Warehouse mega-nightclubs in DC disappearing

WASHINGTON (AP) – Inside Northeast Washington’s shuttered Love nightclub, the swanky marble floors are still intact, granite still tops the sprawling bars and mahogany paneling still conveys the ambience of one of the city’s most high-end hot spots.

But the four-level “mega-club” – a former warehouse with a capacity in the thousands – was on the auction block after closing in October. Despite the luxury nightspot’s storied history, the wide range of bidders interested in buying the building expressed one common theme: Its time as a club is over.

The end of Love marks the third mega-club in a year to hit the skids amid a wave of redevelopment in which the District of Columbia’s once-blighted urban landscape that provided fertile ground for the DJ and dance scene has drastically changed.

“There is a shifting tide in the D.C. nightlife arena,” said Skip Coburn, president of the D.C. Nightlife Association, noting that the popularity of larger-than-life nightclubs is waning with investors and owners.

“It used to be that an owner could lease a crappy building in a warehouse district at a reasonable rate and put a million into renovations to have a nice bar and nice decor,” Coburn said. “As development has eliminated all those crappy areas in town the problem is that everybody has doubled or tripled their leases when they’ve come up for renewal.”

image via dcclubbing.com

Rents in once-cheap warehouse districts are increasing. Condos, apartments and hotels are sprouting up next to long-established mega-clubs – creating tension between the club operators and new residents who don’t want booming bass to be the soundtrack to their lives. The heyday of the mega-club seems to be nearing an end.

Love is situated in a neighborhood on the cusp of transition.

At one end of the Okie Street block the club occupies, a homeless man recently erected a fortress of cardboard and wool blankets. The surrounding pavement stinks of urine. But on the other end of the block stands the art deco Hecht Co. warehouse slated for a renovation into luxury apartments, an organic supermarket and a fitness center.

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