Retail Horse’s Ass Award Nominee – Bemmi Hardware

The retail space formerly home to Bemmi Hardware at 12th and Florida Ave, NW has been locked up for ages. While it would be awesome to get a hardware store back in business at this point I’d be happy to see anyone open. Or, hell, even convert it to an apartment/living space.

32 Comment

  • YES! I moved to this neighborhood about a year and a half ago, and on that first weekend I planned to stop by Florida Avenue Grill for breakfast and “that little hardware store” to pick up some move-in stuff. I was sorely disappointed that this had clearly been closed for a long time, and remain so. This place really needs a new tenant. Good call, PoP!

  • Dear PoP:

    You’re always admonishing commenters to refrain from personal attacks – and rightly so. But calling someone (or something) a horse’s ass isn’t exactly playing nice, either. You don’t always know the circumstances under which some building or another fell into disrepair, or those of the building’s owner, who may be experiencing personal or financial hardship. Shame on you for not practicing what you preach. You should find a new name for this dubious “award.”

    • orderedchaos

      While MsP may be a little oversensitive, I do agree that the RHA award should be reserved for more egregious violations. For example, I hope folks take photos of retailers who never shovel their sidewalks, nor put down salt — lazy, rude, and dangerous behavior like that could do with some public shaming!

    • There is always 1 person (maybe the same person) that writes basically this same thing. I think that person is probably against using the word “ass”.

      PoP, please do not stop posting these. You are right. There is no reason for this building to be just sitting there for so long. Who knows, maybe the person that owns this building will read this and see what an eye-sore it is for the neighborhood and do something about it.

      • I love the word ass, and use it and its many variations (asshole, ass muncher, pain in the ass, etc.) frequently and with great pleasure. I also love calling out people for irresponsible/illegal behavior and think it is the duty of concerned citizens to do so. I just don’t think name calling is the most productive way to get things done. Public shaming is a different matter entirely. That I am all for.

      • Agree with MsPinDC 100%. In fact, I made a similar comment a year ago or so. If we want to call a corporate land developer a horse’s ass for buying up prime land and then squatting, then I think the title fits. But, in the case of what looks to be an individually-owned property, I think we need to exercise less judgment and more discretion.

        To 13nearu: “You are right. There is no reason for this building to be just sitting there for so long.” There are lots of potential reasons for that to happen. Maybe the owner is underwater on their mortgage and battling cancer. We don’t (and can’t know), so don’t judge.

    • I agree that the H/A award seems skewed to small property owners, many of whom have little ability to get financing in this economy. I don’t know why the developers of fancy new condo buildings who leave their ground floor retail spaces vacant for 3 years never get a H/A award. Many of those developers got tax breaks, and then there’s no commercial activity to generate tax revenues.

      • I agree that condo developers with empty store fronts should get the ass award. I disagree that there should be more sympathy shown to individuals who let their properties sit vacant and blighted. These buildings negatively impact the community and are an assault on the neighborhood. The owners, many of whom bought many years ago, can sell (this ain’t Vegas or Florida) and walk away with several hundred thousand in profit – something most Americans will never see.

        • Agree 100%. That location and that property in particular would turn a very pretty profit for anyone who has owned it for more than 6-8 years. The issue is not money the issue is being a horses ass without any regard for the neighbors or the community.

          • There’s no way you can tell if they can turn a profit! You don’t know what they paid!

            The owners could be underwater. Maybe they took out loans against the property to send their kid to school, and the bank won’t negotiate a short sale. Maybe there’s joint ownership, or a divorce, or a lien holder passed away, even if they want to sell. And the legal process of finding clear title may be eating away at those profits. There could be a lot of different factors making it hard to sell.

        • you don’t know the financial situation of the owner, so don’t assume they can turn a profit.

    • +1. we have no idea what the circumstances are… perhaps the owner lives upstairs and for whatever reason, the hardware store is inoperable…. just because it looks a bit downtrodden doesn’t mean it should be up for grabs…

  • Has anyone looked to see whether it’s being taxed at the vacant rate?

  • I live around the corner from this store and I don’t remember it ever being open in the 4+ years I’ve lived here. Did anyone check to see if it is subject to the vacant property tax? It would be great if there was some financial incentive to get this into the hands of an owner who would make more productive use of the space. Having it operate as a hardware store again, or even some other useful neighborhood store, would be awesome.

  • This is a good one. It’s in an odd location, though. I’m not sure what could take its place. Bill’s Cleaners seems to be doing well in a similarly odd location, but clearly that removes the cleaners category. Gourmet sandwich shops seem to draw a steady crowd to off-the-wall places. See Sundevich.

  • It seems odd that a hardware store which clearly still contains inventory, would sit closed for years, if not decades. I did find a phone number, if anyone wants to try it: (202) 462-4252.

  • I’ve lived around the corner for a long time. This store has been open on and off again (very much off for the past 2 years). When they were open, they never had much and I’d always have to run to 17th Street (pre-Logan Hardware). They were open prior to the Home Depot as well because I remember running over there in hope of finding something while in the middle of a home project and they didn’t have it. They would open for like a year and be closed for a while – repeat cycle.

  • Typical DC dysfunction!

    The property at 2263 12TH ST NW is listed a residence and is getting a homestead deduction. The listed owner A WORKU has a Flordia Ave. address.

  • If I had to guess, I’d say that the store’s occupants are elderly, have owned the building for decades, and therefore have no real motivation for maintaining regular hours.

  • Thanks for this posting.

    We will be sending out a vacant property inspector tomorrow to the property to determine whether the property is entirely vacant. Under the D.C. vacant property tax law, the entire building must be vacant in order for it to be subject to either the Class 3 or Class 4 property tax rates.

    We encourage residents to let us know about vacant properties by emailing us at: [email protected]

    You can also see the most recent list of vacant properties here:

    Thanks and happy holidays!

    Helder Gil

    • Thanks. Appreciate the follow-up.

    • orderedchaos

      Thank you for posting this list! Of particular interest are the final 11 pages of “Blighted Properties”. In some cases the vacant properties are just awaiting sale — for example, there’s one on this list that sold a few months ago, and it was just vacant during the refurb. But the blighted ones are a different story entirely.

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