“US Marshals evicted the venerable Volvo House, last auto shop in Logan Circle”

1525 15th Street, NW

Stephanie Mencimer tweets us last night:

“US Marshals today evicted the venerable Volvo House, last auto shop in Logan Circle”

“84-yr-old owner had a stroke apparently, couldn’t keep the place up”

“Old Volvos from the Volvo House line Q St, where they’re quickly racking up tickets.”


54 Comment

  • Thank you! I walked by this morning and was wondering what happened. It’s too bad. I have a soft spot for independent car repair shops, as long as they are honest. Now it will probably turn into generic condos.

    • I’ll miss places like this when they’re all gone. Before long, car owners will have to venture deep into the burbs just to fill up the tank. Oh but wait, we’re supposed to sell our cars and walk/bike everywhere we need to go, and if you can’t get there that way, you don’t need to go there anyway. Sometimes I really hate the way this city is changing. More condos for the one percenters.

      • This shop definitely saved me a few years ago by bringing my old Volvo back to life. Maybe a VW specialist can take over this place. I’ve switched brands of old cars.

      • there are plenty of auto shops in dc.

      • Nobody is forcing cars to drive to the burbs to refill. If it’s happening/if it will happen, it’s the free market with supply/demand speaking. With that said, as a small business owner, sad to see this place go.

      • there are dozens of gas stations around the city. having drivers go like 2 miles out of their way isn’t a big deal. and as one gas station closes, the remaining ones become more valuable. it’ll be decades before they all go away, if they ever do.

      • Accountering

        The majority of the condos in this city are affordable to people WELL outside of the top 1%.

        • HaileUnlikely

          I think he was using hyperbole in service of a fairly straightforward point. To somebody below the median, which half of the population is by definition, whether you’re a one-percenter or a four-percenter or an eleven-percenter is a distinction without a difference.

          • Actually not true, either. Median income in DC is approximately $90,000, which particularly in a two income house, easily makes most DC condos affordable. And if you want to drive everywhere, don’t live in Logan Circle.

            I for one am quite happy to make car ownership and driving as inconvenient as possible in the city.

          • HaileUnlikely

            No it isn’t. That is median household income, not median individual income, and median household income in the city is lower than it is for the region to which the $90K applies. A household with two people each earning $90K is in the ballpark of double the median.

          • I wish I had the luxury of basking in the glow of my own personal, made up reality like CRT is doing.

          • Hahaha! Well done, Philippe Lecheval.

          • My old foreign car garage is the Union Flats which certainly seemed to have delusions of 1%ers when it opened.

      • @philippe Lecheval I don’t think you are “supposed” to do anything, but a city that is more convenient to be a pedestrian/biker is a better city in my opinion. I hope things continue in that direction. Decreasing the amount of cars saves space, decreases pollution, and increases exercise. Please tell me how that is a bad thing? Heaven forbid if car owners have to keep their pollution machines in the garage and use good old fashion wo/man power to get around the city instead of horsepower. I know, i know, but 2 miles is sooooooo far. Sometimes I really love the way this city is changing.

        • Said the childless single person who grew up in the suburbs and now lives in the city and feels so smug abut it.

          • Snide much? Who is your perfect “deserving” city resident?

          • Sorry, the snide-ness started up the chain. Its not about “deserving”, its about people having different needs. Yeah, it would be great if we could leave our cars in the garage but that is not reality for a lot of residents of Logan Circle and other neighborhoods.

          • @jaybird if a pedestrian lifestyle isn’t your reality then please, keep driving, keep polluting, keep taking up as much space as you want. And please keep the negative contributions coming, all while complaining about traffic and the people who make the necessary choices so a pedestrian lifestyle is their reality.

          • @Stink Eye I have yet to complain about traffic; its a harsh part of my daily life but I don’t complain. As far as pedestrians are concerned I think there are sidewalks that lead pretty much wherever you want to go. I use them every day.

  • Tom

    Does anyone know if those old Volvos are going to be sold? Asking for a friend.

  • Biked by last night and wondered what happened. A few blocks earlier I saw another eviction at Camden Grand Parc (15th and I Streets NW). Very odd because I figured that was a high-rent district populated by those for whom money was no issue.

  • Oh holy cow!

  • pcat

    I am so sad. These guys took care of my 1981 Camaro for years. I wonder what will happen to the workers? Is the owner Gill? He wasn’t 84 as far as I can tell. The gentrification of Logan Circle has driven too many places like this out of business.

  • My house is directly in back of this shop (I am on Q Street). I am very sad to see these guys go. They were wonderful neighbors – helped me with an occasional emergency on my car, and some times without charge. They also kept an eye on the neighborhood. Very sad the proprietor recently had a stroke, but he was there last week looking good. He told me the landlord had not been helpful – raising rent, yet not repairing leaky roof. I’m not always sympathetic to complaints about gentrification, but this definitely is a case of an old-time business likely going away as the neighborhood changes. This and the lot next door are prime for development. I will miss this place.

  • It’s sad that the old proprietor had a stroke, but this is prime real estate and life goes on. Hope something cool makes good use of all that surface lot space and creates a good number of homes in the process.

    • Spoken like a true a-hole.

      • Actually I wish to amend what I wrote.

        Spoken like a true tone-def, “most people can afford a $1900 studio!” gentrier.

        • A person who’d buy a $1900 studio in that neighborhood would, if a condo weren’t available on that plot, either end up bidding up a nearby studio or buy something down-market and amp up its price. This is the way the market works: housing is priced based on who wants it and how much money that person makes. People who’d want a studio at this address would buy somewhere, limiting someone slightly less rich’s options, and so on and so forth until someone ends up pushed away from DC or homeless.
          So you’re the a-hole.

