March 27, 2013 at 5:00 pm EDT | by Lou Chibbaro Jr.
D.C. Center signs lease for new space
David Mariner, Michael Sessa, D.C. Center, LGBT, gay, bisexual, transgender, lesbian, gay news, Washington Blade

Michael Sessa and David Mariner in front of what is to be the new D.C. Center. (Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)

After three months of negotiations with city officials, the D.C. LGBT Community Center on March 23 signed a 15-year lease to rent space in the city’s Reeves Center municipal building at 14th and U streets, N.W.

Michelle Ross, the LGBT Center’s vice president and chair of its Relocation Committee, said the lease-signing clears the way for the center to arrange for an extensive renovation of the first floor, storefront space that will be the center’s new home.

“Our projected move-in date range is toward the end of June,” Ross said.

She said a start-up date for the construction has yet to be set, but center officials expect the work to begin soon.

Center President Michael Sessa told the Blade earlier this month that shortly after the D.C. Department of General Services accepted the center’s proposal for renting the space through a competitive bidding process, the center discovered more renovation work would be needed than originally expected.

Among other things, a long-standing rat infestation problem requires that the entire space be gutted and redone. Under a provision in the lease that the DGS informed the center about at the outset, the tenant must accept the space “as is” and be responsible for the cost of any repairs and renovation work.

However, Sessa said DGS didn’t inform the center until later in the process that it would be responsible for a monthly fee of $1,500 over and above the $4,000 rent to cover utilities and maintenance services.

Ross told the Blade on Tuesday that through negotiations with the center, DGS agreed to drop the utilities and maintenance fee in exchange for adjusting the rent to $4,500 per month.

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

  • This whole enterprise is a pathetic joke perpetrated on DC taxpayers. What is left unsaid here is that this whole mess is already fully funded by the DC government through a series of clever tricks and ruses Sessa and his b’boy Mariner have pulled over the years. The DC government is essentially negotiating with itself. The reality is that this “Center” has never garnered even a modicum of support in the LGBT community at large so as to be to any degree self sustaining.

    Any “lease” isn’t worth the paper it is printed on.

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