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Soccer stadium would displace D.C. Center, gay nightclub

Mayor Gray, D.C. United to announce Reeves Center land swap

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DC United, Mayor Vincent Gray, Stadium, Gay News, Washington Blade
DC United, Mayor Vincent Gray, Stadium, Jason Levien,

Managing partner of D.C. United, Jason Levien, and Mayor Vincent C. Gray, sign a public-private partnership to build a new soccer stadium in the city’s Southwest district on Thursday, July 25, 2013, at the future construction site. (Washington Blade photo by Damien Salas)

THIS STORY HAS BEEN UPDATED: CLICK HERE FOR THE NEWEST VERSION

A preliminary $300 million deal proposed by Mayor Vincent Gray that reportedly calls for turning over the city’s Reeves Center municipal building to a developer in exchange for land to build a new soccer stadium would lead to the displacement of the LGBT Community Center, which is set to move into the Reeves Center in September.

The potentially controversial deal, which must be approved by the City Council, would also result in the displacement of the popular gay nightclub Ziegfeld’s/Secrets, which is located close to where the D.C. United soccer stadium would be built in the Buzzard Point section of Southwest Washington.

Although the stadium itself would not be built on the site where Ziegfeld’s/Secrets is located, the deal reportedly calls for building a hotel and shops and restaurants adjacent to the stadium, and those structures would displace the gay club.

If approved, the soccer stadium deal would force Ziegfeld’s/Secrets to search for a new location six years after it was displaced from its original home on the site of the Washington Nationals stadium.

Gray and officials with the D.C. United Soccer team were scheduled to announce the deal at a news conference at 11 a.m. Thursday at a location set to be disclosed early Thursday morning.

The Washington Post reported details of the deal on Thursday night that it obtained from City Administrator Allen Lew, who negotiated the agreement for the mayor, according to the Post.

“In the most high-profile swap, the Frank D. Reeves Municipal Center, located at 14th and U streets, N.W., would transfer to D.C.-based developer Akridge in exchange for about two acres of Buzzard Point, nearly a quarter of the land needed for the stadium, and cash to make up an expected difference in the value of the two properties,” the Post reported.

News of the reported deal comes shortly after the D.C. Center for the LGBT Community signed a 15-year lease with the city to rent space in the Reeves Center. An unrelated development project is forcing the Center to leave its current space on U Street, N.W. less than a block from the Reeves Center.

When unconfirmed reports surfaced earlier this year that the Reeves Center was under consideration for a land swap to facilitate the building of a new soccer stadium, Gray told LGBT activists at a Pride Week town hall meeting sponsored by the Washington Blade that he was not aware of any such plans.

D.C. Center officials said the cost of renovations needed to get the Reeves Center space ready for occupancy would exceed $50,000. Its lease for space in the building, which is considered to be in a highly desirable area, requires that the Center rather than the city pay for renovation work.

Center Executive Director David Mariner said the lease provides for protections against the breaking of the lease before its 15-year term expires. But it could not immediately be determined if those protections would compensate the center for the money it paid for the renovation and for moving expenses should it be forced to find a new home.

Sources familiar with the land swap deal have said the Akridge development company was not expected to displace the Reeves Center’s occupants immediately should it gain possession of the building. However, Akridge President Mathew J. Klein told the Post the company would push for a mixed-use project on the site of the Reeves Center that would include new housing should it obtain the building. This suggests the company would seek to demolish the Reeves Center building and build a new structure.

City Administrator Lew told the Post the city is already making plans to move city agencies that now occupy the Reeves Center to a city office building in Anacostia.

The Ziegfeld’s/Secrets building is owned by Denver, Colo., businessman Marty Chernoff, who operated the D.C. gay nightclub Tracks before it closed to make way for a new office building in Southeast D.C. Chernoff couldn’t immediately be reached to determine if he has been approached to sell his building to developers linked to the soccer stadium deal.

In the case of the baseball stadium, the city declared eminent domain to seize property from private owners on the site the city selected to build the stadium. The eminent domain statute requires the city to pay fair market price for the property it takes.

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29 Comments

29 Comments

  1. Charger Stone

    July 25, 2013 at 1:53 pm

    WTF is wrong with the stadium they already have?

  2. Joseph Organgrinder

    July 25, 2013 at 1:58 pm

    Apparently that other sports stadium that shut down Nations was not enough; They will soon build a lacrosse field that will go where Zigfield's is.

  3. Phillip Smith

    July 25, 2013 at 2:01 pm

    This is stupid. And in a side note Ziegfelds lost its old home before to condos and a stadium in addition to Nation and Wet. The drag queens still joke about where on the baseball diamond the stage use to be.

