Want to Start a Business on 11th Street in Columbia Heights?

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Thanks to a reader for sending this Craigslist ad for 3313 11th Street, NW:

NEWLY AVAILABLE for the right Business Concept —

850+ sq. ft storefront commercial space with 11 ft ceilings now available for rent on the super strip of 11th Street in Columbia Heights!

Bring your business to this great contemporary corridor, and nestle along side RedRocks Pizza, Wonderland, Room 11 Wine Bar, & Columbia Heights Coffee !!

Great location for restaurant / food service / bar / specialized retail featuring a huge storefront window.

$3000/month — rent will be triple net (taxes, insurance, common expenses).

Space currently includes an 8’x8′ walk-in cooler.

I’ve always wondered how much rent was for these places. So a few questions – is the rent really $9,000 a month after taxes etc? Do you think this space is big enough for a restaurant? How much do you think it would cost to fix up the space?

66 Comment

  • Dear interested business owners: Please, please, please open a real bakery here. Bake bread. Good bread. Rolls, croissants. Stick a fan into the front facade, and blow the fresh baked bread smell out into the neighborhood. Do this and you will be loved by everyone.

  • The rent would not be $9000, just $3000 plus those additional expenses. From wikipedia:

    Triple net lease
    A triple net lease (Net-Net-Net or NNN) is a lease agreement on a property where the tenant or lessee agrees to pay all real estate taxes, building insurance, and maintenance (the three ‘Nets’) on the property in addition to any normal fees that are expected under the agreement (rent, etc.). In such a lease, the tenant or lessee is responsible for all costs associated with the repair and maintenance of any common area.

  • Triple net does not me 3 x the rent it means you pay for your own taxes, maintenance, etc. So consider 3,000 plus your trash pickup, insurance, utilities, cleaners, etc. Probably more like 4,000- 4,500. And you can negotiate them to help with painting, signage, etc.

  • Craft store!

    There was a commenter here who had a plan to open a craft store in CH… any updates?

  • Super strip of 11th? I need to check that out.

  • Not a craft store but a knitting and crochet wool shop with a little bit of needlepoint.

  • How the heck could a craft store stay in business paying close to $4500 a month rent?

    I would really, really like to open a business in Petworth/CH but, seriously, I cannot wrap my head around paying that kind of rent and making any money. With the possible exception of a bar, which I don’t want to do.

  • How the heck can any kind of craft store or retail stay in business paying $4500 a month rent.

    I really, really would like to open store in Petworth/CH but I cannot wrap my head around how you would make any money paying that much rent. With the exception of a bar, which I don’t want to do.

  • random note re: wikipedia – as much as people use this site for information it is NOT a trusted source and often has false information since data can eaisly be changed by any user.

  • @new hampy while it’s true that anyone can change it, studies have repeatedly found that Wikipedia is at least as accurate as “verified” information sources such as actual encylopedias. The chances of an article about an extremely common piece of information such as this being inaccurate are extremely low because of the number of people likely to review it on a regular basis. Therefore, citing wikipedia as a reference is considered as legitimate as any generally available source.

    As for the posting itself… here we go again, craft store! bakery! balloon stand! ummm… refer to reality.

    $ in – $ out = profit. The reason these places don’t exist, and existing ones frequently close as rents rise in highly sought after commercial areas, is because there’s not enough demand to make the money required to have such a business in a very desirable location. We’d all love to be able to buy beads and craft supplies at a little kitchy store down the street, but you can’t make a living on a few people a day spending $10, nor could a little craft store possibly stock the variety of products that people will want.

    That’s why this kind of business has largely shifted to big-box (Michael’s) and online. It’s just the way it is, you can’t argue with basic economic realities.

  • Solution: craft store with a liquor license.

    Imagine sitting down to do macrame, needlepoint, and decoupage with a couple of nice lagers and getting quietly smashed. That’s a good day.

  • @monkeyrotica: finally some creative thinking, amen to that!

    It could be called “crocked crochet” or “the yarn bar,” and should satisfy both hippie and hipster alike.

  • Drunk women with needles and sharp objects. Liability insurance on that sort of place will be astronomical.

  • Similar to the discussion in the 14th and U Streets development thread, the rents are so high in this city as to only attract alcohol selling establishments. $3000 a month plus triple net in an 850 sq foot space that needs to be built out? Are you crazy? This place either stays vacant for a long while or gets a hole in the wall bar.

