Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Holiday Round-Up: Myths, Condos, and Sandwiches at a Gas Station?

As we head into the Christmas break, 14thandyou will be taking a little hiatus as well, mainly to catch up on sleep and sanity. In the meantime, here's a little reading material to get you through the cold (and snow filled?) days ahead:

U Street Girl writes about Fast Gourmet, a new sandwich shop (!) located at the gas station at 14th and W. All of y'all who've been clamoring for a decent sandwich shop in the area, head over there and let us know what you think. U Street Girl seems sold on the Chivito.

WeLoveDC has some fun busting some common DC-related myths. Did people in Georgetown really rise up to keep the underclass out of their neighborhood by scuttling plans for a Metro station there? Did Pierre L'Enfant and other early DC planners have it in for John Jay? Do we have more speakers of foreign tongues than comparable cities? Head over to WeLoveDC and find out.

Remember the Nehemiah Center--the strip mall along 14th Street between Belmont and Chapin that was bulldozed in 2008 to make way for a new mixed-use development? And has been nothing more than a vacant, rock-strewn lot ever since? Well, DCMud is reporting that they're pushing dirt around over there now. While stressing that this does not mean that construction is imminent, it is undoubtedly a positive sign for a long-stalled project.

DCMud also has another hot tip: construction equipment has finally arrived at the 7th and S site of Progression Place (formerly Broadcast Center One).

Further on the development front, DC Metrocentric takes a look at a potential new design for Cardozo High School.

The always-contentious issue of DC's height limit (a great topic for some mythbusting if ever there was one) gets some attention from the City Paper's Lydia DePillis. 30 story office towers in Chevy Chase? Frank Winstead would have a coronary.

Contradicting the notion that it's all doom-and-gloom for the 14th Street arts community, Borderstan profiles Loft Gallery, the latest addition to the neighborhood arts community. (Oh, and don't forget the lighting of the community holiday tree.)

On that note, here's hoping for a white Christmas for everyone (even though I'm hearing that's increasingly less likely).

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Report: DC9 Death Ruled a Homicide

An interesting turn in the ongoing saga relating to U Street-area rock club DC9 and the death of Ali Ahmed Mohammed. According to TBD and DCist, Mohammed's death has been ruled a homicide by the DC Medical Examiner.

There are no accusations related to who may--or may not--be responsible for Mohammad's death. DC9 had been closed for the last two months as a result of the incident and ongoing investigation, but reopened last week.

DCist provided a statement sent to them by the Mohammed family's attorney, Billy Martin:

This morning, the family of Ali Ahmed Mohammed received the death certificate based upon the autopsy performed by the D.C. Medical Examiner's office. The death certificate confirms that Ali's death was a homicide. The family wishes to commend those at the Medical Examiner¹s office for their hard work and dedication in helping to uncover that Ali¹s death was a homicide. The family is confident that law enforcement will continue its investigation into Ali's tragic death and that the Medical Examiner¹s report is a step toward justice for Ali. The Medical Examiner's findings, however, also reminds us that Ali suffered a cruel and senseless death. Ali did not deserve to die for allegedly breaking a window. The family remains heartbroken and cannot have peace until those responsible for Ali's death are brought to justice.

There is no word on the club's operating status at this point, although nothing leads us to believe that they will shut down again in the near future.

Friday, December 17, 2010

Community Tree Lighting Tonight @ 5PM at the Reeves Center

The invitation below from the DC Arts District pretty much says it all. An 18' community tree, adorned with over 4,000 lights, will be lit this evening at the corner of 14th and U Streets. Hope to see you there!

HR-57's Final Logan Performances This Weekend

Gah, it pains me to write this, being such a fan of 14th Street institution HR-57, but the longstanding Logan-based jazz club is hosting its final performances at 1610 14th Street this weekend. Longstanding performer (and 14thandyou household fave) Antonio Parker and AJ Parham will send HR-57 off to their new digs on H Street in style.

Tickets are $15 at the door, so get there early.

CapitalBop has more on their website.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Capital Bikeshare's "Winter Warrior" Contest

Just received this from the nice people over at Capital Bikeshare. This is a clever bit of marketing to encourage use of the bikeshare system during winter weather, I think.

That said, I would be happy to cede the title of Winter Warrior to someone else if these single degree wind chills continue much longer...

