Thursday, October 30, 2008

Important Neighborhood Happenings

There's a lot going on in the hood over the next couple of weeks, and rather than hash it out over several posts, we thought we'd just put it all out there in one handy post.

11th Street:  When is it going to start/end?
Unfortunately, we can't answer any of those questions, because it doesn't seem as if there are any answers to be had.  However, next Thursday, November 6, DDOT will be hosting an informational session about the project including, presumably, when it will begin.  From ANC2f commissioner Mike Bernardo:

On Thursday, November 6, at 6:00 pm the District Department of
Transportation (DDOT) will provide the public with an update on a
roadway construction project along 11th Street from L to O Streets,
NW. The meeting will be held at the Asbury United Methodist Church,
located at 926 Eleventh Street, NW, Washington, DC 20001.

The improvements in this area include roadway reconstruction,
sidewalks, street lighting, intersection and signal improvements,
enhancements to traffic operations, pedestrian amenities, and safety

Thursday's briefing with residents and businesses in the area will
provide an update on construction timing, phasing, and traffic
management, as well as DDOT's plans for coordinating with utilities
and private developments in the area.

Information will continue to be distributed throughout the
construction of this project.

For more information please contact the construction manager, Mr.
Osman Mohamed; or DDOT's project engineer Mr. Michael Conley at (202)

The project's public outreach coordinator, Martha Kemp can be reached
by e-mail at mkemp@volkert. com or by phone at (202) 237-6269.

Shocking News:  Furniture Store Coming to 14th Street?

As DCist reported earlier this week, it seems that big box Crate 'n Barrel lookalike "Room and Board" is in the running to move into the new project at 14th and T, beating out a proposed comedy club that had financial backing from Dave Chappelle.

Because, you know, that's exactly what 14th St. needs--another furniture shop. Now, don't get me wrong: as anyone who has read this blog knows, we're fans of the furniture scene that has developed along 14th St. Heck, Mrs. 14thandyou wrote an entire post about it not too long ago. But I think it's saf to say the market has been saturated by this point. If you can't find what you're looking for along 14th St., what, a drive to West Elm or Crate and Barrel is going to kill you?

Plus, I just have to add one final comment about the name of the new store, "Room and Board": Ugh.

Efforts to Curb World's Oldest Profession Continue

We've all seen it at some point: a woman of the night waltzing around the 'hood, maybe along the AYT Auto lot, maybe behind the Mr. Wash. And we'd all be thrilled to eradicate it from the neighborhood. Well, the City Council's Public Safety Committee has got a meeting for you.

Phil Mendelson and the committee will convene a meeting to discuss efforts to combat prostitution in the District next Friday, November 7 at noon. Unfortunately, the 14thandYous have prior commitments with our employers, but we both feel this is an important neighborhood issue. Hopefully, someone can attend and report back as to what efforts the city is undertaking to stem the tide of people paying for sex.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

So, if you're headed to tonight's High Heel Race... sounds like you're going to need any combination of the following: an umbrella, an overcoat, a hat, a scarf, gloves, boots, a raincoat, and perhaps snow shoes.

So be careful out there. That goes for the guys wearing heels as well.

Monday, October 27, 2008

"Dakota Cowgirl" Space Continues to Take Shape

As you may recall from our earlier posting on this (as well as other sources) the long-anticipated opening of the new restaurants/bars "Birch and Barley" and "ChurchKey" in the old Dakota Cowgirl space has continually been pushed back. Originally slated for a late spring/early summer opening, the opening date was then pushed back to fall. Since it's now "fall" the obvious question is: where are they?

The answer is: currently going through the permitting process to construct a rooftop deck on their structure. An optimistic "best guess" for opening at this point is sometime in January, although that is a very tentative date. (In other words, I wouldn't hold my breath.)

Although the permitting process itself can be unnecessarily cumbersome and lengthy, the delays in the project have largely been self-imposed. First, the developer of the location (Neighborhood Restaurant Group) took some time to determine how, exactly, to make use of the space. After making the determination to operate two separate entities in the building--the aforementioned "Birch and Barley" and "ChurchKey"--they have now decided to move forward with plans for a rooftop deck.

