Thursday, December 9, 2010

Marvelous Mellon and the Main Streets of MLK

The building on the corner of Mellon and MLK had a storied past and hopefully to many nearby residents a bright future ahead.

For nearly a century, the building stood an iconic landmark and cultural gateway to historic Congress Heights.

Then came the 50s, the little town on top of the hill overlooking the vast expanse of a monochrome buildings perched on wide avenues laid out in a magnificent system of quadrants by French Architect Charles L'Enfant.

The war had ended, the Great Depression a fading image in the rear view mirror.  All of a sudden, the Government was hiring and Federal workers abound.

From the Navy Yard to Bolling, thousands upon thousands of jobs were created to support the burgeoning Military/Industrial Complex.

The 1960s ushered in a period of hard drugs, rampant liquor and sordid strip clubs that dotted the strip, virtually every corner, on both sides of the street.

Slowly and steadily, the area started going downhill.  Schools became desegregated and the white and wealthy moved out to the sprawling suburbs.

But now gentrification has come to this side of the river, and with a consolidated headquarters for the U.S. Department of Homeland Security with 4.5 million square feet of office space already breaking ground, thousands upon thousands of employees will start moving permanently within two years.

2013: Coast Guard
2014: DHS and FEMA
2016: TSA, CBP, and ICE

The 1960s was also an era of assassinations and in 1968, Martin Luther King was martyred.  The ensuing riots ravaged the town for four endless days -- the capital ablaze, the scars left behind by the looting and arson still evident a generation later.

Lena had just finished her inventory at the store.  The convenience store had opened up three years ago and was doing great business.  They had a steady flow of customers from the amazing foot traffic and prime location right on the prominent corner.

Congress Heights was happy to get its first grocery store three years ago -- a sprawling Giant selling fresh fruit with clean aisles.  For the last three decades, this area was in a sad state of neglect.  Now 19 projects worth over $455 million dollars had been either started or slated since 2006 with the headquarters of the Department of Homeland Security moving into neighboring St Elizabeths.

Still, many local residents from east and west and up and down Malcomn X Avenue found the Corner Mom and Pop store reliable, well stocked and selling exactly what they wanted.

And with more than 2,650 residential units and 6.6 million sq. ft. of office space in the pipeline within one mile of Congress Heights, business would surely pick up and be sustained.

The Mellon Convenience Store had an advantage of many others -- their large basement that served as storage.  Because of this storage, the store could maintain a large inventory of merchandise.

The advantage of this is that the store is always stocked which is extremely beneficial since the store never closes.  However, since the store had to purchase goods ahead of time, they had to ensure proper documentation and accounting.

In Inventory Control, do you restock the shelves by pushing the old items back to make room for new items of the same kind (The Last item stocked will be the first one sold -- LIFO), or do you move them to the front (FIFO)?

Well it depends. Perishable items (dairy, mayonnaise, juice) need to be FIFO, but other items like clothing or raw material can be either.

Why does it matter, you may ask.  Because it will make a huge difference in the Profit/Loss statements. For one, FIFO results in higher inventory accounts compared to LIFO.  Also results in lower Cost of Goods Sold amount.

COGS = Beginning Inventory + Purchases - Ending Inventory 

Subway works a little differently.  They actually purchase raw material (flour, barley, sugar, salt, etc).  All these ingredients cost something.

In Subway's case, whatever finished loafs, meat and veggies they have at the end of each quarter (Goods Avail for Sale) subtract the  inventory of raw materials to make these finished products is the Cost of Goods Sold.

The $5 Subway sandwich is such a great marketing idea for the Franchisor. That's because the company gets paid no matter what the profit margin is for the Franchisee.  The profit margin is normally $1.20 per sandwich.  So we are hoping that the diner is extra thirsty.

Subway is such a great restaurant because

  • The bread is fresh and the smell lingers
  • The customer can ask exactly how they want their sandwich
  • The space is clean and presentable
  • The sandwiches are delicious
  • Price is Right (sometimes even as economical as making it at home)
The drawbacks of starting a franchise, is the amount of money invested upfront. There is a franchise fee along with an build-up fee which could run a couple hundred thousand dollars or more.

Because of the Time Value of Money, this is money that is tied up and will take some years before an investor recoups this investment.

FV= PV (1 + i )N
  • FV = Future Value
  • PV = Present Value
  • i = the interest rate per period
  • n= the number of compounding periods

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

DCHA Section 8 Inspection (Need Handrail)

                                                 Need grout or caulk on bottom of sink

Some bricks are loose. Need mortar

 Need handrails -- "3 or more steps"
Contractors for handrails:
Kelley Welding (Hyattsville, MD)

Zottola Fab (Pittsburgh)

Needs caulking

Drawers need repair

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Maintenance of Hot Water Boiler

Long time plumber and pipefitter, Jeff Bishop describes how he repaired my 30-year old hot water boiler located at 500 Lebaum St. SE.

