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Posted at 3:29 PM ET, 10/21/2010

Plans unveiled for Dupont's underground

By Washington Post editors

District officials and developers are moving ahead with plans to convert underground tunnels at Dupont Circle into art galleries, restaurants and a winery.

The Arts Coalition for the Dupont Underground, a nonprofit made up of artists, businesses and developers, unveiled Wednesday some of its plans for nearly 100,000-square-feet and will begin lease negotiations with the city soon, officials said. Located about 20 feet below ground, the two parallel tunnels run beneath Connecticut Avenue NW and wrap around each side of the circular park.

Financing for the development would come from a mixture of private donations and restaurant leases.

Most of the white-tiled tunnels underneath Dupont Circle have been vacant since 1962, when trolley service ended. It was used as a fallout shelter until 1975 and a food court, Dupont Down Under, was started in 1996, but failed to catch on and was quickly shuttered.

-- Derek Kravitz

By Washington Post editors  | October 21, 2010; 3:29 PM ET
Categories:  DC  
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They tried this 15 years ago, and it didn't work then.

That was mostly for two reasons.

1. Junkies infested the place almost from the moment it was opened, and efforts to keep the junkies out kept most potentially valued customers out as well.

2. More importantly, 40 years use as an open-air urinal left the concrete itself deeply saturated with an ineradicable odor of stale urine.

If they can get rid of the smell and keep out the junkies, this might be a great idea.

If not, not.

Posted by: thardman | October 21, 2010 5:19 PM | Report abuse

What? Again? Doesn't anybody ever learn or remember anything? This thing will tank, just like the last con job at this location did. The place is a pit. Somebody's getting their palms greased for this caper.

Posted by: tdiaz | October 21, 2010 6:36 PM | Report abuse

Hey, 1996 called and it would like its news back.

Private individuals are more than welcome to fail with their own money. Atleast there is no taxpayer dollars involved this time.

You know what would be a boon to Dupont Circle business...turning it into an underground parking garage.

Posted by: Nosh1 | October 21, 2010 8:16 PM | Report abuse

Yeah, the three hundred restaurants in the neighborhood above ground just aren't enough.

This could hardly be sillier, but when the DC government steps in to save it, it will.

Posted by: gitarre | October 22, 2010 6:58 AM | Report abuse

In 1996, I worked in Dupont Circle and I remember how exactly my co-workers and I were when we heard about the Dupont Underground opening. What we got was a lousy set of fast-food joints with limited seating in a dismal, smelly setting. It was poorly lit, smelled bad in all weather, but especially when it rained, and seemed to housing the homeless during all hours when it was opened. After a few visits, I stopped going, and I'm sure most other people did, which led to the closing. I haven't seen or read anything that leads me to believe that anything will be different this time.

Posted by: WashingtonDame | October 22, 2010 8:07 AM | Report abuse

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