  • Arby’s!

  • Doing the math. This property was bought in 2007 for $399k. That means a mortgage of (assume 6% apr, 20% down) of ~1,950/mo, netting the owner ~1k/mo profit. Taxes are ~4400/yr or $366/mo.

    From the pictures, it’s a gut job, and w/ the terms I’m guessing the owner will make no improvements. Wow, $47.50/sqft from this commercial slumlord is why you won’t see this occupies anytime soon. To compare, that’s georgetown rates.


  • alt-strip club!!!! Stone beers…crab cakes…sliders…hummus…vegan gyoza…NO WIFI

  • craft store with strippers!

    it reeks of win!

  • I don’t even think that triple net would be as much as $1500 a month. I would bet the total rent would be $3600 – $4100. I am quite sure that the owner would assist with the build out. AND, the last owner did purchase for $399 but it has since changed hands.

    Yes, a restaurant could fit in that space, I know from experience. Wouldn’t a late night open eatery, post bar place be nice? A small diner, something? I would love that in our hood.

  • Doesn’t it seem like if you’re going to rent a place for almost twice the mortgage AND you have to pay utilities, maintenance, taxes and everything else that you might as well just freaking buy the place? You deserve the equity at that point, not the landlord!

  • How about a Gun store

  • hmmm if it changed hands, dc doesn’t know that. Last sale was 4/27/07 for 399. Currently assessed at 285, ouch

  • Interesting article on WBJ today points to a report about how DC is the worst place in the country to do business due to taxes and regulation, see:


    DC is ranked 51. While perhaps the report should be taken with a grain of salt it can’t be good that we’re literally 51. Sure does explain the thousands of boarded up storefronts all over most wards.

  • Megan, you have discovered how the real estate business works. Now what will you do with this knowledge?

    Frankly I think the rent is off by $500 OR else the landlord pays for the build-out. There is no middle ground.

  • hmmm first line in the bti report..

    “Taxes shift resources away from the private sector, distort economic activity, and restrain
    economic growth. Without a doubt, taxes hit the bottom lines of entrepreneurs, investors and
    small businesses.”

    guess it may be biased

  • DC worst place to open a business stat. I wonder if they compared DC to other CITIES and not states, would it still be 51st? C’mon, if you’ve lived here for more than 5 minutes, you should know everyone of these studies is always skewed because they compare states with rural, suburban and urban areas to DC which is only urban.

  • Were it not for the thousands of boarded up store fronts all over the city I too would scoff at the report. Sure, there are other dynamics at play, but to want business is not enough, you often need to compete for business against your neighbors, eh?

  • I always liked the idea of a Nail Bar – pedis and martinis.

  • I second the idea of a diner. A proper cheap greasy spoon. No liquor license necessary. mmmmmmm

  • Gun store and bar. Call it “Blunerbar”.

  • I meant “Blunderbar”.

  • ColHeights1 is right, that business environment comparison is complete crap because DC is an inner city and the rest of the states are not.

    Also the fact that the report includes the word “death tax” as a category, which just screams bias.

  • Those who say that DC isn’t the worst place for small businesses haven’t been through the process. Try it, and you’ll see what it’s like to waste tens of thousands of dollars due to city delays and incompetence while they offer no financial assistance or incentives.

  • OMG a craft store w/ a liquor license would be amazing.

    My vote for the name: Knitfaced.

  • Quincy St Neighbor

    Looking at the cityfeet.com link that Anonymous sent, the rent/sq ft. rate is on par with rent for similarly sized commercial spaces in Mt Pleasant, Adams Morgan, the U St area. I would not consider the rent to be outrageous or way-out-there for this 11th Street spot.

    If we do the math, the rent would not be a deal breaker for a restaurant/bar venue. Say such a venue can clear $300-$500 net/night from a low end average of 10 sales per business day. The $3000 base rent would comprise 25%-42% of the establishment’s net revenue. As budgets go, that’s a range a business can sustainably handle.

    Do you know how much the rent goes for the dinky, shabby corner markets dotting Georgia Avenue??? $4500-$6000/month!!!! No joke! I’ve actually asked
    the proprietors.

    NEWS FLASH for the commercial real estate n00bs: commercial tenants pay for the construction build outs, so every commercial venue you see popping up in Col Hgts and along the bleeding edges of gentrification has had the tenant businesses foot the construction bill. That’s how it’s done, folks.

