Tuesday, August 15, 2006

Addio AV...and The Eagle...But Not Just Yet

As has been reported here and there (and also there), the venerable AV Ristorante at 6th and New York Avenue has been sold to Doug Jemal’s Douglas Development Corporation. This is the megadeveloper that has done (inter alia) the old Woodies building, the “Historic Row” (Spy Museum) group, a big chunk of 7th Street, and is developing the “Exchange”, a mixed retail/commercial/residential project at 9th and N.

What has not been as widely noted (at least in the straight press) is that Jemal acquired the building housing the Eagle (DC’s premier gay leather bar) on New York Avenue a year ago, as well as the building that houses the Venue club. In fact, a quick perusal of tax records shows that Jemal already owns most of the block bounded by 7th, L, 6th, and New York Avenue. The major exceptions are the Marrakesh restaurant, the Eritrean club at L and 6th, and several properties owned by Raymond Ruppert on 7th Street. But the clock is probably ticking for most of those as well.

The leather guys are not exactly shaking in their harnesses and chaps yet, however, because actual redevelopment is still aways off—probably not until late next year or even 2008. So those who like squinting at mimeographed Eisenhower-era menus in stygian darkness and waiting interminably for undistinguished food while listening to scratchy recordings of operatic chestnuts can relax for at least a while. You can still hang out with paisans like Antonin Scalia and, God help us, Denny Hastert and soak up the nostalgia.

Maybe Jemal could do one of those façadist projects and incorporate AV (and, what the hell, the Eagle) into the new commercial/retail development as themepark-style restaurants--a kind of anti-Cheesecake Factory.

But no…there’s real kitsch and fake kitsch, and, bless its tacky heart, AV is real kitsch. Once it’s gone, it’s gone. Well, maybe they could save that wonderful patio with the fabulous statue of Neptune or whoever. Lascia ch’io pianga una lacrima falsa.


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