It should be noted that the CDC voted unanimously to write a letter of recommendation in support of the project, and all were enthusiastic about the concept. For more information about the concept, you can check out our previous post on the topic (linked above) or Metrocurean's write-up from August.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Parking Wars Continued

Many people likely recall the "parking wars" that have plagued the Logan Circle neighborhood over the past several years. A quick primer goes something like this: Logan is home to both a goodly number of residents and a goodly number of churches. Since many of these churches are located along otherwise residential blocks, parking on Sundays (and other days, depending upon the schedule of the church) can be a bit messy. OK, sometimes more than a bit. It's not uncommon to drive along R St., 13th St., Vermont Ave. and other streets on Sunday mornings and see a number of cars blocking alleys, driveways, intersections, handicapped ramps, and so on.

Things kind of simmered around for a while, then came close to blowing up during this past year as annoyed/angry residents began pushing the city to enforce parking laws, and church parishioners believed they were being singled out. The city responded by acting all crazy-like and issuing a statement that said, of all things, they were actually going to start enforcing existing parking laws--for everybody.

Recently, it seems that a problem has arisen with the Vermont Baptist Church and a vacant parcel of land at the southeastern corner of R and Vermont. The parcel is owned by the church, and is only "vacant" due to the fact that several years ago the church illegally tore down a structure that once sat on the premises. The parcel has sat empty ever since, home to a half-assed community garden of some sort and some haphazardly strewn rocks. That was, until recently, when the church began to use it as a parking pad for attendees of their Sunday services.

This bit of activity did not go unnoticed by ANC2F CDC member Joel Heisey, who raised the issue at last week's CDC meeting as an addition to the agenda. Heisey's issue is essentially as follows: Vermont Avenue Baptist illegally tore down the structure that existed on the parcel and should not be permitted to benefit from that illegal activity; in addition, Heisey argued that parking accommodations for the church have been made, including turning Vermont Ave. into a one-way street in front of the church. Heisey urged the CDC to send a letter to Mayor Adrian Fenty's office, Ward 2 council member Jack Evans, and DCRA to notify them of the illegal use of the parcel by the church and to enforce parking laws there as necessary.

Now, in my opinion this raises a couple of interesting issues. First and foremost, we're back to the question of how/when parking regulations should be enforced. I strongly supported the city's earlier position to enforce all existing parking laws equally, and I think that standard should be upheld here as well. But the undercurrent of this issue is the role that neighborhood groups such as the CDC should play with regards to relationships with neighborhood entities such as the Church, which caters predominantly to parishioners who do not reside in the Logan area. To be sure, no one should be viewed as above the law, and cries for preferential treatment on the part of the churches ring hollow to me--so long as your church is located in the District, you should abide by the District's rules. But what benefit is it to the neighborhood to demand that the lot in question be reverted back to a vacant parcel of land, which is seemingly the goal of the CDC action?

If parking is--and will continue to be--an issue for the churches in that area of the city, would not a reasonable response be to notify the city of the illegal use of the parcel by the church, while also notifying the church of the due process which could be embarked upon to permit the use of the lot as a parking pad going forward? Dismissing the Church as unwilling to participate in a process to legally use the space, while not even approaching the church regarding the matter--as was the case at the meeting--smacks of unnecessarily treating the Church as a combatant in this issue. In addition, I have to wonder what the city's response to the CDC request will be seeing as how no attempt to contact the Church has been made.

Now, most likely, little will come of this issue--parking enforcement remains notoriously lax throughout Logan--so it's hard to see this issue picking up much steam. But it seems that a better process could be put in place to deal with such issues in the future. If the church is non-responsive or combative, so be it. At a minimum, it would behoove the neighborhood to attempt to work with--not in opposition to--area entities such as the Church when attempting to resolve dicey issues such as parking rights and enforcement.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

