75 Comment

  • The Concept of an Olive Oil Store is beyond me, maybe that works in a seasonal tourist town but I don’t care how rich the neighborhood, there is only so much fancy olive oil tone needs in a year, how do you even begin to sell that to investors/banks, I would laugh your out of the room. Then a yogurt place, all about foot traffic and speed relagated to a mid strip map location, towards the north end of foot traffic for that subway stop, that is treachous to walk to because that parking lot is like the 5th ring with only Whole Foods Tenley ahead in the 6th and Whole Foods River Road taking in the 7th ring ahead of if, yeah, terrible location for a fast service specialty good. To Bad Dante write before DC Costco on a weekend, because if he had seen that there would have been and 8th ring.

    • Agreed. Their olive oil was very good, but also super expensive. I could see it doing well in Georgetown or Old Town (where I think there is an oil store), but this location made zero sense.

      • binntp

        Olio is the olive oil place in Old Town. I’ve been to both Secolari & Olio, and find that Olio has a smaller footprint, slightly less expensive (and tastier) oils, and seems to capitalize on its location with lots of foot traffic.

    • I went in there once with my husband–we were the only people in the store plus two people working. The oil and vinegars we bought were fine but pretty expensive and niche. We still have one of the vinegars eight months later.
      Even still, it was a weird business model. If they had an assortment of cooking oils and vinegars it may make sense. But it was a big space and not something there was a need to frequent.

    • I agree with you, but man do I love going in to olive oil stores and sampling my little heart out.

    • maxwell smart

      Okay, if you think this parking lot is bad, clearly you have never been to the Trader Joe’s in Bethesda.

    • Agree on all counts, but especially this:
      “Whole Foods River Road taking in the 7th ring ahead of if,”
      My wife sent me there to pick up our dry cleaning on Sunday afternoon, and I was homicidal by the time I left.

  • Dang, I liked that Yogiberry. How can a froyo place close right before summer starts? That’s not… cool.

  • Not too surprised with the olive oil store closing. The size of the place and the relative niche it tried to serve just should not have made business sense.

    Could someone give a head count of vacancies in Cleveland Park? Its astounding at the number of boarded up joints given the areas population and income levels and location at the door step of a metro stop. Not to mention zoo traffic. PoP…maybe you can create a crowdsource of what CP needs to fuel some sort of economic recovery

    • CP can and should eliminate the restaurant cap to fuel its economic recovery. Restaurants seem to always be hopping in that strip. The other stores, not so much.

      • maxwell smart

        I think the real issue here is that the building landlords are charging extremely high rents, despite the area not having the foot traffic to support it. They would rather have empty storefronts or 7-11’s than something that the neighborhood actually wants or needs. That said, I think the NIMBY’s in this area brought this on themselves.

  • The only places I ever went to there when I lived in the area were a Brothers coffee shop (was my “third place” for almost as long as it was there, really missed it), the package store at Christmas to mail everything and Uno’s.

    • I can remember when every weekend morning, there’d be a line out the door at Whatsa Bagel. And Magruder’s was so nice to have around.

      • Part of the reason there was a line out the door at Whatsa Bagel is because their service was terrible. A real bagel place, with good bagels and decent service would clean up.

  • The olive oil store lasted longer than I thought it would, being such a niche item. And down the block, California Tortilla has seen better days.

    • California Tortilla needs a good cleaning up. Their food is pretty good, but they let their storefront go to pot. When it was clean and well stocked, it was great – now it’s rather sad looking.

  • Time to knock down the strip mall and put up a mixed use development. The Cleveland Park NIMBYs have been discredited with their opposition to the Giant redevelopment in Wisconsin.

    • The last thing Cleveland Park needs is another apartment building. Up across from the zoo, they redeveloped South Cathedral Mansions and you have small apartments now at ridiculous prices.

      • How does a new building that has high prices (showing demand) indicate that more apartments are not needed? I’d love to see a 3 or 4 story building there, even one with larger (3BR) condos or something. Just some more density literally right on top of the metro.

        • “How does a new building that has high prices (showing demand) indicate that more apartments are not needed?” I don’t know if it indicates that more apartments aren’t “needed” per se, but I find it troubling.
          Connecticut Avenue has a lot of older apartment buildings that have actually remained fairly affordable over the years while various “transitional” D.C. neighborhoods east of Rock Creek Park have become more “hot” and buzz-worthy. PoPville readers may pooh-pooh these older buildings’ locations (not to mention their parquet floors and lack of granite countertops), but they’re actually a pretty good deal.
          If all of these buildings get converted into luxury apartments and luxury condos, it’ll make things even harder for middle-income professionals to find housing they can afford.

          • Agreed, but these two instances (above the shops across from the zoo and the hypothetical above the historic strip mall) aren’t actually conversions to luxury apartments. They’re new luxury apartments available at high rates, which maybe would entice a landlord of an existing older building to upgrade their offering and thus increase the price, but without remodeling would likely remain flat given so as to compete.

