Sunday, February 28, 2010

So what's stepping into the Go mama go! space....?

UPDATE: Monday's event served as a lovely send-off to Jonathan Chudnoff and crew. Councilmember Jim Graham (pictured below, with Pulp's Frank Muzzy) dropped by, as did many area business owners, to wish him and his store farewell. (Graham mentioned that he purchased a bowl that evening in order to fondly remember the store as he ate his morning cereal. Insert the joke of your choice here.)

Nothing has been finalized yet with regards to a new tenant at the space, although Chudnoff did mention that he was looking to be out of the space by March 31--dependent upon a new tenant being found for the space. I'll keep you informed if/when I learn more to pass along.


With that leading title, I must confess that I have no idea, but I hope to learn more at tomorrow evening's Mid-City mixer at Go mama go!.

The monthly mixer will be doubling as a farewell to the 14th street retailing institution, with food and wine donated by local restaurants. GMG owner Jonathan Chudnoff will of course be on hand, and I'll try to pick his brain over what might be headed our way. Rumor has it that Best Cellars was briefly interested in the location--until being turned away by leasing broker Blake Dickson. I've also heard that a Subway restaurant as well as a host of other retailers have expressed interest. Hope to find out more tomorrow...

Thursday, February 25, 2010

A Blow to Shaw: Radio One Backs Out of Office Deal

Shaw residents pinning their hopes on neighborhood revitalization getting kicked up a notch with the Broadcast Center One may be waiting a while longer. It seems that Radio One--the tenant that was supposed to anchor the 100,000+ sf office project--is backing out of the deal to move from Lanham, MD into new digs at the corner of 7th and S streets NW.

Radio One hasn't yet provided a reason as to why they are backing out of the deal, but with a plummeting price in recent years it's reasonable to believe the decision had to do with profitability--or lack thereof. They might want to start thinking of an answer however, seeing as how the District ponied up nearly $30 million in incentives to bring them here.

The development team--Four Points LLC, Ellis Development Group and the Jarvis Co.--are insisting that the development will still move forward, but it's difficult to envision a project that has already been delayed moving forward without its most significant tenant. (Talks have been held to bring in the United Negro College Fund, but those are still preliminary.)

Broadcast Center One is a mixed-use development that, in addition to the aforementioned office space, will host over 25,000 sf of retail, 180 apartments and a massive underground parking garage. It is one of several projects in the Shaw/Mt. Vernon Square area to face significant delays. Roadside Development's Citymarket at O project remains on hold while financing concerns are resolved, while Marriott, JBG Cos. and the District government fight it out over the rights to develop the long-sought after Convention Center Hotel. Meanwhile, projects like the Warrenton Condominiums and Hartland Commons continue to exist more as pie-in-the-sky dreams than projects that have an actual chance at completion.

When/whether these projects ever get started is anyone's guess, but everyone can agree that these kinds of delays are frustrating.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Sweet Holy Tapdancing Christ! Polly's Has Closed!!!!

With all due respect to South Park, I kind of felt I had to go there with my title order to keep up with the local blogosphere's reaction to the news that beloved/stinky U Street institution Polly's Cafe has closed.

Polly's, located at 1342 U Street, quietly drifted into U Street lore earlier this week with a shuttering of their doors and a brief message on their website promising a personal note in the near future. There isn't a whole lot to say about this, since the announcement was (to me at least) unexpected, and I haven't received any word yet on what may ultimately fill the space.

Admittedly, Mr. and Mrs. 14thandyou weren't exactly Polly's regulars. We found the place to be merely OK, but as is typical of dive-y type places that certain longtime patrons have developed a fondness for, I didn't really get it. But it seems a lot of people did, and if nothing else Polly's was a unique, down-to-earth establishment in an area quickly becoming saturated with wine bars, gastropubs and $14 hamburgers.

