Carol Joynt alerts GM to the unfortunate news that the building that houses Scheele’s Market at 29th and Dumbarton is up for sale. A sale could lead to the closing of the beloved corner store. Find out more after the jump:
Scheele’s Market has been owned by the Lee family for 20 years. It represents one of the stars of Georgetown’s neighborhood market constellation. But unlike some of their peers (like GM’s corner shop, Sarah’s) the Lee’s do not own the building that contains their shop.
While it is possible that the purchaser of the building would continue to rent out the shop’s space, the real estate listing doesn’t give a lot of hope for that. It reads:
Georgetown landmark property first time on the market in 40 years. Great location and ample square footage.Currently mixed use. Scheele’s Market and two-level apartment. Market is grandfathered zoned special use. A great opportunity to restore this historic building back into an elegant Georgetown residence. Lovely yard with deck and two car parking!
It’s certainly troubling for the Lees and their customers that the listing is emphasizing the possibility that a new owner could transform the property from valuable corner store to just another rowhouse.
GM hopes the fears are unjustified and that a new owner sees more money as a landlord. But as a larger question, it seems that Georgetown has not done what is necessary to preserve our corner stores. One of the best things about our neighborhood is the mix of residential and commercial uses. Unlike many other neighborhoods, Georgetown is a place where many people are no more than a few walkable blocks from milk, bread, and a bottle of wine. But this has been under constant attack from residents and organizations that seek to separate out home from store. The listing itself demonstrates this problem. The only reason Scheele’s even exists is because of zoning grandfathering. No one could open a new Scheele’s.
Throughout Georgetown you can see buildings that clearly once housed retail establishments. But even if you wanted to reestablish a business in those buildings, you would have to run a gauntlet of angry neighbors and an unfriendly ANC and BZA that kowtows to angry neighbors. Certainly nobody wants to end up like the residents of Potomac St. who saw a quiet private home get turned into a loud late night pizza restaurant, but there has to be a middleground that would facilitate more desirable mixed uses. The uniqueness of Georgetown depends on it.