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One possible vision for Squares 450/451

Earlier today I presented the case for a live music venue to be included in Jemal’s development of Square 450 and 451. I’d love to hear readers feedback on that piece and any suggestions they have for development of these two Squares. My thought is that the politics may be too much of an uphill battle to overcome for a music venue. I’m also guessing Live Nation may be content with having just the one new venue in downtown Silver Spring. So when concocting my own vision I’ve elected to leave out the big music venue.

RED=Square 450; BLUE=Square 451

Entertainment Anchors

I’m going to go with another reader’s suggestion that a Jillians or Dave & Buster’s (D&B) make sense as the entertainment anchor. This type of venue pairs very well with the convention center crowd. I guarantee it would be a magnet for company off-site events. I don’t know that the locals from the immediate neighborhood would visit to play air-hockey and arcade games extremely often. But if the ground floor can designed into a very chic sports bar (such as Sport in Seattle) and the Billiards area is ample it would still be an appealing neighborhood destination.

I would try to woo the the DC Improv to move from Connecticut Ave to this new entertainment complex. I don’t think the city can support two premium comedy venues so a new venue to compete with the Improv doesn’t make sense. It’s a different beast than the music venue conundrum. With the comedy club it’s not about fragmenting the market share. It has more to do with the shallow pool of name brand comics on the club circuit. The DC Improv often sells out and could generate more revenue with a larger venue. If the Improv says no, plan B would be a Arlington Cinema and Drafthouse type venue that plays films most of the time and comedy acts occasionally.

The Arts

If the Potomac Investment Properties bid fails to win the 5th and Eye RFP I would look to cherry pick the most attractive pieces of that project for inclusion here. I think the aspect of the PIP proposal that local residents were most attracted to was the potential cafe from Tryst owner Constantine Stavropoulous. The artist studios were also something that residents supported in the PIP proposal even if they did not assign a priority to it. I believe inclusion of the artist studios provided much of lure for Stavropoulous to partner with PIP. The proximity to creatives, as Tryst and the Diner has in Adams Morgan, benefits his daytime business. So I doubt you get the Tryst-esque cafe without the artist studios. They seem linked at the hip. I would recycle some of the present arts space from either the Warehouse Theatre or Warehouse Nextdoor into a small gallery/theatre and affordable artist studios. A Stavropoulous created cafe, artist studios, and perhaps some outdoor art would contribute some creative balance to the community.

Dining/Nightlife

I would think an upscale cafe or restaurant with generous outdoor seating across from the Mount Vernon Square park would be a big hit. (Hopefully something cooler than Cosi)

I’m intrigued by the idea of a rooftop bar/club with the hotel. This is more prevalent in other cities. It’s typically paired with skyscrapers which the L’Enfant city lacks. But I still think having this complex include a rooftop bar/club could be novel enough for the district to be a success.

Restaurants and shops should occupy the ground floor of all facings of Square 450 and 451 except L Street. I’ve just listed possible major tenants in this vision but there is certainly room for far more than what I’ve listed. Marrakesh would stay and the Waffle Shop would relocate here. Hopefully we don’t get yet another CVS!

Feedback

Well, what do you agree with or hate from this vision? Did I give up on the big box music venue too easily? I just tried to mesh some realism with the idealism. Jemal’s track record suggests he charges big rents and is more than willing to let spaces sit vacant for years. So I took the conservative route with the Entertainment anchor rather than something that might further stall the project with legal or political drama.

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Comments

  1. 1

    Chris in Eckington says

    A Jillian’s was supposed to go into Gallery Place, but was replaced by Strike when Jillian’s filed for bankruptcy protection.

  2. 2

    fourthandeye says

    @chris

    thanks for the tip. I’ve googled that and found a WBJ article about it. You're right and it uncovers that D&B couldn't take the space Jillians pulled out of because their lease at White Flint prevents them from opening another location this close. Other metro areas like Denver, Atlanta, etc have more than one D&B so I didn't think it would be prohibitive to have two. But I had no idea about the White Flint lease… Dave and Buster's now owns many Jillians. That wasn't the case when the WBJ article was written. I wonder if they could skirt the White Flint lease issue by opening a new venue as a Jillians?

  3. 3

    Justin says

    I think DC could support many more rooftop bars/ restaurants. Capitol and Monument views? Especially at night it has a very cosmopolitan feel.