And, for the record, those of you looking for a nice, relaxed, affordable breakfast/lunch spot would be well-served by heading across the street to the U Street Cafe. The brunch selections there are actually quite tasty, and unlike Polly's, it doesn't maintain that slight toilet-y smell. So, it's a winner on both counts.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

SweetGreen Opens Tomorrow

The latest entry into the Logan dining scene opens tomorrow. SweetGreen, the DC-based salad and frozen yogurt shop, will be open for business as of noon tomorrow at their new P Street location, located across from Whole Foods in the Metropole building.

SweetGreen's menu consists of a variety of gourmet salads, such as "the bondi" (arugula with chicken, avocado, sweet corn, hearts of palm and wasabi peas) and "la scala" (romaine, salami, mozzarella, chick peas, grape tomatoes and chopped basil). The frozen yogurt comes in one flavor--tart--and can be dressed up with any number of combinations of fruit and other toppings. The Logan location is their fourth; other locations are in Georgetown, Bethesda and Dupont.

It will be interesting to see whether SweetGreen will be able to carve out a niche for themselves in their new location. With Pitango Gelato right next door, it's questionable how much P Street needed a fro-yo place, and the presence of Whole Foods and their salad bar presents options for diners looking to pick up some greenery. But SweetGreen's salads have drawn rave reviews, and the prospects of being able to get a healthy dinner option that doesn't involve fighting the masses at Whole Foods is indeed enticing.

Curious to find out for yourself? Stop by starting tomorrow and see what you think.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Graffiti Monster Attacking Logan

So, I don't know whether or not you've noticed, but Logan--in particular 14th Street--has been hit with a scourge of graffiti recently. Anyone who has spent time in the neighborhood knows that we get some tagging here and there--at the Zipcar lot, along some alleyways, etc. But recently, it's getting much more severe. Just strolling down 14th Street recently, I snapped the following:

Many people may not know this, but DPW can actually cite property owners for failing to remove graffiti, once the owner has been notified of it. Practically speaking however, this is one of those laws that is just hardly ever enforced. So, what can be done:

DPW maintains a website--somewhat humorously titled "Not In Our DC!"--devoted explicitly to the issues of litter and graffiti removal. DPW will send a team to a property to remove graffiti, provided the property owner requests it. Citizens can also contact DPW directly through their website to submit a request that graffiti be removed from a property. In addition, DPW offers free "graffiti removal kit" vouchers that property owners can request.

I haven't received any word on what may be responsible for the recent uptick in graffiti in the neighborhood, but whatever the source it's something those of us in the neighborhood can address.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

No CB2 for 14th Street? Central Union Mission Move Delayed--Again

More and more, it's looking increasingly likely that the Central Union Mission will be staying put in its location at 14th and r streets for the foreseeable future.

As you may recall, the Mission struck a deal with developer Jeffrey Schonberger in 2006, agreeing to sell the property contingent upon their ability to find a new home. Originally, that home was to be on upper Georgia Avenue, but that move prove unpalatable to Petworth residents--and to the Mission's director, David Treadwell, who maintained that he would prefer to be downtown where the shelter's services would be in greater demand for its services.

Late in 2008, it was announced that the Mission was working on a deal to renovate and move into the currently vacant (and dilapidated) Gales School in downtown DC. However, a possible wrench was thrown into those plans when the ACLU threatened an action against the District on church/state grounds, essentially arguing that any deal by the city to allow the Mission (a Christian organization) to take possession of the school via any means other than a fair market deal or a competitive bidding process.

Throughout 2009, District leaders hemmed and hawed about how to resolve the situation. Meanwhile, in July 2009, Schonberger announced that talks were underway to bring CB2 into the Mission space once the Mission had moved into their new home, putting added pressure on both the Mission and DC to come to an agreement that would end the stalemate with the ACLU.

On January 20, 2010, in an attempt to move the process forward, the DC Office of Real Estate Services issued a solicitation for bids on the redevelopment of the Gales School into a homeless shelter, with a deadline to respond of February 16--a period of only 27 days. Sensing that something was amiss, the ACLU along with a second group, the Americans United for the Separation of Church and State, filed a petition with the Office of Real Estate Services to extend the deadline to a full 60 days, arguing that the abbreviated period does not provide sufficient time for other organizations--namely, secular organizations--to respond.

