The historic six-story building in Penn Quarter already has a fully built-out basement bar, a commercial kitchen and a demonstration kitchen, along with the three flex spaces it used to host classes and events.
That should appeal to restaurateurs because a largely built-out space with existing kitchen equipment helps save on startup costs. It’s also on a busy downtown block with an active restaurant scene already: District of Pi pizzeria, Amorini Panini and Co Co. Sala are all on the same strip.
LivingSocial currently occupies the entire building. It operated a bar, which it dubbed a “speakeasy,” in the basement, although it was only open a couple of nights per week, and held classes in the kitchen space.
But a restaurant tenant wouldn’t be likely to take the building’s entire 28,106 square feet, raising the possibility of multiple tenants. The building, which is called the National Union Building, has only ever had a single occupant at one time, according to Mark Klug of CBRE Group Inc., who represented the building’s owner, Douglas Development Corp., in the lease deal with LivingSocial.
“We haven’t decided if we’re going to go multitenant or try to attract a full building tenant,” Klug said. “There’s a lot of different directions we’re going to go.”
Multiple tenants might require additional work to separate the floors above for offices from the lower level retail space.
“Anything can be done. It’s just a matter of cost,” Klug said. “There’s clearly a desire for a lot of retail to be there, but there’s also a desire for a unique office building.”
The six-story brownstone, built in the 1890s as an office for the National Union Fire Insurance Co., has a rich history. It was home to the city’s largest illegal gambling operation, and John Wilkes Booth ran down the adjacent alley after killing President Abraham Lincoln.
We’ve reached out to Douglas Development for more on its plans for the building and will update this post if we learn more.