by Tim Regan — October 1, 2015 at 2:00 pm 1,126 0

Dupont Circle YMCA, photo via Street View

YMCA of Metropolitan Washington has sold its Dupont Circle facility to a developer and will close on Dec. 31, the nonprofit announced today.

YMCA’s board of directors sold the building at 1711 Rhode Island Avenue NW to real estate developer Akridge, said YMCA spokeswoman Jackie Dilworth. The building has housed a YMCA facility for 37 years.

According to the press release, the sale is part of the nonprofit’s effort to “serve more region-wide residents and provide more volunteer and employment opportunities, thus increasing its impact in the region.”

Additionally, the nonprofit said proceeds from the sale will help fund the revitalization of other YMCA facilities in the District and help reinvest in family-facing programs, pay off debt and possibly help fund the opening of a new YMCA somewhere in the city.

Photo via Google Street View

by Tim Regan — September 15, 2015 at 1:10 pm 218 0

National Holistic Healing Center

A long-awaited medical marijuana dispensary in Dupont Circle is now open for business.

The National Holistic Healing Center opened its doors at 1718 Connecticut Ave. NW yesterday without much fanfare or celebration. The business is open for new patient registration and appointments every day of the week from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m.

Owner Chanda Macias told Borderstan last month that she aimed to stock several strains of marijuana and various edible and marijuana-infused products. Macias also said she’d like to have a classroom space for pot-centric growing, gardening and cooking workshops.

Macias was unavailable for comment and photos inside the business were not allowed when a Borderstan reporter visited earlier today.

Details on how to become a member are available on the center’s website. Here’s a daily menu from the dispensary’s Instagram account:


Opening day menu!#nationalholistichealingcenter #treatyourselfwithnature

A photo posted by National Holistic Healing (@nationalholistichealingdc) on

by Jennifer Currier — September 9, 2015 at 2:50 pm 0

New Bluemercury Store

Beauty retailer and spa Bluemercury is now open on P Street.

The store opened its doors in the former Pacers Running space at 1427 P St. NW last Friday.

Though the retail portion of the store is open for business, its spa — which will sell skincare, waxing and makeup application services — will open in two weeks. According to a sales associate at the store, a grand opening event is in the works for early October.

While there are currently no sales or discounts associated with the opening, the company is celebrating its 16th anniversary by giving gift bags full of larger-than-sample-sized products to customers for every $150 they spend in-store or online.

by Jennifer Currier — September 3, 2015 at 4:50 pm 243 0

Alicia Sokol

A national fitness studio chain is coming to 14th Street.

The studio, which will open under the barre3 banner, is set to arrive at 1832 14th St. NW in the two floors above Floors on 14th early next year.

Barre3 is a national fitness studio brand that blends yoga, pilates and ballet barre workout styles. The company was founded seven years ago in Portland, Ore., and has grown to have more than 75 locations across the country.

The fitness company has one location in Georgetown, but owner Alicia Sokol says her forthcoming studio is one of two more barre3 studios currently being developed in the District. The other is planned 2nd Street near Union Station.

The building’s second and third floors will be home to two studio rooms, changing rooms and childcare during classes, a service that costs $5.

“Just walking into the studio, you feel lighter,” she said. “It’s clean, sleek and comfortable and the people are so friendly.”

Classes are an hour long and include strength training and low-impact cardio exercises.

“I love how the workouts are individualized and can be modified for the specific needs of a client,” she said. “It’s all about turning your thoughts, focusing on your own body and making it work.”

The studio will be open seven days a week and offer membership and walk-in packages.

Sokol’s first experience with barre3 was as a client at the company’s Georgetown location. Shortly after, she was approached about becoming an instructor, a position she held for the last two years. As she began teaching more classes each week, she decided to bring her work to D.C. and take on barre3 full time.

“I walked into the space and fell in love,” Sokol explained. “It seemed kind of meant to be, with the original exposed bricks and windows that give so much natural lighting. I’m so excited about it.”

by Tim Regan — August 19, 2015 at 2:35 pm 104 0

Cove in Columbia Heights, photo courtesy of Cove

A new coworking space has opened in Columbia Heights.

Cove announced today it opened a new location in the Tivoli Theatre building at 3343 14th St. NW.

