Housing Complex

Adams Morgan Hardware Likely On the Way Out

The WY18 condos, which are 85 percent sold out at this point, have undergone quite the transformation since Urban Investment Partners bought the former apartment buildings back in 2010. And it looks like the ground floor retail, with the exception of Adams Morgan Coffeeshop, is likely to change as well.

Today, Douglas Development bought the commercial units, ready to capitalize on a brand-new streetscape to bring in some brand-new tenants. And they haven't wasted any time getting the spaces on the market: Streetsense has flyers out, advertising three out of four retail slots.

That was news to one remaining tenant: Araya Gebremariam, owner of Adams Morgan Hardware, which he says has been there for around 20 years (he bought the business in 2004). He's been paying $2,798 per month for the 1,286 square foot space, but his lease expired last November, and he says he was notified that the new rent would be just shy of $5,000. "I have to find somewhere else," he says. "It's not fair. I don't know what to do now."

Norman Jemal, the guy who makes most decisions at Douglas Development, says they're actually asking around $4,500—or $42 per square foot, which is on the high end for what the market is running these days. Douglas owns a number of the other retail spaces in the neighborhood, like Stroga, FedEx, the still-empty ground floor retail in the Harris Teeter building, and the Wok and Roll on Belmont Street.

"I happen to think Adams Morgan is going to have a great renaissance," says Jemal, who used to live on California Street. Even if it's one without a hardware store.

  • Anonymous


    Come to Bloomingdale -- 1st and Rhode Island NW. We're a rapidly gentrifying neighborhood with several cool restaurants but no hardware store for miles around.

  • Mony

    Other than the Home Depot less than a mile away

  • Jno

    Jemal is a greedy asshole.

  • Burke Omalley

    That's a shame. We need a hardware store in Adams Morgan. Araya has always been helpful and has the stuff urban dwellers need, like radiator valves. Developers can
    be robots.

  • Remote

    "some brand-new tenants. "

    YAY!!! Brand new tenants! New! Hooray!! Down with the old tenants!! boo boo boo. Boo old tenants, BOO you!

    Old tenants are so ... are so... Old tenants are so old Europe!!

  • D

    The neighborhood needs a decent hardware store anyway and the current store came no where close to filling that role. The old Payless Shoe space would be a great location for one.

  • Remote

    Compare and contrast: Adams Morgan Hardware & 17th Street Hardware.

    Why is one stellar and the other not? Why can't Adams Morgan get truly successful retail like that (17th Street)?

  • A-lo

    This article is a lazy attempt at stirring up trouble. Adams Morgan Hardware is a terrible hardware store with unfriendly and unhelpful customer service. Fine, the new owner of the retail space jacked up the rent. But by how much had the rent for the current tenant increased over, let's say, the past 5 years. And how were his recent sales? Maybe he was already struggling to begin with? When I lived in the neighborhood, I skipped Adams Morgan Hardware and took my business to far friendlier shops in Dupont Circle and Tenleytown.

  • involved

    Lets get the facts straight.

    Jemal is not an "asshole". He is a likable guy, a dad, a husband a man of his word. Shame on you JNO.

    Araya runs a dirty, disorganized store; while limited in space, he could do better but he simply hasn't.

    The rent has not increased in ten (10) years.

    The article IS an "attempt to stir" the pot. Good for you A-lo.

    How about "New Retail too improve Adams Morgan-18th Street"

  • Joe

    Who cares about a hardware store? When something breaks, you call a contractor. What Adams Morgan and U Street need are more wine bars and restaurants. A hardware store doesn't contribute to urban vibrancy and buzz.

  • Scoot

    The hardware store is not great, and the rent was way too low, but it's not favorable for local businesses that cater to residents' needs being shut out of the neighborhood. Soon residents of Adams Morgan who don't hang out in Adams Morgan at night also won't hang out in Adams Morgan during the day, and so they'll start wondering what is the point of living in Adams Morgan.

  • H Street Landlord

    @involved - Paying your taxes is not optional. Dude is a deadbeat.

  • Arjun

    I don't know Norman Jemal, and I certainly think that Adams Morgan Hardware could be improved. But if kicking out unique local businesses and bringing in a Kinkos and yet another bank branch is the idea, then he's not exactly improving the neighborhood. I guess the Wok and Roll is an improvement, but it would be hard to find any business that wouldn't improve on the Prince Cafe.

  • Sara

    The hardware store has apparently moved to Columbia Road NW near the Safeway -- I haven't been yet, but I asked the coffee shop proprietors next door and that's what they told me.

    The windows in the old space are now covered in a very orderly fashion -- I wonder what's next for that retail space?