Monday, November 30, 2009

Tryptophan Withdrawal: ANC2F Meeting This Wednesday; Liquor for ACKC and Estadio

Welcome back from your long weekend of poultry consumption--I hope you enjoyed this chilly, dreary Monday in the nation's capital as much as I did.

To lighten your mood, we offer a preview of the December ANC2F meeting, to be held this Wednesday.  There are a number of items on the agenda (which most certainly promises to make it a lengthy meeting), but only a few items of particular note.

For those who are not aware, the folks from local chocolate peddler ACKC will be on hand to petition for their liquor license.  This is something that had been discussed for some time, but it was only recently that owners Rob Kingsbury and Eric Nelson elected to pursue a license for their establishment.  Could that mean that an order of amaretto-infused hot chocolate isn't far away?  We can only hope.

Also on the docket in the restaurant arena:  a license for the forthcoming "Estadio" (the new restaurant from the "Proof" team) and expanded sidewalk hours for Commissary so that they can serve breakfast.  (Outdoor breakfast in December?  Maybe someone is hedging their bets on the success of global warming.)

Other items of potential interest:  a discussion of the Franklin School RFP, and the potential revocation of the vacant property tax relief for a property held by the Vermont Ave. Baptist Church.  (Anything church-related always proves sufficiently entertaining.)  Finally, there will be a discussion of the Arts Overlay District Committee's Economic Development Recommendations report.  (More on that item in a later post.)

One final item I would like to point out, briefly.  And I point this out knowing what it says about me, that not only do I read the ANC agendas in advance, but I read them in enough detail to catch things like this.  Chairman Charles Reed is constantly griping about the fact that the meetings consistently run over their allotted time (which they do).  A step they could take towards rectifying that situation could be to put together a more realistic agenda, that doesn't include items like this:

7:25 PM:  DDOT Report
7:30 PM:  Community Announcements
10 Minute Break
7:40:  Business Meeting

So, reading this, there is exactly 0 minutes devoted to community announcements (of which there is one listed on the agenda itself, in addition to whatever might get raised at the meeting).  Why do I doubt that the "Business Meeting" will be commencing promptly at 7:40?

For those interested, more information--and the full agenda--can be found at ANC2f's website.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Giving Back on Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving means time with family and friends, good food and relaxation. It's also a time of year that presents an opportunity to volunteer at many of our city's charities and community organizations. For those of you who may be dining alone, or have some time available on Thanksgiving Day (who needs to watch the Lions and the Cowboys anyway?), we present a brief and far-from-exhaustive guide to volunteering your time at one of these many worthy causes.

A bit of a disclaimer: if you are interested in volunteering with any of the organizations listed below, it's wise to give them a call or send them an email. It's not uncommon for volunteer spaces to fill up quickly.

One final note: while many people's minds turn to charity and volunteering during the holidays, most if not all of these organizations require year-round volunteer efforts and donations in order to be able to continue to serve a needy populace. Thus, with that in mind, we present a few ideas for spending your Thanksgiving Day:

Over at the Whitman-Walker Clinic, SaVanna Wanzer is looking for volunteers on Wednesday at 4 PM to assist in the preparation and cooking of a charity Thanksgiving dinner. Give her a call at 202-797-3509 if you are interested.

Emmaus Services for the Aging: Every year on Thanksgiving, Emmaus coordinates the delivery of over 150 Thanksgiving meals to needy seniors throughout the city. This year, they will be delivering meals from 10a - noon, and they could use some help. Although their website is out of date (at this point, I've given up hope on the October 2007 newsletter "coming soon") I've been told on good authority that you contact Patricia Hughes at 202-745-1200 if you are interested in volunteering.

Burgundy Crescent Volunteers are going to be busy throughout the day on Thanksgiving. They need volunteers from the ungodly hour of 4:45 am - 7:00 am for "unspecified duties". From 10:30a - 2p they will be serving dinner to the needy at Rosemary's Thyme, located at the corner of 18th and S. From noon - 2p, they are organizing a clothing drop-off, also at Rosemary's (if nothing else, it's a perfect opportunity to clean out your closets). Finally (whew) they will be serving lunch from 10a - 3p at the Green Door Clubhouse, a home for those with mental disabilities. Interested in volunteering for any of these events? Contact Jonathan at

Food and Friends needs volunteers to deliver meals throughout the day on Thanksgiving (shifts are available on the hour from 8a - 11a). They also need volunteers to assist with meal preparation and to coordinate activities on what promises to be a very busy day. Click here to learn more about volunteering on Thanksgiving Day.

