ella Fitzgerald. Early next month, Maya Angelou is scheduled to celebrate her 80th birthday there. Maybe she can give over her birthday cash to help out?