  4. Jim Tamburro

    July 25, 2013 at 2:01 pm

    How many times can they evict Ziegfelds?

  5. Jason

    July 25, 2013 at 10:06 am

    They are not being evicted. The owner will sell the building to developers for a very healthy profit. The Buzzard Point area is blighted and needs the revitalization.

  6. Nate Hill

    July 25, 2013 at 2:25 pm

    Everyone just wants to follow the gays!

  7. Kyle Jones-Northam

    July 25, 2013 at 2:29 pm

    A new soccer stadium will be much better for DC than a venue for drag queens. RFK is falling apart. DC United is a good franchise for DC, but they will leave the city entirely if they do not get a worthy facility to play in. Besides, drag venues are so 20th century.

    • Morph Hooligan

      July 26, 2013 at 8:22 pm

      DCU has needed a new stadium for over a decade now. Not only will the stadium be there and be built out of the owners Pockets, buisness will also be set up outside the stadium, who’s to say the club can’t just move into one of those spots?

  8. Matt Ashburn

    July 25, 2013 at 2:30 pm

    FYI, unlike with the baseball stadium, Ziegfelds/Secrets isn't in the proposed soccer stadium's footprint.

  9. John Dodson

    July 25, 2013 at 3:08 pm

    wtf again?

  10. Charger Stone

    July 25, 2013 at 3:09 pm

    @Matt, correct – however "the deal reportedly calls for building a hotel and shops and restaurants adjacent to the stadium, and those structures would displace the gay club" why can't they just tear down RFK and rebuild it if it's that bad off????

    • RedSeven

      July 25, 2013 at 11:29 am

      Because it would be tacky not to rename it, and whoever is proposing this new stadium probably wants to work with some corporate sponsor (i.e., Nissan Pavilion, Verizon Center, FedEx Field) to aid in the construction. No one is buying shares of Robert F. Kennedy at the NYSE.

  11. peter rosenstein

    July 25, 2013 at 11:23 am

    If this all goes through it is a great deal for the people of the District of Columbia. This is a very different project than the baseball stadium. Everyone who follows real estate in the District knew that the Reeves Center on ‘U’ street wasn’t going to stay there forever in its current form. It is basically an ugly building on a site that could provide much needed new tax revenue to the District.

    I know that there are many ways that the DC Center can be made whole if this comes to pass and a lot of community activists like myself will fight to see that tey come out OK.

  12. Mike

    July 25, 2013 at 11:30 am

    Move Ziegfields/Secrets across the bridge to the other end of South Capitol Street SW. There is empty space, street parking, and the crime in that area has nosedived in the past few years. I’m sure the leasing and housing is cheap as well, because investors have been buying up like crazy in the area this year.

  13. Kyle Jones-Northam

    July 25, 2013 at 5:19 pm

    Charger Stone Because not only is RFK falling apart; the location is undevelopable. There are plenty of venues for drag shows in DC. I'm pretty sure I saw some drag queens at Town and Nellie's. But if DC United doesn't get a good stadium in a good location, they'll leave DC. They're too important to this city—and to a lot of gay soccer fans—for us to let that happen.

  14. Rob Marus

    July 25, 2013 at 5:33 pm

    Charger Stone Because the District doesn't control RFK; it is a federal memorial to Robert Kennedy. In the meantime, we were at risk of losing a major, revenue-generating sports franchise as well as developing (and opening to further tax revenues) a part of the District that is presently highly under-utilized.

  15. WufPup

    July 25, 2013 at 1:50 pm

    While there might be other places able to host a venue the size of Ziegfields/Secrets. What was not mentioned was the special type of performance(?) license they have which allows them to have nude dancers. If/when the establishment has to move, not only will they have to find an appropriate spot, but also have to deal with the whole zoning issues related to their license, as it will likely become a NIMBY issue for neighbors (both commercial and residential).

    Unless they can get some sort of grandfathering in, it will be difficult to see when/where they could move. I believe one of the only other gay establishments that have a license like that is Remingtons in Eastern Market.

    I’d personally love to see Z/S stay where they are as part of a development — lord knows the joint has a lot more ambiance (and better drinks) than some cookie cutter corporate bar such as The Greene Turtle or Union Jack’s.

  16. Dave Edmondson

    July 25, 2013 at 7:14 pm

    If corporate welfare is what it takes to keep them in the District, then good riddance.

  17. Jamie Crouse

    July 25, 2013 at 8:28 pm

    Here is the trade off….. If we cannot see nude dancers then the sports players in both stadiums have to play naked….. Does this sound like a good compromise?