The Community for Creative Nonviolence, the nation's largest homeless shelter, is preparing to serve Thanksgiving meals to over 2,000 needy individuals on Thanksgiving Day. If that sounds like a formidable task, that's because it is--and they could use some help with all that needs to be done. Specifically, they could use some assistance preparing food, serving meals and spending time with their guests. No sign-up is necessary, but those who are interested should call 202-393-1909 in advance for information.

Finally, while not specifically Thanksgiving related, while we're on the subject of food, the Capital Area Food Bank is always looking for donations in time and goods to help them fulfill their mission--now and throughout the year. Click here to learn more about what you can do to assist them.

And with that, we would like to wish everyone a safe, happy and enjoyable Thanksgiving. 14thandyou is going to take a bit of a break in order to spend some time with family over the weekend, and we hope you will get an opportunity as well.

How Do They Stay in Business?

So, I found myself strolling along Connecticut Ave. in Dupont a couple of days ago, and I stumbled upon the recently opened Smoothie King just north of Q Street. It was in the middle of a Sunday afternoon, and I noticed that they were closed. A bit odd, I thought, until I noticed the hours posted on the door.

Now tell me, how do they stay in business with hours like that? What clientele are they aiming for? "The lunch crowd is simply too overwhelming. And forget about afternoons and evenings. I know, let's only open for a few hours in the morning, but never past noon."

Am I missing something?

Worried About a Local Landmark? Nominate it as an Endangered Place

The DC Preservation League--the organization that seeks to raise awareness of threatened historically significant structures--is accepting petitions for buildings to include in its 2010 list. A few structures in the Shaw/Logan area could probably qualify for the list (I'm looking at you, Vermont Baptist Church-owned house at 12th and Q streets), but it's questionable as to whether they are "significant" enough to warrant inclusion.

The full press release is included below.



November 13, 2009: The DC Preservation League (DCPL), the District of Columbia’s only citywide nonprofit organization dedicated to preserving and protecting the historic and built environment, is accepting nominations for its annual list of Most Endangered Places in Washington for 2010. Nomination form can be found at and must be postmarked no later than Friday, February 5, 2010. Selections will be announced in May 2010.

This list, issued annually since 1996, has included historic buildings and places such as the west campus of St. Elizabeths Hospital, McMillan Reservoir, Martin Luther King Jr., Memorial Library and the Joseph Taylor Arms Mansion (Chancery of the Democratic Republic of the Congo). The list of Most Endangered Places in Washington is chosen by the DCPL Board of Trustees based on nominations submitted by concerned individuals, communities and organizations. Nominations are assessed based on the severity of the threat to the resource in question, whether through demolition, neglect, or inappropriate alteration. The list can include buildings, parks or other landscaped areas, or even vistas and other aspects of the city's unique planned history. All Most Endangered Places selected are located in the District of Columbia.

Detailed descriptions of each site listed in past years including information about the threats motivating their inclusion on these lists can be found at

DCPL invites volunteers, civic associations, District government, and other groups to partner with us in preserving and protecting these endangered places. For more information, contact DCPL at 202.783.5144 or For more information on DCPL, visit

Friday, November 20, 2009

Pre-Thanksgiving Fun: Final Farmers Market, Christmas Trees

In addition to the all-important OSU - Michigan game tomorrow (Go Bucks), there are a couple of things in the neighborhood that you can do to occupy your pre-Thanksgiving time.

First, tomorrow is the last farmer's market of the year at 14th and U streets--and it looks like they'll luck out with some great weather (sunny, highs in the upper 50s). So, if you're looking to pick up some fresh meat and produce for your Thanksgiving meal, head up to the Reeves Center for your last chance this year.

Secondly, the Garden District will receive their annual shipment of Frasier Fir Christmas Trees this Sunday. So, after you've picked up some fresh squash and spent a day recuperating from celebrating the Buckeye victory, head over to the Garden District for a dose of holiday cheer. In addition to Christmas trees, they're having a 50% off anniversary sale on their perennials, trees, shrubs and other items on their outdoor lot.

So get out there, enjoy the good weather and support your local businesses.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

A New Condo Tower at 14th and R

Suddenly, it feels like 2006 all over again. Via Borderstan and the WBJ, news today that the vacant lot at the SW corner of 14th and R streets is going to be the home of a new five story, 30,000 sf mixed-use condo building. The project will rise on a relatively small patch of land adjacent to the AYT auto repair shop.

