Housing Complex

The Passenger, Neighboring Businesses Get a Six-Month Reprieve

A rendering of the planned Douglas office building.

A rendering of the planned Douglas office building.

In December, I reported that a cluster of bars and retailers near the convention center would likely be closing by May to make way for a big new office building. Douglas Development is working on a 420,000-square-foot development with offices—with LivingSocial initially, but no longer, set to be the lead tenant—and retail at the corner of 7th Street and New York Avenue NW. Construction for the project will cut into the operations of 7th Street retailers like the popular bar The Passenger, neighboring bar Hogo, and BicycleSpace.

Now we're a week into May, so where do things stand? Businesses on the New York Avenue side have already moved out. These include the Midas car repair shop, a Crossfit location, the DC Eagle gay bar, and the Marrakesh Moroccan restaurant.

But the Passenger, Hogo, and Bicycle Space are still very much open. And they will be for at least a few more months.

According to Douglas' Paul Millstein, the developer has succeeded in phasing in the construction process so as to allow the 7th Street tenants to remain as long as possible. The company is starting with environmental abatement on New York Avenue, then moving to the bracing of historic buildings on New York, preparations to move those buildings, constructing the transfer slabs to which the buildings will be moved, and moving them onto the slabs—DC Eagle, for instance, will slide over to the Midas space to create room for digging to begin.

It'll be about six months, says Millstein, before the digging will get underway, at which point the businesses will have to move.

"We're trying to arrange for those tenants to stay as long as possible," Millstein says.

There was discussion previously that some of those tenants might move back to the site when construction is complete. Now, Millstein says, those talks involve only BicycleSpace; The Passenger and Hogo are unlikely to return to 7th Street.

But those two bars aren't planning for an imminent move. Tom Brown, who co-owns The Passenger with his brother Derek and also owns Hogo, says he expects the establishments to stick around for half a year or longer. "We're planning, at this point, our Halloween and New Year's Eve parties," he says.

Rendering of 650 New York Avenue from Douglas' Historic Preservation Review Board application

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  • Iwonderwhy

    What about the other businesses in the effected area, Bar 7 and Lux Lounge? Any news on there status? Why were they not even mentioned in the article?

  • tim

    I really hate this office building sprawl. Build up in the office ghettos we already have. DC badly needs more high density residential development in the core. The last few lots left should be reserved for housing.

  • chris lee

    disagree..dc needs a "midtown"..but there should be some consideration about keeping some character and not having all these chain restaurants

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