Minneapolis-based home furniture retailers Room and Board have purchased a vacant, four-story building at 1840 14th Street, NW and plan to transform it into a fully rehabbed, 33,000 square foot flagship location - their first in the DC metro area. According to the broker who facilitated the purchase, Wayne Dickson of Blake Dickson Real Estate, the retail chain has big plans for the re-emergent 14th Street corridor and will use the entire space for their showroom.
"Room and Board is expecting this to be a regional draw for them...Through their catalog sales, they did a zip code analysis of where the majority of their customers were. [The building] at 1840 14th Street was just about dead center in that customer base," he said.
Known to some as the Taylor Motor Building, 1840 14th Street began its life as a Ford Model A showroom, and, in subsequent decades, went on to to serve an array of uses, including stints as an arts space and church. Most recently, the building was slated for a residential makeover by Four Points, LLC, which paid some $10 million for the site. Plans for that project, the so-called T Street Flats, (or "Rapture Lofts") were announced in 2007, but never made it past the planning stages.
"Blake Dickson Real Estate has been working on that property for the better part of two years…It was most recently a church, called the Church of the Rapture, and then the initial plans by Four Points, LLC had a condo element,” said Dickson. “They bought that building at the top of the market and then later decided to go all commercial with it.”
As purveyors of handcrafted, American-made furniture, Room and Board will be among the latest in a string of upscale chain retailers, including Bang and Olufsen and Whole Foods, to set up shop along the once unfashionable 14th Street corridor - the same strip that recently lost its Storehouse furniture retailer, only to gain Mitchell Gold in its place. One block over at 14th and S Streets, NW, the JBG Companies also have plans on the boards for a new mixed-use complex with ground-floor retail. (Once that Apple Store gets announced, consider gentrification complete.)
Room and Board have retained omnipresent DC architects, Eric Colbert and Associates, to design the extensive renovation, which Dickson described as a “gut job.” The build-out is expected to take between 12 and 18 months.