The historic Bethesda Theatre, the current home of the Bethesda Blues & Jazz Supper Club, is on the market for $8.5 million.
Owner Rick Brown said he’s interested in selling the building to generate capital to invest in the jazz club. Brown and his business partners are offering a sale-and-lease-back on the building in which the new owner would lease it back to Bethesda Blues & Jazz, which would then continue to operate at the location.
“We are here for the long term,” Brown said. He added that he doesn’t plan to sell the building unless he can secure at minimum a 10-year lease with an option to extend it for the jazz club. He said the building’s price reflects the value that the club has brought to the property, which was vacant before Brown bought it.
More than 100,000 customers and 400 artists have come through the club in the past 22 months, according to Brown. The theater building last sold in 2012 for $2.9 million, according to Maryland property records. It’s currently assessed at $4.4 million. Marcus & Millichap is the listing agent.
Brown said the buyer could be a local family or investor who recently sold property and is looking to invest the proceeds in a new property in order to avoid paying taxes on the sale. The 20,000-square-foot building is being marketed at about half the price per square foot of other retail properties in downtown Bethesda due to development restrictions placed on it, according to Brown. The building is listed on the National Register of Historic Places, so its façade must be maintained and zoning restrictions require it be used as an arts and entertainment venue.
The building was constructed in 1938 and designed by John Eberson, who is well known for his movie theater designs.