          • I’m not talking about new luxury apartments/condos, but about the conversion of an existing older building/complex to luxury units (by doing a gut renovation of the building). Maybe I have the name wrong and it’s not South Cathedral Mansions but something else?

          • maxwell smart

            That’s it textdoc. Also Tilden Hall was recently redone. And I always felt like, despite being an older building, that the Kennedy-Warren was fairly luxury (or at least the prices are!). Plus Park Van Ness & 5333 Connecticut… which is all to say, the area isn’t exactly lacking in “luxury” rentals.

        • maxwell smart

          I can’t imagine there is a market for 3 bedroom condos in this area. If you A: need 3 bedrooms and B: are looking to live in this general area of town, would you not just purchase a single-family home with a yard and parking?

          • There’s a decent demand for 3 BR condos in the city – lots of people don’t want the hassle of a lawn and a house. If I could convince my wife and kid, I’d move back to a 3 BR condo in the city in a NY minute. We’ll be looking at that in 8 years (at the outside), when our kid is out of high school.

          • Tons of market for 3-bedroom condos. Not everybody wants to live with one bedroom. I bought a 3 bedroom when I bought so I could have an office and a guest room, and room if I later expanded with a kid and/or partner. Not unusual at all.

          • maxwell smart

            What single person can afford to purchase a 3-bedroom condo in DC?!

          • There’s also a big price difference. SFHs for less than $1m in Cleveland Park are hard to come by. Meanwhile, 3-br condos are available around $600k. Night and day.

      • There’s a big difference between what South Cathedral Mansions, KW, etc. are and what mixed use development is and can do for a neighborhood. The Park Van Ness development has already greatly improved the quality of an otherwise boring neighborhood, for example.

      • How many units have been added to CP in the last decade? Most I know of is that Chinese units at the bottom of Porter.. Ive never seen anyone come or go from there Perhaps they are not allowed to.

    • Anonomnom

      Isn’t this stupid strip mall on the national register of historic places, preventing any development? I think it was the first drive-in concept for a strip mall, or something like that. I recall seeing a Wiki page on it and everything…

    • They should just convert the parking lot into a pedestrian square. Put out benches and tables and let people enjoy it. I think the stores would do much better and they’d have a chance to put outdoor seating. Plus, get rid of that stupid service road on the next block. The sidewalk is way too narrow.

      • Agreed!

      • Selfishly, I like the parking lot for our bi-monthly trips to Medium Rare, but agree that from a planning perspective it should go. The service road is beyond stupid and should be removed immediately.

      • I like and use the service row in the block south of this. But I agree that this parking lot reduces the pedestrian use of the shops in this strip. As an urban dweller, not used to walking through parking lots to get to shops, I mostly forget these shops are there. I’d buy more wine at the wine shop, for example, if I didn’t have to remember it is there behind the parking lot. And I always forget the copy shop is there. And I live really nearby this place.

        • Meant to add I love the idea of turning the parking lot into park space – with some tables and chairs.

        • maxwell smart

          Seriously? It’s a tiny parking lot. It’s not like this is a strip mall in Rockville with an expansive parking lot in front of it. Honestly I find it easier to tell what tenants are in Sam’s Park and Shop because they are not directly on the sidewalk.

      • That Service row is like a 5 road at that little intersection. It gest as much green time as Connecticut ave.. Its a real problem for traffic. I love it sometime when I wand to drop in for a beer on the way home though.

  • I really, really wish we could tear that down, or at least build a bit on top of it. I would love even just a three-four story building with retail on the first floor and residences above. You could do this to mimic the surrounding area. Then take out the service lane to make a wider sidewalk with outside seating, and I think CP would be instantly more attractive. Unfortunately I don’t think either will ever happen.

    • maxwell smart

      Let’s separate these into 2 different discussions. I’m actually okay with Sam’s Park and Shop remaining as is – there are plenty of higher density apartments in the area and it does have some interesting historical value. The service lane – that does need to be eliminated. The 17 parking spots it provides does not offset how unsafe and unfriendly that stretch of sidewalk is. It’s not even wide enough for 2 people to pass each other without stepping into traffic.

      • If DDOT had gone with the plan to eliminate the service lane and add angle parking along that side of Connecticut Avenue, most of the spots would’ve been preserved, and much more pedestrian space would’ve been recovered. That block is a very dangerous place to walk.

        • maxwell smart

          I think it’s crazy to think that Connecticut Ave could support angle parking. It isn’t a lightly traveled side street – it’s a VERY busy, major street. The amount of accidents that would happen with people trying to back out of angle parking spaces into 40+ MPH traffic would be insane. I 100% agree the service lane is terrible – not only does it make the sidewalk unsafe and unusable, it also forces all traffic on Connecticut down to 2 lanes for 1 block, which usually results in traffic back-ups several blocks long. Do the NIMBY’s realize that clinging to 17 parking spaces is dumping tons of CO-2 and noise pollution into their neighborhood?