Building architects Bonstra and Haresign describe the building as "patterned after the showrooms of the former 14th Street 'Automobile Row'". They also describe the building as possessing an "iconic crown." Hmmm, I'm not so sure i'd call it "iconic". It looks more like a black fence on the roof that tipped over. The building is like no small number of others that have sprung up along 14th Street in recent years--rather bland and unattractive. (Go here and scroll down to see drawings of the new building.)

To say the project has been a long time in the making is an understatement. ANC2F first saw a presentation on the plans for the building back in April 2004. Since that time, the project has been held up by approvals by the Board of Zoning Adjustments and the Historic Preservation Review Board, changes in the scope of the project, and--yes--the economic collapse.

Interestingly, the project has changed rather substantially since it was first introduced over five years ago. Plans at that time called for six duplex apartments and one 3500 sf penthouse. The current plans now call for as many as 32 "luxury" (Aren't they all luxury these days?) apartments at the space. Let's see, 30,000 sf, 32 units...I hope your definition of luxury is "less than 1,000 sf".

At long last, though, one of the few remaining vacant lots along 14th Street will be developed, and we can now move on to the inevitable handwringing over what type of retail might make an appearance there. First person to call for a bagel shop wins the prize.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

SweetGreen Coming to P Street

FroYo has declared war on gelato.

Somehow, we completely missed this when it was announced last month, but it seems that local frozen yogurt/salad shop SweetGreen has plans to open a branch of their growing chain next to Lululemon Athletic near 15th and P streets.  For those keeping track of such things, that will place it almost next door to the recently opened Pitango Gelato.  It should also fill the last retail vacancy on the P Street side of the Metropole development.

So, 14th Street will have dueling creperies, and P Street will leave consumers with the always vexing choice of whether to go with frozen yogurt or gelato.  As for the 14thandyous, we'll probably just stick with our beloved pints of Haagen-Dazs purchased from the CVS.

Arrest Made in Shooting of 9 yo; Columbia Heights Still a Work in Progress

So by now, you've probably heard that the MPD made an arrest in this past weekend's murder of 9 year old Jose Oscar Fuentes, who lived with his family in an apartment in Columbia Heights and was gunned down as he stood inside the front door of his apartment on Saturday evening.

First of all, let me say bravo to the MPD for some excellent police work (assuming, of course, that the suspect is the right guy). It's good to see, at least, that they were able to make an arrest so quickly. But there is, of course, a bigger issue here.

Sometimes, the violence in this city really seems oppressive. It's always there, simmering like an unattended pot on a stove, but sometimes it boils over and forces you to take notice of it. That's what I've found occurring ever since Jose's Oscar's murder this weekend. I truly do love this city, and everything it offers--in spite of its flaws. But there are certain events that transpire that cause me to view the city with a different perspective, however fleetingly. That's what I've found happening this week.

And what to make of Columbia Heights? I don't normally cover things up there--there's more than enough to keep me occupied here in Logan. But it's close enough that me and the Mrs. have regular interactions with it; this includes weekly shopping trips to the Giant and occasional Target runs, among other things. I've also known and/or interacted with a number of people who call Columbia Heights home. And while everyone is appropriately expressing outrage at the murder of Jose Oscar Fuentes, there remains a not-so-subtle undercurrent of surprise from some individuals that such an act could possibly occur in a neighborhood like Columbia Heights.

Col Heights is, in every respect, a transitioning neighborhood. And I think some people buying the expensive rowhouses and even more expensive "luxury" condos there can forget the fact that when one buys into a transitioning neighborhood, there are two sides to that coin. There's the hipster bars, the chain store retail, the attractive housing stock and "urban feel" that the neighborhood provides. But there's also the shootings, the gang beefs and the seemingly never-ending drug trade and prostitution that goes on. That's the Columbia Heights people would like to forget.

To be sure, that stuff happens in other neighborhoods too (unfortunately). But Columbia Heights has been altered faster than possibly any neighborhood has in the history of the city. Just five years ago, it was a largely neglected crime- and drug-infested mess. Then, some developers conspired with the city to stick Clarendon up there, and it became the new place to be. But the ills that plagued the neighborhood didn't magically disappear--they just got swept aside a bit. And they rear their heads from time to time, in the form of gunfights at the Metro station, random shootings on the street, and--yes--the senseless killing of a 9 year old boy in his apartment.

