Georgetown Current

Glover Park Hardware Loses Its Longtime Lease

December 17, 2014

By Brady Holt
Current Staff Writer

Glover Park Hardware announced Monday that it must abruptly relocate from its longtime location at 2251 Wisconsin Ave. next month, having lost its lease for the property with no replacement site yet determined.

The store will begin clearance sales in the new year before shutting its doors on Jan. 15, owner Gina Schaefer told The Current yesterday. Schaefer said lease renewal negotiations broke off suddenly about a month ago. “We had a deal and the landlord decided at the last minute to lease to someone else,” she wrote in an email. The store has been in place in Glover Park since 2005.

“It felt like the worst part of business,” Schaefer added. “We like to think of ourselves as members of the community and a desirable tenant. We are easy to negotiate with. None of that worked in our favor this time.”

Chesapeake Realty Partners, the building’s owner, is in the midst of a redevelopment project to construct apartments behind the older building housing the hardware store and a Washington Sports Clubs gym. The company’s co-chairman and chief operating officer, Josh Fidler, had told The Current in January 2013 that the project wouldn’t affect the retail tenants. Fidler couldn’t be reached for comment yesterday.

Schaefer wrote that she hopes to reopen Glover Park Hardware in the same area soon, adding that “we have a couple of sites we are working on,” though she declined to identify them. “We cannot anticipate how long this might be but we will try to minimize as much as possible,” she wrote of the closure period.

Employees will be shifted to other Ace Hardware stores she owns, including locations in Tenleytown and Woodley Park, and she added that she hopes customers will follow them until a new location opens. “We can’t express enough how much the Glover Park community means to us,” wrote Schaefer.

Jackie Blumenthal, who represents the area on the Glover Park advisory neighborhood commission, said she’d heard about earlier difficulties in the lease negotiations but had thought they were resolved.

“I am reaching out to people right now to see if we can create some kind of pressure to keep Ace Hardware in the neighborhood,” she said. “This will be a terrible thing for the neighborhood if they go.”

Blumenthal said she is also worried about the availability of another suitable space for the hardware store in Glover Park. The former training facility for the International Union of Operating Engineers (Local 99) is available at the corner of Wisconsin Avenue and Calvert Street, but Blumenthal said it might be too big. “That’s the only space I can think of that would be possible at this point,” she said.

This article appears in the Dec. 17 issue of The Georgetown Current newspaper.

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Design Board Calls for Changes to Canal Dock

December 10, 2014

By Graham Vyse
Current Staff Writer

Preliminary plans for a new dock on the C&O Canal earned the enthusiastic support of the Georgetown advisory neighborhood commission last week, but the Old Georgetown Board has declined to take action on the project until its design is tweaked.

According to U.S. Commission of Fine Arts secretary Thomas Luebke, the board “expressed great support” at its Dec. 4 meeting for the idea of a dock for canoes and kayaks on the 34th Street bank of the canal.

The board’s main concern with the current design, however, is that there isn’t much space between stairs leading from the road to the dock and the dock’s edge along the water. Luebke described that 2-foot area as “too tight” a space to accommodate people coming in and out of the canal.

The dock would be constructed by the Georgetown Business Improvement District and the National Park Service. Maggie Downing of the business group told The Current that she and her colleagues appreciated this feedback from board members.

“We look forward to tweaking the plans,” she said. “We’re thrilled that they shared our enthusiasm for the project.”

At the neighborhood commission’s Dec. 1 meeting, Downing said the dock would be located just east of the pedestrian crossing on 34th Street and directly behind 3333 Water St. It would be handicapped-accessible and available to residents who own boats or rent from nearby boathouses such as Fletcher’s.

“I think the concept is terrific,” commission chair Ron Lewis said just moments before he and his colleagues voted unanimously to support the project. Commissioner Bill Starrels also praised the business improvement district for holding a series of community meetings to get feedback on the project from neighbors.

The business group originally proposed building the dock as part of its “Georgetown 2028” plan, which aims to enhance the neighborhood’s commercial district over the next 14 years. Earlier this year, group CEO Joe Sternlieb told The Current that canoeing and kayaking are currently permitted in the Georgetown section of the canal, but the water isn’t easily accessible. He said he and his colleagues hope that Fletcher’s Boathouse and Thompson Boat Center would allow customers to carry rental equipment to the canal when boating in the Potomac River is not advisable.

“Sometimes, it can be a beautiful day and the canal is peaceful, [but] the Potomac is rushing out after a storm,” Sternlieb said.

This article appears in Dec. 10 issue of The Georgetown Current newspaper.

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P Street Shops Get Special Makeover For Holidays

December 3, 2014

By Dylan Reffe
Current Correspondent

The 3200 block of P Street is brimming with reindeer after a makeover tied to Small Business Saturday. 

This stretch of Georgetown is one of five city blocks nationwide to be redecorated as part of American Express’ “Main Street Makeover” program. Five shops on P Street underwent the holiday treatment.

“I love this block,” said Sheila Bridges, the New York City-based interior designer American Express partnered with on the project. Bridges chose a reindeer theme to bring out the charm of the historic block.

“Everyone likes and supports each other,” the designer said of the local shops here. “It’s like a small community.”

Broadly, the makeover projects are an effort to highlight the importance of small businesses during the holiday season. “Big stores have Black Friday, online shopping has Cyber Monday, so Small Business Saturday is the ceremonial kickoff of the holiday shopping season for small businesses,” said Scott Krugman, a spokesperson for American Express.

On P Street, Bridges worked on decorations for Anthony’s Tuxedos & Wedding Creations, Ella-Rue, P Street Gallerie, Just Paper & Tea, and Little Birdies.

“Sheila did a great job,” said Alexa Johnson, a co-owner of Ella Rue. “We had an idea, and she ran with it. I especially like what she did with the mannequins.”

But Bridges wasn’t working alone this week. Elizabeth Kane, a George Washington University student getting her Master of Fine Arts, got the opportunity to “intern” with the interior designer for the week.

“I learned so much,” said Kane. “It was a long week, but it was great!”

Bridges’ designs in each storefront carefully represent the atmosphere of each store. Just Paper & Tea had many paper cutouts lining the windows, alongside paper drawings of reindeer. Both Ella-Rue and Anthony’s had fancier designs and a few formal reindeer, while the window outside Little Birdies was full of colorful wreaths and more playful-looking reindeer, including Rudolph.

“Sheila was so fun to work with,” said Shanlee Johnson, the owner of Little Birdies, a children’s clothing store and the newest small business on the block.

Johnson is a true P Street success story. “I used to work at Ella-Rue across the street,” said the shop owner. “I always wanted to open my own boutique, but corporate retail is so tough.”

Little Birdies has now been open for 10 months, without signs of slowing down.

“This street is so close-knit in terms of business,” Johnson said. “We send customers back and forth whenever possible. Ella-Rue has been instrumental in the success of this store.”

The P Street block was just one of several local stops this weekend for officials promoting Small Business Saturday.

“We started this morning with a breakfast at Baked and Wired,” said Miguel Ayala, the press secretary for the U.S. Small Business Administration. “After P Street we are going to Adams Morgan, and then headed off to Alexandria with Sen. Mark Warner, and then finally to Anacostia with [D.C. Del.] Eleanor Holmes Norton.”

Not only was #SmallBusinessSaturday trending on Twitter, but even President Barack Obama was out giving his support in D.C., visiting Politics and Prose and leaving with multiple bags stuffed with books.

This article appears in the Dec. 3 issue of The Georgetown Current newspaper.

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