The Drama At 14th and T Streets Continues

DSCN3882, originally uploaded by Prince of Petworth.

Back in November we learned that the furniture store Room and Board had finalized the deal for this building. Some folks were a bit upset because the other alternative was the Tryst type spot, yoga space along with a comedy club. Now comes news from City Paper that they couldn’t finalize their financing.

By that point, Room & Board had offered, as a starting bid, $9.25 million to purchase the property. Then in December came devastating news from their bank, Milwaukee-based Associated Bank.

“Again we would have purchased it in December—the very end of the December—had we not been surprised by our bank,” he (Room & Board CFO Mark Miller) says.

But, realistically, all bets are off. His parting words to me:

“If you know of any properties for sale or for lease, let me know,” he says. “We need 25 or 30,000 square feet. We’d love an old building like 14th and T.”

The reader who sent me the link writes, “Let’s hope Constantine is calling his bank.” Constantine is the guy behind the initial Tryst type coffee house, yoga, and comedy spot idea.

What do you guys think – any chance the Tryst type option will reemerge? Or do you think this spot is likely to sit fallow for a while?

21 Comment

  • Yay! Come on Tryst!

  • Ah, man, I was getting used to the idea of having Room and Board there, and was actually starting to look forward to it. Thought it would be real good for the neighborhood and a good way to start connecting all of 14th street with something that would get a lot of foot traffic.

    But, moving on, I’m not excited by the Constantine proposal b/c we’ve got busboys and poets literally 3 blocks away. Its the exact same thing. And the comedy spot would be dead during the day, and possibly at night—its not like the improv is jam packed every night. And yoga / dance studio? Yawn. I’m not saying they would be bad additions, but very pedestrian offerings. And not something that would generate all that much foot traffic.

    I’m sure people on this blog can come up with more compelling options. This is a big building, what thing or things should go into it?

  • CH could really use a Tryst establishment. We have lots of restaurants and retail, but no place to simply “hang”. A place to meet friends. No diner. There is a new place opening on 14th soon, so perhaps it will fit the bill. If Constantine is reading this, think about all the foot traffic after the condos fill up, Ellwood’s opens and people want to be near a Metro stop.

  • The building is at 14th and T, which is Logan Circle, not Columbia Heights (CH). I’d like to see a Tryst in the neighborhood, but having a profitable Room and Board would have been good for the neighborhood and the city. I hate this fricking economy.

  • Could they fit a Trader Joe’s in there?

  • Damn, I was so looking forward to having a Room and Board in DC. I’d put money on that building being empty for at least the next few years now.

  • While a Trist/Open City-type place would be great in that area, that space looks like it’s far too large for something like that. And since this is D.C., it will probably sit fallow for a while.

  • It would be great if the Constantine idea could come back to life, but if a “big box store” is having trouble rounding up the financing at this time, it’s doubtful a smaller independent can do it…hopefully I’m wrong.

  • sorry geezer, 14th & T is not Logan Circle – its part of the U Street neighborhood — this corner is in the Greater U Street Historic District. Call it the 14th & U Corridor or MidCity — but not Logan Circle…

    i will agree with you it is NOT Columbia Heights.

  • I suspect a lot of businesses are going to have this problem, no matter how good the business plans are. Unless Constatine has the capital saved up he will have the same problem, probably more so in that he does not have the value of a large company as collateral.

  • constantine would face a lot more hurdles opening up shop there than a room and board. this isnt the same neighborhood it used to be. We have yuppie nimbys now. and even thought they knew where they were moving. they will likely contest to hell and back the idea of a humongous club. They already killed the Black Cats proposed roofdeck and are forming to oppose the hotel and its roofbar at 13 and U. Even if Constantine is interested in taking up the plans again it could very easily die at the hands of Nimbys who are typically older and would rather a crate and barrel go into the space before anything adding to the nightlife. and even if they do have the cajones to take them on it could be years before it comes to fruition and then it will likely be a scaled back version of what they had in mind.

  • My guess is that the space will remain vacant for a long time, and that many, many proposed projects are going to fade away because they can’t get the financing.

    The boom is over folks, ancient history. Get ready for a period of years with more businesses going under than starting up.

  • They should demolish the Section 8 at 13th and Columbia and put in mixed retail/residential with Room and Board as the anchor tenant.

  • It would be great to see Ruff & Ready move across the street into a space like this – or even better, come to Columbia Heights! Many newcomers don’t realize it, but R&R actually anchored that stretch of 14th st. establishing both the tone (eclectic and funky) for the subsequent businesses and drawing people into an otherwise abandoned area.

    Saint Ex got a huge boost from locating across the street. Garden District, Pulp, Go Mama Go and all the stores as well as Source Theater, along that stretch thrive because they are all now part of a collective “urban stroll” destination, starting with Ruff & Ready and finishing up now with Miss Pixies at 14th & R. I’m sure not a single one of those places would have made it alone.

    With their roof falling in, I know R&R is looking for a new location, but the income from a second-hand shop is never going to pay for the square footage commercial landlords are asking, let along 9 million to buy a building!

    I love Tryst, and though I don’t understand the Trader Joe’s fanaticism I have nothing against them, but coffee shops and grocery stores are not going to draw people in from other neighborhoods that also have coffee shops and grocery stores.

    Whenever I see the ghastly wasteland of DC-USA (unfortunately, daily) I imagine how vibrant it would be if the developers just got their heads out of their hinies and realized that adjusting rents to accomodate more offbeat stores like R&R would attract other cool small businesses that actually could make it a destination and ultimately do more for thier bottom line.

  • let’s all bitch and moan about every proposal and keep it vacant!

  • I think the person talking about CH was saying that they would like to see that kind of concept open up in CH, not that 14th and T is in Logan or U street. But, Rawr!, let’s all flex our anal commenting. BTW: I’m 30, and was way more looking forward to Room and Board than some sort of mixed use coffee shop place (or a nightclub, if that is what someone is suggesting above, just b/c of the vastness of the space it would have to be some sort of megaclub that would be terrible. I also think its ridiculous that the Black Cat couldn’t get a deck. Ridiculous.). I also agree with Eric in Ledroit. Let’s complain about anyone doing anything and keep it a boarded up vacant building. And then bitch about that.

  • Victoriam – all the places you mentioned had access to easy credit. That just ain’t around anymore. Banks stung by mortage and other debit issues are understandably taking a harder look at financing. Until the credit flows, I doubt anyone will be in that space, trader joes, tryst, or anything.

  • I’m with ‘eric in ledroit’, lets complain about every possible option and keep the building vacant for at least 10 years

  • i’m going to complain about anything other than a trader joe’s. trader joe’s, that’s some change we can believe in.

  • Trader Joe’s is overrated. As is Yes! Organic.

  • This building is featured in the latest In Towner.

Comments are closed.