Frager’s rethinking its bid to raze iconic storefront

The owner of Frager’s Hardware is reconsidering his bid to raze what’s left of his fire-ravaged, approximately block-long Capitol Hill storefront.

I’m told architects and engineers working with John Weintraub, Frager’s proprietor, recently met with representatives of both the District’s Historic Preservation Office and the Department of Consumer and Regulatory Affairs to discuss his raze application filed with the city late last month. Weintraub had proposed to take down all that’s left of his iconic store, stretching from 1101 to 1117 Pennsylvania Ave. SE.

That meeting, government sources tell me, ended with Weintraub’s team agreeing to explore the costs of stabilizing the exterior walls fronting 11th Street and Pennsylvania Avenue SE and demolishing the back portion of the building, which was destroyed in the June 5 blaze.

“In the wake of the fire, the remaining walls are structurally compromised,” said Kristin Sampson, Frager’s spokeswoman. “We have been working closely with engineers, contractors, architects, DCRA and other agencies to determine the best course of action given the myriad factors to consider. At this time, our studies remain ongoing so we will wait to comment until a plan for going forward is in place.”

Weintraub’s raze application was bound for trouble the moment it was submitted, given Frager’s is a contributing building within the Capitol Hill Historic District. The walls may be unstable, but if they can be stabilized, then D.C. officials, and many residents, will want the building saved.

On Aug. 8, the Hill Rag ran a statement issued by Weintraub that indicated the “shell of the building that once housed Frager’s has been found unsafe and unstable,” and that the “city has recommended that the process be expedited by issuing an emergency permit to raze the remains of the building.”

Sampson said that statement is no longer relevant.

“We’re still going through the process,” Sampson said. “This is all certainly new to us.”

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