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New life for an old building. (Lydia DePillis)

In recent years, the art deco Manhattan Laundry building on Florida Avenue just east of 14th Street NW has been home to Meridian Public Charter school. Now, they’re moving into the old Harrison School a block away, so owner Douglas Development has found a new tenant, at least temporarily: A loose coalition of tech startups that will use the building as a home base for their creative endeavors.

I’ll be writing more about this in tomorrow’s column, but essentially, it’s been difficult for very small companies in D.C.’s newly energized startup scene to find shared office space; operations like New York City’s General Assembly just don’t exist here. So a few of them, led by Sponto founder Jamey Harvey, asked around to see if local developers had any empty buildings they weren’t using. Douglas, of course, has lots of those, and offered the Manhattan Laundry for three months, rent free (which seems a little odd, considering that they owe $21,470 in property taxes on the building, but who am I to impugn their generosity?).

The collective plans to charge some rent to startups that want to hang out there, in hopes of finding a way to hang on to the building long term. In the mean time, they need to settle on a name. “Art Techo” is in the lead at the moment.