- The Washington Times - Sunday, February 29, 2004

George Washington’s home is expanding. Mount Vernon, armed with a pledge of $24 million from the Donald W. Reynolds Foundation, will begin construction this summer of an education center and adjacent museum on the Founding Father’s estate.

The foundation’s original $15 million pledge in July 2001 was earmarked for the construction of an education center. Mount Vernon went back to the foundation to ask for more money to fund the museum.

James Rees, executive director of Mount Vernon, said it was easy to sell the idea “when you think you’ve got a great project that’s so important to this country.”

The foundation’s board this year approved the additional $9 million needed to build the museum.

“We see a lot of potential there,” said Christian Kolberg, director of communications for the Las Vegas foundation. “This was a unique opportunity for the board to help Mount Vernon tell [Washington’s] story.”

The buildings, which total about 35,000 square feet, will be named the Donald W. Reynolds Museum and Education Center. The museum will include 18th-century objects directly related to George Washington such as portraits, china, furniture and manuscripts, many of which have been in storage for decades.

“Washington needs to get a lot more attention because he is still relevant,” Mr. Rees said. “We want people who come to get a better education about the real Washington.”

In October 2001, Mount Vernon opened a $13 million renovated complex that included a 200-seat auditorium, a new food-court pavilion and an expanded gift shop. The tourist destination along the Potomac River hit rough times after the September 11 terrorist attacks and during the sniper attacks in October 2002. Last year’s rainy weather kept attendance at about 800,000 — the worst the estate has had since 1955, Mr. Rees said.

But he is confident the indoor education center and museum will help attract people throughout the year, regardless of weather.

The new facility is expected to be complete by the end of 2006.

Retail rummage

• Hollywood Tans is making an aggressive expansion in the Baltimore-Washington market. The tanning salon chain hired Bethesda’s JBG Rosenfeld Retail in June to find locations in Maryland, Virginia and the District. JBG has secured six new leases including sites that opened last year in Frederick, Md., Reston, and Lorton, Va. Three other locations are expected to open during the first half of this year in Crofton, Gaithersburg and Clarendon, Va. The company plans to open another 10 locations in the area.

• Tysons Corner Center last month began the initial phase of its $100 million expansion that will add 385,000 square feet of retail and entertainment space and an additional parking terrace to the shopping mall. The road around the mall has been repositioned to allow for the relocation of utilities and the demolition of the interior and part of the exterior of the former J.C. Penney building.

The expanded wing, slated to open in August 2005, will have a 16-screen AMC movie theater, five fine-dining restaurants, a food court, a children’s play area and 30 upscale retailers.

Donna De Marco can be reached at 202/636-4884.Retail & Hospitality runs every other Monday.

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