Why Associations Love Capitol Hill
Tech has made communication easier, but associations still need to be close to lawmakers. (Ever tried texting opposition to a bill?) That's why we're thrilled to hold Bisnow’s Real Estate Strategies for Associations & Law Firms event on Aug. 27. (Bonus: Mayor Gray will keynote.) In anticipation, we talked to associations who've recently moved.
National Retail Federation
It took the National Retail Federation over two years and 20 site visits before it found its 31k sq ft home at 1101 New York Ave NW. COO Carleen Kohut says the association moved only a few blocks farther from the Hill, but it’s still close to lawmakers, executive branch offices, and media outlets. The association, which moved because its lease ended at Liberty Place, also wanted easy access to taxis and Metro. Carleen says associations need to choose locations based on their priorities. NRF has a strong public policy focus, so lawmakers have to be accessible.
Its new space also needed to put the association on one floor, instead of the two it occupied at Liberty Place. Carleen says at least 40 sites were considered, including one that would have given NRF an iconic Pennsylvania Avenue address, but the floor plan was too small. It’s also an association whose members come often for meetings, so it has 15 meeting rooms and a board room that can fit 80. It also went from multiple offices to an open-floor layout where people more easily collaborate. Not bad for a space that was a last-minute entry.
The American Forest & Paper Association
The American Forest & Paper Association moved last November from 19th and L streets to 12th and K to be closer to the Hill. The space, which had been empty for several years, is smaller at 30k sq ft, but administration CFO Sam Kerns says the commute to the Hill for its lobbyists is shorter. The association also wanted a more open space, so it’s now on one floor rather than two. While the big open space is popular in office design, the association still has individual offices. But they’re glassed in, so the area seems more open.
The association also now has a large cafe where employees can gather for meals and celebrations. AFPA’s members and lawmakers also visit the space often, so the organization spent time making sure it represented the industry. Reclaimed wood was used for the lobby floor and walls; paper rolls design the conference room; tree limbs serve as dividers in the lobby; and recycled newspaper is used as wallpaper. Of course, it also has a large recycling center (seen above) for metal, plastic, and paper.
Associated Builders and Contractors
Associated Builders and Contractors moved from Ballston to Capitol Hill late last year to make advocacy easier. CFO Jason Daisey says face-to-face lobbying is still key. In the nine months since the move to its 20k sq ft office at 440 First St NW, ABC has had over 40 members of Congress visit and hosted several fundraisers. He says those kinds of activities don’t happen in the ‘burbs. (Conversely, if congressmen visit you too much, til the point you run out of small talk, you should move farther away.)
ABC considered 30 buildings in eight submarkets, including Ballston/Rosslyn, Crystal City, the DC CBD, and Capitol Hill. Jason says the options were narrowed down quickly, and DC rose to the top after the association got pricing from landlords. The association also saved money by giving its 75 employees flexibility in working in or out of the central office full-time. The open concept office space also increased communication and collaboration among staff. Want to hear more? Sign up for our event on Aug. 27.