Rebuilding Place in the Urban Space

"A community’s physical form, rather than its land uses, is its most intrinsic and enduring characteristic." [Katz, EPA] This blog focuses on place and placemaking and all that makes it work--historic preservation, urban design, transportation, asset-based community development, arts & cultural development, commercial district revitalization, tourism & destination development, and quality of life advocacy--along with doses of civic engagement and good governance watchdogging.

Sunday, July 17, 2005

A creative idea for adding "entertainment" to your commercial district

Inside the Grand Illusion Cinema, Seattle
Inside the Grand Illusion Theater, Seattle Washington. The theater is so intimate that sometimes you feel like it's your personal screening room, and sometimes a few people can make a crowd. Seattle Times photo.

From the Washington Business Journal--

Independent filmmakers now have one more place to go and screen their masterpieces.

The Warehouse Theater, across from the Washington Convention Center, is allowing groups of up to 50 people to rent space on its second floor to watch films and is also planning to host small festivals involving local artists. "The idea behind it is that there's an explosion of filmmaking in Washington and around the world, and what's missing for a lot of these filmmakers is a place to screen their films," says Paul Ruppert, producing director at the Warehouse.

Demand for new screening space became especially high after the closing last September of Visions Bar Noir, an independent two-screen theater near Dupont Circle. The Warehouse had previously held some screenings in its main theaters, but only on a sporadic basis. The theater is charging $75 per hour to rent the 300-square-foot space, with a minimum of two hours. [Tim Lemke]
I wrote a blog entry in the June archives, "The Future of Barracks Row? A Counter-point to letter to the editor about Smoke-Free Restaurants", about Barracks Row Main Street and (in my opinion) their need to expand their offerings to include entertainment options--because the restaurants aren't enough, and in fact the business would be declining if it wasn't for the added push from baseball.

I was talking about this with a long-time resident last night, and she said "what would you suggest?" We talked about a bunch of things. She would like to see "family-type" entertainment, including things like billiards. She mentioned a Kramerbooks like offering--which I think is a good idea but would best work at only a couple locations -- where the Starbucks is at 8th and D Streets SE, across the street where the Dunkin Donuts is coming, where the CVS is, or where Bread and Chocolate is located.

I also mentioned the "Grand Illusion" theater in Seattle, which is a grander version of what they are doing at The Warehouse on 7th Street NW. See this article from the Seattle Times Pacific Northwest Magazine, for more info on the Grand Illusion.

We talked about another idea I had, which would be to redesign the Hine JHS multipurpose room to open onto the Plaza, and to be programmed at night on Fridays and Saturdays, etc.

Lots of things could be done, again, creativity is the key.

Grand Illusion Cinema in Seattle
Grand Ilusion Theater, exterior. You get the feeling that The Grand Illusion Cinema is not your average theater the moment you approach the front door. A dentist's office in a past life, the little theater sits above what now is a used-book store. Photo from the Seattle Times.

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