Monday, July 9, 2007

What if I told you there was 28,000 sq ft of retail space underneath Dupont Circle?

Believe it. After a long conversation yesterday with a very enthusiastic homeowner, whom I'll call JO, I promised todays Blog would be all about the 28,000 sq ft of retail space underneath the circle in Dupont. Well, here it goes.
From sources online:
It all started back in 1949 when the city was exploring new ways to avoid the traffic congestions with the once functional street cars. The intent was to avoid having the street cars ride through the circle, and the solution that was introduced was to have them run parallel to Connecticut ave on the left and right sides of the street under the circle.

(In the picture to the left, the red dots are the now boarded up entrances and there is a gap where Connecticut ave runs under the circle.)

At was first it was a wonderful option to what was once considered heavy traffic. Thats a joke! However after the demise of the streetcar in 1962, the entrances were blocked in with the plywood covers you see today, leaving Connecticut ave alone. In 1995 there was an attempt to redevelop a food court and was named Dupont Down Under and most recently, the lessee of the 20 year lease investigated possible uses without determining any significant use.

Now for the truth from my sources...

The man who had the 20 year lease and opened the food court was somewhat successful but after several years of operation was shut down for illegal electicity and gas tapping underground by a close personal friend, whom I'll call JD. Upon closing Dupont Down Under, the stairs were closed and it has not been opened since. What seems shocking is that the lessee was paying 25k to the city and reassigned the rights for 125k per year to the new tenant whom opened the food court. The other half was under city control and was never developed. In recent times, the owner of Kalorama Sports Management Associates, who is a partial owner of Washington Sports Clubs in Dupont, Paul London, had the intention of expanding his gym into the space below but never moved forward with the development.

Since that time, Paul has used 9 of his 15 year lease and still argues that his lease is still enforceable despite never having paid nor having been requested to pay. Additionally, it is my understanding that the property was just transferred from the Office of Property Management to NCRC and is unavailable for development at this time. I have tried. For questions, call Sam Young with NCRC.

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