A few months ago, a “For Lease” sign appeared in the front window of the Long View Gallery that caused many neighbors great concern (the sign has been the subject of a few blog posts). Rumors circulated that the destination gallery would be moving away from Shaw or closing altogether. There was nothing official to report, however, other than the fact that the gallery’s lease was up for renewal this year and that the gallery's owners had not made an official decision. That all changed late last week: their exciting plans were finalized with the execution of a lease for a new location nearby.
As background, Long View Gallery was founded in 2000 by Andrew Haley and Suzanne Zylonis in the uber quaint town of Sperryville, Virginia (about 75 miles west of Washington). The gallery quickly attracted a loyal following amongst tourists and locals alike. In 2006, William Waybourn and Craig Spaulding joined with Haley and Zylonis to open an urban iteration of the Long View Gallery in the District, where many of the Sperryville gallery's patrons reside. Fortunately for us, they chose to open the gallery in the Shaw neighborhood.
The Long View Gallery has been extremely successful in its current home in the 1300 block of Ninth Street. The gallery has garnered critical acclaim for its fabulous shows, which generally feature figurative and contemporary works by notable regional artists. On-site custom framing began in 2007. Additionally, the gallery has hosted numerous private events – from independent film screenings to birthday parties to community meetings. It truly has been a premier business for the neighborhood.
When the lease came up for renewal this year, gallery director Drew Porterfield concluded that he had outgrown the current space and needed a change: he wanted room to offer a better framing experience for customers, additional wall space to display works by all artists the gallery represents (in addition to having space for featured monthly shows, which is all he has room for in the current space), and a more functional, larger and more dramatic space. He hoped to remain in Shaw, where the gallery had experienced much success and had developed a cherished following.
It is with GREAT excitement that I report that, after exploring many options, Long View Gallery signed a lease and is moving forward with plans to relocate to 1234 Ninth Street, NW, just a few doors down from its current location. 1234 Ninth is a currently unoccupied and rough-looking building owned by Douglas Development. Its potential is evident, however, as I discussed a few years ago.
In conjunction with Long View's move, 1234 Ninth will be renovated and divided into two retail spaces. The gallery will renovate and occupy the southern space (immediately adjacent to Wagtime) and Douglas Development will renovate the northern space to market for lease (as a restaurant, apparently!).
Construction on the new gallery space should begin shortly. Plans are still in draft form by the amazing young architect Will Couch, but include, among other things, a cool new signature treatment to 1234 Ninth’s façade (preliminary image pictured below), custom gallery lighting throughout, new HVAC, cool unique wall treatments that preserve the texture and look of the historic walls but allow for the display of art, renovated bathrooms, offices, and a dedicated custom framing area. The gallery's new space is about 5,000 square feet, or quadruple the size of its current location.
Having walked around 1234 Ninth, I must say that it is stunning: it features soaring ceilings with huge concrete beams, cool textured walls evidencing years of use, a large ramp separating the gallery's two large halls, and concrete floors. It's no surprise that the gallery recently employed a special events coordinator, Suzi Molak, to oversee the special events function of the gallery. Suzi is an experienced event planner, so brings a lot of expertise to the table and will be a great resource.
The gallery will remain in its existing place until the end of July and plans to occupy its new space in August with a grand opening celebration in September.
Long View's relocation is a major coup for the neighborhood -- we are retaining an awesome business that needs to expand and a notable vacant building is getting new life (with the gallery and, likely, a restaurant). Thanks to all who helped make this happen, including all associated with the gallery, Shaw Main Streets and Douglas Development. In particular, Shaw Main Streets Executive Director Alex Padro was instrumental in keeping the gallery on Ninth Street.
Congrats, Long View Gallery!