High Heel Race — Save the Date

For the uninitiated, the annual drag high heel race on 17th Street is held on the Tuesday before Halloween, the 28th this year. Along the 17th Street route between P and S Streets, festivities start early. Between about 7 and 9 p.m. outrageous queens dance, strut, and roller skate up and down the blocks in a perpetual looping parade, usually livened up by a rolling speaker stack. By race time, the spectator lines are at least six rows deep from the curb. Get there early to claim a prime viewing spot for yourself. Another option is dining on one of the local bar patios. Be forewarned, however, that management will not allow fans on the sidewalk or from indoor seating to pour onto their patios and decks at race time; several local businesses have had ABRA fire marshal enforcement issues from such pile-ons. I hope to see the same incredible turn-out this year as in years past. There's just such a good vibe along 17th Street and all day in Dupont as queens start walking toward the race. Please just remember to leave your dog at home. There is a lot of noise and small animals can be nearly invisible to the thousands of pairs of feet in a crowd.

If you've missed the event in past years, check out this You Tube compilation of images and videos.

I [heart] DC Part II: Beautifully Progressive

In an effort to counter some of the DC self loathing and bashing that we sometimes observe, Mr. 14th & You and I are highlighting the positive. If you're feeling down, check out previous posts here, here, and here.

DC is wonderfully, fabulously, irrepressibly socially progressive. (Mom, you've done nothing wrong; sometimes parents raise hippies without meaning to.) What's even better than our city-wide character is that Logan Circle residents reflect these ideals.

I should be clear that I'm not a complete political party loyalist or as flamingly liberal as even my pinko commie husband (not a slur, but self-proclaimed). I dislike plenty that goes on in DC culture and politics. At the end of the day, though, I feel that this city's progressive tendencies support compassionate and responsible treatment of people and the environment such as . . .

Environmental Protection: The DC government has a number of programs in place to protect the environment. One of the environmentally friendly activities our city is most successful at is recycling. DC recently added extensively to the list of materials it will accept for weekly residential recycling pick-up. You can now dispose of almost all plastic food containers; dry cleaning bags; plastic grocery bags; and rigid plastics such as laundry baskets and flower pots. Even before the recent expansion of the recycling program, residential recycling rates for newspapers, cardboard, plastic bottles, and green bottles exceeded national averages (2008 Waste Sort Report). Many of the items not included in the weekly recycling collection can still be recycled or disposed of safely through the city dump. For example you no longer have to wait for semi annual hazardous waste disposal events to get rid of computers and TVs because DC is providing free electronics recycling. If you don't recycle where you live or work, go here for more information about how to start.

The local government involvement in environmental protection doesn't end with waste issues.
DC is now requiring that all new construction over 50,000 square feet comply with Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) standards. Foregoing revenue our city government even charges reduced sales tax on new hybrid vehicles. To encourage residents to do even more for the environment, the DC government sponsors such events as the Energy Efficiency Expo coming up on November 1. For more information from the DC government about going green go to this site.

DC homeowners go well beyond government requirements. In the recent Post Magazine Home and Design Issue a Florida Avenue, NW home was featured for its unique design and environmental considerations. We even have enough green households that you could even tour solar homes earlier this month. Parked in front of our increasingly energy efficient Logan Homes, I've been seeing an explosion of Smart Cars, which is remarkable in that they very recently came onto the US market and there is currently a waiting period for delivery.

DC business support the environment too. Reusable shopping bags have become a staple at our local stores; Go Mama Go and Pulp have a good variety available for purchase. Commissary has branded itself as a green business using clean sources of electricity. As well, in our neighborhood, there are two stores specifically focussed on environmentally friendly goods — Greater Goods at 1626 U Street, NW and Eco-Green Living at 14 69 Church Street, NW. Anyone in need of new furniture can easily find very worthwhile recycled pieces at resale shops along 14th and U Streets — Miss Pixie's, Good Wood, and Rough and Ready among other retailers.

Support of the GLBT Community: No one would argue that there is no discrimination against the GLBT community in DC. However, DC is increasingly more accepting than many other cities. We've moved well beyond having one gay-friendly neighborhood and one recognition of the gay community during a pride festival.

