Hours & Location




12:00 PM to 7:00 PM

THE FIRST FLOOR is a learning lab to foster conversations and partnerships that lead to responsive and viable commercial developments. Lack of community engagement leads to disjointed communities and short lived independent business ventures and greater social and economic disparity. It is vital to build a connection to the community in order to meet vital needs and establish longevity. THE FIRST FLOOR exists to initiate a space for connection, fostering a foundational relationship between the development and community. Our programming engages community members and other stakeholders in progressive conversation supporting a practical scale-to-market model and policy built on the quadruple bottom line of social, racial, economic and environmental equity.

THE FIRST FLOOR is housed at THE APOLLO ON H located at 600C H Street NE; home of the original Apollo theater, to which it pays homage. In partnership with developers, INSIGHT PROPERTY GROUP, the 2,400 square foot learning lab allows roundtable discussions, town halls, film screenings, live performance, book discussions celebrating the diversity of age, race, thought and experience of a diverse WASHINGTON D.C.

Our current retail concept of industrial era workwear amplifies the quotidian individual- the laborers, the workers, the activists- with works from photographers Steven M. Cummings’ “Gentrified Wood” and Tony Gyepi-Garbrah’s “Patriarch”. Our space features a photo booth, oral history station, vinyl station with over 800 vinyls, resource library of community organizing tools and ephemera as well as a water bar, our conservation space.

We are open to the public Thursday through Sunday from 12PM to 7PM with special hours observed for private events. Book our space at hi@combingcotton.co. Support Progressive Patronage by completing the survey and help shape your community values statement.

THE FIRST FLOOR is built upon these components:

  • inviting local community members and stakeholders into a curated, hybridized space that reflects the history, present and future of WASHINGTON D.C.;

  • facilitating discussions around spatial politics, community development, displacement, revitalization and gentrification from the global, the national, the local and the hyper-local;

  • surveying and documenting oral and visual histories;

  • co-creating sustainable communities rooted in social, racial and economic equity;

  • inform responsive commercial subsidy policy for independent businesses.

THE FIRST FLOOR thoughtfully explores the following themes and we welcome you to engage. Join our digital community at @atthefirstfloor #atthefirstfloor.

Com·mune Com·mons Com·mu·ni·ty

IDENTITY space ACCESS+NEED social dislocation

Ownership community values


possibility Equity Ac·cess URBAN PLANNING

Dis·placement Dis·possession Dis·parity



Development MEMORY / RECOVERY Revitalization

Preservation HOME(FOR WHOM) equity


Desirée Venn Frederic - Founder and Executive Director

Andre Sanchez Montoya - Human Centric Research Director

Taylor Hempstead - Partnerships and Community Relations Director

Sofia Maame Thompson - Public Relations

Gauri Sarin - Event Architect

Dorian Gray - Documentarian

Aja Neal - Patron Experience Expert

Kendahl Rose - Patron Experience Expert


Developer Partner   Insight Property Group

                   The Apollo on H

Gallery Steven M. Cummings

Tony Gyepi-Garbrah

Retail Gentlemen’s Brim Reclaimed

Ancestral Goods

Special Thanks To Trent Smith

Maury Stern

John Asadoorian

Charles Jean Pierre

William Hubig

Dr. Jocelyn Imani