Development at 14th and T, NW


Washington Business Journal is reporting the deal is near finalized. The winner? Room & Board Inc., a Minneapolis furniture chain that plans a 32,000-square-foot store. Ugh, we could of had a Tryst type spot and yoga and a comedy club. We coulda been contenders. Sadly that team couldn’t get the financing it needed to purchase the building fast enough. I’m glad something’s going into this spot but it is definitely a bit disappointing. The article quotes Jim Graham:

“It’s disappointing because we had some very good prospects for that building, you know, locally rooted businesses,” said Councilman Jim Graham, D-Ward 1. “I don’t know how Room & Board feels about being welcomed into a neighborhood. But they’ve got a lot of people angry.”

So are you angry?

37 Comment

  • It’s better than a vacant building, the comedy club/Tryst concepts would have probably took years to come to light considering the dismal economy.

  • I am a bit angry, yes. I will never shop at Room & Board. Honestly, how often do you buy furniture (especially since this place is mostly catelog oriented) vs. go to a place like the Diner or Tryst. It adds no life that that section of 14th to have a large furniture store that’s open from 10-6

  • Dear Room & Board,

    I know you are getting a lot of flack for wanting to open near U street. Please come to Anacostia. It’s not that we aren’t picky about the retailers in out neighborhood.. because we are. It’s that you all are a good store that will continue to inspire others to open in the area. We welcome you with open arms.




  • You can’t win them all. I’m glad that something’s going in. As much as we “hate” them, we need chains and larger stores in the city so people don’t have to go to the godforsaken suburbs.

  • Prince Of Petworth

    I don’t think people hate them at all. I think folks were teased that they were getting a Tryst et al and in comparison are disappointed. Room & Board is a great store, it’s nothing personal. And I agree, like I said, it will be nice to have that building finally fixed up. (though I’ll miss the murals)

  • Yes, it is absurd that there will be yet another furniture store on this stretch of 14th when the area might actually benefit from another restaurant or bar, but there is an incredibly stupid regulation that only 25% the street frontage in this area can be occupied by a business serving food or drink:

  • Kevin, that is a very good point…

    I just hope that the Tryst/Diner/Comedy concept can happen somewhere along this corridor. It would add a lot and make the area a whole lot more attractive for people.

    PoP- here’s a question of the day… It’s only a matter of time before DC gets a COSTCO (originally planned for Fort Lincoln New Town but then nixed). So where should it be?? I say where the McMillan sand filtration things are now (which will be developed in a few years), between North Capitol and the reservoir.

  • Costco? Definitly at Skyland Town Center in Hillcrest.

  • Jim Graham = Idiot… Only a moron would say something like that. As a member of the City Council, he should be thankful that someone wants to open a revenue generating retail business that will eventually employ his constituents. Downright stupid of him to make a comment like that. Yes, it might not be what some of us wanted, I wanted the comedy space, but it’s still an improvement over what is currently there. Let’s just hope he doesn’t screw this one up.

  • I’m looking forward to Room and Board. I’m also looking forward to not hearing all the complaints from all the neighbors re: parking of people going to the “tryst” concept that didn’t get off the ground. On another note, there are plenty of empty storefronts on U street and 14th street that could house a Tryst-type diner and a comedy club (just not all in the same building…and I was never sure about why that made it such a great idea anyway. Just be next door to one another, or a couple doors down. What’s the big deal? Why do you need to get an elevator involved in everything?).

  • I think we should all be thankful that anyone even wants to open a business in DC, in these economic times. Really, anything is better than nothign at this point. Yes, Jim Graham is an idiot.

  • PoP, sadly the murals have already been painted over, Turtle Power no more…

  • Maybe I’m ignorant of furniture-store economics, but I’ve never understood how the area already supports as many furniture stores as it does. There are two across the street on 14th and several more a block up on U. I never see anyone in them, and I live around the corner and have never bought anything in them. (All way out of my price range!) How do these places survive? How can the neighborhood possibly support another?

  • any business is good, it’s not like we’re lacking empty storefronts in dc. sheesh.

  • Get a grip. There are plenty of dining/bar options in the area already. Why can’t there be another furniture store? It’s a popular store that will bring jobs, tax revenue and more people to the area. I can think of a dozen or so other locations in the immediate area where that diner/comedy club could go

  • I guess I missed the memo telling me I should be angry. I live a block from there and I welcome something finally moving in that space. As someone said above, there are plenty of empty storefronts that could be developed into restaturants.

  • What an absolutely stupid comment for Graham to make. He welcomes the big boxes at DC USA with open arms and yet can’t seem to tolerate a company a fraction of their size opening in a building that contributes nothing to the neighborhood or DC’s tax base.

  • My co-worker who commutes by bike, told me that Jim Graham honked at him while he was riding on Columbia Road (in a bike lane!). Based on my knowledge of my co-worker I really doubt he was doing any sort of pyscho-bike rider stuff that gets people honked at. Hooray for “bike friendly” council members who honk at cyclists.

