|The Flower Theatre in 1962. Photo from the Montgomery County Planning Department.
For years, the Flower Theatre in Long Branch has sat empty. How can we bring it back to life? I'd like to introduce the Flower Theatre Project, which seeks to find a socially and economically sustainable way to restore the Flower Theatre as an anchor for the Long Branch community and a catalyst for investment and revitalization.
In August, a group of residents, businesspeople, community organizers, planners, architects and real estate professionals came together at Fenton Street Market for a charrette, or idea-generating workshop, to brainstorm ways it could be brought back to life. We got a lot of great ideas and a clear message from the community that this space can't sit idle anymore.
Since then, we've done a thorough demographic analysis of the neighborhood, and looked at past and ongoing planning efforts in Long Branch to see what others have learned. We've explored the feasibility of each of the concepts proposed at the charrette, looking at everything from parking requirements to local competition to the difficulty of adapting a 60-year-old Art Deco movie theatre. The results of our research can be found in this 17-page report titled "Back in Bloom: Starting a Conversation about Revitalizing the Flower Theatre."
The Flower Theatre Project is still in its infancy. Our next step is to reach out to local groups and organizations, like the Long Branch Business League, to build community support for our goals. We also seek to begin a conversation with the owner, Harvey Property Management of Bethesda, in the hopes of finding a use for this space that benefits them as well as the neighborhood.
Bringing the Flower Theatre back to life is one way we can make Long Branch a stronger, safer, more prosperous community. I hope you'll join us. If you're interested in helping out or have any questions, shoot an email to Dan Reed at justupthepike at gmail dot com.
DOWNLOAD "Back in Bloom," our report on the Flower Theatre
Flower Theatre written up in the Takoma Park Newsletter
JUTP article on the history of the Flower Theatre and introducing the charrette