The 1992 DC Law 9-114, the Health Benefits Expansion Act, allows for unmarried couples to register as domestic partners. According to Wikipedia, there are only eight other states in the US with domestic partnership laws. In fact, our neighbor Maryland was unable to get a limited partnership law enacted until this year. California did not enact its first limited partnership law until 1999.

As registered partners in DC, couples, gay and hetero, are protected with hospital/nursing home visitation rights, family leave, ability to include a partner on health insurance plans, rights to inheritance, and the ability to receive alimony if the relationship is terminated.

The DC government has specifically reached out to the GLBT community. Under law, DC does not allow for discrimination on actual or perceived appearance, gender identity, or sexual orientation. The Federal Government and many states do not define nearly as many protected classes as DC does. Within the mayor's administration, we have a permanent cabinet level Office of Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, and Transgender Affairs headed by ANC 2F commissioner Christopher Dyer. This office is responsible for public education, community outreach, and public policy development. As well, members of the office go out into the community during monthly events. See their schedule here.

Workers' Rights: As of this year, employers over a certain size must provide paid sick leave. What a tremendous help to hourly wage earners who otherwise might feel compelled work while ill. I, for one, do not want a line cook with norovirus preparing my food because he can't afford to miss out on pay. Nor do I want a healthcare worker with a contagious disease attending to the immune compromised. This law also provides time off for victims of violence and abuse. The mandatory sick leave bill passed despite strong opposition from the DC Chamber of Commerce and business owners. According to the Washington Post, San Fransisco is the only other US city with a similar law on the books.

DC also supports parents with a mandatory annual leave allotment of 24 hours for parental duties. Parents and primary caregivers can take time off to go to parent-teacher conferences, school graduations, and even student performances.

As well, in Washington employers must provide 16 weeks unpaid medical leave for individuals to take for themselves or an immediate family under the DC Family Medical Leave act. Here employees have the option to take four more weeks off for medical concerns than what is nationally mandated under FMLA.

Faith Communities: In this city we have plenty of houses of worship that advocate for inclusion. In our neighborhood, several churches advertise their acceptance gays and racial minorities. I have seen rainbow flags hanging on churches and as well as signs and websites reassuring that all are welcome to come worship. If you are seeking an "affirming" church, synagogue, or religious organization, visit this page on the DC Office of Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, and Transgender Affairs.

As well some of DC's churches have tackled human rights and political issues beyond sexual orientation. St John's Church in Thomas Circle has hosted or will host forums this year on preventing gun violence, supporting human rights, and maintaining the separation of church and state. This past Sunday Eboo Patel, named one of America's top Muslim visionaries by Islamica Magazine, spoke before the service at the Washington National Cathedral. Last night the Cathedral hosted a packed house for a foreign policy discussion entitled "America and the World: Picking Up the Pieces." Churches, once known for being homogenous slices of their immediately surrounding areas, are now beginning to reflect the diversity and probing intellectualism of DC's culture.

Health and Wellness: In 2007, DC attacked one of the major contributors to heart disease and cancer, cigarette smoking, by banning smoking in almost all places of business. With this legislation, our city became one of fewer than 20 "states" with a comprehensive smoking ban. Contrary to pre-ban fears, no more bars and restaurants folded in the year following the ban than would have been expected any other year. In fact, I'm more inclined to go out knowing that I'll feel and smell better when I come home.

Addressing another source of heart disease, we have proposed legislation to ban trans fats in restaurants in committee. I'm not entirely sure if I agree with such laws, but I do like that our city is considering measures to keep our populace healthy.

Exercise is key to almost any wellness effort, and DC culture does well to promote it too. We happen to be fortunate to live in a city with lots of green public land, a wide river, and a temperate climate. If jogging and gym memberships aren't for you, hop on a SmartBike and roll the streets for a while. Or you could join up with a club such as the International Club, which offers tennis, fencing, and sailing lessons. You could get lost in the depths of the internets trying to choose just one running club or kickball league. I have no idea how one ever chooses a yoga studio with all of the options in our neighborhood such as Flow Yoga Center, Boundless Yoga, Circle Yoga, DC Yoga, and Maruka Yoga. For those who need a coach, we have two personal training gyms here in Logan within blocks of each other — Body Smith and One World Fitness. My entirely unscientific survey indicates that Logan residents are pretty good at caring for their fitness and manage to do so in creatively fun ways. Thanks to the newly opened Lululemon on P Street, we can all look better in our active pursuits. As consumers of health products and services, Logan also offers a lot of options. We have two naturopathy centers, Tulsi Holistic Living and The District Wellness Group nestled in among chain and non traditional pharmacies and myriad medical offices.

