DC’s Planned Underground Hotel

by Lark Turner

DC's Planned Underground Hotel: Figure 1
A new rendering of what a Dupont Underground hotel room would look like. Courtesy of OPX.

As a reimagined Dupont Underground inches closer to reality, one developer is hoping that his vision for the space will help the Arts Coalition for the Dupont Underground make the project viable. UrbanTurf recently sat down with Patrick Pendleton Smith to talk about his plans for a portion of the subterranean space: a small boutique hotel.

Smith has known about the Dupont Underground space for years, but only recently did he come on as a consultant for the project to push the arts-centric vision for the space into something that will generate income over the long haul.

“I became aware of the Dupont Underground in 1995 when they had the underground eatery,” Smith told UrbanTurf on Thursday, a day after an ANC 2B committee was pitched on the new vision in the underground itself. “I went down there once and vowed never to go back.”

Smith’s excitement about the possibility of the ACDU’s proposal becoming a reality is palpable. The roughly $28-million project could include fine arts storage, an art gallery, a winery, a restaurant, a black-box theater, and — most recently — a micro-hotel, which is Smith’s brainchild and the part of the project that has him most excited. The hotel would offer truly micro rooms, as most would measure out south of 200 square feet. Smith recently had DC-based design firm OPX put together the rendering above of a planned hotel room, which would offer “simulated technology” that would mirror the sky.

“The use of the space — it’s something so new,” Smith said. “It’d be the first in the country. It would get national and international attention.”

The hotel would have 41 rooms in 16,500 square feet of space and include a fitness center and basic operations, including a small lobby. The rooms could have the simulated windows, while common areas might use technology that pipes in sunlight from above-ground. The small rooms would also be, Smith noted, the quietest hotel rooms in the city. He’s modeling their tiny layouts off of similar micro-hotels in New York City, including the Pod brand hotels.

The ACDU has been trying to get the project off the ground for years, but Smith believes the hotel component, along with a few other commercial uses of the space, would make the difference between the project’s success or failure. Smith said he’s hoping to get support from DC’s micro-unit developer of the moment, SB-Urban, which has proposed a number of micro-unit residential projects in DC.

Smith also said the project is a way to get Dupont Circle to continue evolving while much of the city’s developers are focused on areas like 14th Street and Shaw.

“Running all the numbers and saying, ‘This could be financially viable,’ and the arts that are involved — it’s just crucial to this project,” Smith said. “By having this hotel component and tying it in with the arts, you activate the space and bring in money from outside the city. It’s an economic win for the city and the neighborhood.”

This article originally published at https://dc.urbanturf.com/articles/blog/a_developer_with_a_big_dream_for_a_reimagined_dupont_underground/8320


  1. jj said at 8:05 pm on Friday April 4, 2014:
    psssst, Patrick Smith.....Dupont evolved in the 80's. Developers are focused on newer (to them) neighborhoods because there's evolving to do. Dupont's done. It's stable, economically and historically important and has already come up. Saying that, this is a wonderful win for Dupont and would add much to the livelihood of the area. But I always wonder if the Dupont Underground would have a better use as, well, a trolley line hub given the resurgence of that mode of transport.
  1. DC said at 8:43 pm on Friday April 4, 2014:
    Sounds like nice and really interesting plans. I've always thought strip clubs should go into that space. DC used to have a lot in the area where the Nats statium went in. They were always busy and kept crime down in that area. The underground would be perfect for them. They'd have two controlled entrances to all and could be handled better with security, etc. Good source of revenue for the city too.
  1. DC-2 said at 2:56 pm on Monday April 7, 2014:
    I like this idea! But why stop at strip clubs? Put an entire adult entertainment complex down there - sex shops, swingers clubs, leather dungeons, legalized brothels, etc. If they do put a hotel down there, it should only be used for cheating on a spouse. While we're at it, the Front Page, Grand Central and similar bars should be forced to relocate there as well. We call the development The Meat Market @DuPont, and offer a gym onsite because patrons will probably feel like taking a shower before coming back above ground.

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