          • Obvs that’s a rental price. So I guess replace instances of “buy” with “rent.” And “condo” with “apartment.”

    • Like a yoga clothing store or some other overpriced uselessness.

      • The market wants what it wants. If you don’t want stuff like that, you can presumably save money by living in a less desirable neighborhood. Everyone wins.

        • DCReggae

          +1 No one seems to understand this basic financial tenet.

          • HaileUnlikely

            The market in this area has been saturated with young people who never learned the difference between a hundred dollar bill and a quarter. I’m not saying this characterizes you personally or any other specific individual, but we definitely have way more than our fair share of these around here.

          • I’m okay with raising their taxes or whatever, but I dunno if propping up old car service centers are the best use of that money.

        • Markets are always distorted, the idea that a “a market does what it wants” misunderstands economics and decision making in practice.

          • You’re right. We should have invested public resources into somehow keeping this auto body shop there because the proprietor was a sympathetic case.

          • Especially real estate, which is ludicrously distorted by all sort of bad subsidies and tax deductions. Anyone who talks about “free market” when discussing real estate is willfully ignorant or lining up at the government trough.

        • Yea, I don’t really get this either. Nobody is forcing anyone to pay a premium to live in a nice neighborhood like Logan. In fact, if all the rich people move there, the lower-cost neighborhoods should be cheaper. Win-Win!

          • People have every right to kvetch if a store that they perceive as useless moves into their neighborhood. There is no logic to the idea that if they don’t like said establishment, they should move to another neighborhood.

          • Utilitarian economic reasoning is myth (people have gotten Nobel prizes for debunking it). As wealthier people have moved into the area, other places have not gotten cheaper. the only places that haven’t recovered from the real estate melt down are places where property was badly run-up…middle income areas on the periphery and places like older sections of PG County, all places where subprime lenders really pushed hardest…another good example of distorted markets.

    • I am B above, and your comment is immensely offensive. Did you read your comment before posting? I’m sure when you are in your 80’s, have a stroke, and a landlord you have paid presumably regularly — but doesn’t make repairs — has you evicted, your view will still be “life goes on”. I’d vastly prefer this beat up old shop in back of my house to the gleaming condos that have been added to Church Street, but in your view must be a better use of the space.

      • How much longer could this person even have stayed in business? Would you have been willing to take over?
        Maybe you’re just upset that new condos behind your place are going to reduce the gains on your property values because it’ll introduce new supply. It’s so noble of you to mask it as concern for an 81-year-old business owner as you try to deny the world 10-20 new homes.

        • Blithe

          There really are people who value neighborhoods as something more than the way “supply and demand…’cause, you know, the market” plays out. B — I appreciate and applaud your comments. Glad to know that the proprietor of the shop seems to be doing well.

          • +1.
            “Maybe you’re just upset that new condos behind your place are going to reduce the gains on your property values because it’ll introduce new supply.” Um, no. There is so much demand in D.C. that having 10-20 condos does not reduce the value of B’s house. If anything, it increases it because the new condos will doubtless be “luxury” ones that bring up the price-per-square-foot comps — not just for new condos but for old houses.
            I wish we had a real estate economist on here. The way things play out in D.C. is a little more complicated than a simple “increase supply, reduce demand” model.

          • I feel like the “life goes on” is a little too close for comfort to some of the rejoicing in the thread on H Street gentrification. Yes, cold hard realities do occur and life does go on… but you don’t have to make this observation with such relish for the cold hard reality.
            ‘It’s one thing to acknowledge that supply and demand influence prices, or that life isn’t fair… but the sentiment of “This is how things happen… HAHA!” or “This is how things happen, so f*** you” is unbecoming.’

        • Wow, you really are a jerk. Um, no, I am not trying to mask my concern over the proprietor of this place when I note that your comments are callous and thoughtless. I knew the guy and others at this place who were kind and helpful to me for many years, and are actual people who I spoke to about their situation. And they were impacted by it. Honestly, are you always a jerk or just feel the ability to write thoughtless things over the anonymity of the Internet. And, to be clear, condos on this space will do nothing but increase the value of my house further – which I have done quite well with, thank you.

    • Please understand that “prime real estate” actually depends on having a livable city – and livable city means basic services, like car repair, hardware stores, garden store are nearby. Also, that EMT/firefighters don’t live a 3 hour drive away, and that affordable rental apts. for your cleaner/home health care worker/nanny are available within a 40 min. commute.

      • Livable for most people, yes. But the young, single affluent set who populate this neighborhood don’t drive, don’t garden because Social Media, and they buy nearly everything on Amazon. So their priorities are presumably about having a restaurant nearby where they’ll feel really good about the way they look when they’re out to brunch. And yoga.

  • So sad to see this place go! I had been looking for a neighborhood shop to replace the AYT Auto that was moved out of 14th and R St a few years ago, and came upon this shop. They took great care of my car, and I was actually going to be having them do my brakes and rotors very soon, along with an alignment. I liked supporting places like this in the neighborhood, because after I drop the car off, I can just walk back home.

  • clevelanddave

    Thorn Auto Shop is just down the street at I believe 6th and Rhode Island. Expensive but good and convenient.

  • There’s still a good auto shop at 14th and Swann.

    The landlord of the Volvo shop has just been waiting for the right time to develop that whole block. He owns several of those properties including the parking lot and everything in between on Church Street.

    I think it’s pretty great that this guy was able to run that Volvo shop past 80 years old.

    • Right. I use AYT at 6th and I St. They had a garage where the Bodysmith gym is currently until 2012-13 or so and do really good work in my experience.

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