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Archive for May, 2013

The Mason Inn (2408 Wisconsin Ave.) is one step closer to serving alcohol on a new rooftop deck, after the bar hammered out a plan to address neighbors’ noise concerns. An Alcoholic Beverage Control Board hearing on the matter had been scheduled for this week, but it was postponed until June 19, to allow time for the various protesting groups to formally endorse the plan. Advisory Neighborhood Commission 3B, the Glover Park Citizens’ Association, ANC 3C (which serves Cathedral Heights), and a group of 19 near neighbors had each protested the Mason Inn’s application to open a rooftop “summer garden.”

According to ANC 3B Commissioner Brian Cohen, the settlement agreement stipulates that the roof deck will close at 11:30 p.m. Sunday through Wednesday and at midnight on Thursday through Saturday; will feature no music or speakers of any kind; and will be encircled by a wall as high as the roof line of the houses directly behind the bar on 37th St. The ABC Board has not yet approved the pact, but with all parties in agreement, it would be unlikely not to.

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Ken Archer, a contributor to the Greater Greater Washington blog, tweeted this afternoon that District Department of Transportation workers were striping a new through lane for traffic on Wisconsin Avenue between Calvert and Fulton streets, just north of the Glover Park commercial strip. “DDOT quietly adding thru lane back to Wisc in @gloverpark, where 2 peds hit per yr,” he wrote. The central lane had been converted to a painted median with dedicated left turn areas as part of last year’s contentious Glover Park streetscape project. DDOT officials said at the time that the old traffic patterns could be restored if the new ones proved problematic.

 

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The problematic X intersection at 37th and Tunlaw will be rebuilt into two T intersections starting May 28, according to the District Department of Transportation. The construction will take approximately four weeks, DDOT predicts.

Bus traffic through the intersection will continue during construction, but northbound traffic will be detoured for about two weeks, according to a letter delivered to households near the intersection. Preliminary design drawings for the job can be found here.

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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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The imminent reopening of JP’s Night Club (2412 Wisconsin Ave.) could herald a citywide increase in strip-club sleaze, reports the Washington Post. Plans for the club, recently rebuilt after a 2008 fire, include dance platforms in “private alcoves” that might invite incursions into the required three-foot distance between entertainers and patrons, critics say. “Washington has one of the cleanest strip club attitudes in the whole nation,” said a source identified by the Post as a “dismayed competitor.” “This is going to change the whole city. If they allow this to open, I assure you other clubs will follow suit. You don’t want Washington to become like Las Vegas.”

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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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Big news day on the Avenue: as reported by Advisory Neighborhood Commissioner Brian Cohen on Twitter, a Jimmy John’s Gourmet Sandwiches shop is coming to 2428 Wisconsin Ave., the former home of Custom TV Solutions. Stay tuned for details.

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