For those who are actively fighting severe illness, we also have a couple of public and private programs of note. Our HIV/AIDS Administration has ties to a number of community organizations and a fairly extensive website connecting the infected to services. And Logan Circle is home to the Whitman Walker clinic, a truly admirable and compressive organization. Though Congress prohibits DC from using public funds for needle exchange, PreventionWorks still protects the IV drug addicted, their children, and their sexual partners from infectious disease with a free needle exchange program. To move the addicted beyond dependence the Department of Health has an Addiction Prevention and Recovery Administration. We can always do more to prevent and treat disease, but it is still remarkable to me that a city with a population around 600,000 has so many public and private health resources.

Social Causes: Whether you want to help the homeless, cure breast cancer, or end the AIDs epidemic, there are numerous walks, fundraisers, and community events for your cause (charity walk list here). Being the nation's capital, we also have associations for everything, including an association for associations. Not only can you walk the walks, but you can make your career helping in whatever sector matters to you most.

So, before you bash DC or just generally get down on our city, remember that we care for people and environment alike. There's always more that we could be doing, but our policies are at least as comprehensive if not more so than those you will encounter in famously progressive citie such as Portland, San Francisco, or Boston. Enjoy the freedoms DC gives you and take advantage of the remarkable government and private resources here to support and express your world view.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Buses and Streetcars and Trolleys, Oh My

Reading Metro's press release from yesterday regarding its plan to install additional "Express" bus routes throughout the city got me thinking about longer term planning for transportation solutions in the District.

Greater Greater Washington has taken the lead in thinking about Metro v2.0, and has produced a "future Metro" system map that I can only describe as mass transit porn. But the future of transportation in this city isn't simply about where the next Metro line will be built, it's about enhanced bus service, streetcars and better traffic-flow measures to help move people about. Several of these initiatives will, or could, have a direct affect on Logan and its residents.

Much has been made about the pending streetscape projects along 11th and 14th streets, but I wonder if we aren't missing an opportunity to think forward 20-30 years with our current projects. Take 14th Street, for example. In my opinion, it's a street that is a prime candidate for a streetcar line. I can envision a line running up and down 14th street, going from McPherson Square up through Logan, U St., and Columbia Heights, linking in a corridor that is underserved by Metro and expected to grow exponentially in the coming decades. Unfortunately, the idea of laying or planning for the installation of streetcar tracks was not taken under consideration for the 14th Street streetscape masterplan. Once that goes forward, it's likely to be decades before the District would feel compelled to revisit the issue.

11th Street is another underserved--yet vital--corridor that would benefit from a focus on transportation alternatives. At the very least, the development of an express bus line as part of the 66/68 route would benefit riders along the corridor considerably. It, too, would be a prime candidate for a streetcar or trolley line to move people from downtown to the residential areas that 11th street serves. Should the pace of development continue to march east (and there's seemingly no indication that it's going to stop) 11th will continue to be heavily utilized by both residents and commuters, with seemingly no plan in place to accommodate the inevitable increase in volume.

Many of the transportation options currently in place in the Logan/Shaw/U St. area were installed long before the area's development exploded, and the city and WMATA are doing a disservice to the area's residents by not taking this into consideration when planning long term projects for the neighborhood.

