On with the show

Published 11:55 am Thursday, March 1, 2007

By Staff
The steel is going up. Within a year, the curtain should be going up at the Turnage Theaters complex.
Restoration of the Turnage properties is much more than just a makeover. A restored Turnage complex means economic and cultural opportunities for Washington and the surrounding areas.
Many people believe a restored Turnage facility will serve as a catalyst for plans to make Washington, especially its downtown and waterfront areas, attractive to tourists and area residents alike. At a recent City Council meeting, Mayor Judy Meier Jennette said there’s been talk that the Turnage complex plans to bring in about 200 performances and other activities during its first year of operation.
It’s a safe bet that many people who attend those performances and activities will want to avail themselves of what downtown Washington has to offer. Restaurants, coffee houses and bars should do well in an environment where Turnage patrons want to dine before a show or have drinks or coffee after a performance.
Perhaps the presence of increased traffic downtown will result in shops staying open later. A common complaint from tourists is that many downtown shops aren’t open past 5 p.m. or 6 p.m. Window shopping is a common activity with tourists who visit Washington’s downtown area at night — and on Sundays — because they can’t get into the shops to purchase goods.
There’s no doubt that many of the performances and activities that will be held at the Turnage will occur at night. Downtown merchants should take advantage of those “captive audiences” and keep later hours whenever possible.
Each merchant should decide what works best for him or her when it comes to running his or her business. Merchants need time off, too. But when a merchant’s business isn’t open when that “captive audience” appears, that merchant shouldn’t complain about business not being good. It is up to each merchant to decide if he or she will take advantage of those opportunities that bring several hundred people into the central business district.
A steady supply of “captive audiences” supplied by a steady supply of performances at the Turnage complex should result in more light shining from downtown shops’ windows at night. Downtown merchants should welcome the reemergence of the Turnage Theaters as a magnet that draws people to the city’s central business district.
As merchants are being asked to stay open later in the day to accommodate Turnage patrons, the Turnage management should be asked to accommodate downtown merchants by scheduling as many performances and activities during prime business hours as possible, especially on weekends.
A performance at the Turnage that ends at 4 p.m. would allow Turnage patrons time to shop, dine or check into that new downtown hotel for an overnight stay in Washington.
The curtain going up at the Turnage could prevent the curtain from going down on some downtown merchants.
When possible and as often as possible, downtown shops should keep later hours when there’s something going on at the Turnage complex, or, for that matter, when there are other significant events such as Music in the Streets happening in the central business district. Although it’s unlikely each merchant will be able to keep later hours each time there’s an activity at the Turnage, it’s reasonable to expect merchants to keep their shops open longer on some of those days when the Turnage stage is lit.
If they don’t take advantage of these “captive audiences,” the next performance these merchants may see is “Death of a Salesman.”