When the Washington Design Center showrooms got word last July that their Southwest D.C. building had been sold and was becoming a Bible museum, they began scrambling to find a new location. Now the Design Center steering committee is announcing that Franklin Court (1099 14th St. N.W.) has been selected as its new home.
So far, more than half of the 30 high-end home furnishings tenants have agreed to move there early next year and more are expected to join the list. Brokers at Cassidy Turley, who represent the Washington Design Center showroom tenants, say they have gotten calls from some showrooms currently not represented in Washington who might be looking to open there as well.
“The 14th Street building is a beautiful trophy office building,” says Ann Lambeth, owner of the J. Lambeth & Co. showroom and a member of the steering committee. “It’s in a busy downtown neighborhood, parking is fabulous, Metro is nearby and there are good loading docks and freight elevators. The proximity between the new City Center DC Development and the retailers and all the condos on 14th Street is great. We will be at the apex of the happening place in Washington.”
The group is hoping to keep the Washington Design Center name, according to Lambeth. The showrooms are classified as to-the-trade, and officially sell only to interior designers and architects, although there are efforts to be more visible to the community, Lambeth says.
Several showrooms are expected to move to Georgetown instead, which was also on the short list of possible new locations for the center.
Local designers had been concerned about where the Design Center would relocate, because many of them visit there once or twice a week. “I think it’s a good opportunity to reinvent design in Washington,” says Iantha Carley, a Silver Spring designer. “I am happy that most of the showrooms are staying together.”
Ken Berry, owner of the American Eye showroom, says he is excited about the new building, which is near L Street. “It’s a more dynamic place and has lots of great windows and light,” he says. “Also, the ceilings are about two feet higher than we had here. We can actually hang up our chandeliers.”