There are lots of signs of life at the corner of 11th Avenue and J Street – people walk to and from the new library and duck into nearby coffee shops and restaurants. But the street-level space at 390 11th Ave. is dark and dead – it’s been vacant for the past five years. For most of those years, a vinyl sign that read “SUSHI” hung in front of the empty East Village space – often confusing hungry passersby looking for a place to have dinner.
The sign was actually the last vestige of Sushi Contemporary Performance and Visual Arts, the arts nonprofit that called the property home until it folded in 2011.
A special loan agreement required the owners of the building to rent the space out to an arts group at a reduced rate through 2027. If the owners held up their end of the deal, the loan would be forgiven. But since Sushi went under, the building owners said they haven’t been able to find an arts group to take advantage of the offer.
People who’ve been keeping an eye on the space say that’s because the owners haven’t actually been trying.