by Andrew Ramonas — October 28, 2015 at 1:35 pm 0

Barre3 class at BicycleSPACEFINAL (Photo courtesy of Alicia Sokol)

Locals can now try a workout that combines yoga, pilates and ballet barre before it officially comes to the 14th Street corridor.

The owner of a barre3 location under construction at 1832 14th St. NW is offering several free classes around the Borderstan coverage area before the studio is slated to open in January. Classes are an hour long and have strength training and low-impact cardio exercises.

The sessions include workouts at the Hamiltonian Gallery (1353 U St. NW) and Pacers Running (1821 14th St. NW) over the next several weeks.

“Teaching classes in these spaces has been a fun way to give people a taste of what barre3 14th Street will bring while highlighting neighborhood gems,” owner Alicia Sokol said in an email. “It’s especially fun when bringing people to spaces they have either not yet discovered or haven’t been to in a while.”

Founded seven years ago in Portland, Ore., barre3 has more than 75 locations across the country, including one studio in Georgetown.

Photo courtesy of Alicia Sokol

by Tim Regan — October 16, 2015 at 10:15 am 0

CorePower Yoga on Connecticut

A planned CorePower Yoga appears to be one step closer to opening on Connecticut Avenue NW.

Workers covered the windows at 1150 Connecticut Avenue NW with a sign advertising the forthcoming Denver-based yoga company earlier this week.

As for what the studio might hold, the CorePower website says it’s slated to house “three large and luxurious yoga rooms, as well as a range of amenities including changing rooms with showers and private lockers.” The studio will also include a retail boutique selling “activewear and accessories.”

Though a representative from CorePower could not be reached for comment, the company’s website says the location could open by the end of fall.

by Tim Regan — October 15, 2015 at 3:45 pm 0

Though Phase 1 in Dupont Circle is closed, the building that once held it may one day take on a whole new life.

The club, which opened at 1415 22nd St. NW in 2012, was known primarily for being the Northwest outpost of the famed Capitol Hill gay bar. But the club quietly closed in mid-September, noted ANC 2B Commissioner Daniel Warwick last month. Since then, some speculation has arisen as to what the windowless off-white building might ultimately hold. But a representative from the company that owns the building,  Rock Creek Property Group, appeared to give some answers to that question at last night’s ANC 2B meeting.

According to Jon Lastuvka, Rock Creek’s vice president of development, the company has plans to redevelop the former club into a property that might one day house a retail or dining business.

“A few weeks ago, the tenant decided to close the business,” Lastuvka said. “As of right now, it’s in dilapidated condition and needs a lot of work. We certainly hope we can keep working and energize this property.”

Lastuvka — along with Brett Hartle from OTJ Architects — laid out the company’s proposed redevelopment plans at the meeting. As laid out, the plan calls for an exterior renovation and nonstructural interior walls to be removed, and the building’s windowless façade would make way for large, street-facing windows.

“We do feel that this property lends itself really well to high-end office use, a high-end retailer, a restaurant or even a museum,” Lastuvka told the commission.

by Tim Regan — October 8, 2015 at 3:25 pm 0

The prospect of Logan Circle’s ANC 2F pushing for a historic status for Barrel House Liquor’s façade is getting dimmer.

The commission picked apart the idea during its general meeting at the Washington Plaza Hotel in Thomas Circle last night.

A little background if you haven’t followed along thus far: Barrel House Liquor — known around the neighborhood for its iconic barrel-shaped facade at 1341 14th St. NW — announced it planned to move next door last month. Though the liquor store will live on, what might happen to the big barrel it’s leaving behind is unknown.

A week after the news broke that the liquor store would move, Commissioner Pepin Tuma, 2F-03, floated the idea of saving its iconic barrel façade by applying for a historic status.

“We want to hear if this is something that the community wants to stay,” Tuma told Borderstan in September. “I personally want it. Everyone I’ve talked to wants it. But that’s the first step, that making sure this is representative of the greater community.”

Only a few parties can apply for a historic status, noted Tuma, and that includes the property owner and the local ANC. Though Tuma said he’d like the owner, Eric Meyers, to apply for the status himself, he said he was willing to push the ANC to move forward in applying with or without his help.

