Shuttered Inner Circle theater may reopen

Local,DC,Joey Flechas

Producer, residents discuss site's future

The silver screen in the West End's defunct Inner Circle theater may light up again this fall.

A film producer from the New York company Gallant Films, Josh Levin, is poised to reopen the theater that has been closed since 2003 as the West End Cinema. It would serve as a haven for independent and art house film lovers.

Levin has leased the theater and begun to perform renovations.

Negotiations are under way between Levin and the neighbors upstairs -- residents of the Westhaven Cooperative -- on some of the finer details of the arrangement, such as noise, easy access for residents, and alcohol.

Westhaven President Mike Hollingdale said residents are open to the movie theater, considering a similar arrangement worked out the last time the theater was open.

According to Hollingdale, residents' main concern is the sale of alcohol on the premises, but he said he is confident an agreement will be reached.

Levin has met with residents to tour the theater and lay out his vision for the movie house, something Hollingdale said is a positive sign that Levin wants to work out a deal that would satisfy everyone.

"We have a constructive approach to working out an agreement," he said. "[Levin has] developed a very good relationship with us."

Levin had reached out to the co-op through Advisory Neighborhood Commission 2A02 Chairwoman Rebecca Coder, who says the theater will benefit the community.

"Overall, I think it's going to be great to have an independent art house theater in the West End," she said.

Levin presented his concept of the reopened theater to the ANC at its July 21 meeting, where Coder says the commission reacted well.

Jon Gann, director of D.C. Film Alliance, said the area needs an anchor for independent film, and it could bolster the local economy.

"We're a city with a huge thirst for film," he said. "I think it could be a great economic engine for that neighborhood."

Hollingdale said Levin most likely will meet with residents again before applying for a liquor license to hammer out a final agreement. Hollingdale expects the meeting to happen within the next few weeks, as Levin hopes to open the renovated theater by mid-October.

Levin did not return repeated phone calls.

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