October 4, 2012 at 4:25 pm EDT | by Lou Chibbaro Jr.
D.C. Eagle in search of new home
D.C. Eagle, LGBT nightlife, gay news, Washington Blade, Brother Help Thyself

Steve Heyl and Alan Fox at the Brother Help Thyself Bootblack Night at the D.C. Eagle in 1986. (Washington Blade archive photo by Doug Hinckle)

The D.C. Eagle, one of the oldest gay bars in the city, continues to search for a new building in advance of a Nov. 30 deadline to vacate its current location at 639 New York Ave., N.W., to make way for a new office building.

D.C. Eagle, LGBT nightlife, gay news, Washington Blade

D.C.’s Eagle Bar is being forced to relocate to make way for a new office building on New York Avenue. (Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)

Eagle manager Ted Clements said the bar plans to hold a closing party on Nov. 25, with the hope that the popular establishment will have lined up a new location shortly before or after that date.

“We’re trying to find a building,” he told the Blade. “This will be the fourth location. We keep getting pushed around from the development in this area. We’ve been in a four-block radius for the past 40 years.”

The Douglas Development Corporation, one of the city’s largest real estate developers, has announced plans to build a new high-rise office building with retail businesses on the 600 block of New York Ave., N.W., where the Eagle and other businesses are now located. The site is one block away from the Washington Convention Center.

Clements pointed to Douglas Development’s announced plans to move the Eagle building to another location on the site of the new development to keep its façade and structure intact because it has historic status.

With the Eagle having occupied the building for 25 years, its preservation and incorporation into the new development is likely to be viewed by some of its longtime customers as a tribute to the Eagle’s place in D.C.’s LGBT community.

“They’re going to jack it up, move it, dig out for a parking garage, then cut off the back by 30 feet and put it back somewhere on the block and build a high rise in the center of the block,” he said. “I talked to the architect.”

According to Clements, greater restrictions the city has placed on licensing and zoning requirements for bars in the years since the Eagle first opened in the early 1970s has made it difficult to find a new building.

Asked whether the bar is likely to find a new location before it vacates its current building, Clements said, “We don’t know yet… It’s getting harder and harder to find a place. It’s a lot of red tape to do business in D.C. now.”

Lou Chibbaro Jr. has reported on the LGBT civil rights movement and the LGBT community for more than 30 years, beginning as a freelance writer and later as a staff reporter and currently as Senior News Reporter for the Washington Blade. He has chronicled LGBT-related developments as they have touched on a wide range of social, religious, and governmental institutions, including the White House, Congress, the U.S. Supreme Court, the military, local and national law enforcement agencies and the Catholic Church. Chibbaro has reported on LGBT issues and LGBT participation in local and national elections since 1976. He has covered the AIDS epidemic since it first surfaced in the early 1980s. Follow Lou

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