Second Act For A Historic D.C. Neighborhood

Rennovated theater is the first of many new developments in Columbia Heights.
January 10, 2005, 8am PST | Peter Buryk
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The opening of the rennovated Tivoli Theater is an indication of the direction that Columbia Heights is headed. The historic building anchors a larger development called Tivoli Square that will eventually include apartments, restaurants, a dance studio, and the District's first Target store. Columbia Heights was essentially razed following the riots that insued after the assassination of Martin Luther King, Jr. in 1968. The city took over many properties in the neighborhood and recently auctioned them off to eager developers. "It's rare to have an opportunity in an urban setting like this -- to have 10 or 11 acres of land around a Metro station that are empty suddenly be rebuilt," said Christopher J. Donatelli, whose firm Donatelli & Klein, is working on two of the residential-retail projects. "The impact is going to be huge. If you left for a year or two and then came back, you might not recognize it." The neighborhood was once known as black Washington's downtown and was a bustling retail area served by the city's streetcar. D.C Councilman Jim Graham, who represents the neighborhood, acknowlegdes that there are problems associated with a rapidly gentrifying and revitilizing community, but he remains optimistic. "This is a neighborhood that, just a short time ago, we couldn't get fast food into. And now it will have everything," Graham said. "There are tensions, but the mix is good."

Thanks to Peter Buryk

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Published on Sunday, January 9, 2005 in The Washington Post
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