Managing Migration

With its lease expiring Dec. 1, the DC Eagle is on the hunt for a new roost

Ted Clements and Peter Lloyd are hoping the fourth time will be the charm for the DC Eagle.

The co-owners of the Eagle, the D.C. area’s primary venue for the LGBT leather, biker and BDSM communities, told Metro Weekly July 15 that, come Dec. 1, the DC Eagle will close its doors at 639 New York Ave. NW and, for the fourth time in the establishment’s 41–year history, move to a destination yet to be determined.

After originally opening at 904 9th St. NW in 1971, the DC Eagle was moved to 908 7th St. NW in 1979 to make way for a convention center, and again in 1987, to its current location, for yet more construction in the still-booming Penn Quarter neighborhood.

Ted Clements, Peter Lloyd

Ted Clements, Peter Lloyd

(Photo by Todd Franson)

In June 2010, the bar’s former owner, Bill Cappello, announced that the DC Eagle had renegotiated a lease with its landlord that would allow the leather bar to remain at its current location until 2015. As the lease was negotiated, the area around the Eagle and the nearby Walter E. Washington Convention Center, including the city’s Mount Vernon and Chinatown neighborhoods, was undergoing heavy development, making the Eagle’s address a piece of prime real estate.

Clements and Lloyd say that the Douglas Development Corporation, which owns the building housing the Eagle, recently exercised their right to terminate the lease with the bar three years early. In June, Douglas gave the bar the minimum six-month window for notification, as required by District law. The ”drop dead” date, as Lloyd calls it, to vacate is Dec. 1.

”We knew this was coming,” Clements says of the DC Eagle’s eventual move. ”It’s not the perfect timing. But it is the last piece of the puzzle to make sure the legacy does continue.”

Even though its doors will close, the Eagle will not be down and out, Clements promises. He’s confident the bar will relocate.

”We’re not on life support,” he says. ”Since we’ve taken over, the business has increased significantly, and we’re on good financial ground. It’s just the building. It’s time for a new building, and it’s what best works. And the community’s willing to follow us – they say that all the time.”

For now, both Clements and Lloyd are scouring the metro area for a new home. The two say they would prefer to own the next building that will house the bar. The ”Eagle in Exile,” operating as the DC Eagle, will, ideally, rent space from the DC Eagle Development Corporation, the two explain. The bar’s investors would have shares of the development corporation, which would own the building.

In that scenario, the business could spend less money renting from itself, leaving more funding for various projects and fundraisers benefiting the LGBT community, which have been hosted by the DC Eagle over the years.

”We’re looking at everything from Crystal City to Silver Spring, and everything in between,” Clements says of the search. ”Nothing’s off the chart right now.”

Lloyd qualifies that statement, saying that the DC Eagle is ”extremely low-key” and isn’t looking to pick a fight with new neighbors. They are, for example, avoiding real estate churches and schools, not wanting to spark any NIMBY conflicts.

Clements and Lloyd say they’ve already spoken with a couple Realtors. Regular customers are constantly recommending potential sites, too, including the U Street corridor and the area around Howard University.

John Riley is the local news reporter for Metro Weekly. He can be reached at jriley@metroweekly.com

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