  18. Kyle Jones-Northam

    July 25, 2013 at 9:28 pm

    Dave Edmondson They will be building their own stadium. Hardly corporate welfare on par with what the Nationals got.

  19. Dave Edmondson

    July 25, 2013 at 10:08 pm

    It's not on par with what the Nationals got, but that's a difference of degree, not kind.

  20. Kyle Jones-Northam

    July 25, 2013 at 11:51 pm

    Professional sports are an essential part of the cultural life of a world class city, especially an international sport like soccer. So it's reasonable for the city to make measured concessions to keep DC United in town.

  21. Willie Millard

    July 25, 2013 at 8:33 pm

    Ziegfelds/Secrets and The Glory Hole were the only two clubs to reopen after the Baseball Stadium. I doubt there will be anywhere in DC that would welcome a nude dance club. La Cage/Heat tried but was met with community protests.

    I will miss the drag shows. I hope they find a new place.

  22. Charger Stone

    July 26, 2013 at 1:49 am

    @Rob M. i was aware that RFK is falling apart and needs to be repairs but was unaware that it is considered federal property. Why S/Z is really of little concern to me personally (not to say it isn't important to a lot of employees there) I care more about the amount of money the DC Center has spent to get into the Reeves center, which is at risk because of this proposal. Is it true that the RFK location CAN'T be developed on at all?

  23. brian

    July 26, 2013 at 8:16 am

    Mayor Gray should not be doling out corporate welfare to anyone until he adds 300-400 MPD officers to keep pace with DC’s explosive growth. We had 3,900 sworn officers in 2007 and we STILL have 3, 900 officers! No wonder why hate crimes perpetrators are getting away with their crimes. MPD no longer has the human resources to catch the guilty and bring them to justice.

    That works out on average to every police district doing the police work of 50 more officers. In our police district (5D) that amounts to the loss of SEVEN officers in each of our neighborhood-level PSAs. Gray is playing an ongoing public safety con-game on us.

    This week Gray’s MPD has been caught trying to cover up or minimize a violent *FLASH MOB* assault by 10 perpetrators at the Yes! Organic Market in Ward 5. This gang even threatened to kill the manager. According to reports of witnesses, it took MPD 25 minutes to arrive after the first 911 call was made.

  24. Payton Chung

    July 26, 2013 at 1:16 pm

    There is no mention in the final agreement about any properties east of Half Street (i.e., Ziegfield's). The "hotel and shops" referred to in the article are covered in Sec. 5A of the agreement, which clearly states that the team is allowed to build ancillary development on the stadium site, again west of Half Street. Not that Ziegfield's landlord couldn't sell their land on their own — I'm sure that's their eventual goal — but nothing announced yesterday would require that.

    As for RFK, it is much too large, has structural problems, and would be costly to demolish.

  25. Amable R. Brito

    July 26, 2013 at 3:24 pm

    As many times as it takes to bring in DC to the sport mat… The Queens and the boys might have to move to P.G. County…

    • Willie Millard

      July 26, 2013 at 9:55 pm

      You are right or even maybe Baltimore. Virginia is too expensive. Industrial areas just over the DC line in Brentwood or Hyattsville are good options. Maybe even College Park.

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2021 Best of LGBTQ DC Readers’ Choice Award Finalist Voting

Vote for your favorite finalist in our 2021 Best of LGBTQ DC categories through October 3rd.

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It is Decision 2021! You nominated and now we have our Top 5 finalists. Vote for your favorites in our 2021 Best of LGBTQ DC categories through October 3rd. Our 2021 Best of LGBTQ DC will be announced at the Best of LGBTQ DC Awards Party on October 21st and our special issue will come out on Friday, October 22nd.

Thank you to our sponsors: ABSOLUT, PEPCO, Washington Regional Transplant Community.

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Veteran restauranteurs to open Drift in Rehoboth

Second Block Hospitality eyes 2022 debut for new raw bar

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A new raw bar is coming to Baltimore Avenue in Rehoboth. (Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)

Despite the generally anti-business positions of the current Rehoboth Beach Mayor and some members of the Rehoboth Beach Commission, there are still some entrepreneurs who have faith in Rehoboth Beach.

One such group is the newly announced Second Block Hospitality Group, which brings together local industry leaders Lion Gardner, Tyler Townsend, Bob Suppies, and David Gonce.

