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Wanna Popularise The Powerhouse?

April 9, 2012

The Powerhouse (Photo by: Judith Beermann) The Powerhouse

You know the building. Ivy up and down the red brick exterior, enormous arched windows, outdoor patio, tall white smokestack, down the steps from the rear of Dean & Deluca. It's The Powerhouse, an historic warehouse in Georgetown along the C&O Canal. Western Development Corporation had their offices there until about two months ago.

Now it’s empty though if you’re going to ReadysetDC this Thursday, you’ll have a chance to see the spectacular interior: 8,000 square feet of space on three floors.

Its owners, Daniel and Benjamin Miller, branched out on their own (from Western Development) in 2010 forming WestMill Capital to focus on retail-entertainment and mixed-use development in Washington,D.C. Buildings like this one gave them an idea.

Lustine Realty Co. on 14th Street ready to be 'Popularised' (Photo by: WestMill Capital) Lustine Realty Co. on 14th Street ready to be 'Popularised'

“Why is real estate so opaque?” Ben Miller asked rhetorically.  In the past, he explained, “The perception was that the community will fight you. But there’s been a paradigm shift." When they bought a building on H Street, they decided to open a dialogue about what to do with the space with … well, everyone.

Almost immediately they got over 2,000 ideas, many from existing business owners nearby. The third most popular idea was turn the place into a bagel shop. Turns out, a popular nearby pizzeria realized their 900 degree oven is much cooler in the mornings, the perfect temperature and time of day when it's available ... to make bagels!

Ben Miller inside The Powerhouse (Photo by: Judith Beermann) Ben Miller inside The Powerhouse

These community ideas are being collected through Popularise, “an online platform using crowdsourcing (outsourcing a task or problem to an undefined public) that shares power to build new places in neighborhoods with local residents.” It’s also a modern research and planning tool, “to get a lot of data, marketing presence, and good will.”

How often have you thought, "Why doesn't someone turn that vacant building down the street into a bakery, bar, or restaurant?" Ben is enthusiastic that through direct involvement, neighborhoods can be transformed by the people who live there, rather than waiting for someone to step in and do it.

Their vision? “Over time, we change what becomes possible by energizing the majority.”

Take a look at a series of photos of The Powerhouse by clicking on this photo below.

What do you think The Powerhouse should be?

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Bonhams and Beasley Celebrate Partnership at The George Town Club

April 5, 2012

Thursday evening, two powerhouses: a luxury boutique real estate firm and a world-renowned fine art and antiques auction house announced their official partnership at The George Town Club. Friends and devotees came together to celebrate over cocktails and hors d'œuvres.  

Sean Vann, D' Ann Long, Jonnie Jamison, Sarah Valerio (Photo by: Judith Beermann) Sean Vann, D' Ann Long, Jonnie Jamison, Sarah Valerio

“We're so pleased to have Bonhams as a resource for our clients,” said Jim Bell, founder and managing partner of Beasley Real Estate.  “Beasley is always looking for ways to better serve our clients.  It’s a natural development to connect our clients, some of the biggest art collectors in the city, with Bonhams services.”

Saul Levin and Mark Weber (Photo by: Judith Beermann) Saul Levin and Mark Weber

Bonhams, founded in 1793 in London, is one of the world's largest auctioneers of fine art and antiques. Now in Georgetown, the Washington, D.C. regional office is headed by Dr. Martin Gammon.

Martin Gammon explains significance of a map (Photo by: Judith Beermann) Martin Gammon explains significance of a map

“Bonhams is delighted to be linked to a real estate firm with such deep roots in the community,” said Gammon. “I look forward to working with Beasley clients and offering them our expertise and services as an international market leader.”

Map Men: Bonham's Tom Lamb with Don Kozusko, JC McElveen and Dennis Gurtz (Photo by: Judith Beermann) Map Men: Bonham's Tom Lamb with Don Kozusko, JC McElveen and Dennis Gurtz

Bonhams brought a rare collection of historic American maps and manuscripts from their upcoming New York Books & Manuscripts sale, “The Mapping and Discovery of America.”

John Carlin Ryan and Dominique Kostelac (Photo by: Judith Beermann) John Carlin Ryan and Dominique Kostelac

Detail of early American map (Photo by: Judith Beermann) Detail of early American map

“We’re very pleased to show some of these landmark books including the first book in which the word ‘America’ appears, and Columbus-era manuscripts. What a venerable place to show these historic documents.” Gammon, of course was referring to the historic club, where this rare collection looked quite at home amid the wood paneling and 19th century paintings.

Jim Bell and D' Ann Long (Photo by: Judith Beermann) Jim Bell and D' Ann Long

“It’s great timing, really with great ideas. Bonhams just opened and so has Beasley,” added D’ Ann Long of Beasley.

Richard Bernstein, Jim Bell and D' Ann Long (Photo by: Judith Beermann) Richard Bernstein, Jim Bell and D' Ann Long

The two companies recognize their unique connection. Traditionally, the greatest art collections are housed in the world’s most beautiful homes.  The partners explain, “Through our partnership, Beasley and Bonhams will link the two together in a way that is effortless to all our clients.”

Partners posing sans drinks (Photo by: Judith Beermann) Partners posing sans drinks

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Easy Rider

April 3, 2012

Like kisses and swimming in the ocean, you always remember how it felt the first time. Park it anywhere, kickstand down, dash off in flip-flops to play with friends, never worrying it would be there for the ride home.

Raleigh on M Street (Photo by: Judith Beermann) Raleigh on M Street

My trusty Raleigh (almost exactly like the one pictured here) even played a key role in my first sexual encounter.

When briefly dating a professional biker, I was inspired to get one with a bunch of speeds, and toe clips. Alas, after a childhood spent without them, on the first day out, I crashed into a brick wall and broke my arm. That bike spent most of its 15-year life safely cloistered in the basement.

After years of vowing to get back in the saddle, last spring I bought myself another one, with all the requisite gear, including helmet and two locks (Kryptonite and cable).

IF Mode Pacific (Photo by: pacific-cycles.com) IF Mode Pacific

Within three weeks, it was gone. Stolen from a locked garage, where it had been secured with both locks around a metal pole. Snatched along with five other bikes during a two week crime spree.

No one was hurt, and given the rash of neighborhood  assaults lately, that's the good news.

Unless you spent the winter on another continent, you know it's been bike weather since, well, last spring.  Nostalgia for the bike I hardly knew makes me yearn to recapture the joy and freedom I felt riding as a kid.

Beth Solomon in Georgeotwn (Photo by: Judith Beermann) Beth Solomon in Georgeotwn

This time, size really does matter. So, after much research, I've found the  coolest folding bike ever, equal parts living room sculpture and urban transport.

Awaiting its arrival, I avidly watch chic Georgetowners maneuvering through traffic, many on bright red ones thanks to Capital Bikeshare, gliding safely along newly paved bike lanes, cruising along Georgetown Waterfront Park, and hitting the Capital Crescent Trail.  Georgetown, you're a biker's paradise.

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