Housing Complex

Dupont Underground: Still On Track, Shopping For Tenants

So much space! (Lydia DePillis)

It's been more than a year since the public last heard from the folks who want to build out the Dupont Underground, the 75,000-square-foot space underneath Connecticut Avenue that was once used as a trolley tunnel. With so much silence from such an ambitious project, it's easy to worry that the thing might have lost steam altogether.

Not so! The team is still working away behind the scenes to turn their exclusive rights agreement with the city into a bona fide lease, which will make it much easier to raise the $10 million needed to build out the space into galleries, restaurants, and other creative-type locales. They've got a target date of March to get letters of interest from potential tenants and a draft pro forma to the city, which could turn into something more concrete by the end of 2012.

Right now, a major national theater chain and a high-end name-brand retailer are looking at serving as the anchor tenant (hint: they're also feeling out downtown and NoMa) and three wineries are interested in what would amount to about a quarter of the space. The non-profit's board now includes a principal from HR&A Advisors, a development consultant that helped put together the High Line in Manhattan. And architect Julian Hunt is roughing out designs for above-ground manifestations of the subterranean space that would serve as eye-catching entrances, as well as a proposal to create more public space for the Dupont Circle farmers market by decking over the under the Connecticut Avenue underpass.

There's a lot more I'm not saying, of course. While touring interested parties around the space, Hunt is very careful about the information he releases, recognizing the tricky position he's in between the city, potential investors, and neighborhood groups. Expect things to become more concrete when ink dries on the lease.

If you want to learn more, there's a meeting next Thursday the 17th at the Warehouse Theater at 6:30 p.m. with fancy new renderings and discussion about how this can all get done.

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  • er

    i'm sorry, i should have written a complete sentence. Are there any details concerning the interest that the 3 wineries have in the space?

  • Anonymouse

    high-end name-brand retailer = a good possibility of being Apple

  • Kathy

    Would be an ideal spot for an all service bike storage and repair facility (like the one near Union Station).

  • mrsandydog

    "Those who do not learn from history are doomed to repeat it." There have been at least two attempts to use this space since I moved here in the 1980s. They failed because this space (a) isn't visible from street level; and (b) relies exclusively on destination traffic (i.e., you have to set out to end up there, as opposed to taking advantage of window shoppers and passers by). Not to mention, it's uncomfortable for claustrophobics and difficult to move merchandise in and out of. With as much empty space as there is in and around Dupont, Downtown, Nats Park, and other areas, why would developers bother with this subterranean development when there's plenty of above ground space upon which to speculate?

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  • oboe

    "They failed because this space (a) isn't visible from street level; and (b) relies exclusively on destination traffic "

    You forgot (most pertinent) c) the previous failure was in the early 90s and a food court.

  • TONYSE202

    I think that they should use the space to what it want was. The trolley that they are being on the east of the river side, which I think that will soon link it to the eastern market capitol hill area. Why not just start the trolley there and build out?

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