Jack’s Boathouse Lease Canceled

Like a Grinch before Christmas, the National Park Service has canceled its lease with Jack’s Boathouse, the popular canoe and kayak renting facility on the Potomac River next to Key Bridge.

According to a letter received by Paul Simkin, owner of Jack’s Canoes & Kayaks, LLC, from the National Park Service, his business has until the end of next month to vacate the property. Jack’s has been a boat rental location in the same spot on the river since 1945.

The letter, sent Dec. 18 and signed by NPS regional director Stephen Whitesell, stipulates: “This letter serves as notice to Jack’s . . . to terminate its occupancy of the leased premises. Please vacate the property on and before 11:59 p.m. on January 31, 2013, and remove all personal property from the premises. . . .”

The letter also reads: “As you are aware, the property upon which Jack’s Canoes & Kayaks, LLC, conducts business became a part of Rock Creek Park when the District of Columbia transferred jurisdiction over certain property along the Georgetown Waterfront to the National Park Service. This 1984 transfer included the October 1, 1973, month-to-month lease (as amended in 1982) for the property popularly known as Jack’s Boat House, located at 3500 K Street, N.W. . . . and said lease was assigned to the National Park Foundation.”

The Georgetowner contacted the NPS to ask why the boathouse lease was canceled, but its public affairs office has not yet responded to the newspaper.

As the latest owner of Jack’s Boat House, Paul Simkin commented on the NPS decision to cancel his business’s lease.

“The Jack’s Boathouse family is heartbroken that after 70 years on the same location, we are told in a form letter that we must be out by 30 days,” Simkin said. “Hearing this at Christmastime will be a huge blow to our 27 employees at Jack’s Boathouse who are losing their jobs which makes this even harder.”

“Last summer was the best summer we ever had in D.C. at the boathouse with our business booming and our customers happy,” he said. “We were brought into the National Park Service offices and assured a minimum of a three-year contract — and then to be told this now is just devastating.”

Simkin said that he has grown Jack’s seasonal customer base from 4,000 four years ago to 72,000 in 2012.

The Georgetowner will have an update to this news story next week — along with a review of possible boathouse projects on the Potomac and the proposal to move Jack’s Boathouse upstream.

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