With that said, what do you think? What transportation initiatives or improvements would you like to see undertaken in the coming years/decades in the mid-city area? Are there alternatives that have not been discussed that should be? Share them in the comments below.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Loco Politico: LCCA to Host Candidates Forum

Tomorrow evening at their October meeting, the Logan Circle Community Association will be hosting a candidates forum for the upcoming election. Ward 2 Council candidates, many of the at-large council candidates, and all ANC2f candidates will be in attendance. According to the LCCA's website:

Please join the Logan Circle Community Association for its October meeting and candidates forum on October 15, 2008 from 7-10 p.m. at the Washington Plaza Hotel. We will host candidates for At-Large and Ward council positions, as well as ANC2F candidates. Candidates who have already confirmed include Ward 2 Candidates Jack Evans and Christina Culver, At-Large Candidates Carol Schwartz, Patrick Mara, Kwame Brown, and David Schwartzman, and nearly all of the ANC2F candidates. We are very excited for this event and hopeful for a great turnout. The format will allow each candidate to provide an opening statement followed by a question and answer period. To ensure we are as efficient as possible, we are encouraging you to email us questions in advance.

This will be your last chance to learn about the at-large candidates in the race, and could feature some interesting discourse between Mara and Schwartz--who is running as a write-in candidate after losing the Republican primary election to Mara in September. It's nice of Evans to show up, even if his Republican challenger is as likely to beat him as I am. Perhaps Cary Silverman's hard fought campaign against Jack this summer has led to an increased attention by Jack on the Ward 2 neighborhoods east of 16th street?

Noticeably absent is independent at-large challenger Dee Hunter, although his prospects for winning one of the two at-large seats were dim to begin with. Brown likely has one of the seats locked up, and with the District's arcane law about one Council seat going to a non-Democrat, it's difficult to envision Hunter unseating Schwartz or knocking off Mara.

The event will take place at the Washington Plaza Hotel in Thomas Circle at 7:00 PM. Loads of political fun will no doubt ensue.

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Overheard in Logan

When:  Saturday evening

Location:  Intersection of 14th and R Sts

Who:  Group of well-dressed young professional males

What:  One young man is talking to the rest of his group members:  "Yeah, for someone who's making $500k per year, this place must be paradise!"

So, is Logan Circle truly paradise for the uber-affluent?  Please feel free to provide your thoughts and opinions below.

Friday, October 10, 2008

Veranda *Finally* Gets Sidewalk Cafe

This morning I received the following email from Aleks, proprietor of Veranda at 11th and P:

Hello everyone,

Finally, after months of waiting, even though winter is approaching, Veranda is approved for the Sidewalk Cafe. Today, Friday the 10th of October between the hours of 5 to 8 a Happy Hour Celebration is going to take place. We are going to have many food and drink specials as well as a outdoor grill. I, Aleks, personally invite all you folks, that have been so much support for us, to join us for this event. Please bring your friends.


Hopefully while the weather is still nice you'll get an opportunity to patronize Veranda's new patio!

Update:  The 14thandYous enjoyed a lovely dinner at Veranda on Saturday evening, and while we weren't able to enjoy the newly permitted patio dining (the presence of family members prone to be uncomfortable in cooler temperatures saw to that) we can say two things:  one, the patio dining is plentiful and looks great, but it's a shame the permitting only came through this month--why is it so bloody difficult to get permission to put things like tables in chairs in front of your restaurant?  Veranda's been in business for a year now, surely they've proven themselves to be good neighbors by this point?  

And two, we're very fortunate to have them in the neighborhood.  The Mrs. and I split a fabulous roasted duck entree, which combined with the warm ambiance and friendliness of the staff served to remind us of the importance of the District fostering the growth of small businesses like Veranda.  It's unfortunate that the District government's approach to small business issues--in particular allowing the unnecessary prolonging of issues like sidewalk permitting--seems to do more harm than good and makes the opening and operation of small businesses unduly burdensome.

Sunday, October 5, 2008

Thank You, Leonard Downie Jr.

The current Washington Post vice president has a great column today discussing how everyone, it seems, loves to hate on DC but that the truth is we all, you know, kinda love it. Thanks for the refreshing breath of pro-DC air, Leonard.

Friday, October 3, 2008

It's A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood

A beautiful day for a neighbor./Would you be mine?/Could you be mine?

If we started all ANC meetings like Mr. Rogers started his shows, wouldn't Logan Circle be a happier if more odd place? Maybe not. Moving on to local non partisan politics . . . the monthly ANC 2F meeting was on Wednesday.