Employees and guests celebrated the grand opening with breakfast.

The new, two-floor location has two four-seat conference rooms, two call boxes and is located near the Columbia Heights Metro station.

Cove is a company frequently used by small businesses and freelance workers. Its business model is based on selling membership access to spaces where workers can use Wi-Fi, desks, electrical outlets and conference spaces.

Photo courtesy of Cove

by Tim Regan — July 30, 2015 at 1:45 pm 112 0

14th and R streets NW, Shinola

Luxury brand Shinola announced today it will open its long-awaited 14th Street store on September 3.

Shinola is a high-end retailer that sells upscale — and pricey — leather goods, bicycles, watches and other accessories.

The 5,000-square-foot-store, located at 1631 14th Street NW, will “stay as true to the original build as possible, keeping the original black and white travertine floor, moulded ceiling and additional details from the era alongside traditional Shinola fixtures,” according to a press release.

Though the press release mentions the building’s original use as a Studebaker showroom, it does not mention the building’s most recent role as the Central Union Mission shelter.

Shinola’s temporary shop at 1534 14th Street NW will be occupied by Shinola’s sister brand, Filson.

by Jared Holt — June 30, 2015 at 12:45 pm 0

Audiophiles who crave the warm sound of vinyl records with their coffee at Songbyrd Record Cafe have a new place to roost during the evening.

Songbyrd’s new bar and restaurant, Songbyrd Music House, located adjacent to the cafe at 2477 18th St. NW, opens tonight at 5 p.m.

The new bar will feature an exposed brick wall, wood paneling and a long bar that stretches through much of the space.

The Music House will be open until midnight on weekdays and 2 a.m. on weekends. Like the cafe, the bar will be closed on Monday.

by Tim Regan — June 1, 2015 at 3:00 pm 448 2 Comments

It’s easy to overlook Monarch Novelties.

Wedged between coffee and cocktail bar Slipstream and and an organic dry cleaning store, the shop’s faded, cracked sign looks messy in comparison. Two hand-lettered signs on the front door read, “RING BELL.” Four stuffed hippos wearing jester caps, an inflatable Tweety Bird, and a jovial, bug-eyed Santa Claus sunbathe in the store’s cloudy storefront window.

To some locals, the run-down shop is an eyesore.

“I can’t wrap my head around how it’s stayed open,” wrote a PoPville forum user last June. “Are any of [these buildings] slated to get torn down and rebuilt into new condos? Or will this block lag behind the rest of 14th for all time?”

But inside the shabby shop overshadowed by luxury condos and flanked by trendy bars lies a wealth of history and an assortment of odd items that are hard to find elsewhere in D.C.

Douglas Robinson, Monarch’s owner, is always the first person patrons see upon entering. From behind a small table cluttered with pads of paper, a rotary phone and a worn-down cash register, Robinson buzzes in customers, then watches them with an unwavering gaze. From time to time, he rises from his chair to follow shoppers as they browse, presumably to make sure they’re not pilfering raffle ticket rolls, plastic party hats, old postcards, finger traps or vintage political buttons inscribed with slogans like “I Hate Everybody,” and “Go Go Goldwater in ’64.”

The eclectic assortment of wares often prompts patrons to ask whether they’ve wandered into a store or a private residence. But Robinson, who actually does live above the store, always replies the same way: “You can shop here, as long as you have green currency.”

Many of the store’s wares come from garage sales, roadside stands, and going-out-of-business bargains. And those items are likely cheaper than you’d find elsewhere. Vintage buttons, for instance, sell for between $2 and $5 apiece. Postcards decorated with the portrait of President Nixon are fifty cents.

On a street where a night of cocktails might cost as much as a new pair of shoes, that’s quite a bargain.

Robinson, who’s lived in D.C. for 64 years,  also likes to dispense historical knowledge. “President Johnson used to go to mass at the National City Christian Church,” he says softly to a patron holding a Lyndon B. Johnson inauguration button. “This city has gone through its ups and downs. Lots of changes.”

Of course, Robinson has his quirks. For instance, photography is strictly forbidden in the store. He also has a unique and quiet way of speaking, so it’s not always easy to understand what he says.

