Robert H. Smith School of Business
Capital Business
Posted at 04:48 PM ET, 09/23/2011

Movie theaters interested in Uline Arena

(David Deal - The Uline Arena, also known as the Washington Coliseum, is a cavernous dome near the New York Avenue Metro station in Northeast Washington. It was built in 1914.)
Monday’s Capital Business will include a reflective interview from Elizabeth Price, who recently departed as president of the NoMa Business Improvement District. Price threw out one piece of gossip for the NoMa-H Street crowd, namely that a couple of the major movie theater chains are considering opening a theater in the Uline Arena.

Says Price:

“I was at [the International Council of Shopping Centers convention] in Las Vegas the last two years and met with several theater companies that were very interested in the NoMa market, particularly the Uline Arena. It would be great to see Uline come back to life with vibrant retail and entertainment uses.”

If you have never been to the Uline, at 1140 3rd Street NE, you’ve probably seen its oblong dome shape beside the tracks leading from Union Station. There is nothing else like it in the city.

Once known as Washington Coliseum, the concrete-vaulted, oblong dome was built in 1941 and hosted a generation’s worth of cultural and political events, from sporting events to Go-Go concerts to the first U.S. concert by the Beatles, played shortly after their famed performance on the Ed Sullivan Show. (Here’s a video; it has some dated views on the property but at least shows the inside.)

In recent years the Uline has been used as a trash transfer station, a parking lot and, most recently, as a host to an Irish-themed theatrical production. It has never been clear what exactly owners Doug and Norman Jemal plan to do with the building. Maybe it could be a concert venue again? A grocery store? Could apartments be built on top?

I’ve asked Norman Jemal in the past whether a movie theater would open in the Uline and he has offered coy responses, but Price says the interest is real and with no movie theater at Union Station any longer, maybe Douglas Development can work some magic.

By  |  04:48 PM ET, 09/23/2011

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