On Wednesday the Washington Business Journal created enormous buzz with news that the Madison Square Garden LP is aggressively scouring D.C. to identify a site for a new theatre venue. The article suggested MSG would open a venue of a 6,000 seats or more, requiring up to 100,000 square feet near shopping and public transit.
A day later, WBJ reporter Jonathan O’Connell unveiled more specifics on the locations under consideration. Two locations are in the immediate vicinity of the Nationals ballpark. The other three strike much closer to home:
- The Wilkes Company – Mount Vernon Place. Sandy Wilkes apparently met with the MSG team and he is planning 2.2 million square feet of development two blocks east of Mount Vernon Square. Not much further from the action.
- Douglas Development – Mount Vernon Triangle. Ever since assembling 1.2 million square feet across from the convention center, Douglas Jemal has been pursuing an entertainment attraction.
- Hines – CityCenter DC. The old convention center site will be the city’s most high-end major development and has 111,460 square feet along New York Avenue between 9th and 11th Streets. Close to downtown, subway stations and dining options, it may be the most New York City-esque part of D.C.
How big would a 100,000sf venue be? Nearly double the size of the 59,000sf City Vista Safeway. From a capacity standpoint it would be 6X that of the 930 club, 3X the previously proposed House of Blues, and 1.5X the size of DAR Constitution Hall.
What are reactions to this? I can’t believe Mount Vernon Place is a serious contender. By my rough math neither of MVP’s two largest remaining continuous assemblages of land on K Street is > 45000sf. City Center could definitely accomodate this project if desired. Douglas Development might have problems because of all the holdouts (Marrakesh, Rupperts) and historical properties they have to work around.
Where ever this project lands I hope MSG has a commitment to producing an architecturally beautiful building befitting a grand theatre rather than a value engineered blank box like the Convention Center or the 6th Street frontage of the Verizon Center.
UPDATE (8/18/09 7:10PM) – I’ve talked to an industry insider and while MSG needs 100,000 sf for the venue the required land footprint would be 50,000sf. Mount Vernon Place still is a non-starter as their largest land assemblage is 45,000sf which falls shy even before you have to carve a few thousand square feet out on the ground level for supporting infrastructure like parking garage egress, loading docks, etc…