The Passenger, Other 7th Street Retailers Likely to Be Forced Out by May
A popular cluster of bars, restaurants, and other retailers on 7th Street NW is likely to shut down by May to make way for a coming development project.
Douglas Development is planning a big office building at the corner of 7th Street and New York Avenue that will require the 7th Street retailers to vacate the site during construction. Those retailers include the bar The Passenger and the restaurant Hogo.
Douglas' Paul Millstein says some of the retailers have already been given notice of termination, while the businesses owned by Paul Ruppert—including The Passenger and Hogo—will soon be asked to vacate. "We're still working on some timing issues, but the hope is that they'll be vacant by May 2014," Millstein said recently of the Ruppert properties, which Douglas acquired this year. The other retailers will vacate sooner, he says. Ruppert declined to comment.
Millstein, who could not be reached for additional comment, told me earlier this year the Passenger and Hogo could move to other Douglas properties in the area, either temporarily or permanently. The completed office building, for which Douglas expects construction to last 18 months, will have retail along 7th Street, and some of the current retailers could return. Millstein also said that another 7th Street store, BicycleSPACE, might be able to remain in its location during construction.
BicycleSPACE co-owner Erik Kugler says things are still "pretty wide open." The store, he says, is two years into a 10-year lease and hopes to stay. Douglas has been showing him some of its other nearby properties where the store might be able to move. BicycleSPACE is also part of one potential plan to develop a city-owned parcel at 5th and I streets NW, and Kugler says he could envision using an opt-out clause in his lease to move there in around four years, but wouldn't operate the two stores in tandem.
For now, though, Kugler says, "Nobody said that we have to move by such and such a date." He says Douglas president Doug Jemal has promised to be personally involved in making sure that things work out for the store, one way or another.
The Capital Fringe Festival, which takes place on the same block, will remain there for a final year in 2014, according to president Julianne Brienza. But one of the 7th Street tenants has already shut its doors: Today, Civilian Art Projects called it quits after four years at its 7th Street location. It won't be the last tenant to depart from the block.
Correction: This post initially stated incorrectly that Bar7 was among the retailers that would need to leave their 7th Street locations. In fact, Bar7 is not a Douglas property and is likely to remain.
Rendering of 650 New York Avenue from Douglas' Historic Preservation Review Board application