  • Someone’s on to something with the nail salon with a liquor liscence idea. Throw in some high-priced chocolates with the acetone and alchohol and you’re rollin’! Only problem is DCRA would have a embolism at the mere thought of such a thing.

  • quincy st: that’s all well and good if all you want is liquor stores, carry outs, CVS’s and bars. If you want more variety in your retail, the developers and landlords need to be a lot less greedy.

  • Death taxes are very common, hence the entire industry of estate planning. Basically, if you die without a will, or do not smartly transfer your money, many jurisdictions will take 50% or more of your money. Why? Because dead men file no grievances.

  • craft store/custom gunsmith with a liquor license

  • “03 December 2009 1:48 PM | Pennywise Said:

    Death taxes are very common, hence the entire industry of estate planning. Basically, if you die without a will, or do not smartly transfer your money, many jurisdictions will take 50% or more of your money. Why? Because dead men file no grievances.”
    Actually, because you’re dead, so it’s not your money anymore. It transfers to your heir(s), which makes it, you know, income…and since they didn’t actually earn it, it gets taxed at a high rate. Of course, the first few million are tax free, so, you know, there’s that to console the bereaved.

    Having said that, “Knitfaced” is a brilliant name. Maybe we could pull a combination Pizza Hut and Taco Bell thing with Junkpunchers coffee and make it a “Knitfaced Junkpunchers”.

  • Screw this place, we’ve tried to contact to the owners on multiple occassions, even left flyers on the building to inquire about renting it. The city doesn’t know who owns it, eitehr does the last realtor to handle the sale. I hope it stays empty and they continue to lose money. Or better yet, amke it into a dojo for karate.

  • I was talking to the guy who owned this (I think!) and he said he thought about putting in a DIY dog washing business there. I think that would do fairly well in the neighborhood as many people walk dogs there, but at that rent price I don’t know if one could make money doing that.

  • @ Anon 12:09-

    YES! Myself and several other residents have longed for the satisfying taste of a Beef ‘N Chedder here in DC for quite some time.

    I realize there are those who feel that Arby’s just isn’t good enough for their neighborhood, that perhaps we need another coffee shop, bar, or craft shop (I do like the alt-strip club idea though). Well, I can’t live the button-down life like you. I want it all: the terrifying lows, the dizzying highs, the dripping au jus. Sure, I might offend a few of the hipsters with my cocky stride and musky odors — oh, I’ll never be the darling of the so-called “CoHi Fathers” who cluck their tongues, stroke their beards, and talk about “What’s to be done about this Arby’s?”

  • This is a good post.

    Most everyone can better understand the stark realities of real world private sector survival if you’re a commercial tenant, and the real burden of real estate ownership for the landlord.

    Unless of course you think anyone just trying to make a living is greedy like the cheap comment at 1:47 PM above.

    The landlord has carried this property vacant since 2007. Is trying to make a $1,000 a month net profit on a $399,000 investment greedy ?

    Get real.

    Perhaps those in the comfortable no-personal-risk public sector can have a better appreciation on how non-food and beverage establishments struggle just to survive in our modern culture in the age of on-line commerce.

    I’ve seen this sad decline in my neighborhood over the last 30 years due to this excessive on-line culture (of which I’m participating in now) and excessive commercial real property taxation rates which are twice the residential rate in this city.

    Walk down the street, patronize and support the local urban non-food and beverage merchants in your neighborhood before you buy on-line. Each local purchase makes a difference.

  • This is a good post.

    Most everyone can better appreciate the stark realities for real world private sector survival if you’re a commercial tenant, and the real cost of real estate ownership for the landlord.

    Unless of course you think anyone just trying to make a living is greedy like the cheap comment at 1:47 PM above by voiceofreason.

    The landlord has carried this property vacant since 2007. Is trying to make a $1,000 a month net profit on a $399,000 investment greedy ?

    Get real.

    Perhaps those in the comfortable no-personal-risk public sector can have a glimpse and a better appreciation on how non-food and beverage establishments struggle just to survive in our modern day culture in the age of on-line commerce.

    I’ve seen this sad decline in my neighborhood over the last 30 years due to the excessive on-line culture (of which I’m participating in now) and excessive commercial real property taxation rates that are double the homeowner residential rate in this city.