A somewhat unusual twist to the meeting: a US State Department delegation of Latin American community leaders was in attendance for the first portion of the meeting. In honor of their visit we had some a few snacks set up in the Washington room. Perhaps it's my imagination, but it seems to me that all present were much perkier after munching — except for Commissioner Reed; his affect is pretty reliable.

Jungle Jack Evans was in attendance and took quite a number of questions from the audience. I'll get back to that after an abbreviated run-down of other Logan Circle events of late.

Important stuff: The DC government has a $10 million pool of money set aside for the Neighborhood Investment Fund (NIF). Any Logan non profit can apply for a chunk of this money as long as they use it toward meeting community-defined goals for our neighborhood such as rent stabilization or encouraging local business. If you are at all connected to a non profit that targets the area from U Street to Massachusetts Avenue between 9th and 15th Streets go to and click on the neighborhood planning link. The public comment period has been extended, but the Office of Planning intends to cut it off at a yet-to-be-defined date "soon."

Soon-to-retire Mike Smith shared that the number of robberies in our PSA has dropped quite a bit, particularly when compared to the neighboring PSAs.

Officer Smith's retirement party will be on November 8th, but we may see him deliver the crime report at our monthly meetings until he permanently relocates.

From the executive office of the Mayor: Not much news. However, there will be a temporary dog park on the grounds of Shaw Junior High School opening in the next few (6?) weeks.

DDOT submitted the final 14th Street Streetscape plan to the ANC. There's one copy floating around amongst the commissioners, so email your SMD rep. if you want to get your hands on it. If you were someone who got all fired up about the new plans for 14th Street, you will just have to hurry up and wait to see changes. After the very involved process of soliciting public input, the design phase will be delayed until 2011 and the streetscaping may not begin until 2012 because of DDOT budgeting priorities. In the mean time, private developers starting new projects on 14th will be required to implement some of the agreed-upon changes such as sidewalk improvements.

So, on to our visit from Jack Evans. I didn't happen to catch an email from ANC 2F or Evans about the meeting agenda, so I sauntered in late and was surprised to see him at the meeting. I haven't been to every ANC meeting in the past year, but I don't recall the Council member showing up at any time in the past 16 months. To his credit, Evans did say that he would be back to visit us in the coming months.

ANC 2Fers had a polite Q&A with Mr. Evans. He warned that DC budget cuts are coming, which may lead to hiring freezes and program limitations. He did say that our largest expenditures this year have been healthcare and education, both of which would be very unpopular to cut.

With regard to the Franklin School Shelter, Jack Evans reported that all of the former residents have indeed been housed elsewhere. The Mayor certified this claim on Wednesday as did Council Member Tommy Wells, Chair of the Committee on Human Services. The Park Service will now be cleaning the park regularly, something they had refused to do as long as the shelter was open. A request for quote will be sent to developers soon seeking proposals for redevelopment. As for Evans's preferences, he would like to see "something with life" fill the space rather than just a new office building.

Dustin Cole rocks. He takes very seriously his role as commissioner and his responsibility to his neighbors. As such, he is vigorously pursuing improvements to Horizon House. Upset about conditions in this housing complex that serves low income elderly and disabled residents, he has contacted the DC government, the new chair of the residents' board, and the contracted management company who runs the building for DC Housing Authority. Cole vows to keep contacting the management company and requesting enforcement action from DCHA until he receives a construction budget statement and detailed renovation plans. Of current concern is that residents are living with severe mold growth in public areas, bedbug infestations, and other damage and filth. I'm so excited to see a new commissioner pursuing this problem for the neighborhood good though it's not a normal monthly meeting agenda item.

I have one last thought on the meeting. Why must our ANC meetings cling unwaveringly to Robert's Rules of Order no matter how minor the point of discussion? For example, could we not just adjorn the meeting having reached the end of the agenda? It's really funny to me to see commissioner Reed move to adjorn, someone else second the motion, and the commission agree before the gavel comes down on our monthly gatherings.

