- The Washington Times - Monday, October 29, 2001

The restoration of the historic Tivoli Theater in Columbia Heights is proceeding quietly, more than a year after the project was announced to much fanfare.

Horning Brothers, the D.C. development company spearheading the restoration, recently began repairing the murals inside the abandoned, 1920s-era movie palace at Park Road and 14th St. NW.

The company is also negotiating with businesses to set up shop inside the theater building. In addition, Horning is working with the city on zoning changes that are needed before construction can begin next summer.

"We're making significant progress on a number of fronts," says Joseph Horning III, a Horning Brothers partner.

The company plans to make the refurbished theater the centerpiece of a larger development called Tivoli Square. The $28 million plan calls for the 41,000-square-foot theater building to be restored, with much of the space converted into offices, shops and restaurants.

A new performing arts area with more than 200 seats will also be built.

The project includes a Giant Food supermarket, which will be built a few feet away from the theater. Plans also call for housing to be built on the property. The project is on track to be completed by January 2004, Mr. Horning says.

The District announced last October that it would spend $5 million to help save the theater, which activists fought to preserve for more than 20 years.

Since then, Mr. Horning has signed the Gala Hispanic Theater group to develop the performing arts space inside the Tivoli. He also started negotiations with possible office and retail tenants for the building.

The restoration of the Tivoli's famed murals is also under way.

New York artist A. Battisi painted the murals in the building's lobby, promenade and above a stage in the original 2,500-seat theater. The murals feature musical figures in neo-classical, wooded settings.

Since the theater closed in 1975, the murals suffered severe water damage, Mr. Horning says.

The restoration of the murals will cost about $150,000, Mr. Horning says.

Breaking ground

Three regional developers have started big projects in the Washington area.

Buchanan Partners has started the first building in Dulles Trade Center I, a 57-acre business park near Washington Dulles International Airport. It will feature 105,400 square feet. Buchanan plans to build 560,000 square feet in the park.

Across the Potomac River, MIE Properties has broken ground for the first three buildings at the Maryland Science and Technology Center in Bowie. The $60 million park will have 14 buildings when it is completed. The buildings, which can be used for office or industrial uses, are scheduled to be finished in February.

Manekin, in the meantime, has started construction on the new headquarters for the American Health Assistance Foundation in Clarksburg, in northern Montgomery County. The nonprofit research group plans to move from its current headquarters in Gaithersburg to the new building, which will have 33,000 square feet, in June.

Tomorrow, Manekin is scheduled to break ground on an 83,000-square-foot building for DebtWorks off Route 70 in Frederick. The credit counseling company plans to move to its new digs next fall.

In other news

• Butera Properties has purchased Commerce Center II, an office complex in Greenbelt, for $16.9 million. The complex, which includes several buildings, features 129,964 square feet. Local brokerage Cassidy & Pinkard arranged the sale.

• The American Cancer Society signed a 10-year lease for 25,000 square feet at 901 E St. NW, a building owned by Cambridge Development. Brokerage CB Richard Ellis arranged the lease.

• Chris Baker can be reached at 202/636-3139 or [email protected]

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