D.C. gay bar MOVA, formerly known as Halo, is planning to move to a new but undetermined location in D.C., according to owner Babak Movahedi.
Movahedi dismissed as “silly” and untrue rumors that he planned to close the bar this summer.
“We’re not closing down MOVA, that’s for sure,” he told the Blade. “I don’t know where that came from. But because of the exorbitant amount of rent that we pay, we are looking to move the location to a different area.”
Movahedi said his rent exceeds $25,000 a month and his landlord has declined to negotiate a more affordable rent, even though MOVA paid the full cost of a major renovation of the interior space at 1435 P St., N.W., where the bar is located.
“No one can survive on that,” he said. “So we are seriously looking at different locations to move MOVA, not to close MOVA.”
Movahedi said he has three possible locations in mind and will make an announcement as soon as “the signatures are on the paper.”
David Lett, the local female illusionist and drag show host who goes by the name Lena Lett, is Movahedi’s landlord. He disputed Movahedi’s assertion that he declined to enter into discussions over a possible change in the lease.
Lett said he holds the master lease on the building and worked out a sublease with Movahedi when Movahedi bought the shares of the old Halo bar from his then three business partners. Lett was one of the partners.
According to Lett, Movahedi violated the lease when he failed to pay the property tax on the building, which was a requirement of the lease. He said he has since filed suit against Movahedi in the city’s landlord-tenant court alleging a lease violation.
Lett’s attorney, Roy Kaufmann, said in an e-mail to the Blade that he and his client are hopeful that differences between MOVA and Lett can be resolved before the case comes before a judge.
“I would only point out that Mr. Movahedi, himself a confident attorney and seasoned businessman, was part-owner of the business when the lease was negotiated and, presumably, he knew the business,” Kaufmann said. “He was also ably represented by a well-reputed law firm. The final version of the lease (after almost a dozen iterations over several months) reflects thorough, informed, and deliberate negotiations between knowledgeable businessmen who signed an agreement and expected it to be honored.”
Movahedi could not be immediately reached to respond to the accounts of Lett and his attorney.