March 28, 2012 at 10:43 am EDT | by Lou Chibbaro Jr.
LGBT Center seeks space in city building
David Mariner, LGBT Community Center, gay news, gay politics dc

David Mariner, executive director of the D.C. LGBT Community Center, said the center will submit a bid for new space in the Reeves Building at 14th and U streets. (Washington Blade file photo by Michael Key)

The D.C. LGBT Community Center, which expects to be displaced next year from its current location at 1318 U St., N.W., is applying for rental space at the city-owned Reeves Municipal Building located less than a block away, according to center executive director David Mariner.

Mariner said the center will submit a bid in response to a public offer by the city to seek tenants in various spaces in the Reeves Building. He said the space the center would like to rent is a first-floor “store front” space on 14th Street.

The building is located at the corner of 14th and U Streets, N.W., in a bustling entertainment and residential area where large numbers of LGBT people live and visit to patronize restaurants and nightclubs.

The center’s current location provides just 1,200 square feet of space, Mariner said. He said the space being sought at the Reeves Building would provide about 2,500 square feet of space. The building where the center currently resides is slated to be torn down to make way for a new hotel.

“This is an open and competitive process,” Mariner said, adding that the center is likely to be competing for the space in the Reeves Building with businesses such as stores or bars and restaurants. Such businesses have operated in the Reeves Building in past years.

Mariner said the center is calling on the LGBT community to urge city officials to approve its bid for the rental space on grounds that the center is a non-profit organization that provides services to city residents.

Gay activist Nick McCoy, a member of the center’s board, is coordinating efforts to win the bid to rent space in the Reeves Building through his role as chair of the center’s Relocation Committee. He said committee members will be meeting with members of the D.C. City Council and representatives of the mayor’s office to seek support for the bid.

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

  • Why should the center receive preferential treatment in the review of their bid for rental space in a government building? The city should seek market rate and select a tenant without regard for whether it is a non-profit or not. The city has deficits to pay and costs to cover!

  • Business wise, you are non-profit, you provide service, so you don’t need 1st fl store front. Let city make the best of the property.for DC taxpayers.

  • Hi Tom & Jeff, I wonder… have you ever been to the DC Center? Do you know what kind of support it provides to the very individuals who are the Blade’s primary audience? Are you part of that audience or allies or detractors. I can only assume detractors because what your saying is very negative.

  • The Center would pay for the space just like any other business would (“Mariner said the center will submit a bid in response to a public offer by the city to seek tenants in various spaces in the Reeves Building.”). Being a non-profit doesn’t mean that it is poor or doesn’t have any money to pay for anything; it simply means that the goal is to help people, not make money. In order to provide services to the local community, people must have access to the Center (A storefront is a good way to accomplish this). Anyone (including DC taxpayers) can walk into the Center if they need a specific service or just to learn more about it. Also, compare the number of for-profit businesses (Such as restaurants and night clubs) vs. the number of non-profits that provides services to the community; there are a lot more businesses on 14th and U street so having a community center would be better than just another restaurant.

  • This is not just a wonderful opportunity for the DC LGBT Center, but it is a wonderful opportunity for dozens of LGBT organizations that work with and count on the DC Center. The DC Center serves as fiscal sponsors for LYFE Mentors, the Imperial Court of Washington DC, the DC Coalition, and the Rainbow Dragon Fund. The DC Center shares office space with Capital Pride and the Latino GLBT History Project. We provide meeting space for dozens of local LGBT groups including Women in their
    Twenties, HOPE DC, Black Pride, Trans Pride. The DC Center is the hub of our local community and our entire community will be stronger when we have a permanent home together.

  • Jim Graham announced on Thursday (3.29) that the Post Office on 14th Street will move to the Reeves Center in “a large space on the ground floor with direct street access” – saying that the lease is a done deal.

    The Post Office will provide a community service, but I bet that USPS is paying market rate to rent commercial retail space on the exterior of the building.

    All tenants should pay what the market will yield – the days of special political deals and giveaways for retail space at the property should end!

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