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City Soon to Seek Proposals for Use of Former Trolley Station Under Dupont Circle

By P.L. Wolff

Accompanying images can be viewed on page 1 of the February 2010 issue pdf

As we reported well over six years ago (“Former Dupont Down Under Space Finally Available for Re-Use,” September 2003, page 5), the city’s property management office announced that the former trolley station below Dupont Circle that had been leased to developer Gary Simon’s by then failed Dupont Down Under food court was again available following the city’s successful appellate court ruling on their case brought against the lessee.

Relying on the property management office’s assurances that all the outstanding legal issues had been settled and no further claim by Simon could be initiated and that the city had hired an appraiser to assess value so as to determine an appropriate rental price for the remaining lease holder, it was then the opportune time to develop ideas for how that 100,000 square feet of underground space might be used.

But, as is so often the case, matters were not so clear-cut and legal issues remained unresolved until very recently. Now the city’s Office of the Deputy Mayor for Planning and Economic Development is close to issuing an RFP (Request for Proposals) – slated for the end of February.

To be included in that RFP document will be information solicited from neighborhood business owners and residents about their ideas as to how the space should be used, thereby providing potential applicants with a sense of what would be welcomed and what might be opposed.

As we were going to press The InTowner was informed that Historic Dupont Circle Main Streets (HDCMS) was taking the lead to coordinate receipt of comments to be collated and forwarded on to the Deputy Mayor’s office in time to be included in the RFP. To that end, the HDCMS office requests that comments should be submitted by February 17th by email to execdirector@dupontcircle.biz and should include responses to the following questions:

What businesses or use would you like, or not like, to be located in the space?;

Should the use of the space be such that in the future it could revert to a functioning trolley station?

Have you been to similar underground spaces in cities that were successful, and if so, where?

Did you visit the Dupont Down Under food court that had been briefly located on the west side of the underground former trolley station?

Although an unsolicited proposal for arts use had been received by the city last year, no action was initiated by the Deputy Mayor’s office and no preferences about future use have been put forth by that office.