Washington Design Center Sells for $200 Million in Merchandise Mart Sell-Off

Photo by Author's Composite from Merchandise Mart and L.A. Mart
L.A. Mart, Washington Design Center (center) and Boston Design Center
L.A. Mart, Washington Design Center (center) and Boston Design Center

The Washington Design Center (WDC) has been sold. This, according to a July 5, 2012 press release from New York City based property owner Vornado Realty Trust.

Vornado announced the sale of 409 Third Street S.W. for $200 million which will result in net proceeds of $186 million and a net gain of $120 million. This office building, which is part of the Washington, D.C. segment is contiguous to the WDC and is being sold to the same purchaser. 

Both of these assets were acquired as part of the original Merchandise Mart Properties, Inc. (MMPI) acquisition in 1998 from the Kennedy Family.

Home to seven floors of luxury showrooms, WDC has been the premier one-stop shopping for area decorators, architects and design-savvy consumers just a few blocks from Capitol Hill.

The D.C properties are part of a larger Vornado sell-off that includes two other MMPI properties: the Boston Design Center, the L.A. Mart, and the Canadian Trade Shows.

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Sending shock waves through the DC design community there is speculation of a new location if the showrooms and various furniture and textile manufactors can agree. Will the new location be Maryland along the 270 corridor or Tyson's Corner Virginia. The rumors continue. Designers need to talk to their trade reps and keep a Design Center in the area. It could be gone completely in the digital age. I hope not.

Bonni and Milli

Interesting article, there is an opportunity for some of the showroom sales people to organize and perhaps offer some high end fabrics, trim,etc from home. This has been successfully orchestrated in New York
Of course, for quality goods there are the endless design resources in New York
Hopefully, they will find a new home in DC

Annie O'Connell

The comments are an example of how rumors get started. The article is correct, the building that houses the Design Center is under contract to sell with closing expected soon.
The showrooms in the Design Center are working together to find a space to house a new and improved Design Center. That's where we are now..in the process of looking for a new location. We have not yet looked at the 270 corridor or Tysons areas. The Design Center showrooms and our corporate sponsors are committed to maintaining a presence in the DC metro area. We value the partnerships that we have with our designers and look forward to continuing our work with them from our new location.

Linda H. Bassert

My understanding from some of the reps is that most of the showrooms have leases for another year or year and a half, and so the sale of the building does not mean immediate relocation of the showrooms. I won't miss trying to park amongst all those concrete columns... I'll look forward to hearing about their new location once it has been determined. In the meantime, we need to be patient and realize they will get a better price and negotiated package if potential locations are not shared with anyone for now.


If rumors occur it may because clear information is not shared with designers the customers in this case, by those who could post helpful updates . A press release , a letter to registered users, could have outlined the issues and the solutions that are under review.