DC Central Kitchen, the nation’s first community kitchen, will leave its shelter basement headquarters in Washington, D.C., for a new home at The Michael R. Klein Center for Jobs & Justice following a two-year campaign that raised $35 million.
The nonprofit has spent more than 30 years at 425 Second Street. The Michael R. Klein Center for Jobs & Justice is at 2121 First Street SW in the Buzzard Point neighborhood. The 36,000-square-foot facility comprises two floors, including a state-of-the-art production kitchen, quick-service café, culinary training facilities, and office space.
The lease is for 25 years with a five-year option.
“This space meets the specific and unique operational needs of DC Central Kitchen,” CEO Mike Curtin Jr. told Commercial Observer. “Operationally, we needed both significant back-of-house capacities like a large kitchen, ventilation systems and loading docks, and front-of-house elements like space for a social enterprise café, training classrooms and welcoming spaces for volunteers and prospective culinary students.”
Other positives include being near MetroRail, MetroBus and the new Frederick Douglass Memorial Bridge.
“This site allowed us, as a direct-service nonprofit and social enterprise, to anchor a major mixed-use development in a neighborhood that is both growing and has one of the city’s highest unemployment rates,” Curtin said. “It’s the ideal place to expand opportunity and model more inclusive urban development approaches.”
The building is owned by a small group of local real estate developers, including Herb Miller of Western Development, who has been a partner of DC Central Kitchen for a decade.
“Our city needs healthy food and good jobs more than ever before,” Curtain said. “As D.C. continues to recover from the economic and health impacts of the pandemic, our combination of skills training, job creation and innovative, sustainable approaches to bringing nutritious food where it is most needed will help more of our neighbors share in that rebound instead of being left behind.”
DC Kitchen Central’s campaign won support from private donors, notable foundations and a $5 million financing package developed in partnership with CAHEC New Markets, Chase and Reinvestment Fund.
“Disparities in employment, job security and access to food among residents in the D.C. area, which increased after COVID, create a strong need for a well-respected organization like DC Central Kitchen to provide their culinary job training program that helps fight hunger and feed the community,” Courtney Nolan, Chase Community Development Banking’s vice president, told CO.
DC Central Kitchen anticipates moving to its new space this fall.
Keith Loria can be reached at Kloria@commercialobserver.com