So, what does this mean? Well, it doesn't mean that the Mission is out of the running for the building, but it *does* make it increasingly likely that other organizations will compile an RFP response for the coveted property, which could affect the Mission's chances of securing the winning bid. If nothing else, you can be assured that the selection process will be carefully scrutinized by all involved. If anything appears off about the awarding of the bid to the Mission, you can bet that the ACLU and other organizations will quickly get involved.

For Logan, this means an indefinite delay in the renovation of a large, key property along the 14th Street corridor. Even if the Mission is able to secure the winning bid for the Gales School redevelopment, the process of renovating the facility (which is now merely an exterior shell) into a habitable property will take months, if not years. So those of you holding your breath for the arrival of yet another chain furniture store to 14th Street might want to rethink your strategy.

The Mission is likely to wind up somewhere else eventually, but probably not for quite awhile.

Monday, February 15, 2010

News Flash: Ex-Manhattanite Finds DC Lacking

Recently, I was presented with the opportunity to peruse the always-amusing "DC" magazine from Urban Luxury, the self-proclaimed "premier luxury lifestyle publisher in the United States". What does that mean for DC magazine? Well, apparently it means an attempt to portray (and transform) DC into a smaller Manhattan.

Included in this issue is an op-ed of sorts from an ex-Manhattanite named Mimi Riesner, who has been booted out of her snug Manhattan cocoon and must now face the daunting prospects and deprivations of day-to-day life in the District. By now, we nation's capital dwellers are used to this tired argument from ex-New Yorkers. Basically, it goes something like this: wait, are you telling me I can't get a pedicure while enjoying a fine selection of tapas in the lower level of a jazz club/oxygen bar at 4 in the morning? (Currently, the answer is "no," but I'm certain Eric Hilton is working on just such a concept, provided he can get ANC buy-in.) Fortunately for us, Mimi doesn't disappoint. Among her list of grievances include our lack of 10-hour turnaround dry cleaners, our dearth of rude and reckless cabbies and--but of course--that our spinning classes ostensibly don't burn as many calories as those in NYC (here's a hint Mimi: pedal faster).

She also seems surprised and baffled by the fact that Washingtonians talk to each other (I thought we were all cold and career-driven?) and that cafe patrons actually wait patiently for their sandwich, rather than to yell at the staff.

Mimi appears perplexed that her fashion choices fail to evoke an acceptable level of awe and appreciation by relating a story about being asked by a fellow parent at her child's private school whether her "French-designed pilgrim belt buckles" (which, she notes helpfully, she paired with her Roger Vivier flats) were "functional." Such a moment provokes an epiphany of sorts for Ms. Riesner, who asks herself (for the first time in her life, we learn) whether "extremely large decorational buckles" on each toe made sense. Fortunately, she decides that yes, they do. By God, old seersucker suit-heavy DC isn't going to suck the fashionable life out of Mimi Riesner.

By the end of the piece, it seems that old DC just might be winning Mimi over, however. She seems genuinely impressed to have been able to set foot on "foreign soil" while attending an event of some sort at the Embassy of Cyprus, thinks the Mall is pretty swell, and is pleased to report that DC's cocktail party circuit is forcing her to learn new and exciting things, such as the name of the president of Pakistan. (Note to all you Wikipediers out there: I'll save you the trouble. It's Asif Ali Zardari.) In the end, Mimi is relieved to find that she just might be able to make DC work for her, albeit with a "few adjustments and a lot of patience."

Pondering the apparent influx of Manhattanites such as herself who have recently arrived in the District, Mimi asks rhetorically "Is DC ready for us?" I don't know Mimi, but you do now have me wondering how on earth I have managed for so long to tolerate an unacceptable lack of customer rage at area sandwich shops, but I suppose us Washingtonians simply have "a lot of patience." Particularly for ex-New Yorkers.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

14thandYou PSA: Please shovel your walk

With more snow coming (the first few flakes of this new storm are falling as I type these words), we wanted to take a moment to implore you to *please* keep your sidewalk shoveled. Many people don't know it (and, it seems, DPW doesn't enforce it), but there is in fact a law on DC's books that requires people to clear their walkways when snow, ice or other impediments are present. That alone may not be sufficient motivation to get you to break out the shovel (nor, perhaps, the threat of being sued for a slip-and-fall in front of your residence), so instead we're going to appeal to your sense of neighborliness.

