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Posted at 6:30 PM ET, 06/16/2010

Bethesda Theatre headed to auction block

By Washington Post editors

The long-running Bethesda Theatre could soon be going dark for good.

The Wisconsin Avenue landmark is going on the auction block June 29, after its owners defaulted on their mortgage, said Paul Cooper, vice president of Alex Cooper Auctioneers. No potential buyers have made themselves known yet, he said.

The theater, which has nearly 700 seats, a concession stand, a box office and a marquee, has undergone many changes since 1938, when it opened as an art deco movie house. It was renamed and reopened as the Bethesda Cinema and Drafthouse in 1983, and the Bethesda Theatre Cafe in 1990.
bethesda.JPG

More recently, it underwent a $12 million renovation in 2007 by The Bozzuto Group, which received roughly $3.5 million in state and county funding and tax credits to build apartments above the theater.

Earlier this spring, the theater’s owners said that they were seeking assistance to help revitalize the struggling property.

Tom Baum, president of the Bethesda Cultural Alliance, which owns the theater, said their efforts to build up a subscription base fell short as the recession hit and entertainment spending slowed.

“It’s a crippling blow to having a theater basically starting up amidst an economy taking a turn for the worst,” he said.

Despite news of the impending auction, Baum, who is also an executive at Bozzuto, said that he does not regret backing the 2007 renovation, saying it enhances the community considerably.

“You go there today and there’s a beautiful theater there and it wasn’t there six years ago. It was a theater in disrepair and could have been anything,” he said. “I don’t regret (the construction) at all. I think that it’ll continue to be an asset for the community for years.”

---Stephanie Lee

By Washington Post editors  | June 16, 2010; 6:30 PM ET
Categories:  Maryland  | Tags:  auction, bethesda, bethesda theatre  
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Comments

What a great time: Monday nights in the late 80's, DC101 dollar night.

Posted by: silentjay | June 16, 2010 8:45 PM | Report abuse

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