March 12, 2011 in Washington Voices

La Belle Vie events center available for variety of gatherings

Juli Bergstrom-Wasson
 

A family with an entrepreneurial spirit and a large empty building debuted their latest venture in November called La Belle Vie, an event center that is available for a variety of gatherings including weddings, business retreats, reunions or birthdays.

“We had this building, and I asked my daughters what we could do with it,” said Jeannene Schoenleber, who along with her husband James, owns the 8,000-square-foot building along Appleway near Barker Road that once housed their former security company Argus Services. After coordinating her two daughters weddings – one with just three weeks to prepare – Schoenleber said she was confident in the idea of operating such a rental space.

Schoenleber and her two daughters, Amy Schoenleber and Alee Lents, organize the event schedule and maintain the building, which includes showing the property, opening and closing the space for renters, prep work and clean up. Renters are responsible for their own details with catering and obtaining any necessary event permits.

La Belle Vie is French for “a beautiful life,” and owners hope the name comes through in their efforts to create such a place to fill a need in the area and would have meaning for those wanting to celebrate and spend time inside. Schoenleber said business has been well received thus far and the calendar is getting full through summer and fall.

While owners are showcasing the center mostly for weddings and offer the entire building from 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. for such an event for $2,000, portions of the building are available for others who need less time and space during a weekday or nights or during the weekends when the building is not already booked.

Following the extensive remodeling that transitioned the two-story building from office space to gathering place, La Belle Vie is somewhat of a surprise from its exterior. The building’s smaller frontage to the main road doesn’t indicate how far it extends. The main doors open into a warm, well-lit large foyer with darkened wood floors and tin-looking tile ceilings. The main reception room is filled with natural light and can accommodate 300 people, while the foyer has been used for catering set up or smaller gatherings and meetings. An outdoor venue will be available later this year when landscaping and privacy fencing will be completed.

Schoenleber, who also owns websites under the Argus Searches company, is proud of her new center’s private dressing rooms upstairs for brides, the separate room on the main floor suitable for children’s play space, and a basement game room she calls the man cave, complete with pool and card tables.

“It’s been really fun,” Schoenleber says of the event center venture. “What’s nice about La Belle Vie is that it’s about 10 minutes from anywhere and we have a beautiful space where you can have a beautiful wedding indoors or a beautiful wedding outdoors.”

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