After 84 years, a local DC florist is closing its doors, prompting action from community members who are sad to see the business go.
Johnson's Florist and Garden Center in Tenleytown announced on January 3rd that they will be closing their D.C. location on or before January 14. In a letter posted to their website, they wrote that the reason for closure is the “result of the significant increase in rent and other related fees of occupancy imposed upon us by the building's owner,” which they say they were unable to negotiate with their landlord.
On Sunday, community members called for the American University, which owns the building on Wisconsin Avenue, to save the florist, gathering in front of Johnson's Tenleytown location. They carried signs that said "AU save Johnson's" and "Burwell save Johnson's," referring to American University President Sylvia Burwell.
According to a statement put out Mary Alice Levine, a resident of Tenleytown, a committee has been formed to save the florist. The committee is calling for Sylvia Burwell to “reverse the increase in rent and other fees” that have allegedly caused the closure.
Protesters had previously gathered at the American University's Katzen Arts Center where Burwell was hosting an annual community town hall on January 4.
In response, American University released a statement on their website. According to Linda Argo, the Assistant VP of External Relations and Auxiliary services, the university tried to keep Johnson's as a tenant, but that they were “unable to balance [Johnson's] needs for space and building access with the needs of other tenants, such as medical facilities that receive supplies to treat children and expectant families.”
The statement also said that “DC consumer market” has made the viability of a garden center “difficult.”
On Sunday, the university released a second statement, acknowledging the protests, as well as saying they have offered to meet with a member of the committee. In their statement, the university said that Johnson's chose not to renew their lease despite “significant logistical and business concessions over several years” made by the university.
Johnson's Maryland locations will remain open. According to their website, their Kensington location will be delivering goods to DC-store serviced zip codes. They'll also be offering a 20% off discount at their Kensington and Olney locations.