Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Dupont Trolley RFP Pulls Into the Station

The District is seeking developers to utilize a neglected piece of prime real estate 20 feet below Dupont Circle. The Deputy Mayor for Planning and Economic Development released an RFP today for the Dupont Trolley Station. Interested parties will have until June 3rd to submit a response, which would then go before the ANC for review and comment. The District had attempted to issue the RFP in December, but postponed in order to give the ANC more time to draft a statement of preferred development, now attached as guidelines for the RFP. Today's action indicates the District is looking for groups interested in using all or just sections of the underground station, but will select no more than two groups to use the area.

A previous RFP for the site devolved into a lawsuit that lasted long enough for (most) people to forget the tunnels existed. The newest RFP would be a lease between the District and the chosen team(s). Responses can be to develop either the entire sites (East Platform, West Platform and tunnels) or part of the site (East or West platform plus tunnels). The RFP suggests respondents consider the Creative DC Action Agenda and the Retail Action Strategy. Both planning tools seek to "stimulate creative use, support the creative economy and facilitate vital commercial areas."

Citing the desire for a "creative, yet sustainable use," the District makes it clear that projects should not come with ideas and empty coffers. "The District is not prepared to offer subsidy or financial assistance."

In February, the Dupont ANC2B submitted a statement to the DMPED that detailed their hopes for the future of the Dupont Underground. The ANC wants a development that "meets the needs of the present" without taking away to the potential for future use of the area as a transit station. The ANC added that the development needs to be safe and accessible to all DC residents and that the design should make the entrances more inviting. Referencing the likely application of the DC Arts Coalition for the Underground, the ANC indicated that an arts use would be acceptable as long as the project could demonstrate necessary funding for development and upkeep. At the end of the day, the conclusion was just about any use is better than the vacant state of the property at the moment.

The RFP has come back to the forefront, thanks in part to the Arts Coalition for Dupont Underground, spearheaded by architect Julian Hunt and the Washington Project for the Arts. Along with several other arts groups and galleries in the area, the group proposes a new gallery space below Dupont along the P Street near many existing above-ground galleries. In January the Arts Coalition indicated it would compete for the RFP when it is released; now we will see just who their competition will be.

Washington, DC real estate development news


Pat Fulton said...

Let's see, $25 million so far ("Whatever someone else puts down, we're going to match it"...) for Northrup Grumman. This public investment would be In the name of general progress, one supposes. But, warns a stern District Government, no freeloaders or subsidy seekers for the restoration of the DuPont underground. Maybe put missiles on the streetcars? Underground silos? Or maybe just some simple Patton Boggs & Blow signs? In the general public interest.

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