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D.C. Zoning Commission Approves Turning Store Into Opera House

July 2, 1996

WASHINGTON (AP) _ The city’s zoning commission has voted to adopt regulations permitting the conversion of an abandoned downtown Washington department store into an opera house.

Commission director Madeleine Dobbins said that despite Monday’s vote, some steps remained before the Washington Opera would receive full clearance to convert the former Woodward & Lothrop store into a state-of-the-art opera complex by 2000. Among them is a federal impact statement by the National Capital Planning Commission, Ms. Dobbins said.

The proposed Washington Opera House will seat 2,100 in its main theater and will serve as the company’s home for its performances that it expects to number 200 a year. The facility will include a 400-seat lecture hall, administrative space, classrooms and a rooftop restaurant.

The Woodward & Lothrop building was purchased by the opera for just over $18 million on March 20.

The opera estimated that renovation and construction costs will total an estimated $115 million.

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