A local 7-Eleven store looking into expanding its hours has faced stiff opposition from Foggy Bottom residents worried that students with the after-hours munchies will disrupt the neighborhood.
The store, located at 912 New Hampshire Avenue NW near the Foggy Bottom Metro station, is petitioning the District to stay open 24 hours a day, seven days per week. The store currently operates from 7 a.m. to 11 p.m. every day.
Officials from the city’s Board of Zoning Adjustment will hold a hearing to decide whether to extend the store’s hours. The hearing, originally scheduled for June 17, has been pushed back to August or September, said Sam Motamedi, the store’s owner.
The BZA is a five-member panel that rules on zoning issues in the District.
Ronald Cocome, president of the Foggy Bottom Association, wrote a letter to BZA Chair Geoffrey Griffis asking the board to reject 7-Eleven’s application for extended hours. He said allowing 7-Eleven to operate through the night would be a “highly unacceptable imposition on the community.”
“It is most unlikely that the 7-Eleven will be frequented in the wee hours of the morning by residents of the community who must rest in order to go to work in the morning,” Cocome said in the letter.
“However, it will be a destination for many (GW) students as they wrap up an evening’s activities,” he added.
Motamedi said he doesn’t see any problems with extending the store’s hours.
“Of course we’re concerned about the community…we feel like we can serve the community
better with this,” he said.
Motamedi said allowing 7-Eleven to stay open 24 hours a day would attract more customers and increase sales.
But “no one knows how much our business will increase until we try it,” he said.
Motamedi said he was unsure what percentage of the store’s customers are students, but said, “we have a good mixture of customers.”
Cocome said the negative effects resulting from having a 24-hour store in Foggy Bottom – specifically noise from 7-Eleven patrons – far outweighs the benefits.
“(Extending the store’s hours) would bring a lot of vehicular traffic after hours,” said Jacqueline Lemire, member and former president of the Foggy Bottom Association. Lemire said the increased traffic would come from people living in other neighborhoods coming to the 7-Eleven because of its extended hours.
The store is operating under a city exemption because the building in which the store is located is not zoned for commercial use, Lemire said. She said extending the store’s hours, given that it is already operating under an exemption, would be “unacceptable” to Foggy Bottom residents.
Lemire said she will testify at the BZA hearing on behalf of the Foggy Bottom Association, which is unanimously opposed to 7-Eleven’s request.
Students said they would greatly benefit from having a 24-hour convenience store near campus, citing the lack of on-campus eating options provided by the University.
“It would be a great idea, especially around midterms and finals,” sophomore Vinicius Portugal said. “I don’t think it would bother people as much as they say it will.
“It’d be nice to have something on campus open 24/7,” sophomore Niki Jaiswal said.
Cocome criticized GW as a “greedy, corporate administration” for not providing 24-hour dining options for students in facilities such as the Marvin Center.
“The biggest problem in our neighborhood is that the University is constantly expanding,” he said.
“(Because of its expansion) the University is morally obligated to provide students with adequate shopping amenities,” he added. “Students are entitled to lead a normal student life (but) should be in an environment where they are not imposing on other people.”
Several universities have at least one eatery on or near campus that is open 24 hours a day.
The University of Maryland has several on-campus convenience stores that are open 24 hours, Monday through Friday, according to the UMD Web site.
At Duke University, students enjoy can choose from several 24-hour eating options, including a diner.
“When you’ve been staring at a blank computer screen all night and it’s 3 a.m. and you need something to eat, having the ability to grab a quick bite to eat at all hours is a real life saver,” said Taj Patel, a graduate student at Duke. “It’s by no means a necessity but it helps a lot.”
Motamedi said he is unsure whether 7-Eleven will take Colonial Cash – a new dining program that combines Debit Dollars and Points – next semester. He said if 7-Eleven accepted Colonial Cash, more students would shop at the store.
“Since a lot of students have Colonial Cash it would be more convenient,” Motamedi said. “It would be beneficial to both the University and us because we’re basically in the middle of campus.”
Several off-campus eating establishments, including T.G.I. Friday’s and Pizza Italia, will start accepting Colonial Cash in the fall.
-Michael Barnett contributed to this report.