Thursday, October 2, 2008

VP Debate

I promised my wife I wouldn't turn our blog into a space for political diatribes, but watching some of the post-VP debate spin by the TV pundits, I feel obliged to make the following comment:

If you watched this evening's VP debate, and you honestly believe that Sarah Palin exists in the same league as Joe and I watched different debates.   Good God, the woman is nearly unwatchable.

Marriott Set to Transform 9th St.

First of all, apologies for not getting this recap up sooner...sometimes work just gets in the way.

This past Monday evening, representatives from Marriott were in attendance at the Washington Convention Center to discuss one of the most important projects to come to the Shaw/Logan/Mt. Vernon Sq. region in years:  the development of the Marriott Marquis Convention Center hotel.  The hotel, which is tentatively set to begin construction in June of 2009, will feature nearly 1200 rooms, four restaurants, a coffee shop, and other street level retail.  In our opinion, coupled with the forthcoming O St. market project, it will lead the transformation of 9th St. into one of the city's core commercial corridors.

Unfortunately, there are no images to share of the hotel, but I can boil down a few of the "talking points" that were discussed at the meeting.  
  • The Marriott Marquis hotel will be build on the parcel of land bordered by 9th St., Massachusetts Ave, 10th St. and L St.  The facade of the American Federation of Labor Building, currently fronting 9th St., will be incorporated into the structure.
  • Marriott also has ownership of the tract of and bordered by 9th St., L St., 10th St. and M St., and will construct two additional "boutique" hotels on the site.  Those hotels will integrate the existing historical structures along 9th and L streets into the facade, and will also feature street level retail.  Details about the "boutique" hotels will not be known until all details surrounding the Marquis flagship hotel are finalized.
  • The Marquis will feature an abundance of street level retail.  The corner of 9th and L will see the arrival of a "sports bar" (despite its name, Marriott officials were quick to say that the bar would not necessarily be a "sports themed" establishment, but rather would be a "high energy" bar-type establishment).  A coffee shop will be feaured along 9th St., as will other yet-to-be-determined retail options.  An upscale restaurant with outdoor seating will be located at the corner of 9th and Mass, and a "boutique" restaurant (the "hip" restaurant, according to Marriott execs--guess the other restaurant will be stodgy and boring?) will be Located at Mass and 10th streets.
  • In addition, the hotel will feature a full service restaurant located entirely within the premises of the hotel.
  • The hotel will feature floors dug as much as 75 feet below the ground, and will include 13 above-ground floors.
  • The Marquis will feature a 30,000 sq. ft. ballroom and a significant amount of meeting space, and will be connected via underground walkway to the Convention Center.
  • A special cut-out for a bus depot for large groups will be included along L St.
  • The Marquis has an anticipated construction start date of June 2009, and will wrap up by 2012.  No dates were given for the other boutique hotel developments. 
The reaction by the public seemed substantially positive, at least if the lack of substantive questions at the event are any indication.  One woman indicated that buses loading/unloading along L St. would be a "non-starter" for her (though I'm sure she'd be more than willing to muck up 9th St. traffic by moving the bus bay there).  The president of the Whitman resident's association was in attendance and expressed concern over the upkeep of the currently abandoned properties along 9th St. and L St. that will eventually become part of the two boutique hotels.  Marriott officials responded by stating that while they are taking some pains to secure the properties, since construction on the premises has not yet begun they could not guarantee the security of the abandoned properties.  Finally, one individual in attendance who noted that he himself was an architect asked numerous questions about the construction of the hotel, including gripping questions about the tpe of glass being used in the windows of the building.

Marriott officials promised to provide additional (and more complete) information once the plans became more substantive.

As I mentioned earlier, I think this project has the opportunity to be the boon for the Shaw/Mt. Vernon area that the Convention Center has not. As part of the ongoing revitalization of the 9th St. corridor, including the redevelopment of the O St. market, the opportunities presented to the neighborhood as part of this project will be substantial, and could literally help transform the neighborhood into something we wouldn't recognize today.  As we get any additional information about the development of the Marriott Marquis, we'll post it here. 

Please feel free to share your thoughts/concerns about the project in the comments section below.