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General Assembly Coding School Moves To New Chinatown Space

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D.C.'s Chinatown neighborhood is emerging as a hub for technology companies, and one coding school is looking to feed off that growth. 

General Assembly Chinatown
The front desk at General Assembly's Chinatown space

General Assembly, a center for learning technology skills, has moved into a new D.C. space at 509 Seventh St. NW, where it began offering classes Monday. 

Moving from its previous location at 1133 15th St. NW, General Assembly is occupying three floors of office space above the District ChopHouse restaurant and brewery in a Douglas Development-owned Chinatown building. It sits one block from the Gallery Place Metro station and next door to Terrell Place, the office building that has become a magnet for big tech companies. 

Facebook and Yelp have both moved into Terrell Place over the last two years, occupying 170K SF and 71K SF, respectively. The building also landed a 72K SF lease with meeting and coworking space provider Convene, and a 12K SF deal with St. Louis-based Worldwide Technology.

Additionally, WeWork has two coworking spaces within three blocks of the building, and Apple plans to move into a 23K SF office at Seventh and K streets, five blocks away, Bisnow previously reported.

The building at 509 7th St. NW that General Assembly is occupying
The building at 509 Seventh St. NW that General Assembly is occupying

General Assembly partners with technology companies to place its graduates in new jobs, and D.C. Regional Director Paul Gleger said the proximity of these companies was a factor in its decision to move to Chinatown. 

"With a lot of those companies we work with, they're already hiring partners, and we have alumni working across the companies," Gleger said. "This allows us to be closer to them and hopefully gives us the ability to invite more of the community into our space." 

JLL Managing Director Andy O'Brien and Managing Director Bobby Blair represented General Assembly, and CBRE Executive Vice President Mark Klug represented the landlord.

O'Brien said the proximity to technology companies creates a pipeline for hiring the students General Assembly trains. Additionally, he said the busy Seventh Street corridor gives the company good visibility — General Assembly will soon have exterior signage — and the nearby activity makes the area appealing.

"The visibility was great for them, as well as what's going on with the Capital One Arena and how that's changing with the new sportsbook," O'Brien said. "General Assembly is next door to that, and that's going to be awesome for the neighborhood and really liven it up. General Assembly is moving into the neighborhood really at the perfect time."

The intersection of all six Metro lines between Gallery Place and nearby Metro Center provides easy access to more students from across the D.C. area to come to General Assembly, Gleger said. 

"It's the convenience of transportation of being in the hub of what's already a very densely populated tech scene, and we see that only growing and expanding," Gleger said. 

General Assembly Chinatown
The kitchen area in General Assembly's Chinatown space

The 9,500 SF space is divided across three floors with six classrooms, including smaller ones that fit 18 people and larger rooms that fit over 30 students. General Assembly offers classes in software engineering, user experience design, product management, data analytics, digital marketing, several programming languages and other tech-related skills. 

About 140 people are expected to use the space on its first day Monday, Gleger said, some of them continuing classes that began in the previous location and some new students. 

The common area with a Metro-themed mural in General Assembly's Chinatown space
The common area with a Metro-themed mural in General Assembly's Chinatown space

The space also features six conference rooms, multiple common areas and a host of murals with references to politics, sports, transit and the history of the building. 

The mural above the front desk shows a bank vault, a nod to the building's past use, with a microchip inside the vault that signifies the technology skills today's occupants are learning. Other murals show past presidents, influential female figures, Frederick Douglass, Washington Capitals star Alex Ovechkin holding the Stanley Cup and the inside of a Metro station. 

General Assembly Chinatown
A hallway with an Alex Ovechkin mural in General Assembly's Chinatown space

In addition to the growth of Chinatown as a tech neighborhood, General Assembly is also looking to capitalize on the overall expansion of the region's technology sector. Amazon plans to begin moving employees into its second headquarters this year and experts predict other technology companies will follow in its footsteps. 

The location of General Assembly's new space next to a Yellow Line stop gives it easier access to Amazon's National Landing headquarters, but Gleger said he also envisions a future expansion of the school's footprint into Northern Virginia. 

"With everything that's happening in the region, we anticipate the demand for design, data and software engineering skills to only increase," he said. "We definitely see opportunities to bring our programming to a wider area, whether that's in Virginia or Maryland."