16 Jun 2010

7-Eleven: Good Neighbor for H Street or Not?

Originally uploaded to flickr by Digitalnative.

When redevelopment plans for H Street Connection are discussed in grand terms, I don’t think 7-Eleven is part of the vision.  However, that is exactly what’s happening — now and in the new development (assuming it is finished in the next 10 years).  Rappaport Companies, the manager of H Street Connection, has signed a multi-year lease with 7-Eleven at 957 H Street, NE, a topic that has already generated much speculation and discussion.

To be clear, it is my understanding that 7-Eleven is coming.  Had it been successfully classified as a fast food establishment, there would be additional licensing and approval hurdles for the store.  Since that is not the case, the question now is more a matter of when and how they will open, not if they will at all.

(As an aside, proponents for the fast food classification may in fact have a good argument, but at the public meeting I attended with representatives of 7-Eleven and Rappaport Companies, the 7-Eleven rep only cited what percentage of their square footage is dedicated to fast food — which I believe is anticipated to be 10%.  I find that number meaningless since the valuable indicator would be what percentage of sales is fast food — e.g., of the products that go out the door, how much of it is fast food.  The rep didn’t divulge that number.)

As a matter of convenience, there are some who say a store with basic necessities that stays open late (7-Eleven wants to be open 24 hours) would be a welcome addition, especially for future tenants of planned condos above the ground-level retail.  However, the company suffers mightily from the poor reputation of its store at 8th and Maryland, NE.  That store is beset by panhandlers, loiterers, obvious shoplifting, and litter that extends several blocks into the surrounding neighborhood. I actually live near this store but avoid at all costs for many of these reasons.

In an attempt to preemptively address these issues and others, ANC 6A’s Economic Development and Zoning Committee has written a Draft Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) Between ANC 6A, Rappaport Companies and 7-Eleven Corporation.  The draft was approved at a recent ANC 6A meeting.  This means it will now be sent to Rappaport and 7-Eleven and they will negotiate a final MOU with the ANC.

The full text of the MOU can be found on pages 39-40 of the June 10th ANC 6A agenda.  In brief, the MOU sets forth 10 requirements for 7-Eleven:

1. Educate and instruct all employees to engage in active enforcement of the no-loitering policy.

2. Detail and implement debarment procedures for misbehavior on the private property surrounding the store.

3. Ban certain tobacco products, such as mini cigars and rolling papers, that can be refashioned for illicit purposes.

4. Limit late night hours for a 2 month probationary period so that the store closes between 2AM and 5AM (3AM closing on weekends).

5. Minimum staffing levels to ensure adequate safety and ensure employees are able to enforce the no-loitering policy.

6. Limit sales of fast food items so as not to constitute a “fast food establishment” for zoning purposes.  Store may not sell chicken wings and the prepared foods section should be limited to no more than 10% of the interior retail space.

7. Minimum security standards in and around the facilities (cameras in front and side covering sidewalk and parking area, lighting along H and 10th Streets that amplifies visibility without affecting residential neighbors along 10th).

8. Commitment to cleaning property, parking lot and sidewalk from alley on 10th around the corner and onto H Street no less than 5 times/business day.  Rappaport Companies agrees to extend service 1.5 blocks to include Sherwood Recreation Center parking lot and back along 10th to store entrance.

9. Participation in any ongoing reimbursable police detail along the eastern end of the H Street Corridor.

10. Installing a physical barrier to reduce foot traffic spilling over on to 10th Street.

11.  Voluntary enforcement if violations of the provisions are identified.  If violations recur, 7-Eleven will further restrict its hours of operation.

12. The MOU carries over if/when the store is transferred to a franchisee.

Though not a member at the time the MOU was drafted, Sharee Lawler is currently a member of the ANC 6A Planning and Zoning Committee.

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  • Hilary

    I live near the 8th and Maryland NE store too… and while the littering is a constant problem, it’s very nicely balanced by the almost continuous police presence in our neighborhood. The officers actually use the 7-11, I think, as an office away from the station. I feel incredibly safe knowing they’re already there. It’s worth picking up trash for…

  • JJ

    I live close to the 8th and Maryland store as well and while the added police presence is somewhat of a benefit the litter is a serious detriment. Trash from 7-11 is on both sides of the sidewalk and it makes the place look like hell. Granted some of this is due to the fact that there is a bus stop right across the street but I don’t think that should absolve 7-11 from cleaning up the mess that they helped create.