Jeff also showed the rust grime that came out of the boiler.

Seven years ago, Jeff installed the radiators in the basement.

This house is profiled in my blog: RUNIN Anacostia.

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Sunday, September 26, 2010

The Long Living Boiler

Jeff Bishop had to flush out the boiler and radiators today. The person who soldered the pipes for the HW heater did a messy job.  The sweating was unprofessional.  So Jeff came to provide advice.

Jeff came in and flushed the pipes for the boiler.  This boiler is likely 25-30 years old.  Few contractors understand hot water heat.   They can lat 50 years with proper controls and maintenance.

 A major drawback is that central air conditioning cannot be installed without a seperate air handler and ductwork which is a huge expense. Ultimately these factors should be reflected in the value of the home. Central air conditioning is almost a given in 2007 where it didn't exist in 1955.

A water boiler feeds radiators as opposed to the boiler that heats air.

Not staying cherry red.  When gas hits it it lights.  Jeff did find out there was a problem with the thermocouple (which costs less than $10).  Then he realized that it was the valve.

Next he had to flush out the radiators.  He charged $300 for the flush and another $300 for the repair.

Monday, September 20, 2010

Friday, August 27, 2010

French Drain for House

We installed this French Drain for Lebaum Street.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Thursday, August 5, 2010

AC Blowing Warm Air

While out of town, the AC stopped pumping out cool air.  The fan was still working but just ambient air. When Mike opened up the unit, he discovered that the capacitor blew out.   After changing out the capacitor, now the condenser wasn't coming on. (The capacitor has three connections -- one for the fan and two for the condenser.

Now that the capacitor is replaced, the next thing we need to troubleshoot is the contact.

Sunday, May 30, 2010

Ikea Comes to the Rescue

In just three short years, my tenant had destroyed my countertop.

Not able to wait any longer, I went ahead and moved forward with the new installation.  Instead of purchasing cheaper quality material,  I was enamored by what you could do with Ikea.
This was a proof in concept showing that we can get quality countertops from Ikea.

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House showing the scenic Oxon Run trail

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Art or Eyesore?

I am reposting this blog from Congress Heights on the Rise: Nov 7, 2009

The Advoc8te took a stroll up Mellon Street today to the corner of MLK Avenue and I saw that the Mellon Street Corner store has added a new mural on their wall facing Mellon Street,  next to the tattoo shop mural of Dr. King and President Obama.

I am not sure if this new mural is art, an advertisement or both but I am pretty sure whatever it is I hate it - I really hate it. I think that that in order to encourage business development on the Congress Heights corridor the corridor needs to look more inviting for business - both for  potenital customers and businesses alike. The visual standards need to be raised along with business services and options.  Personally, I really like murals - when done tastefully they can really have a positive impact on a community and add a certain flair and character. My own personal opinion (and we all know what they say about opinons) is that the murals on Mellon Street  perhaps aren't the best fit for where we are trying to go as a community.

In terms of the Mellon Street Corner store mural while I totally appreciate the stores desire to want to advertise their business,  highlighting only the stereotypical things you would expect to find in a low income neighborhood with few services and options (check cashing, money wiring services and last but not least - the lottery) underestimates the needs of their consumers and in the long run places limitations on the potential for their business to expand. In regards to the Obama/King mural overall I like the intent of the mural - I just think it could have been executed a bit... differently (to be honest I thought the depiction of Obama looked more like Malcom X). I am super curious to know if DC goverment has rules or regulations regarding the installation of wall murals on commercial property. Do they have to go before the community for approval or input prior to being installed?

I am interested in hearing some other opinions of the murals on the corner of Mellon Street and MLK. Art or Eyesore? Both? Neither? What do you think?

 Either way I would have preferred to see these type of public artistic/advertising installations be presented to the community for commentsbefore being installed.

On the far right wall is the Obama/King mural that went up after Obama won the presidential election.  Lord knows I love Obama and Dr. King and I really do appreciate the sentiment behind the installation of this mural but again I just don't like it.  My preference would have been for the iconic Obama "Change"  or "Progress" poster or perhaps one of his speeches - after community input of course. This is yet another example of how I feel if ANC 8C was a productive ANC, partnerships could be developed with local businesses and local artists to work with the community to include wall art and other types of artistic expressions in the community - in a beneficial and aesthetic pleasing manner.

Monday, January 4, 2010

Tribute Mural at MLK