- The Washington Times - Monday, April 15, 2002

Supporters of the now-defunct Avalon Theater on Connecticut Avenue NW are on a mission: to get the legendary movie house up and running again.
The 80-year-old theater closed in March 2001 after Loews Cineplex Entertainment Corp. pulled out of its lease and emptied the building taking everything from its projectors to the seats.
Now a newly formed nonprofit group called the Avalon Theater Project is trying to raise enough money to get the 15,800-square-foot theater open again. In March developer Doug Jemal agreed to lease the building to the organization if it can put together a funding package and develop viable partnership agreements by June 21.
The preliminary cost for the building's main repairs from its heating and cooling system to fixes on the roof will be at least $100,000, says Robert Zich, head of the nonprofit. A group of engineers and an architect are putting together a final report this week detailing what needs to be done to the building.
To raise the money, the group is holding fund-raisers and discussing financial assistance with the city, business people, banks and large companies.
"We're knocking on every door," says Mr. Zich, who has lived in the Chevy Chase area since 1974.
In addition to financial support, the group is looking for someone to run the theater, which is currently configured for a two-screen operation. When it closed, the main theater had about 660 seats and a smaller theater upstairs had 175 seats. The Avalon Theater Project also has the vision of turning the lobby and adjacent space about 2,250 square feet into a cafe, that would be operated by the film exhibitor or another group.
"We want this to remain a movie house," Mr. Zich says.

More rooms in D.C.
Two new hotels are opening this summer in the District: Sofitel Lafayette Square and Hotel Monaco Washington D.C.
The General Post Office Building, also known as the Tariff Building, is being transformed into the 184-room Hotel Monaco and is expected to open in early summer. The property is being developed by the Kimpton Hotel & Restaurant Group, which also opened the Topaz Hotel and Hotel Rouge in the District last year. Hotel Monaco will include 7,000 square feet of meeting space. Room rates start at $245.
Sofitel Accor Hotels & Resorts will own its first hotel in the Washington market with its new 237-room property slated to open in June. The hotel, which will have about 150 employees, is housed in the historic 180,000-square-foot, 12-story, former Shoreham office building located at 15th and H streets in Northwest. Room rates start at $275.

What's new
Best Buy opened its newest store April 5 at the Potomac Yard Shopping Center in Alexandria. The 45,000-square-foot store, which is the company's 17th location in Virginia, has about 150 full- and part-time employees.
JBG Rosenfeld Retail, a shopping center leasing and management company based in Bethesda, has recently secured new locations for Chuck E. Cheese and Video Warehouse.
Chuck E. Cheese is moving into a 10,500-square-foot space at Loehmann's Plaza shopping center on Randolph Road in Rockville. The children's pizza chain is expected to open in the fall. Video Warehouse moved into a 5,000-square-foot location in the Laurel Shopping Center in March. JBG is the leasing agent for Video Warehouse and has found space for about 50 stores.
H & R Retail has secured two new tenants totaling about 56,000 square feet at Olney Village Mart in Olney. A 31,500-square-foot T.J. Maxx and a 24,500-square-foot Home Goods store are scheduled to open in summer 2003.
Harris Teeter is slated to open its fifth Northern Virginia store later this month in Arlington. The 45,300-square-foot store will employ about 115 people.

Donna De Marco can be reached at 202/636-4884 or by email at [email protected] Retail & Hospitality runs every other week.

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