Street-Level Soiree

The Center opens the doors on its new 14th Street digs

Things have changed for The Center, the area’s LGBT community center, since moving to its new location at 1810 14th St. NW at the beginning of the year.

”We can accommodate multiple meetings on the same night,” says David Mariner, executive director of The Center, pointing to just one of the many advantages of the new home. On an upcoming Wednesday, for example, The Center will host gatherings of a transgender support group, the Sexual Minority Youth Assistance League (SMYAL), the Latino GLBT History Project and the HIV Vaccine Group, all in different meeting rooms.

”We have four events going on in one night,” Mariner says. ”We couldn’t do that at the old location.”

Since 2005, The Center had been operating out of third-story office space at 1111 14th St. NW.

”We’re also much more visible, so we have more folks just stopping by to use the [The David Bohnett] Cyber Center or to find out about services that are available. We just have more street traffic than we had at the old place. I’m still getting used to it.”

Mariner is excited to share the space with members of the local LGBT community and allies on Thursday, Feb. 18, during an open-house gathering.

”We just want to make sure people know all the services that we have available here and what the possibilities are when you have so many great organizations together under one roof.”

Those organizations are Bet Mishpachah, the Capital Area Gay and Lesbian Chamber of Commerce (CAGLCC, aka the chamber), the DC Agenda, the DC Community AIDS Network, Helping our Brothers and Sisters, and the Latino GLBT History Project.

The new venue — actually two connected buildings — now houses those organizations along with The Center. It was previously owned by Whitman-Walker Clinic, and sold to JBG Properties in 2008. Under WWC, one building housed the Austin Center, an HIV day-treatment center, and the other the Lesbian Services Program.

While the new space is not permanent, Mariner says JBG is offering below-market rent in a deal ”guaranteed at least six months.” Mariner declined to disclose the specifics of that arrangement.

”Beyond that, it really depends on the redevelopment schedule for JBG properties.”

The Center’s open house was intentionally scheduled on a Thursday to coincide with MidCity Business Association’s ”Third Thursday,” which encourages local business.

”We wanted to encourage folks, either before our reception or after, to go out and visit the local shops, maybe go out to one of the local restaurants, because it’s important for us to support the local businesses in the area.”

The Center’s open-house event is 6 to 9 p.m. on Thursday, Feb. 18, at 1810 14th St. NW. For more information, call 202-682-2245 or visit thedccenter.org.

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