    Walk down the street, patronize, and support the local urban non-food and beverage merchants in your neighborhood before you buy on-line. Each freedom of choice purchase makes a difference.

  • Craft Store/Strip Club? All of the G-Strings and tassles could be crocheted! It could be called “Pins and Nipples” or “Nips and Needles” not sure which works better. . .

  • I think that place is next to a place that purports to be some sort of gun shop. There is a sign on the premises advertising gun licenses.
    It will be interesting to see if any of the proponents of “local retail” put their money where their ideas are and open up one of the specialty shops whose absence from the neighborhood they regularly note. My prediction is that it will be turned into some sort of lounge/bar.

  • Can we please get an Arby’s? ARRRGGHHHHHHH!!!! BEEEEEEEES!!!!

  • the price is reasonable, even with the buildout being necessary. If you think it is high, you probably aren’t renting retail space in the city.

  • I happily participate in the online culture and shop in the suburbs whenever I need to. DC business culture was always characterized by, “Northern hospitality and southern efficiency” -JFK. Not that it’s unique to DC, Boston has the same problem. But when you have options, why be a martyr?

  • I suspect those understating the impact of the estate tax and taxes in general have never run a business, let alone a profitable one, and especially one in DC. I would also guess, these are the same people that complain about franchises, chain’s, and lack of “local” businesses.

    To EdtheRed – if you inherent your family owned restaurant (and the land building that houses it), are you inheriting income or are you inheriting the opportunity to earn income? The idea that only uber-wealthy people pay estate tax is absurd, in fact most have enough money to pay tax attorney’s to avoid it. It’s the families that have owned farm’s and/or businesses(land included) that don’t have boat loads of cash to pay the estate taxes and have to end up selling their real estate to afford the estate taxes. They may lease-back the property, but 15 yrs later, the landlord ups the rent more than the family can afford, and bye-bye family owned business.

    Estate tax in DC is assessed on assets in excess of $1M, you own your house (that you’ve lived in for 30 yrs) and your commercial property (owned for 30 yrs), you’ve made $50-60k a year running your restaurant, you are probably paying DC estate tax (not factoring marital status, whether spouse is deceased, or other assets, and zero estate planning).

  • Note – assumption for 3rd paragraph your home and business aren’t currently in dangerous, depressed, and dodgey parts of the city…

  • Ragged Dog:

    Are you being a martyr ordering an arrangement of flowers from the flower shop around the corner when a friend or relative just passed away instead of ordering FTD on-line or 800-flowers ? They will do fine without your business.

    Are you being a martyr ordering a book from the local bookstore instead of on Amazon or Barnes and Noble on-line ? They will do fine without your business.

    Just try being a good neighbor instead, and think local before you buy non-food and beverage. Then maybe we’ll have better and stronger neighborhoods.

  • Good transit access + not in an area of heavy investment by the city + no tourists = methadone clinic!

  • Commercial real estate person here. The rent is ludicrous. The problem with these older buildings/smaller spaces is that they are owned by landlords who won’t/can’t foot the bill for tenant improvements. $42/sf is the type of rent that is reasonable for DCUSA to ask, and that’s with the landlord contributing a negotiated amount of money (probably $20 to $40/sf depending on how much they want the tenant) toward the buildout of the space. That money—funded by the landlord, is called a tenant improvement allowance. What is happening in the MtP/Columbia Heights market is that the owners of these little buildings hear the types of rents being quoted for DCUSA space and think they should get the same, even if they are unwilling to help contribute toward the buildout. Consequently, we see a lot of vacancies. Of course, eventually the next bigger fool theory occasionally rears its head and some would-be entrepreneur will take a flyer on the space on the overly optimistic assumption that their brilliant idea will overcome the overreaching rents. They will likely fail.

    If you want to start a retail business and are willing to pay $42/sf even if you get no tenant improvement allowance from the landlord, then you should go to Georgetown or towards Logan Circle—where your odds of creating a successful business that can sustain that rent are much higher.

    The owners of this building would be better off asking a realistic rent and getting a tenant in there faster to help them cover the mortgage. Do a five year lease so you don’t lock up the space too cheaply, and then renegotiate in five years when the market has improved and hopefully you have a tenant who has grown their business and can pay a higher rent at renewal.

  • For our friend crying about “death taxes,” according to a 2005 study by the CBO, fewer than 2 percent of all estates have had to pay estate taxes. Wealthy people who try to make this a middle-class, small business owner issue are not being very honest.