Fathom Creative founder Drew Mitchell has lived and worked in the building next to Monarch Novelties since 2009, and has gotten to know Robinson well.

He’s a little like cotton candy that’s been sitting in the sun for a little too long,” says Mitchell with a laugh. “Kind of hard on the outside, but really warm and approachable when you get to know him.”

“He knows every bus route, every street, every building,” Mitchell says. “He’s explored every nook and cranny of the city. He has the memory of an elephant.”

But how can a store that sells plush animals and kazoos stay open? When asked, Robinson is tight-lipped. But Mitchell says he fields that question a lot.

“A lot of people think, with the rent on 14th Street, how in the world does this place exist?” says Mitchell. “His family owns the building outright, so [they can afford it].”

According to the D.C. Office of Tax and Revenue, the property is owned by Lilly Robinson, and is worth over $1 million.

“It’s one of those places that gives our neighborhood its urban texture,” says Mitchell. “It can’t be manufactured.”

“We’re the last novelty store like this left,” Robinson says with a smile. “We’re the only ones.”

by Borderstan.com — December 17, 2012 at 4:00 pm 263 0


The Newsroom at 1803 Connecticut. (Luis Gomez Photos)

From Jamie Hurts. Email her at jamiehurst[AT]borderstan.com and follow her on twitter @highheeldtravlr

I recently tweeted my fellow Washingtonians asking where I could replenish my magazine stock and find some inspiration. I received only one answer, “Go to The Newsroom on Connecticut.” I’ve walked past the unassuming facade many times without noticing it and you don’t see magazines filling up the windows. You have to go inside to find them.

Walk past the deli counter, convenience store, and tourist shop, all the way to the back where simple shelves are filled with some of the most well respected and entertaining publications in the world.

Dupont Circle is saturated with bookstores (three on the Circle itself), coffee shops (upwards of ten within a five minute walk from the metro), and plenty of places to grab a quick sandwich.

The Newsroom is north on Connecticut, just past all the hustle and bustle. They don’t have a twitter or Facebook account, or even website. The shop isn’t trendy but it does have a cult following – panic and sadness ensued when they recently temporarily closed.

When I need a magazine fix – foreign, domestic, and small publications – I now go here to make a haul. My last visit I came away with Italian Vogue, Wallpaper Magazine, Nylon, and the Economist. If you are an expat feeling homesick in Borderstan, or just curious about the goings-on in other parts of the world, this is your one stop shop – you can even grab a cup of coffee, too.

The Newsroom, 1803 Connecticut Avenue NW (just south of Florida Avenue), Washington, DC 20009, (202) 332-1489


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by Borderstan.com — December 10, 2012 at 9:00 am 177 0

The team at Fundrise . (Luis Gomez Photos)

From Nick Barron. Follow him on Twitter @nbarron; email him at nick[AT]borderstan.com.

You walk into a restaurant with a couple of friends. The hostess greets you by name, asks if you want your regular table.

Your friends are impressed. They want to know why you’re getting the royal treatment.

“Oh, I own this place,” you say. “And it only cost me $50.”

This is the kind of story Fundrise and its co-founder, Ben Miller, want to help make happen in DC and across the U.S.

Fundrise is crowdfunding for real estate. Through the site you can buy into a piece of property, and can potentially earn money back, over time, on that investment.

Ben and his brother, Daniel, started the site, part of Rise Companies, which has eight full-time employees and also owns the site Popularise, to give more people a chance at participating in real estate investment.

Ben also hopes Fundrise allows people to have a greater sense of ownership in their community.

“It’s a tool for building communities,” Ben said. “So everyone can participate in investing in real estate and building their environment.”

Through Fundrise you can buy units, or shares, of a real estate investment.

The first such investment was 1351 H Street, a limited liability corporation representing property on H Street NE, which will house a business operated by the people behind DURKL and Toki Underground. The business is expected to open in Spring 2013.

While you will reap financial rewards of owning a piece of property through Fundrise, Ben cautions in real estate a return on investment can take time.

“It’s [Real estate’s] the opposite of Wall Street,” Ben said.

Along with another piece of someone’s investment portfolio, Ben sees Fundrise empowering people to greater participation in their communities.

“Who has the power to build neighborhoods?” Ben asks.

The answer, according to Ben and Daniel, is you.

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