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2140WisconsinIn1985ByRobertStoessenFacebook user Robert Stoesen posted a 1989 photograph of Wisconsin Ave. to the “Old Time D.C.” public group. The onetime site of Murrell’s Television and Video Rentals, 2140 Wisconsin Ave., is now the location of the under-construction Elyasi Place Condominiums.

For comparison, here’s what the block looked like this morning:

2100 block Wisconsin, 6/27/2014

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Adapted from the May 2014 edition of the Glover Park Gazette:

Local 99 of the International Union of Operating Engineers may be moving to Largo, Maryland, if the group can find a buyer for its headquarters building at 2461 Wisconsin Ave., says business manager Michael R. Murphy. “If it’s not the right price, we’re not opposed to staying there,” Murphy says. The union already owns space in Largo, where it moved its evening training classes last September, he adds.

IUOE is soliciting bids for the 12,000-square-foot Glover Park space through the end of July. The building, of 1970s vintage, was formerly owned by Georgetown University for its dental school, according to Murphy. The Georgetown University School of Dentistry closed in 1990.

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Rendering of 2140 Wisconsin CondosFrom the May 2014 edition of the Glover Park Gazette:

The luxury condo building going up at 2140 Wisconsin Ave. now has a name: Elyasi Place Condominiums. The building is scheduled for completion in late summer. According to developer Zak Elyasi, asking prices for the six units will run from $400,000 for two ground-floor units to $1.1 million for two penthouse units with private rooftop decks. Above and below are architects’ renderings, courtesy of Zak Elyasi.

 

Interior, 2140 Wisconsin Ave

Penthouse deck, 2140 Wisconsin

 

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Earlier this month, the Board of Zoning Adjustment approved a variance that would allow a new apartment building to be constructed on Wisconsin Ave. with no dedicated parking spaces for tenants. While the plan does call for the construction of two parking spaces directly behind the building, the owners were still working on securing a legal right to access the spaces via an adjacent office parking lot.

The building, to be built on the long-vacant lot at 2140 Wisconsin Ave.—just south of W Pl.—would contain eight dwelling units. Advisory Neighborhood Commission 3B supported the developer’s application, and no one appeared at a July 9 BZA hearing to oppose it.

Though parking is painfully scarce in the area, lot owners AE Tower LLC and RE Opal LLC made a compelling case for the variance in a written statement to the board. The narrowness and location of the lot do not allow for underground parking, the statement notes, and a front curb cut would create only one or two spaces—plus potential traffic hassles as parkers backed onto busy Wisconsin Ave. The large parking lot at the rear of the building is reserved for the office complex from 7 a.m. to 6 p.m. weekdays, though apartment dwellers would be able to park there after hours. The property is adjacent to several bus lines and is a few blocks from a Capital Bikeshare station.

Adding apartments, even without parking, would be preferable to leaving the lot vacant, the statement argues: “The proposed project would convert a long-vacant ‘eyesore’ property to a vibrant residential use. The design will greatly improve the appearance and character of this block.”

A building permit application is under consideration by the Department of Consumer and Regulatory Affairs.

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Max’s Best Homemade Ice Cream (2416 Wisconsin Ave.) will remain open for the next few months, according to shop owner Max Keshani. “Yes, I’m here through summer time,” he tells us. Rumors of a lease extension deal have been flying for days, but lawyers for Keshani and landlords Gail and Barbara Bassin have so far declined to comment. (The two parties had previously announced that they would not comment during negotiations but would issue a joint statement on the end result.) Keshani confirmed to us that his lease had been extended, but he did not specify an end date; the rumor we heard was that the extension ends September 30. (Update: it ends October 31; see attorneys’ statement below.) Keshani says he hopes to negotiate a further extension after this one expires: “I’m working harder and harder to stay longer and longer.”

Keshani was formally notified in May that his lease would not be renewed when it expires June 30, and next-door neighbor John Snedden of Rocklands (2418 Wisconsin Ave.) soon announced that he would expand his barbecue shop into the vacated ice cream space. But Keshani, who believed he had been in the process of negotiating a lease extension, was shocked by his ouster, and friends and supporters rallied to his defense, urging the Bassins to reconsider and allow Max’s to remain. Some vilified Snedden, blaming his expansion plans for the end of Keshani’s lease. But the Bassins insisted that their decision to end Keshani’s lease had nothing to do with Snedden.

