Saturday, October 29, 2016

Economics of gay clubs and discos in modern times, at least in DC


I found an article in MetroWeekly from last May about the real estate development around Town Danceboutique in Washington DC, and whether real estate pressures could force the disco to close.
The story denies it.  The landlord has changed a couple times, but seems committed to allowing the status quo.  A patio was put in recently.
 
It is true, however, that there have been many apartment buildings, condos, and offices built in the immediately surrounding area, including a building that houses the new Landmark theaters.

Real estate professionals would know that the desirability of the area, for rental income or condo prices, probably does depend on keeping the night businesses, including bars, restaurants, discos, and performance venues (like the 930 Club and Howard Theater) around, as these businesses may attract new residents.  These are mostly young to middle aged professional adults, all races and ethnicities, with some emphasis recently on LGBTQ, expanding out from Dupont Circle.  It’s easy to imagine comparisons, like the area in New York City north of Hell’s Kitchen and NW of the Theater District (where the “Therapy” is located.

The article came out just before the midnight closings weekends on Metro for SafeTrack.  Consumer business after midnight on weekends still seems to be strong.  But developers should try to get a 24-hour garage built (it’s rather obvious that the parking lot next to Town invites playing Monopoly with development, but why not build a secure garage and solve the parking problems).  Developers should also take on the problem of transit for workers after midnight, rather than depending on ride sharing nd taxis.  Bike lanes would be nice, but there should be a serious effort to run circulator busses, or run busses along the Metro routes in hours Metro is not open (to help counter DUI, also).  Real estate developers (and bar owners) should pressure Metro and the City on these points.  .

Baltimore misses the Hippo, whose owner closed it to retire, because liquor licenses aren’t transferrable.  Disco properties, for economic viability, sometimes need to be used for income most days of the week.  Very large disco events, and dances, which happen too infrequently to support a property, could consider renting space, particularly in new casinos, where space and parking is usually plentiful.

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