Some members of the public cheered on the effort. ANC 2F’s community development committee did not. Several ANC 2F commissioners echoed the committee’s skepticism last night.

Meyers spoke about the property and its iconic barrel during the meeting.

“This property has been an integral and very important part of our lives for almost 44 years,” Meyers said. “I could never conceive demolishing [the barrel], much less trying to move it anywhere.”

But Meyers stopped short of saying he wanted to apply for a historic status. “I want to make sure that the ANC understands that the property is already located in a historic district, and any renovation, any potential demolition — and I don’t know how you’d move that thing no matter what — would be subject to Historic Preservation Board approval,” he said. “But my wife and I own this property and have for decades, and we don’t intend to dispose of it.”

Meyers added that the barrel, which is made from poured concrete, cannot be moved or dismantled without destroying it.

“We will do the right thing for the property, we will do the right thing for preservation, and for the tenant if the tenant allows us to do so,” said Meyers.

Commissioner Kate Gordon, 2F-01, asked him pointedly: “Are you in favor of a historic landmark status for the facade of your building or not?”

“I am in favor of letting the Historic Preservation Board make that decision,” responded Meyers. “I am in favor of keeping it as part of any design for the property if M.G. [whose full name is Mesfun Ghebrelul] is no longer there operating in the business. I think it would be great to keep it there as a lobby or retail for the apartments above. But we’re nowhere near that sort of determination before we know more.”

Though Tuma said he felt like it was too early to push for an ANC motion, he said he’d like to see more research and documentation from architects. “I would not feel comfortable putting forth [a motion] without that kind of research,” Tuma said.

Charlie Bengel, 2F-06, strongly opposed applying for a historic landmark status for the barrel.

“Unless the owner specifically wants his property to be designated as historic, there’s no way I would ever support designating it as historic,” Bengel said.

“I think it limits his ability to run his business,” he added. “I think it would be a perfect example of government overreach to the nth degree, to the point where it could be fodder for late night comedians. I really feel strongly for private property rights.”

Commissioner and Chair John Fanning, 2F-04, echoed Bengel’s opposition to applying for a historic status.

“I think it’s kind of confusing and it’s an awkward situation because the barrel is the icon of the business,” said Fanning. “Where’s the real Barrel House? I would hope that you guys can work something out.”

Speaking from the audience, community development committee at-large representative Helen Kramer summed up her thoughts.

“I think it’s inappropriate getting involved in a landmark designation when there’s no imminent threat to the barrel,” Kramer said. “The owner of the property has stated that he has no intention of altering or destroying it, so the whole issue is moot.”

by Tim Regan — October 8, 2015 at 12:35 pm 0

Lettie Gooch Pop-up 2U Street boutique Lettie Gooch will have a new life in Shaw.

Though the boutique announced in August it would close its doors at 1517 U St. NW and host a weekend pop-up store in Union Market, the store announced today it will be back at The Shay (8th St. between T St. and Florida NW) in November.

“We’re so excited to unpack our bags and settle back into the neighborhood where we began in 2006,” reads the press release. “We are making big plans to celebrate our Shaw homecoming and reopening with YOU!”

When it opens in the mixed-use development, Lettie Gooch will join businesses such as Warby Parker, Kit and Ace, Glen’s Garden Market and Compass Coffee.

Photo courtesy of Lettie Gooch

by Jennifer Currier — October 6, 2015 at 11:45 am 0

1794 Columbia Road

A Chinatown-based beauty and hair salon plans to move its operation to Adams Morgan early next month.

AsukiSQ will open in the former Mixtec space at 1794 Columbia Rd. NW after moving out of its current home near the Gallery Place Chinatown Metro station in early November, said salon owner Oscar Au.

“It was hard finding another suitable space in Chinatown, so that’s why I decided to bring the salon to Columbia [Road],” Au said. “I want to help clients there, too.”

AsukiSQ is an official stylist for the Miss Asian America Beauty Pageant, according to its website. In addition to hair styling, the salon’s beauticians also perform manicures and pedicures.

by Tim Regan — October 1, 2015 at 2:00 pm 1,126 7 Comments

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 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 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 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 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 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 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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