Franklin Square leases up despite pandemic, office downsizing

Leasing company Avison Young has completed 140,00 square feet of leasing at the recently renovated Franklin Square building at 1300 Eye Street in the past 18 months, at a time when the D.C. office vacancy rate has climbed to a record high.

Franklin Square completed an $18 million renovation in 2021, which included a new three-story glass entrance. The building includes a conference facility and six additional conference rooms, a new fitness center, lobby café, and opening soon, a yet unnamed restaurant that will replace the recently closed Toro Toro on the ground floor.

The Franklin Square building at 1300 Eye Street in Northwest D.C. (Courtesy Avison Young)

Most of the renovations were interior. In 2021, it was awarded first place for interior renovations by Retrofit Magazine.

New tenants include the Conference of State Bank Supervisors, the Bank Policy Institute, Greenpeace, TIAA-CREF, and Disabled American Veterans. The American Public Transportation Association and the American Water Works Association were lease renewals.

“We are pleased to welcome these new tenants and continue the partnerships with existing tenants at Franklin Square,” Avison Young’s Will Stern said. “With a renovation that both honors and enhances an iconic piece of history, Franklin Square combines the charm of years past with the best of today’s workplace technologies and amenities.”

Franklin Square, a 485,000-square-foot, 12-story building built in 1989, is owned by Norges Bank Investment Management and Nuveen. It is on the South side of Franklin Square Park, which recently completed its own $21 million renovation. The five-acre Franklin Square Park, one of the largest downtown, is owned by the National Park Service. Park additions include a new central fountain, new restaurant pavilion and playground.

The high-end update to Franklin Square most likely accounts for its leasing activity in difficult times.

Commercial Real Estate firm JLL reports Trophy and Class A office buildings saw a net gain of 800,000-square-feet of leasing in 2022, while Class B and Class C buildings lost 1.7 million square feet.

“The fact that these companies have signed long-term leases at Franklin Square is a very positive sign for the DC market,” said Eli Barnes, principal at Avison Young. “Despite the tough market conditions, the activity we’ve seen here is promising and we remain optimistic that we will continue to see more companies leasing office space in the coming months.”

Editor’s note: The restaurant that will replace the recently closed Toro Toro has not yet been announced. 

Jeff Clabaugh

Jeff Clabaugh has spent 20 years covering the Washington region's economy and financial markets for WTOP as part of a partnership with the Washington Business Journal, and officially joined the WTOP newsroom staff in January 2016.

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