June 15, 2010 | by Lou Chibbaro Jr.
D.C. Center finds new home

After months of searching, the D.C. Center for the LGBT Community has found a new, temporary home along U Street, N.W., just days before it’s required to vacate its current building.

David Mariner, the Center’s executive director, said the Center will move into the storefront space at 1318 U Street, N.W., on Saturday and expects to open for business Monday.

“It’s a great, highly visible spot,” Mariner said. “It’s not quite as big as we would have liked, but we’re going to make it work.”

The new location is less than one block from the U Street Metro rail station and in the heart of the city’s historic black entertainment district, which has evolved over the past two decades into an upscale restaurant and nighclub destination. Newly built apartments and condominiums are located nearby, and the area has a growing LGBT population.

Mariner said the Center entered into a two-year lease with JBG Properties, the real estate development company that allowed the Center to operate in its current building at 1810 14th Street, N.W. That building was once used as an annex for the Whitman-Walker Clinic’s two main buildings, which are located nearby.

JBG earlier this year announced it would be demolishing the building at 1810 14th Street to make way for high-rise development complex. The building, while old, offered 6,000 square feet of usable office and meeting space, which enabled the Center to bring a number of community organizations under one roof.

According to Mariner, the new space on U Street offers about 2,000 square feet and includes one large open space and a conference room. He said the Center has retained a designer to configure the space into “a big open area” with multiple work stations.

“We’re offering work stations instead of offices,” he said. “It’s an open floor plan. The designer will give us layout options.”

Mariner noted that the Center remains hopeful D.C. will join more than one dozen other U.S. cities in providing at least some government funds to help the Center obtain a larger, permanent home in the near future.

“I’m hoping that after these two years, we will find something even better,” he said.

He called the new lease with JBG Properties “a good deal,” and noted the rent is lower than the standard rent rate in the upscale U Street strip.

“They’ve been very helpful and very supportive,” he said. “We’ve got a good deal. We’re lucky to have JGB as a supporter.”

Lou Chibbaro Jr. has reported on the LGBT civil rights movement and the LGBT community for more than 30 years, beginning as a freelance writer and later as a staff reporter and currently as Senior News Reporter for the Washington Blade. He has chronicled LGBT-related developments as they have touched on a wide range of social, religious, and governmental institutions, including the White House, Congress, the U.S. Supreme Court, the military, local and national law enforcement agencies and the Catholic Church. Chibbaro has reported on LGBT issues and LGBT participation in local and national elections since 1976. He has covered the AIDS epidemic since it first surfaced in the early 1980s. Follow Lou

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