Snedden, for his part, says he has not received formal notification that his lease on the Max’s space will not begin on July 1, as agreed. But he has not brought in an architect to plan for the expansion, let alone applied for any building permits, he says. When the uproar over Max’s lease first erupted, Snedden told the Bassins he’d be willing to delay the start of his lease, and he has been operating on the assumption that they would take him up on the offer. In the meantime, Snedden says, he has been devoting his time to launching another project: the Right Proper Brewing Company, a Southern-themed brew pub at 624 T Street in Shaw, set to open this fall.

UPDATE: Shortly after midnight on June 28, attorneys for Keshani and the Bassins issued the following statement:

Max’s Best Ice Cream will continue in business at 2416 Wisconsin Avenue through October 31, 2013.  Max and Gail and Barbara Bassin, the owners of the property, have agreed that this represents a fair and reasonable outcome for all involved.  It gives Max and the community the benefit of having Max’s Best Ice Cream in Glover Park for the entire 2013 summer and part of the fall.  We are grateful to John Snedden and Rocklands Barbeque without whose active support this arrangement could not have been achieved.

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The attorney for Mahmood “Max” Keshani, owner of Max’s Best Homemade Ice Cream (2416 Wisconsin Ave.), says lease negotiations between Max and his landlords are ongoing, despite the landlords’ earlier decision not to renew Keshani’s lease when it expires on June 30. “Max and the landlord are in productive discussions and have agreed that there are not to be any statements issued to the press until the discussions have been concluded,” says the lawyer, who has asked that his name not be published. “At that time a joint statement will be issued by the parties.”

Previously, the attorney told us that Keshani had “no intention” of vacating the premises on June 30. He told the Georgetown Current, however, that Keshani might not have the heart to wage a long-term battle to hold onto the building indefinitely. “Max would like to stay in business long enough to pass it down to his [baby] grandson,” the attorney was quoted as saying. But given “how long that process would play out … [and] the stressors involved, it’s probably settling in a different way.” We’ve been told by someone not involved in the negotiations that the attorney hopes to extend Keshani’s lease through November 30.

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An attorney representing Mahmood “Max” Keshani, owner of Max’s Best Ice Cream (2416 Wisconsin Ave.), says the merchant plans to remain in his storefront shop past the June 30 expiration of his current lease. “I sent a [lease] proposal to [landlords Gail and Barbara] Bassins’ attorney yesterday afternoon,” says the lawyer, who answered our questions by email on the condition that his name not be published. “Max has no intention of vacating on (or before) June 30.” Keshani’s attorney says that he would have sent a proposal to the landlords sooner, but he wanted to give them “the courtesy of making the first offer, since they are in the unenviable position of having two tenants who both have legitimate claims to the same space.” The second tenant to which the attorney refers is Rocklands Barbeque (2418 Wisconsin Ave.), which has signed a lease to expand into the Max’s space.

When asked what legitimate claim Keshani will have to the storefront after his lease expires—given that the lease contains no option to renew—the attorney declined to outline his legal strategy, but said that Keshani had received two previous lease extensions even though there was no specific option to renew then, either. Further, he says, Keshani and his daughter, Neda, had been engaged in lease negotiations with the property management firm—something the firm’s president has denied. “Max and his daughter were verbally given the cost per month for the lease extension, accepted the cost, and were waiting for the documents to review and sign them,” the lawyer says. “They were in touch with the management company and were not told their lease would not be renewed until they received [written notice to quit] in early May.” As we have previously reported, Neda wrote a letter to the management company on April 26, one week before the written notice to quit was delivered, expressing the shop’s interest in renewing the lease and requesting a letter stating the monthly rent.

In a statement released yesterday through their attorney, the Bassins said that Keshani was informed last fall that his lease would not be renewed. “It is not clear why Max chose to think that the lease would be extended,” they said. The Bassins’ attorney could not be reached for comment on Keshani’s lease proposal.

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Today, landlords Gail and Barbara Bassin released a statement regarding their decision to terminate the lease of Max’s Best Homemade Ice Cream (2416 Wisconsin Ave.). In the statement, the two sisters express affection for Glover Park and small businesses in general, and confidence in their decision to lease the Max’s space to Rocklands (2418 Wisconsin Ave.) so that the barbecue restaurant can expand. Although they do not completely foreclose the possibility of allowing Max’s to remain through one last summer season, they say that they have yet to receive a definitive proposal from Max or his attorney on that.

