Seth Hurwitz Says His 6,000-Person Wharf Hall Will Boost Southwest DC
When The Wharf opens next October, one of the main draws bringing people to the Southwest Waterfront for the first time will be Seth Hurwitz's new 6,000-person music hall. The co-owner of the popular 9:30 Club, who will speak at Bisnow's Future of Southwest DC and The Wharf event on Nov. 10, has been searching for years for a place to create a new concert venue.
He says he spoke with several developers who expressed interest, but ultimately, they couldn't look past the risk of devoting so much space to a music hall and couldn't appreciate the true value it would create. Then he met PN Hoffman CEO Monty Hoffman.
"Monty’s a real visionary," Seth tells Bisnow. "It's just a different conversation with him than other developers. He’s a creative, passionate guy and he doesn’t lose his way from his principles."
The location and unique nature of The Wharf, coupled with the trend of more people living downtown, made this an opportunity Seth says he couldn't pass up.
For the second time, Seth has been given the chance to create a new music venue from scratch, something he says most people in the music business never get to do once. He has yet to announce the venue's permanent name, but it is being called Wharf Hall for the time being.
When he created the 9:30 Club's current location at 815 V St NW in 1996, Seth says he was able to do away with prior notions of what a club had to feel like. He compares it to how, for decades, baseball stadiums were built the same way. Designers conceded that there was no way to make it comfortable for fans, until stadiums like Camden Yards began to break the mold.
He saw the Baltimore ballpark as an inspiration for 9:30 as he broke the mold of what a nightclub could be, and now he is putting that same creativity into Wharf Hall.
"Everything my team has ever learned about the music business and venues we have put into this," Seth says. "We hope to make it the greatest concert venue in the world."
He says the most important factors to consider are lines of sight, acoustics, and easy entrance and exit flows while creating a comfortable place where people enjoy spending their time. Starting from scratch allows him to perfect the hall's acoustics for an ideal sound quality that can't be achieved in venues designed for sports or other uses.
While he's not ready to unveil design renderings yet, Seth emphasizes that Wharf Hall will be a music venue, not a nightclub like 9:30. He says it will accommodate all ages and styles of music. The venue is expected to hold 50 events a year and Seth is zeroing in on a major headliner for the hall's opening night: Oct. 12, 2017.
Ultimately, Seth expects it be more than just a place to see music, but a destination that people want to live near and that boosts business at all the restaurants and shops around it.
That is music to Steve Moore's ears. The Southwest DC BID president says the venue is in the perfect location to spark a resurgence in the neighborhood.
"It will be a huge generator of people and interest in the area," Steve says. "Wharf Hall will develop a reputation as one of the great places to see live music anywhere.”"