Tough Times for 19th St, NW in Dupont

When I went on vacation in the beg. of Jan. I preloaded some posts and on some I accidentally kept the year 2010 so anyway all this is to say I screwed this post up:

“Dear PoP,

Penang on 19th Street appears to be closed for good. I walked by it at lunchtime, and it was completely dark. There’s no sign on the door (I didn’t have my camera with me), and one of my coworkers said it was completely dark before the holidays as well. I wonder if they never fully recovered after being closed for so long after the fire.”

I thought I had heard that Penang located at 1837 M Street NW would be reopening in Feb. Anyone else hear that?

We Judged them back in Aug. ’10.

But now I see that the actually space seems to be for lease. Anyone know the story?

Also I was surprised to see that the Starbucks that was located next door on 19th St, NW had also closed:

And of course next store to that the old Porter’s space remains vacant. Pretty rough patch for this section of 19th.

And further up the block will the former Olsson’s space ever get filled?

40 Comment

  • RIP Sam & Harry’s as well…

  • its funny how the penang in bethesda is so fantastic and the one in dupont sucked so much.

  • Never really thought of 19th and M as Dupont. Where does Dupont end and downtown/K Street (or whatever that hood is called) begin?

  • The space for lease in the Penang building isn’t actually part of Penang (or didn’t used to be). It used to be a Starbucks, but with the plethora of coffee shops in the area (majority being Starbucks) I can see why it closed.

  • As for that block of M, as long as Malaysia Kopitiam is safe, I’m cool with the other big death.

  • Penang also had a Groupon a few months ago, which I bought. Went to redeem it, only to find the place chained shut!

  • Here’s the thing. The economy is in 2011. The owners of these spaces however, are charging rent like it’s 2002, plus inflation. There are a lot of empty or soon to be empty storefronts city-wide due to this problem.

    • This. DC’s commercial rents are in a bubble that is about to pop. Take a look at 14th street. Tons of vacant storefronts because landlords keep holding out for prime tenants that aren’t showing up.

      • agreed. i’ve seen rents at 26/ft. east of the river.
        thats just crazy.

      • I’m not so sure it’s gonna pop. It’s been like this in DC since at least the late 90’s.

      • “Take a look at 14th street. Tons of vacant storefronts because landlords keep holding out for prime tenants that aren’t showing up.”

        Depends where on 14th Street you’re talking. The area between Thomas Circle and Florida has hardly any vacancies at all–it’s a thriving commercial corridor. There are some vacancies in Columbia Heights, but that’s because the DC USA landlords are idiots.

    • Not only the economy – but I’m guessing places like this were paying rents based on Dupont/Georgetown/West End being WAY more popular than they are now. The cool kids want to be east of 16th now – 20 years ago that was not the case.

      • West End is actually more popular now than it was 20 years ago. 20 years ago, there was nothing there–and no one called that area “West End”.

        And you’d be hard pressed to find many vacancies along prime commercial corridors in either Georgetown or Dupont. Georgetown commercial space occupancy rate is north of 90%.

  • Is it just me or has Dupont really gone downhill in recent years? It used to be such a hotspot; now, it’s all vacant storefronts and Comfort One Shoes.

    • yes, it has. so has adams morgan.

    • Well I always say when it comes to Dupont- the gays left, and so did the fun. Furthermore, it seems like a lot of gays are going to Baltimore. I went up there recently and it was fun.

      • “Jacobs, I want to know absolutely everything that’s happened up till now.”

        “Well, let’s see. First the earth cooled. And then the dinosaurs came, but they got too big and fat, so they all died and they turned into oil. And then the Arabs came and they bought Mercedes Benzes. And Prince Charles started wearing all of Lady Di’s clothes. I couldn’t believe it.”

      • Where do the gays go these days? There’s still a lot of them in DC. I can’t imagine too many are fleeing to B’more since the job market is a lot stronger here.

        • The gay community has gradually migrated east. First, Connecticut was the hub with places like Lambda Rising. then it moved to 17th St., then 14th, now 9th as well as Logan Circle (14th and P). Of course, a lot of us moved to the burbs to have kids. My impression in the late 80s was that gay men lived in Dupont and lesbians lived in Mt. Pleasant or Takoma Park. There were tons of lesbian group homes in Mt. P back then as well as all the Peace Corps ex-pats. Now it’s a few gay and lesbian couples and straight yups. Just my simplified view of the gay migration.

  • When I first moved here in 1988 and throughout most of the 90’s Dupont was pretty vibrant for retail and for food/drink. It definitely needs a shot in the arm (as does Adams Morgan). Not sure what its gonna take for independent businesses to start moving back into the area but most likely its the rent bubble bursting (as stated above).

    • I moved here in the same year and difference between now and then is quantity and quality of places to go in the city. Retail, food and entertainment have spread out Gallery Place, U Street, Columbia Heights, H Street and countless places in between that were just empty buildings and lots 20 years ago.

      • +1. That’s all it really is…competition. It still is laughable to me that people feel rents/real estate in this city should be so vastly different with in a 10 block radius. Why open a restaurant on 19th when you can have more space for slightly less on 14th?

      • Absolutely true. I’d add that the hipness factor is a function of having a youthful population. Once you start pricing out the young-ish singles who support hip bars and restaurants, you lose a lot of the “vibrancy”. Dupont has aged. By now, some of the early gentrifiers who had lived in Dupont for 40 years have passed on due to old age.

    • Not every place is going to be U Street or H Street. Dupont and Adams-Morgan are fine. They might not be as edgy as they once were, but there are more than enough places there to keep one occupied and happy. But H Street and Columbia Heights are “new”, so they’re going to seem more interesting.

      The “sky is falling” statements about vacancies in Dupont is all a bit much. A number of new places have opened in Dupont along Connecticut, both north and south of the circle…P Street is attracting better restaurants and bars than it has had in years, and 17th street is improving with Agora, the Hank’s expansion, and the existence of places like Komi and Sushi Taro.

      H Street was a dilapidated slum for decades, so clearly it’s got a lot of room to expand.

  • Its the new block of blight! I still miss the tuna sandwich at porters. I cant believe a starbucks actually closed.

    This might have to do with the landlord more than the success of the businesses…?

  • MORE FROZEN YOGURT!!! Oh, and I really need some granny sneakers. Anyone know if there is a Comfort One shoes around here?

  • Regarding Penang, Wong Tong says NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!

    As for Starbucks, they’re usually MASTERS of locking down the most prime locations in the city. Yet, this one felt strangely out of place. Definitely a laggard.

    As long as that area remains hopping with commercial tenants, the restaurants will thrive. If the PALM or CF FOLKS closed, I’d begin to worry.

  • I imagine those businesses had the same landlord as the Madhatter. From what I understand, their move up Connecticut was largely necessitated by difficult landlords.

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