    In my opinion, 7-11 should be required to contribute to additional trash collectors in the area. Right now, they do absolutely nothing.

  • Jon

    We used to live 2 blocks from the 7-11 at 8th Street NE, and I appreciated both the steady police presence and the convenience for staples like milk and juice. My biggest complaint was that the Slurpee machine was constantly out of order. As for the trash, yes it was fairly consistent and walking the dog without him chowing down on 7-11 scraps was a challenge at times. But there are a number of trash cans in the immediate vicinity. Is the litter 7-11’s fault, or that of the customers?

  • Awads

    yes, jon!! it was the lack of a working slurpee machine that has kept me from frequenting that particular 7-11, though i live very close. i appreciate that there is a police substation inside. i’ll go there to pick up milk, or a newspaper on occassion. but it’s not a regular shopping spot for me. i wouldn’t have a problem with one on H street, so long as they don’t sell drug paraphanalia and can keep the loitering to a minimum.

  • C

    Love that chicken wings are specifically named! I have to say that Atlanta has a much bigger chicken bone litter problem. I never knew how many people eat wings in public places until I got a dog!

  • Jon

    See, I never knew they even sold chicken wings. I was too mesmerized by the dozens of rolling hot dogs and weird sausage logs. And the weird lazy-susan of meat pies.

  • Sebastian

    Wow. So much unbiased reporting.
    Hope you never need milk, pampers or a can of dog food in an emergency. Some of us, don’t want to spend our lives in a Safeway line. By the way, I’ve never seen chicken wings at 7-11, so maybe you should the blame else where for that problem.

  • Hilary

    We definitely get some bones in our front garden because of the 7-11, but more often than not, it’s the boxes the hot dogs come in.

    Jon — You’re absolutely right. The food by the counter is gross. And mesmerizing. I can’t understand how anyone would think it looks like something to eat, but I’ve seen people order stuff.

    We use the 7-11 for emergency mini peanut butter cups, ice cream, milk, eggs, etc.

  • SCL

    @ Sebastian – I too thought it was just hot dogs and other “meats”, but after the community meeting I did stop in and they do, in fact, sell chicken wings at 8th & MD, though perhaps they don’t have them all the time because I’d never noticed them before either. And yes, I do need things in an emergency but I choose to go elsewhere because there are business owners that I think are better neighbors to the community. But that’s a personal criteria for how I spend my dollar.

    @Hilary – agreed that the police presence is a benefit, however I don’t see the need for a trade-off. Can’t we have police AND clean sidewalks courtesy of 7-11 (they’re the source of the trash, even if they aren’t the ones carelessly dropping it on the sidewalk)? That was one of the things that impressed me the most about Rappaport’s stance on H Street Connection — they were very willing to extend porter service a few additional blocks into the neighborhood to help abate the litter problem.

  • Woo

    Even the 7-11 /on 8th St SE (Barracks Row) is a problem in that neighborhood. Lots of trash, lots of panhandling…things you don’t see elsewhere on the street.

  • oboe

    Is the litter 7-11’s fault, or that of the customers?

    Really, when it comes down to community impact, does it matter whether it’s the scuzziness of the store, or the clientèle the scuzzy store attracts?

  • CD

    The Capitol Hill 7-11s have dreadful management. My personal aversion is rooted in the decrepit linoleum flooring at the Barracks Row outpost.

    The late-night convenience store has a completely different profile in East Asia. The average 7-11 there (and the Circle K and the Family Mart) is a thing of beauty, a joy forever. Scuzzy clientele enjoy a clean, well-lit place as much as anyone else.

  • Katherine

    I agree there must be something wrong with the 7-11 management on Capitol Hill. My slurpee addiction has taken me to 7-11’s all over the country but after one visit to the sketchy one on 8th St. NE, I have no plan to return (nor did I buy a slurpee there because the few machines that weren’t broken looked grimy). I hope the MOU helps make the new one a nicer place because the fault for the skuzziness definitely lies with the management. I’d never seen such a gross 7-11 before and slurpees should be beautiful.

    Also, H street doesn’t need a 7-11 to increase police presence. They already flock to Taylor deli. Yum!

  • I don’t live in your community but my community in Denver is extremely concerned about a 7-11 moving in. For the same concerns many of you have mentioned but also because of the crime that 7-11’s all over the country attract. Read more about it at http://bit.ly/dpAIw8. If you have to give on any points in your MOU make sure it’s not on any of the security issues. Good luck!

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