Ultimately, I think the tide of gentrification will continue to sweep over the neighborhood. Past events haven't deterred ongoing development and growth in Columbia Heights, and there's no reason to think that this will, either. I fully expect more Chipotles, more wine bars, more gastropubs and high-end retail in the future. And I imagine housing demand will continue pretty much unabated. But the crime will, as well. And life will continue in Columbia Heights.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Swann Cleaners Closes

You're going to have to find a new laundromat to wash your duvet: Swann Cleaners, located at the corner of 14th and Swann streets, has closed. "Permanently," so says the sign on the door.

I've been unable to obtain any information as to why they closed, but there is speculation that the closure indicates that JBG's much-anticipated project at the former Whitman-Walker building is moving forward. The project has been hung up for months due to the ever-present "financial issues". Although the centerpiece of the project will be the renovation of the W-W building, plans are calling for JBG to develop the entire block between S and Swann.

Although Swann was one of the few laundromats in the immediate area, not all neighbors may be mourning its demise. The property was in horrible shape and poorly maintained, and trash was frequently allowed to accumulate around the building. Still, the departure marks the loss of yet another small business along the corridor.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Garden District's Long-Term Future Uncertain

Last week, the Garden District--the 14th Street nursery and plant lover's paradise--filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy, leaving its future on 14th Street cloudy.

According to Garden District owner Joe Carmack, the store will remain open through Thanksgiving and Christmas (where sales of trees typically provide a needed end-of-the-year boost).   According to Carmack, "Christmas is always an exciting and busy time here, but after that who knows."

Carmack noted that "the economy has definitely impacted our business a lot." The Garden District recently consolidated their operations into a single location across the street from their former space at 14th and S streets, which will help reduce the store's overhead.

As far as the long term future of the store, Carmack indicated that is first priority would be for the store to remain open for business, but that he couldn't rule out the store's potential closure. Under Chapter 11 bankruptcy reorganization, the U.S. Trustee's Office can shutter the store should payment terms not be met. And the ability to make payments, naturally, depends upon the volume of sales.

Garden District's problems will not affect the pending opening of "Crepes on the Corner," Carmack's new gastro-venture at the former garden District location.

The loss of a longstanding institution (the store was opened in 2002) would be a tremendous blow to the 14th Street retail establishment. However, sources have indicated that it is unfortunately not the only popular retailer along the corridor that is facing financial difficulty.

With the continued troubles of the economy, and commercial lease rates along 14th Street continuing to climb, it will become increasingly challenging for small, local retailers to survive. Thus, it's up to the residents and patrons of neighborhood businesses to do their part to ensure that local establishments remain viable. A truly vibrant commercial corridor means having more than bars and restaurants, however great those may be. It means having a mix of businesses that cater to a variety of needs and interests. Unfortunately, the news for some of our local businesses is grim, which threatens to create an increasingly large hole in our retail scene.

Monday, November 2, 2009

Hey, You Kids...!

So, Mrs. 14thandyou had been home this evening for approximately ten minutes when she was greeted by the sound of our door buzzer. Outside were two of DC's finest, there to inform her that her car had just been broken into. She stepped outside to see that what once had been her window now lay in a thousand pieces on the sidewalk and inside the car.

Seems the two suspects (16-24 yo b/m) were interrupted by a vigilant neighbor who saw what they did, chased them for a block, then called the MPD. (Thank you, kind-hearted neighbor who we don't know.)

One of the positives that came from an otherwise angering experience was Mrs. 14thandyou's interaction with MPD Officer Kimberly Selby and her partner, who could not have been more helpful and pleasant. It seems our two suspects are a known commodity in the area, Officer Selby has been tracking them for some time.

Perhaps most perplexing out of this entire ordeal was what on earth the dynamic duo saw in Mrs. 14thandyou's 13 year old vehicle that made it an enticing option for a window smashing. Could it have been the ice-scraper? (It *was* one of those nicer ice-scrapers that has the long reach and the brush on the other side...) Perhaps it was the nearly empty jug of windshield wiper fluid sitting on the floor of the backseat? (Is there a black market for that stuff?) Or maybe it was the assortment of mid-atlantic and northeast corridor roadmaps tucked into the passenger-side door? (Maybe they were planning on making a getaway to "New Hampshire/Vermont/Maine, with blow-up maps of Portland, Manchester and Burlington"?)

So we know two things about the MO of these wayward youth: they like to smash car windows, and they have really, really awful taste.