Oh No! Plan to Rebuild Frager’s Hardware Scuttled

11th and Pennsylvania Ave, SE June 5th 2013

Back in Sept. 2014 we learned the plans to rebuild Frager’s Hardware after it was gutted by fire (read the full press release here.) Washington Business Journal now reports:

“A touted partnership between Roadside Development and Frager’s Hardware to rebuild the fire-ravaged Capitol Hill retailer, while adding a residential component to the project, has fallen apart.”

38 Comment

  • NOOOOOOOO!!!!!

  • My understanding is that the owner simply wanted to cash out (by selling the land), as oppose to undertaking a major investment to rebuild himself/with a partner. This way he gets immediate ROI as opposed to potentially not seeing the full return in his lifetime.

  • justinbc

    Well that sucks. At least there will be a Lowe’s not too far soon.

  • 🙁 🙁 🙁

  • So does this mean they’re keeping the hardware store open on E St? I hop so, because it would suck not having a hardware store on the Hill.

  • I was afraid this was going to happen when they announced the plans to rebuild. Everybody can get caught up in the emotional “Rebuild the neighborhood landmark!” hype, but in this day and age putting the work in to basically start an independent hardware store from scratch is a huge financial risk. I’m sure that dawned on the owners eventually.

    • They wouldn’t be starting from scratch though. They have existing clientele and have kept the business open, only in three different locations.

    • Not to mention, hardware stores are not the most profitable businesses in a high-rent area like DC.

      • What do you base this on? Are hardware stores less profitable than other businesses?

        • Compared to places that sell overpriced booze to people with lots of disposable income? Yes.
          Hardware stores need a very large footprint to be useful. The margins must be below 10%, considering they are competing with big box stores and the internet.

          • There seem to be quite a few other hardware stores across the city that have opened in the past decade or so that have made a go at it.

          • Not in one of the most expensive residential areas of the city (though I guess Ace on 14th bucked that trend…..but it’s also an extremely busy cooridor).
            Frager’s knows it’s fighting a losing battle…..just ask book stores how they’re doing. Go out with the payday, IMHO.

  • What a terrible shame. Hopefully they can still figure out a way to do it. Otherwise… thank goodness for WS Jenks!

  • someone should use this opportunity and open a hardware store in Navy Yard, or better yet in SW (the new building on 4th St. will have ground floor retail and is on the same block as DCRA, so plenty of contractors coming by). There may not be space for as much lumber, paint, and such as Frager’s, but an urban-format store that rents tools, cuts keys, and has smaller stuff could do really well. There are literally thousands of units newly built or under construction between those two neighborhoods.

  • This stinks!!

  • I Dont Get It

    So sad!

  • Sad to hear this. It looks like their pop-up at the Hine site is shutting down too (since the construction starts soon). I hope the E Street site stays put.

    • If you’re referring to the garden center that was over by Eastern Market, they are still open! They moved down Pennsylvania Ave between 12th and 13th I think, just south of the CVS!

  • If I had to bet, this has something to do with the Capitol Hill historic preservation people and their refusal to approve anything that did not save the existing facade (despite the fact that it’s so damaged as to render it dangerous and unusable). I am all for preserving the architecture and character of the Hill, but it’s hard to blame a developer for being unwilling to take on that money pit just because the historic preservation folks say they think they should.

    It’s also hard to buy into the importance of preservation on that particular site when it’s across the street from a gas station and diagonally across from a CVS building that looks like it belongs in the suburbs, but what do I know.

    • I assume this had something to do with this as well. Saying that there were some plans for this space that I wasn’t sure how they were going to make work. From what I understood Frager’s was going to go back – that included paint and garden AND they were looking to put some sort of ground floor food/retail. I just wasn’t sure if that was even possible especially since I think they were looking to have at least some resident parking.

    • what do you know? very little apparently

      The site hasn’t been razed because it has not been determined to be a public safety hazard. The structure withstood the fire and it remains standing today. this has nothing to do with HP because to date they have not released any plans for review. The issue is the disposition and who is responsible for the site cleanup. It has nothing to do with the intended plans going forward.

      It also sits surrounded by blocks of historic homes and across the avenue from another block of entirely historic homes. But by all means focus on the corner gas station and CVS (which was converted from an earlier market and not historically contributing but also lonstanding).

      Belongs in the suburbs? Really? Where did anyone ever park at Fragers? Oh yeah — on the neighborhood streets because they offered no parking. Of course many customers are neighbors and walk/bike, just like we do to the E St., the former Hine pad, the paint store and now the pad on 1200 Penn.

      • This sounds a lot like the friendly replies we on the Hill have become accustomed to hearing from the historic preservation folks, glad you could join us here at PoPville!

      • Also, not to let a few facts get in the way of your opinion, but: http://www.capitalcommunitynews.com/content/fragers-inks-deal-roadside-development

        “Frager’s decision to sell its Pennsylvania property was not an easy one. The store had operated there since its founding in 1920. However, the damage sustained in the fire was severe and the challenges of environmental remediation significant. In addition, the location of the site within the boundaries of the Capitol Hill Historic District ensured any redevelopment would require a significant, and no doubt expensive, effort to preserve the deteriorating facade. All this would require capital and expertise and create a major distraction from the important task of reviving Frager’s retail operations.

        “We are grateful for the overwhelming support and patience from our loyal customers and the Capitol Hill community as we evaluated our options to restore the original site,” said John Weintraub, President of Frager’s. “Over the past year, we studied the site extensively, removed environmentally sensitive materials, conducted several structural analyses, and evaluated the costs to rebuild the site. We learned that the fire damaged the site so severely that, even with insurance proceeds, we could not afford to rebuild the site alone,” said Weintraub.”

        • all that does is support EXACTLY what I said — the issue was over remediation, which is not a “historic preservation” issue. Fragers has to follow the same rules as everyone else who wants to build in historic district. It can be expensive. If the facade were an actual danger and not an impediment to optimizing ROI it would have already come down. It’s solid and it’s standing. Deal with it

          • west_egg

            Pick and choose all you want, but — *again* — “In addition, the location of the site within the boundaries of the Capitol Hill Historic District ensured any redevelopment would require a significant, and no doubt expensive, effort to preserve the deteriorating facade.”

          • and by your logic Eastern Market should have been bulldozed after its fire and made into condos/office/retail. more stuff lots of us simple don’t care about.

  • And all this because some idiot decided to throw a cigarette butt into a bucket….ugh

    • C’mon! That was a firetrap waiting to happen. I’m surprised it didn’t happen sooner. I’m just glad no one was killed.

      • Yup. My wife works in the adjacent building which is soon to be reopened for business after repairs from the fire damage. She’s said countless times just how careless (reckless) they were with the upkeep of the alley. Crap was strewn everywhere just waiting for a fire to start.

  • I wonder if the owner will now just sell the land at the original location and rebuild a store further down Pennsylvania next to CVS – where the new garden center is. I believe he owns both parcels.

    • I don’t think he owns the spot they are using for the garden store. I do believe they own the their E St. space though.

      • They don’t — it’s leased. It’s also not big enough for the full operations. To build a new structure would require shutting down or relocating the garden center in the interim. The 1200 Penn pad was intended only as a bridge until the Penn Ave store was completed.

  • FYI: According to the Wash Biz Journal, Fragers is still looking for a partner to develop the building. I guess they just had a falling out with Roadside.

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