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Archive for the ‘Closings’ Category

By Randy Rieland

From the February 2015 edition of the Glover Park Gazette:

If you asked people in Glover Park what they’d like to see on the Wisconsin Avenue strip, it’s a good bet not many would say two drug stores.

But that’s what we’ll have soon when a new Rite Aid moves into 2251 Wisconsin Avenue, pretty much across the street from the CVS. For the past 10 years that space has been occupied by Glover Park Hardware. It closed in mid-January after it lost its lease.

The store’s owner, Gina Schaefer, said she found out in November that the landlord, Chesapeake Realty Partners, was not going to renew the lease and instead had chosen to rent the space to another business. That surprised Schaefer because she thought they had reached an agreement—although she says she did start to get suspicious when there was one delay after another in closing the deal.

Schaefer speculated that even though the Glover Park store was one of nine Ace Hardware franchise outlets she owns in DC and Baltimore, she lost out to a “nationally accredited tenant” because it would, in the eyes of the bank, bring more value to the property if Chesapeake Realty wants to sell the building. Chesapeake, based in Owings Mills, MD, is constructing an 82-unit apartment building in what used to be the parking lot behind the former hardware store and Washington Sports Club.

Glover Park ANC Commissioner Jackie Blumenthal confirmed that a Rite Aid will be going into the space. “Losing an Ace Hardware store is a big setback for the community,” she said. “Ace to Rite Aid is a terrible tradeoff.”

Blumenthal pointed out that as much as people in the neighborhood may want to see more independent businesses on Wisconsin Avenue, the relatively small Glover Park business community has very little leverage in influencing who outside property owners rent to. By contrast, she said, the much more robust business community in Georgetown is working together to try to slow the pace of national brands replacing independent businesses there.

“We have some really good businesspeople here,” Blumenthal added. “But you’d like to have a really dynamic business community. It’s adequate, but it’s getting less interesting.”

For her part, Schaefer wants to try to stay a part of it. She’s looking at another property elsewhere on Wisconsin but she didn’t want to reveal a location. As of this writing, no deal has been done. She regrets that she lost the space in the heart of the Glover Park business district. “It was a great store,” she said, noting that before it lost its parking lot to the apartment construction project, Glover Park Hardware ranked behind only her Tenleytown operation in terms of business.

Schaefer also said she’s been touched by the outpouring of support she’s heard from Glover Parkers. Someone actually wrote, “Can we lay down in the street for you?”

“It does make you feel good to know that the community was bummed about this because we definitely were bummed. We have absolutely loved this neighborhood.”

Schaefer said the store’s 24 employees will be shifted to her other hardware stores, including the ones in Tenleytown and Woodley Park.

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The owners of Glover Park Hardware (2251 Wisconsin Ave.) thought they had a deal to renew their lease, owner Gina Schaefer told the Georgetown Current. “The landlord decided at the last minute to lease to someone else. It felt like the worst part of business.”  The store, which opened in 2005, plans to close in mid-January.

Schafer said the shop is actively looking for a nearby location, and Advisory Neighborhood Commissioner Jackie Blumenthal told reporter Brady Holt that she was looking for ways to help make that happen. “This will be a terrible thing for the neighborhood if they go,” Blumenthal said.

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Glover Park Hardware (2251 Wisconsin Ave.) will close in mid-January because it was not able to come to terms with its landlord on a new lease. But the store’s owners are looking for another location nearby, assistant manager Olen Hopkins tells us: “They are trying diligently to keep us in this area, but it’s all still kind of up in the air.”

The hardware store negotiated its original lease with the building’s previous owner before opening in early 2005. But the complex was sold in 2013 and is now a joint venture of Altus Realty, Chesapeake Realty Partners and Ellisdale Construction. The three partners are building an apartment complex at the rear of the property, on what was formerly the hardware store’s parking lot.

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From the December 2014-January 2015 edition of the Glover Park Gazette:

Columbia Mirror & Glass of Georgetown (2212 Wisconsin Ave.) will close its Glover Park location by the end of this month after 34 years. A planned rent increase was the reason, according to an employee. The business has found a new home in Springfield, Virginia.

The storefront won’t remain empty, though. Next door neighbor Georgetown Carpet (2208 Wisconsin Ave.) will be expanding into the space, its manager tells us. Both buildings are owned by KBK Associates of Potomac, according to city property records.

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JP's eviction, shot by a citizen journalistWe hear that a U.S. Marshall is currently [on the morning of July 17] overseeing the eviction of JP’s Lounge (2412 Wisconsin Ave.). The strip club’s belongings span the sidewalk space from Z-Burger (2414 Wisconsin Ave.) down to Heads & Nails (2352 Wisconsin Ave.), an eyewitness reports.

The club had filed for bankruptcy protection on June 20, but Judge S. Martin Teel dismissed the case on July 2. JP’s corporate holding company, BJ Enterprises, had sought to represent itself in the suit, but that is not allowed in bankruptcy court. “It is well-established that corporate entities such as the debtor are not permitted to appear pro-se and must be represented and appear through counsel,” Teel’s order states.

JP’s shut down temporarily in early June, after the Office of Tax and Revenue placed a $654,077.87 lien on the business for back sales tax. Although that lien was almost certainly at least partly in error—since it included tax owed for several years when the club generated no sales—an OTR representative declined to confirm that the club’s tax debts had been paid in full.

Meanwhile, it seems the club’s landlord, a group of members of the Alafoginis family, had filed suit against the corporate owner of BJ Enterprises, The Vice Group, on January 27 of last year, according to landlord-tenant court records. A writ of restitution—basically, permission to evict the tenant—was approved by the court on May 13.

We have called representatives of the Vice Group and the Alafoginis family for details and will update when we hear back.

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Sushi Ko (2309 Wisconsin Ave.) is on the verge of resolving the tax issues that forced it to close in June, a city spokesman told the Georgetown Patch. “Once they finalize things with [the Office of Taxation and Revenue] and they can get a clean hands certificate from OTR, then we are good to issue them a new business license and they can start operations,” said Helder Gil of the Department of Consumer and Regulatory Affairs. Sushi-Ko owed the city more than $700,000 in back taxes.

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Jonah’s Treehouse (2121 Wisconsin Ave.) is scheduled to close at the end of April, according to an April 14 letter to clients from owner Vicki Gersten. The structured play center for tots was founded “when our son Jonah was three,” Gersten wrote to parents and friends. Now, with Jonah in middle school and his two younger siblings in elementary school, “I find myself immersed in kids’ activities and increasingly ready for the next phase of my career,” she wrote. Classes will continue through April 30, according to the letter. Gersten, who has accepted a job as assistant head of the Feynman School, a private elementary school in Bethesda, did not respond to a phone call requesting comment.

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