A long-rumored project to develop Dupont Circle’s abandoned subterranean tunnels may finally be underway, reported the Washington Examiner on Thursday. A local nonprofit envisions the 1940s-era trolley station becoming a restaurant, movie theater, bookstore, art gallery, wine tasting room, or perhaps a combination of the five.
The Arts Coalition for the Dupont Underground, which has spearheaded the initiative, hopes future profits from the venue could help fund local arts. But first, they must find businesses interested in funding the development of the dilapidated space. At 75,000 square feet, this is no small task, but a representative of the Coalition said he has already been approached by several restaurants and wineries, as well as a movie theater, about the project.
This isn’t the first attempt to reopen the vintage station. Proposals as recent as 1995 have been brought forth to refurbish the space into anything from shops to a food court, but each attempt has failed thus far. In fact, there was a short-lived fast-food court in the space in 1995.
The Coalition is optimistic about their chances and hopes to sign a lease with the city by the end of the year. Once they reach an agreement, the first retail space could be ready to go in as little as one year.
The hard part is finding the developer, according to the Washington Examiner article: “The coalition, formed more than three years ago, hopes to reach a long-term lease agreement with the city potentially by the end of the year. But the hard part is finding a developer to take on the hairy project.”