The iconic Georgetown Theater sign that sits rusty and ruined over Wisconsin Avenue could be back to its former gleaming neon self in the next year or two. “Absolutely,” says architect Robert Bell, who has a contract on the building and plans to renovate it as a mixed-use development of offices and residences. “I’ve been trying for about seven years to do that.” He says his redesign plan will “transform the block.”
Bell says he’s been in touch with the sign’s manufacturer, Jack Stone Signs of Landover, Maryland. “They maintained it for a long, long time, and they are still in business and have all the templates to build the neon as it was originally,” he says
Bell signed the contract for the building four weeks ago and expects to close on the deal after the first of the year. Construction, he says, could take a year and a half to two years.
The narrow, oddly shaped space is a challenge, Bell says, but also an opportunity. The ground floor will hold retail and residences, and he hopes to use the vacant property in the back to build himself a house. “We want to bring in light and windows,” he says.
There was talk by another group interested in buying the building of possibly moving a branch of the Politics & Prose bookstore into the space. Is that still viable with Bell’s plan? “I have no connection with that,” he says. “But it’s a great store, and about the only book store I shop in. I’m going to rent to a great tenant. If it’s them, great.”
Those who should give up almost all hope are movie fans who would like to see the building revived as a theater. “There’s no movie theater where there used to be a movie theater,” Bell said. “There’s nothing left of the original interior.”