Getting around town is difficult enough without having to navigate piles of snow and slush in front of residences and businesses (Im looking at you, 7-11) whose owners couldn't be bothered to keep their sidewalk cleared. If you are physically unable to keep your walk cleared, talk to a neighbor or ask one of the gentlemen walking around our neighborhood carrying snow shovels for assistance (though they will probably charge you).

Your local friends and neighbors certainly appreciate it.


From this past weekend's storm...

Saturday, February 6, 2010

Can you find the car in this picture?

The radio antenna on the driver's side might be the only clue.

In other "who's open" news, Cork Market is open today, and doing wine tastings all day. That sounds like a pretty good way to warm up to me.

In case you haven't noticed, the snow has picked up right now--it seems that Logan is smack in the middle of a band of particularly heavy snow at the moment. Also, blizzard warnings have been put in effect until 10 PM. Please be careful out there.

Friday, February 5, 2010

Snowmageddon '10 - Who's Open?

Edit: Mid-City Caffe is open this morning, so if you're up to venturing out and need your morning caffeine fix, stop by. And do keep the reports of other businesses that are open coming. I'm sure they could use all the business they can get today.

So, the Mrs. and I just got back from cheering on the Caps at Nellies, and it's an understatement to say that it's snowing like crazy. I can't think of many storms I went through growing up in Ohio that were this severe. According to local forecasts, a foot of snow is pretty much a foregone conclusion, a foot and a half is quite possible, and 2 feet isn't out of the question.

Craziness, I tell you.

So, in spite of all this craziness, there are still some places in Logan and U Street that are open so you can get your eat and drink on this evening. (This is by no means a complete list, but Mr. and Mrs. 14thandyou weren't exactly able to go scour the neighborhood and provide a complete list.)

Nellies, as we mentioned earlier, is very much open--and quite busy. All of the tables were full when we left, which was shortly after 9:30.

Both Vinoteca and Solly's were open and serving, as was Dukem. Ben's was serving chili dogs, and Cravings was doing a brisk business as well.

Down along 14th Street, both Policy and Masa 14 are open. We're told Saint-Ex is as well, but we weren't able to confirm that.

Now, there are some places that are very much *not* open. If you are in need of supplies to last out the storm, you may be SOL. Both the CVS at U STreet and 10th, and the Rite-Aid at 13th and U were shuttered. A number of businesses that would normally be operating appeared darkened. If I had to guess, I would venture that those businesses who draw their employees form outside of the neighborhood are probably having a hard time opening, or simply elected to respect the safety and well-being of their employees and not open at all.

Any other tips for who is operating this evening? Or tomorrow? Please do share them in the comments. Together, we shall ride out the great Snowgasm of 2010...perhaps with a drink or two. Stay safe!

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Snow Ridiculousness, Ch. 1

The line in front of Whole Foods at approximately 8 PM this evening. These people were waiting to get into the store. (Apologies for the crummy was from my cell phone.)

In preparation for the white death, Whole Foods is closing early

So, over here at 14thandyou we have to confess to getting a modicum of perverse pleasure out of the coming snowpacalypse. Two double-digit snows in one season? It's like I never left Ohio. 16" - 24"? That's ridiculous, but survivable provided you have enough hot cocoa, snacks and and acceptable NetFlix supply.

It's impossible to say what local businesses will or won't be open this weekend. During December's snowgasm, the businesses that were open was mixed: as a general rule, those that pulled their employees from nearby were able to open, whereas those whose employees had to commute in had a much tougher time of it. As always, the best advice is to place a call before heading out anywhere.

And speaking of heading out, if you were planning on making a P Street Whole Foods run this evening, beware: the store is shutting down an hour early for a staff meeting. This staff meeting probably couldn't come at a worse time, what with everyone racing out for their milk and rock salt.