  • That commnent by Graham has left me in a state of frenzied rage. It’s one thing to advocate for one type of business — it’s another to openly encourage anger and root for the alternative choice to fail. Would it really be good for the neighborhood if Room and Board opened, then closed in a few months? No matter what you watned there, isn’t it preferable to have a tax-paying, viable enterprise? (Which, by the way, would encourage more businesses to move into the area).

    I really think that doddering fool owes his constituents an apology.

  • Do people think a comedy club would survive in that location? Hey, 1987 just called and asked you to return the Gallagher wig.

    Room and Board offers furniture scaled to smaller, urban room spaces and is the perfect occupant of a building of that size. It’s a clean business that further legitimizes Logan as a place to live for the long term, not just a place to hang your until you’ve sufficiently made a drunk fool of yourself in the overpriced neighborhood bars.

    Graham and the rest need to get real and see this as The Win it is.

  • I agree with most posters here. It is not a bad business, we should welcome its contribution. There are many more empty storefronts on 14th and U than there are locally-rooted businesses looking for a home. Graham should concentrate on finding the comedy store/bar an alternative location instead of bitching.

  • Folks shouldn’t hate Room and Board for getting financing…its not thier fault. They are simply in a market position to take advantage of the location. I fear with the credit situation we are going to see alot more of this as well as the small store fronts being empty for a while. Have faith – it will get better…someday.

  • I have a sofa and chair from Room & Board, and I’m glad they’re opening a store here. There are tons of other vacant storefronts – how about Mount Pleasant for a tryst-like eating/drinking establishment? 11th Street in Columbia Heights? There are plenty of vacant spaces in Cleveland Park, too. In other words, there’s plenty of rooom for both furniture stores and food/drink-based businesses. We should be thankful to get anything in this economy.

  • eh…I can care less about some overpriced furniture store, but the area desperately needs another spot like Tryst. The main spot in Adams Morgan is crowded at all times of the day, and there are very few alternatives that stay open late. I got to cities like Charlotte and there are tons of independent coffee shops around, why is it so hard to open one up in DC and have it stay in business (rip 14th and U and Sparkys)??

  • I think it’s great that the district resembles the soul-less suburbs more and more with each passing year. Who cares about local businesses as long as we can have the same manufactured crap they have everywhere in this country.

  • The more options that DC can provide to keep the apparently soul-full urban consumers from driving the likewise soul-fueled cars to soul-less Rockville and Fairfax to drop money in the soul-less tax coffers of MD and VA, the better.

  • The owner of Sparky’s was also a handywonman business callled Honey Do. She was a terrific carpenter. We used her for some the renovations at our house. She could not live on the income of Sparky’s. I am not sure of the reason for the failure of Sparky’s. The owner moved to LA to start another business. I hope she fairs better there than she did in DC.

  • It’s a good store with reasonable prices, a lot more afforadable than many of the high end boutiques in that area, with very good style / quality. I am happy for it myself. As others have said, there are a ton of vacant spaces (I can point folks to PLENTY in Columbia Heights) that will likely remain vacant for many years in this economic climate .. I wish this place was coming into DCUSA rather than the 1/3 of the space that will continue to sit vacant, for example.

  • I’m surprised at the complaints that there are already too many furniture stores on 14th and that it looks like the suburbs. Furniture is not like groceries, when shopping for furniture people go to multiple stores to browse and compare. Retailers realize that if they are close to their competitors they will get more traffic. That said, it appears 14th street is becoming a furniture district, like the shopping districts of NYC. To me it’s a sign that DC is becoming more urban. I think the glass is half full.

  • This is almost like getting mad at an old IT professional for moving into your condo building because you were hoping for the hot coffee barista who qualify for the mortgage.

  • Room and Board is a great alternative. The NYC location is beautiful and the furniture is actually quite accessible. I’d equate it to a high-end Ikea although not quite as minimal. The reality is that 14th is now a furniture district so why not encourage this transformation. Trust me, the food and beverage will follow if the foot traffic picks up.

  • “I think it’s great that the district resembles the soul-less suburbs more and more with each passing year. Who cares about local businesses as long as we can have the same manufactured crap they have everywhere in this country.”

    How many people can afford custom furniture from a local carpenter? Furniture is just one of those things that is going to be mass manufactured so it can be supplied at a low price.

  • I like Room & Board.

  • you all have NO IDEA what drives development.


    development is complicated. and NONE, i mean NONE, of your responses reflect an understanding of why things happen.

    you think mr. local boy tryst is getting financing in this market?

    you think mr. international furniture company might be able to?

    but just barely!

    whine cry all you want, forces far beyond what you want drive all this stuff…we’re all merely pawns…

  • What comment thread were you reading? Who the heck is “whine cry”-ing? Almost every single post was neutral-to-positive on Room and Board coming to that space, saying that it’s better than a vacant building.

  • My hope is that Room and Board will be like a shot in the arm for the street. Like how Starbucks can help drive traffic to an area and ultimately help a mom-and-pop’s business, this might actually help some of the area’s shops, simply by drawing bigger crowds to the area.

    More on that here:

  • Since when does Dave Chappelle qualify as a local businessperson? He lives in Ohio. He left DC in the dust long ago.

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