The Arts Coalition for the Dupont Underground has signed a lease with the city to transform a vacant former trolley space under Dupont Circle into an arts exhibition hall and event venue, the coalition announced today.

After the streetcar stopped running in the middle of the last century, the tracks under Dupont became a fallout shelter, and then a short-lived food court in the 1990s. In 2010, the city chose the nonprofit Arts Coalition over another bidder to occupy the space. The lease with the city runs for 66 months, or five and a half years.

“The plan is to clean up the space, then open it up to the public,” says the coalition’s founder, architect Julian Hunt, in a statement. “We want to demonstrate what uses are best suited for the long-term.”

The coalition has previously stated that it plans to begin by renovating about a third of the 75,000-square-foot space while working out longer-term plans to use the full space.

“The next five years will be a dynamic time of showcasing new artists and designers, new technologies, and the exciting possibilities this space presents,” says Hunt. “We see the Dupont Underground providing cultural and economic benefits to Dupont Circle and to the District of Columbia.”

The coalition hopes to raise part of the funding for the project from the public. Today, in addition to the lease signing, it announced the launch of a crowdfunding platform to finance the Dupont Underground.

Image courtesy of Arts Coalition for Dupont Underground