The D.C. Eagle, one of the city’s oldest continuously operating gay bars, continues to operate in its location on Benning Road, N.E. and plans to stay in business by selling its building to generate revenue and lease it back from the new owner, two of its three co-owners told the Washington Blade.
Herb Kaylor-Hawkins and Ted Clements said they quickly changed an earlier plan as reflected in an outdated online real estate ad saying the Eagle’s building along with the business and licenses were for sale.
“What we’re currently working with and trying to do is sell the building and then lease it back from the new owner,” said Kaylor-Hawkins. “That’s part of the offer that we’re putting in place,” he said. “We have no intention of going anywhere anytime soon.”
He and Clements told the Blade in a phone interview on March 1 that the Eagle encountered financial problems over the past year and a half that they believe are being overcome by plans to sell the building and a decision to expand the Eagle’s appeal to all segments of the LGBT community in addition to the leather crowd.
New attractions including drag shows, circuit style dance parties, the admission of people 18-20 years old on certain nights similar to the policy of the former gay nightclub Town, which closed last year due to real estate development, and other new venues have resulted in an expanded customer base, the two co-owners said.
The two also point out that a shopping center located next to the Eagle, which initially filed an unsuccessful challenge to the Eagle’s liquor license and refused to allow Eagle customers to use its large parking lot, is now under new management that is friendly toward the Eagle.
“They allow us to use that parking space, the entire lot,” Kaylor-Hawkins said. “So we now have parking for over 150 cars,” he said.
“We are expanding,” continued Kaylor-Hawkins. “The D.C. Eagle has been known as a leather bar for all of its history,” he noted, which spans a period of over 40 years. “But things in the city have changed so much and the gay community has changed,” he said.
“There are really not enough leather people to keep a bar this size open,” said Kaylor Hawkins. “So we have to be a venue for all aspects of the gay community. It’s important to us that everybody feels welcome.”
Clements said the Eagle is starting a “ladies night” and there will be two different dance parties, one on each of the club’s two large floors, which will appeal to a younger crowd.
“So it’s a great space,” he said. “We’re utilizing it and business is going real good. We just had trouble with our financing. So the best way out of it was to sell the building.”
The city’s tax records for the Eagle show that the D.C. Office of Tax and Revenue on July 18, 2018 sold the option to buy the Eagle’s building to an investment company in a “tax sale” at a time when the Eagle owed $53,545 in back property taxes for the years 2016-2018.
Tax records show the Eagle, which operates under the company name DC Eagle Development LLC, made a $25,000 payment last October, lowering the property taxes it owed to $31,761 as of Feb. 1 of this year after taking into account interest and penalty fees.
A tax sale “Guide” published by the Office of Tax and Revenue says owners whose property is sold in a tax sale can “redeem” their property and stop the city from allowing the party that buys the option to permanently obtain the property by paying the back taxes in full as soon as possible.
“Although it is to your benefit to redeem your property as quickly as possible, you may do so at any time – from right after the tax sale until a Superior Court judge enters a final order to foreclose or end your right of redemption,” the tax sale guide document says.
Kaylor-Hawkins said he was confident that the Eagle’s building would be sold in time for the proceeds from the sale to be used to pay all back taxes and enable the Eagle to remain in the building as a tenant of the new owner.
Property records show that DC Eagle Development LLC purchased its building in June 2014 for $925,000. The Office of Tax and Revenue has assessed the building’s value for 2019 as $1,693,770. The original ad announcing the sale of the Eagle building earlier this year by the Papadopoulos Properties real estate company lists the sale price as $2,999,000.