What Will Become of Retail at Harvard and Sherman?

DSCN7935, originally uploaded by Prince of Petworth.

It was briefly mentioned in a comment yesterday that the Apex Gas Station has closed (perhaps permanently?) on the southwest corner of Harvard and Sherman. And of course we learned a couple months ago of the closing of the coffee shop, Coco libre (and before that Nani’s kafe) pictured above. So it got me wondering what type of retail do you think can be sustained at this intersection? I actually think it’s a great intersection as it is really close to all the development going on around 11th Street (not super close, but close enough). A reader was gchatting with me that she thought a Chipotle would be perfect in this spot! Now there is some foot traffic around here but it’s certainly not as dense as around 14th Street. Anyway, what type of retail do you think could work at this location? Do you think once 11th Street builds up a little more that the retail growth will naturally expand one block east?


25 Comment

  • I’m a pedestrian, cyclist, and driver near that intersection. As a driver, it is pretty difficult to pull over and park there. It’s also one way the wrong way on that side of the street. So I’d say that something for people who can walk there and don’t need to haul off large things would work well. Hated that gas station. I saw the construction but are we sure it’s closing?

  • This interection will look a lot nicer when Sherman Ave. is turned into a Parkway Federal Stimulus $$$ some time in the next year. Also, I heard today from the folks fixing the gas station that it will be a Chevron. I’ll miss the cheap gas!

    Regarding the old coffee shop, who knows. It would be cool to have something a little more utilitarian than another coffee shop or wine bar (or liquor store).

  • I think something practical like a dry cleaners or a drugstore would work.

  • Any store in that location will need to have some amazing, eyecatching signage and be something of a destination/niche place.

  • They’ve been doing a lot of work on that gas station since it’s closed down. It appears it’s going to remain a gas station.
    Regarding the former Coco Libre spot – it probably won’t be viable until all the work on Sherman is done in 2010 to make it more walkable.

  • Do we know that the work on Sherman Ave (tree-lined median, widened sidewalks, addition of bike land, etc.) will be done in 2010? Where’s your source on that? I had been emailing Jim Graham and representatives from DC govt office late last year, and I was hearing that it wasn’t going to be done until 2012. If it’s 2010, that’s great! But do you have a source to back that up???

  • I could never figure out when that coffee shop was open. A successful business needs to have consistent hours that fit the needs of its customers. I would love to see it become a dry cleaner if there is enough neighborhood traffic to support it.

    As for the Apex, it was obvious to us that they were struggling. Perhaps as a Chevron they will do better with consistently having gas, accepting credit cards, stocking a selection of merchandise beyond salty snacks and cigarettes and keeping up their appearance. I would pay a little more in gasoline to have all these things in the hood.

  • since i just bought on that block, i was hoping for a coffee shop that was sustainable. seems not to be in the stars. *sigh* drycleaners would be nice too

  • Good question! Maybe no retail can succeed there.

  • If it must remain a gas station, let’s hope the next one isn’t such a dumper.

  • I’d be interested in hearing about the plans for Sherman Avenue too… PoP, maybe you can dig up some info for us?

  • DDOT said in an email that they would use this year to finalize all the design & planing and then start construction in 2010. Also, on the “recovery.dc.gov site it is listed as ready for 2009 in the DDOT stimulus project list.


  • Aside from street improvements, the coco libre location needs to look more like a retail estaablishment. The entrance is way above eye level for a pedestrian or driver, and the tiny window on Sherman makes it look more residential than retail. Maybe an awning or something else that identifies it as a commercial property would be good too.

    If I hadn’t gone looking specifically for Coco libre to try it out, I would have walked right past.

  • Sherman Ave made it in to the DDOT stimulus plan, but it doesn’t mean it’s been approved for funding. There will be a community meeting soon (not scheduled yet) about the Sherman Ave plans. I urge all residents that live along Sherman and the adjacent streets to participate. Once the community meeting is announced, I will give PoP a heads-up.

  • That stretch of Sherman is a pretty ugly part of the neighnorhood. No trees, fast driving cars and very, very narrow sidewalks. I would imagine that most folks just want to walk past it and get to the greener stretches of 11th street or Georgia Ave. Until the median tree planting project is complete I would think that Sherman Ave. is a retail wasteland.

  • I still think a coffee shop is a very viable option in that space. It would most definitely need to get permits for outdoor seating b/c the existing set up is too small. I think the owners who operated Nani Cafe were trying to get them when they opened, but seem to have dropped the idea (can’t blame them for not wanting to deal with the ridiculous hoops DC gov. makes small businesses jump through).

  • Nani cafe was actually a profitable, at least surviving, business. They catered a lot to cab drivers and worker bees and made enough $ that way to stay in business. Cocoa Libre was an experiment that didn’t work for the block because it wasn’t providing a service that most people on that block or the surrounding block wanted or needed. Whatever goes in there would be well served by noticing the community it sits in.

  • Word around the playground is that the gas station has been purchased and is being completely redone. As a resident of the sherman ave/harvard st. intersection area, that gas station was a staple (when they actually had stuff on the shelves). I’ve been witness to many roommates getting their arizona iced tea-hot pocket-kit kat dinner there. Now what the hell are we supposed to do? I’d love to see that place turned into a gas station that’s worth a damn, ie has gas over 50% of the time, has RC cola stocked on the regular, doesn’t run out of the best cigarettes, doesn’t run out of reeses cups, and doesn’t run out of the good potato chips. as far as the old coco libre, i honestly think the spot has potential, but, for the love of fucking christ, keep some business hours that would enable area residents to actually go during the weekdays…read as DON’T BE CLOSED AT 630 on a weeknight!

  • PoP,
    Any idea what is going on next door to the building next door to the EatMore Fried Chicken Building by the GA metro?

  • Yes, PoP, please follow up on this project. We’re tired of Sherman being treated like an express-way or by-pass. This is our neighborhood.

  • Especially once the charter school at Sherman and Kenyon opens. With kids coming and going, the traffic is going to HAVE to SLOW DOWN.

  • I confess I usually fly up/down Sheridan. In deference to ye residents, I hereby declare I shall slow it down.

  • Thinking about renting the apt above Coco Libre’s former spot… Wishing it would stilll smell like coffee all the time! Is the area safe enough for an early morning jog (20-something female– and by early I mean 5:30 or 6 am)? Everyone I’ve met in the area was incredibly friendly, and I love that the building’s got some personality. Thanks for any thoughts!!

  • Anonymouse 5:35FM:
    My girlfriend and I have lived on nearby Gresham for almost 2 years, and we’re quite happy and comfortable there.
    The earliest I commute into frickin’ Virginia(!) is
    ~ 6:45AM and there’s very little activity at that hour.
    Aside from that, I’d just have to say that Sherman is presently not very walkable/jogable – go over to 11th.

  • to Anonymous: I also live in Gresham and I really like my neighbors. I just moved in about a month ago. Having lived and loved New York, except for midtown which could be excised, I am quite happy to have found a place with good community and free from loads of douchy, drunken suits everywhere.

Comments are closed.