According to the partners, “The mission of Second Block Hospitality is simple…to deliver exceptional hospitality. Second Block projects will be designed to become places that matter; that bring the community together. They aim to create unique spaces that foster positivity, a creative atmosphere, and memorable experiences. Driven by this philosophy we are thoughtful in everything we do, down to the smallest detail. In all our endeavors we are committed to crafting unique guest experiences through innovative design, authentic flavors, and warm hospitality.”

Their first new venture, Drift, will be a raw bar and dining room on Baltimore Avenue. The new project, already underway, is a massive restoration designed to transform the existing building, originally built in 1890 and used as a camp meeting house, into a modern structure with historic charm. Drift restaurant will feature a refined design, open airy spaces and lots of glass for open vantage points with an indoor/outdoor bar area and intimate back patio that will add to the allure of Baltimore Avenue.

“We could not be more excited to be breaking ground on another passion project,” said Suppies. “Coming through the last year brought many new challenges to our industry, but we were able to get very creative and grow as a company, so this new venture is very exciting for us.”

Another of the partners, Gardner, brings his skill set as a longtime chef to the new venture.

“One of my roles in the company will be to oversee the menu and kitchen at Drift and all of our projects moving forward,” Gardner said. “The great thing about our ownership group is that even though each partner has his own area of expertise, there is collaboration across the board; we are all involved in all aspects of the business. I am excited to learn and contribute in other areas as well, and luckily for me I’m working with a group of really talented, experienced and passionate guys.”

Drift is slated to open sometime in early 2022, and things are in full swing for the new restaurant owners, including menu planning. Townsend said, “Drift will be a true raw bar focusing on the art of raw seafood and not just oysters, along with traditionally prepared dishes influenced by the sea. From a beverage standpoint we will feature craft cocktails and eccentric wine and beer offerings. Think small and intimate, rustic and classic, yet casual with a focus on culinary inventiveness and creative spaces.” and good times. For more information visit driftrb.com.

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McAuliffe participates in Virginia Pride roundtable

Gubernatorial candidate highlighted plans to keep Va. ‘open and welcoming’

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(Washington Blade photo by Lee Whitman)

Terry McAuliffe on Monday met with Virginia Pride in Richmond to discuss his plans to keep the state “open and welcoming” for the LGBTQ community.

“Great opportunity to speak with @VA_Pride in Richmond this AM,” McAuliffe tweeted following the roundtable that took place at Diversity Richmond’s headquarters. “VA is the #1 state for business because we are open and welcoming — but that’s all at risk this November. Glenn Youngkin’s far-right social agenda would harm LGBTQ+ Virginians and send our economy into a ditch.”

McAuliffe and Youngkin are running a close race for the governorship, according to a Washington Post-Schar School poll released Saturday that shows the former Virginia governor leading by a 50-47 percent margin among likely voters.

The Human Rights Campaign endorsed McAuliffe, who was governor from 2014-2018, for his record of supporting LGBTQ rights, including supporting marriage equality and signing an executive order prohibiting discrimination against LGBTQ state employees as his first action in office. 

“LGBTQ leaders in Richmond had a great meeting with Gov. McAuliffe where he was able to lay out his agenda for building on the tremendous progress Virginia has made towards equality,” said Virginia Pride Program Director James Millner in an email to the Washington Blade. “The governor talked extensively about his record on LGBTQ issues and promised to work with us to ensure that every LGBTQ Virginian is able to live openly and authentically.”

McAuliffe’s legacy includes welcoming businesses turned off by North Carolina’s passage of its anti-transgender “bathroom bill.” 

When North Carolina’s House Bill 2, a law requiring students to use public restrooms and locker rooms aligned with the gender on their birth certificates, took effect in 2016, McAullife recruited CoStar, a real estate information company that operates databases for Apartments.com, ApartmentFinder.com and similar companies, to move its headquarters to Richmond. This recruitment brought 730 jobs to the state.

David Dorsch, a senior vice president at Cushman and Wakefield, which represented CoStar nationally, told the Charlotte Business Journal that CoStar’s primary reason for choosing “Richmond over Charlotte was HB 2.”

Youngkin is a former business executive who previously ran the Carlyle Group, a private equity firm named by the HRC in 2019 as a “Best Place to Work for LGBTQ Equality” in its annual Corporate Equality Index. HRC, however, has called out Youngkin for “anti-LGBTQ and transphobic language” during his current campaign.

McAuliffe in April released an LGBTQ rights platform that includes a call to repeal the so-called “conscience clause,” which allows religious-based adoption agencies to discriminate against same-sex couples.

Governor Ralph Northam, who was McAuliffe’s former lieutenant governor and has signed historic LGBTQ-inclusive legislation during his time in office, also endorsed McAuliffe for governor.

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