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The Woodley Park Study Hub: A Success Story of Landlords and Commercial Tenants Making the Best of a Difficult Situation

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The start of the school year has added another layer of anxiety and stress to the nerve-wracking new normal that small business owners in the District of Columbia have gotten used to. Now in addition to watching the bills pile up as landlords continue to charge rent even though they cannot eviction tenants until after October 9, Washingtonians must help their children navigate another quarter, at least, of online school. Business owners everywhere have had to think creatively about how to enable their businesses to remain profitable during the COVID-19 pandemic even when it is illegal or unsafe to engage in the business activities that were their bread and butter before the spring of 2020. Openness to new ideas on the part of both commercial tenants and their landlords is the key to the survival of many businesses in this district. If your business is trying to change direction and you want to work out an arrangement with your landlord that will make this possible, contact a small business lawyer for help.

In-Person School Is the New Recreation

When the COVID-19 pandemic required most businesses to restrict in-person visits from customers, some had more effective strategies than others for surviving the shutdown. Restaurants put their advertising efforts into carryout and delivery services. Gymboree, an indoor play center that offers music classes for young children, did not have an obvious way to pivot to a social distancing-compatible version of its operations. (Sure, you could stream Gymboree classes, but anyone who is familiar with a toddler’s attention span knows that the target audience will be clicking on Peppa Pig videos within ten seconds.)

Randy Brown, the tenant who rents the space in Woodley Park, across the street from the Woodley Park-Zoo Metro station decided to turn the space into a Study Hub location. Brown decided to do this in order to meet the pressing need for socially distancing classroom space for elementary school-aged children in the District. The Woodley Park Study Hub will operate similarly to the pandemic-era SACC programs in Fairfax County. In other words, students will attend their online classes using school-issued laptop computers at the Study Hub location. Students will spend the whole day in the same room with the same small group of children, with ample space between desks, to limit the number of people with whom they have indoor contact and to keep them a safe distance apart. The cost evens out to about $12.50 per hour, but financial aid is available. Brown told NBC News that he will not turn any families away because of their inability to pay. The new Study Hub location is open to students from kindergarten to sixth grade.

The arrangement was only possible because Chris Martin, the landlord, was willing to let Brown change his business activities in the middle of the lease term. Landlords and tenants throughout the District should follow this example of being flexible and finding practical solutions.

Let Us Help You Today

As the pandemic summer turns into the pandemic fall, a Washington DC small business lawyer can help you find ways to enable your business to survive. Contact Tobin, O’Connor & Ewing for help.

Resources:

nbcwashington.com/news/local/play-center-to-transform-into-study-hub/2400149/

wjla.com/news/local/dc-business-owner-and-landlord-work-out-deal-to-make-ends-meet

https://www.tobinoconnor.com/dcs-streatery-winter-ready-grant-program-offers-to-keep-diners-warm-and-restaurants-solvent-this-fall/

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