- The Washington Times - Saturday, September 15, 2007

A legal battle over who controls the space under Dupont Circle in D.C. likely will stall consideration of an idea to house strip clubs in the former trolley car complex.

Bill Rice, a spokesman for the D.C. Office of Property Management, said officials expect to settle in court the question of who has say in developing the property after a former sub-tenant claimed to hold a lease.

“We will be taking court action to settle the disputed title,” Mr. Rice said. “I can’t give any more details at this time.”

Mr. Rice would not say who will be named in the lawsuit, only that the city has “clear jurisdiction” over the property.

Paul London, a general partner of Kalorama Sports Management Associates, said in July that his organization received the lease when the former developer was evicted in 1996.

Before that, the space was managed by developer Geary Simon, who sublet to several restaurants — then collectively called Dupont Down Under.

Mr. London said that when the city terminated Mr. Simon’s lease in 1996 for failure to pay rent and other issues, the lease was transferred to Kalorama.

The Washington Times reported in July that D.C. Council member Jim Graham was considering a proposal to put strip clubs in the location under Dupont Circle.

Jason Yuckenberg, a spokesman for Mr. Graham, said this week the Ward 1 Democrat thinks the idea is “unique” and “worth exploring” but has taken a neutral stance on it pending feedback from residents.

Council member Jack Evans, Ward 2 Democrat who represents Dupont Circle, has said that he would wait to hear from the community before making a decision. Mr. Evans could not be reached yesterday for comment.

Some community groups spoke out against the idea, citing concerns about the safety of having adult businesses underground. A police spokeswoman said there were unique, but not uncommon, safety issues associated with that kind of arrangement.

The Dupont idea surfaced after a legislative battle over what to do with several strip clubs displaced by the new baseball stadium.

In February Mr. Graham introduced a bill to help the clubs relocate.

In June, D.C. Council member Harry Thomas Jr., Ward 5 Democrat, tightened the bill’s restrictions with six amendments to allay public concern that too many of the clubs would come to Ward 5 and create a red-light district.

Two clubs — Nexus Gold Club and Club 55 — applied for licenses in Ward 5, but Club 55’s application was withdrawn because the site its owners were applying for was within the 1,200-foot buffer zone the legislation required between adult businesses.

Cynthia Simms, a spokeswoman for the D.C. Alcoholic Beverage Regulation Administration, said the Alcoholic Beverage Control Board is considering a complaint by Advisory Neighborhood Commission 5B that it was not given proper notice about Nexus Gold’s application.

Meanwhile, the owners of Club 55 are still looking for a location like the underground location at Dupont Circle, their lawyer, Andrea Bagwell, said.

“They would love to be there,” Miss Bagwell said. “They are hoping and praying to be able to relocate, but there is nothing concrete right now.”

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