This past week a great friend of mine & I decided its about time someone committed to reopening that HUGE retail space right underneath Dupont Circle. For those of you who have no idea what I’m referring to, there is 28,000 sq ft of retail space right underneath the Dupont Circle streets, extending from the building foundations at the outer edge of the circle to the fountain in the middle, of which two halves are split by the Connecticut Ave underpass. Next time you are in the area take a look at the 7-8 stair cases boarded up by green boards that somewhat resemble metro entrances, located at nearly every corner of intersecting streets at the circle. As a point of reference, there is one located right next to CVS.
…back to the opening of Down Under…
About 11 years ago two city inspectors shut down the retail space due to health violations and several illegal practices taking place by the vendors in the space and it has been shut ever since. Those inspectors were the head of zoning, Vincent Ford, and former code inspector Jim Delgado. As an advocate for the development and improvements for the city, I have decided to commit to the reopening of the space under Dupont myself…which got me thinking…who better to enlist to help reopen the area than the two gentlemen that shut the area down. Nobody knows the violations of Dupont better then Delgado and Ford. Its simply impossible. I called Delgado this past week and he’s in! I’m not sure how far we will get but what I can say is that if anyone is going to reopen Down Under, its going to be us.
For more info on the space, read a previous blog of mine HERE.
What we do not know is what would be the best use of space. Have ideas? Post your comments below.
This afternoon before leaving work I thought I would take one last run through Google to see just how far my nearly three month old blog had made it to the far away land of the internet. Lo and behold I came across another article citing research about Dupont Down Under. Thats not the exciting part. What is exciting is yours truly was the source of expertise for the reference about the possibility of expansion of development of the 28000 sq ft of space right under Dupont Circle. In an incredibly well written article(Im biased, so what?!?) by Will O’Bryan of Metroweekly , Washington D.C.’s Gay & Lesbian News Magazine, Will looks to Dupont Down Under as the possible new venue for the availability of space for nude male-dancing. In his support and defense of what could possibly be the next venue Down Under, Will claims that the property violates no laws agains proximity to other businesses and will in no way affect the local businesses due to its location being inaccessible from anywhere but several strategic staircase entrances located around the circle, all of which have been boarded up by the city. Next time you are at the circle take a look to the outer sidewalk, most notably one of the entrances next to CVS, at the corner of P St NW.
As mentioned to Will, opening Dupont Down Under is more than just a case of time, power, money or proposals, rather I believe it to be strictly a matter of politics. From the Dupont Advisory Neighborhood Committee to the National Park Service to the Dupont Historic Committee, Down Under is a matter of having the right voices speak to the right collaborators of other arenas to have any influence of what very well could be the next sphere of influence over one of this city’s most beautiful areas.
Will’s article can be read by CLICKING HERE.
Newspaper Clipping. CLICK TO ENLARGE!
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 ha
d 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