          • I believe the idea being put forth was that having angle parking on that block would serve to calm traffic somewhat. I guess the theory is that people will tend to drive much slower through there if they see there’s a chance that a car could start backing out into traffic at any moment.

      • There is zero interesting with Sams Park.. none. You can have square footage for everything there now in a rebuilt mix use development plus add more units for people looking to ditch their cars and live onto a metro. That lot needs to be redeveloped.

  • maxwell smart

    Not terribly surprised Secolari is closing – given that the businesses in this strip are largely being run out by a greedy property owner charging premium rents, I’m surprised they lasted as long as they did. The whole concept seems better suited for a stall at Eastern Market than a full-fledged retail establishment.

  • If all the businesses are closing maybe they are charging too much rent.

  • I feel like a butcher would do well in the CP area. I feel like the retail trend is towards food, which isn’t as easily substituted digitally. Would a butcher count towards the restaurant cap (which I agree should be lifted, but who knows when/if that will ever happen)? Why isn’t there one there already?

    • saf

      Brookville used to have a good butcher. While I know Pam is gone, did they not replace her?

    • The issue isn’t the restaurant cap, because there’s quite a bit of excess capacity under the cap in Cleveland Park. Indeed, the new 7-11 went into space, the former Dino’s with a built-out restaurant kitchen, that was available to another restaurant. In fact, the space formerly occupied by the 4Ps (and its forgettable successor), Starbucks and other restaurants are empty, presumably because of high rents but certainly not because of any cap.

  • NIMBYism needs to die so that Cleveland Park can live. This neighborhood has so much potential but continues its decline to a dull bedroom community with a metro stop. But I guess that’s just exactly what most residents here wanted.

    • maxwell smart

      Yes. This is literally exactly what the NIMBY’s in this neighborhood want – they want nothing to change, even when, for example the library, really needed updates and expansion and will provide a good service to the community. They pushed back to limit the design of the library to the fullest extent possible.

      • Wait, seriously? They opposed upgrades to…a library?!

        • maxwell smart

          Yes – the original design, which sure, was _slightly_ more modern than other buildings in the neighborhood, perfectly fit into the scale and context of the site. People complained and the design little by little got watered down to the typical DC yellow/beige brick box, and I think even at that people were still somewhat outraged that the existing library was even getting touched.

          • Dang. Reminds me of something I recall from a few years ago, when the neighborhood opposed a Cleveland Park farmers market (something about it being too much competition for the existing grocery stores?!?!). As if that would be the end of the world.

          • How? The community asked for more meeting space (in a fully excavated basement), which the DC Public Library subsequently cut from the plans. Respectfully, you don’t know what your’re talking about.

      • That is a real shame. Who are these people? Is it just long time residents or the younger ones as well?

        • I think it is the long term house owners and perhaps condo owners. I don’t think many of the younger, renters, owners or renters of condos, etc., get involved. I don’t anyway – I rent a condo nearby, am not what you’d call young being well into middle age, but I don’t agree with, and have little patience for getting involved and dealing with the older NIMBYs in the neighborhood – many of the ones in my building drive me absolutely crazy – I’ve never seen such ridiculous nastiness since I owned in a coop in NYC.

        • Mostly the bored, semi/fully retired well-off geezers.

      • How? The community asked for more meeting space (in a fully excavated basement), which the DC Public Library subsequently cut from the plans. Respectfully, you don’t know what your’re talking about.

  • Looks like european waxing center might be coming to the plaza:


  • I was told that the California Tortilla on the corner will not be renewing their lease — same story. Landlord raising prices.

  • Come on up to Van Ness. We love our small businesses and we love our many apartment dwellers and residents. Check out our [email protected] on Thursday at 7:30pm at Acacia Bistro. It’s free and we will have great jazz. Also our Farmers Market is adding lots more to it this year including performances and Made in DC artist and artisans. We start on May 20. Come on up. We are just getting started.

    • Van Ness is terrible.. never has a city neighborhood with so many apartment units been such a dead zone..

      Where the hell do you guys grab a beer at night?

  • The Neighborhood is dying. WTF do we still have a strip mall in CP with surface parking? We need more life, we need more residential units. If you want to promote a society where people drive less then you have to add residents in and around walking distance to metros… Also for someone that been here for 14 years its sad to say the place decay.

    As an aside how the hell is the vacuum shop still around? Or the light fixture shop? They must have dirt on someone.

    • I completely agree with you. I’m a native Washingtonian but new (2+ years) to Woodley Park. Rather than less development, we need more development–of all kinds–to keep the neighborhood vibrant. More apartments and condos, more young people, then more businesses to support them, then more buses running for residents and others to visit. I want to scream at those who fight every new proposal–“It’s the city, its supposed to be bustling, and crowded, and noisy!” The development of H Steet NE is a great example of what can be done.

  • Sam’s Park and Shop (including its Parking lot) is a historic landmark. It”s not going anywhere….

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