Tivoli Theater to Be Restored by January 2004

Article excerpt

Byline: Chris Baker

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. …