In Columbia Heights, the D.C. government plans to save only the facade of a historic landmark and destroy the remainder in order to build a supermarket while four adjacent parcels of land remain vacant [Metro, Sept. 10]. Something is wrong here.

Rule No. 1: When you have a historic structure perfectly located to serve as a magnet for new development, you don't destroy it, you preserve and protect it. The Tivoli Theatre is that magnet.

Rule No. 2: When that magnet acts as a rare component in the mix of attractions necessary for successful development, it becomes even more essential. A magnificent venue for the performing arts is rare, indeed. Just ask the Washington Opera.

Rule No. 3: When a single asset, such as the Tivoli, is capable of serving the diverse population of a community, it needs to be protected as the architectural and cultural gem that it is.

With the Duke Ellington School, the Gala repertory company, Howard University and the Catholic University of America located nearby, and now with the opening of a new Metro station at the entrance to this Italian Renaissance beauty, the Tivoli Theatre should not be sacrificed for any reason. It is the key to the success of this project.

LARRY WANNEMACHER

Wheaton