This is an idea I promoted earlier.
Back in 1949 there was a plan to, get this, move the city's transit system underground. Crazy times the 40's. The only part of that underground system that was built were two tunnels, with stations, under Dupont Circle. They were (are) on either side of the still-used traffic tunnel. In 1962 the entire streetcar system was shut down. The tunnel entrances, located where the tree-filled medians now stand north of N Street and between R and S Streets, were filled in and paved over in August 1964, leaving only the traffic tunnel. The extant stations were used as a civil defense storage area for a few years and then left empty again.
In 1993 the trolley stations were leased for twenty years by a developer.
intending to transform it into high-end retail. But by 1995, Dupont Down Under opened as a food court. It failed shortly thereafter.
In 2003 the new lessee, Kalorama Sports Management Associates, started an appraisal and negotiation process with D.C.'s Office of Property Management to investigate possible uses. On Sept. 30, 2003 they held a meeting with Dupont's Advisory Neighborhood Commission on the matter.
Possible uses from that meeting included an artist workshop, commercial or retail space and storage for nearby condominiums. The problem is that people don't want to shop or eat in an underground bunker, and using the space as a U-Store it facility is a waste.
Instead one, or possibly both, of the stations should be reopened as a bicycle parking facility. Parking is ideally suited for an underground structure. The location, in the heart of one of the most vibrant parts of the city, can not be beat. There's a metro station there, bus routes converge - and it's only blocks from WABA's offices.
As for cost, the annual lease was estimated in 2003 at $54,500. The bike station the city is building will cost a little over $2 million. That's about 40 years of lease. Modifying the structure shouldn't be difficult or require review by the Arts Commission. The facility would be better than the bike station being planned, providing bathroom facilities (though showers may not be realistic) and storing more bikes. Plus Dupont is losing it's only bike shop, so a store and mechanic is needed.
Depending on their condition, the old tunnels could even be reopened, allowing for bicycle access (without having to go down stairs) from Connecticut Avenue and/or creating a short-cut through the area for cyclists.
With only 7 years left on the present lease - and no sign of progress, no one is going to move in. The city should turn this wasted resource into one of great value - and bike parking is the way to go.