Here is the entire statement:

As owners of the property at 2416 Wisconsin Avenue NW, which houses Max’s Best Ice Cream, we felt compelled to issue a public statement in light of recent media and community attention.  Some of this attention has unfairly resulted in casting Rockland’s Barbeque or our property management company in an unfavorable light, which we, as landlords, feel is grossly unfair, misinformed and unjustified.

We have recently heard from numerous community members, many of who have been friends and neighbors of ours for years, and we have listened carefully to both your support, and your concerns, about our decision to offer Rockland’s the opportunity to expand.

We do not take our property ownership responsibilities and community commitment lightly, especially as we have a long family history in Glover Park spanning several generations.  Our grandparents originally purchased the properties on Wisconsin Avenue, transferring them to our mother and she recently to us.  As our family’s connection to Glover Park spans several generations, we understand and appreciate the feeling of community among residents.  Our mother grew up in Glover Park on 37th Street, living upstairs from the small grocery store her parents owned.  She went to Stoddert Elementary School, Gordon Junior High, and Western High School.  Our uncle owned a deli that occupied the current Rocklands space. We understand and support small businesses, which have been a part of our family background for many years and continue to be part of our family.

As we approached the end of Max’s current  lease, we recognized that as new owners of the property we needed to look ahead as to the best long term use of the property.  We reached the decision some time ago to pursue other interested parties in the property.  Max’s lease was set to expire on June 30, 2013 and the lease did not contain a right to renew.

While considering the best use of the space in 2416 Wisconsin, we recognized that our family has always had a positive relationship with John Snedden, the founder and owner of Rocklands, and this Winter we approached Rocklands about leasing 2416 Wisconsin. For many years John had informally expressed to Ruth Bassin (our mother) his interest in expanding his space if the property next door were ever to become available.  We understand he made the same request to the owners of the property on the other side of Rockland’s as well.

Throughout all this, it is very important to note that while Rockland’s had expressed interest in this property for some time,  when we made the decision to seek a new long –term lease last year, we had no formal arrangement with Rockland’s at the time.   We did know of John’s interest from our mother, and we knew that local patrons have been asking for them to offer more seating since they first opened their doors.  We also knew John and his long standing dedicated staff as both excellent stewards of the property and committed members of our community.   Many of John’s employees have been with him since he first opened more than 20 years ago.

In offering John the lease we sought to support his efforts to improve the service that he provides to the Glover Park community.  We are saddened to hear that members of the community have taken upon themselves to be critical of and abusive to John over what is our decision to allow him to expand his business.

In October of 2011 Max had requested a lease extension and was told that Ruth Bassin was not interested in discussing an extension more than a year and a half before its expiration date.  Max again inquired about a lease extension in July of 2012.  In the Fall of 2012 Max was informed that we would not extend the lease.  It is not clear why  Max chose to think that the lease would be extended. In the beginning of May 2013 Max was given a written notice to vacate when his lease expires on June 30, 2013.

These properties are small spaces, and as the current owners we ultimately decided that it made sense to combine 2416 and 2418 Wisconsin into a single retail space that could support a larger restaurant under a new, long-term lease agreement.  As landlords and owners we feel comfortable with our decision to consolidate the two spaces and offer a friendly locally owned restaurant an environment where families and friends can come together in Glover Park twelve months of the year.

Some community members have suggested we honor a request to delay Max’s lease expiration for the summer period should Max need time to make plans for his business.  At this time, however, we have not received a definitive proposal from Max or his attorney regarding a short term extension.

Barbara Bassin
Gail Bassin
5/21/13

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After more than two weeks of silence in the face of a public uproar over the end of the lease at Max’s Best Homemade Ice Cream (2416 Wisconsin Ave.), landlords Gail and Barbara Bassin plan to release a statement on the matter by this time tomorrow, their attorney tells Washingtonian. 

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From the May 2013 edition of the Glover Park Gazette:

The vacant condominium units at 2136 Wisconsin Ave.,
which in 2009 housed an unlicensed party facility known as Wisconsin
Overlook and The Vixen, are being marketed as office rental units,
according to an online listing. The price per square foot per year is
$34.50, and each floor is advertised at 1,900 square feet. At press time,
all five floors were listed as available.

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