  • Col Heights 1:

    You are misinformed. Have you ever had to make a payroll ?

    Not only are they being honest, but they’re being practical and realistic.

    That two percent is where real jobs comes from.

    Sustainable private sector jobs that provide a slew of tax revenues.

  • Yes, I have had to make payroll, just because I don’t agree with you doesn’t mean that I don’t know what I am talking about. The CBO, is the Congressional Budget Office and they looked at the IRS tax returns. If you would like more facts, check out this from factcheck.org (a non-partisan organization.) Only 440 Estates in the ENTIRE US whose primary income were from small business or farms were subject to the estate tax. Hard to believe that 440 estates would create the REAL jobs.

    Full quote:
    The Tax Policy Center projects that roughly 440 taxable estates were primarily made up of farm and business assets in 2004. And even considering estates for which farming or business was a sideline, the Center found only 7,090 taxable estates for 2004 that included any farm or business income. That’s still just 38 percent of all taxable estates. The fact is that repealing the estate tax entirely, as the ad advocates, would benefit mostly non-farmers and non-business-owners.

  • Also, Bill Gates, Warren Buffet, David Rockefeller, Sr. all folks who have created plenty of jobs and met plenty of payrolls in their days support the Estate Tax.

  • DIY euthanasia boutique for the yuppies.

  • Col Heights 1 – yeah they support the estate tax, yet they donate the majority of their assets to their “charitable foundations” to escape it. Citing uber-wealthy people that support the estate tax doesn’t mean they are paying an estate tax or are going to pay an estate tax. You clearly haven’t inherited a family business, had you, you would understand the tax burden that many inherit with their family business. So 38% of taxable estates include farm/business income… do you need it to be greater than 50% to declare it an issue.

    Tell me about your business.

  • Estate inheritance taxes put family businesses out of business.

    They take the jobs with them to satisfy Washington collectivists that relish in confiscating and who always no better what to do with other people’s property and assets because they “have too much” when what they’re really doing only further diminishes a private sector in serious decline and the loss of more private sector jobs without which the public sector could not exist.

    Think about how much capital investment it takes to provide and fund one single salary of $50K plus labor burden. Twenty such employees is a million dollar payroll plus labor burden. What type of private recurring revenue does it take to sustain that payroll. But because some collectivist central planners in this town who think they know better how to run somebody else’s private business in a far away state they should be able to call an end to it because somebody passes away. Then always sight statistics and other social and economic justice malarkey to justify the taking.

    Because celebrity billionaires approve of a confiscatory policy doesn’t make it right.

  • I could give a fuck about the injustice of the death tax. Has anyone here ever met a person who wasn’t hobbled by their trust fund?

  • I have found the e-mail exchange regarding retail space in Washington, DC to be very interesting. After spending several years searching for a retail, studio or office space in DC for my wedding/staging business, I asked a friend who lives in the Petworth area if she is familiar with any retail or office space I could use for this purpose. She referred me to “Prince of Petworth” as a source. I was born and raised in DC. Lived in Arlington, VA for 15 years and moved to Petworth 4-years ago. I had a store and studio space for 9 years Arlington and believe me I did not pay close to the rent requested for spaces in DC – please don’t tell me to move back to Arlington. I am so happy I made the decision to move back to DC, absolutely love living in Petworth and would appreciate your assistance with locating a space in Petworth. Condition of many of the properties in DC are in very bad shape. Tenant is expected to do buildout, pay base rent and triple net. I truly understand now why bars, carryouts, fast foods and liquor stores are the only establishments that survive in DC – I think we deserve better. I do not understand how the small boutiques on U Street survive. I do not know about you, but I am disappointed that we (or those who are interested – and it appears that many of you are not) in craft, bead, knitting shops have to leave our area to purchase these items. There are so many empty and boarded up spaces. Everyone wants to make a living and make a profit, but the rates I have been quoted and the condition of the properties I have seen is absolute highway robbery. Thank you in advance for your sincere responses – and encouragement.

  • the empty store fronts over here in bloomingdale/eckington/ truxton want to charge outrageous rents too.

    i hate saying this because i love this town, but starting a business in dc sucks. how can we get our town up to speed? are there any politicians that will help out in this type of reform? who?
    it’s no wonder so many establishments operate illegally.

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