Announcing: The Winter Weather Warrior Contest

On January 1, the hunt is on to find Capital Bikeshare's Winter Weather Warrior. The Capital Bikeshare annual or monthly member with the most trips taken from January 1- February 28 will be awarded the title of Winter Weather Warrior, a three-year extension of their membership, two annual memberships for friends, a $100 Hudson Trail gift card and a $25 Starbucks gift card.

In addition to the grand prize contest, Capital Bikeshare members can look forward to two full months of other contests and random giveaways. To participate in the Winter Weather Warrior contests and random drawings, you must opt in.

Visit our contest page for more details and to opt in. The Winter Weather Warrior contest is sponsored by goDCgo and BikeArlington.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

January Opening for 14th and U Restaurant; American Ice Co. Opens Thursday

It's been about a year since we wrote about the new restaurant and club that was coming to the vacant space at the corner of 14th and U streets. When we last spoke with them, Local 16's Ayman Ayoubi, along with Policy's Omar Miskinyar, had grand plans to open a steakhouse along with a "music and arts space" at the highly visible corner. At the time, Local 16's Salvatore Rosa indicated that they hoped for a July 2010 opening.

Well, clearly *that* didn't work out as planned, as the space continues to sit vacant, awaiting for some kind of activity. However, that could be changing.

According to both The Feast and U Street Girl, Ayoubi has confirmed that the restaurant, which is still unnamed (it's unlikely that the name that was being tossed about last year--Cafe Society--will stick), will open in late January on the second and third floors of the building. That opening will be followed in March by the opening of a club "very similar to Eighteenth Street Lounge" on the basement level. A rooftop patio is likely to open in the late spring/early summer. (Look for a bank or some other high rent-paying entity to take over the ground floor between the two spaces.)

In her post, U Street Girl expresses skepticism that Ayoubi and his team will be able to meet this timeline; I must confess that I join her in doubt. Perhaps interior work continues on the space, but I haven't witnessed a great deal of activity there in recent months. We will see what materializes there, however. As this space materializes, and with the recent opening of Patty Boom Boom and forthcoming opening of the Hilton Bros.' Blackbyrd Warehouse, the intersection of 14th and U is shaping up to become the epicenter of mid-city DC nightlife. Whoo boy.

* * * * * *

Speaking of the Hiltons, I've had Eric's band Thievery Corporation's song "Warning Shots" playing on my iPod a lot recently. Which...doesn't really tie-in at all with the other piece of Hilton-related news, which is that their latest venture, the American Ice Co., will be throwing open their doors for the first time this Thursday.

The Ice Co., located at 917 V Street NW, will serve barbecue, cans of PBR, and will be a laid-back kind of joint, according to manager Joe Reza. The will-they-or-won't-they questions regarding the Ice Co.'s opening appear to have finally been put to rest...for now. Prince of Petworth has a nice (ridiculously awesome?) set of photos of the interior, if you're interested.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

What's Jayson Worth?

Taking a break from the usual neighborhood stuff this weekend to do a little write-up on one of my other passions, the game of baseball.

If you follow the Nationals at all (full disclosure: I was, am, and will continue to be a Reds fan, but the Nats do pop up on my radar screen from time to time), you know that they recently signed former Phillies outfielder Jayson Werth to a seven year, $126 million contract. The deal provoked a lot of dropped jaws and eye rolls throughout DC and all of MLB due to its length and its total (although Carl Crawford could not have been more thrilled). I was willing to write it off as simply the latest example of a mid-market MLB time desperately trying to prove that they're relevant by overpaying for a player. (ESPN columnist Jayson Stark tweeted after the deal was announced that Werth's agent, Scott Boras, told him that the Nats' offer was so high he (Boras) didn't even bother to ask if other teams wanted to match it. The Nats front office shouldn't be too thrilled to learn about that.)

But then I opened yesterday's Post and, in my usual momentary lapse of reason, turned to the ever-engaging "Free For All" section, where I read this letter from Doug Snyder of Bowie:

The three Dec. 6-7 Sports articles, two by Adam Kilgore and a column by Thomas Boswell, gave us plenty of information on the pros and cons of outfielder Jayson Werth joining the Washington Nationals for more than double his 2010 salary but failed to include his 2010 statistics: 27 home runs, 85 runs batted in and a .296 batting average. These can be compared with the numbers of Adam Dunn, the hitter Werth replaces: 38-103-.260. Werth also had more doubles, a league-leading 46 to Dunn's 36, and, at 147 strikeouts, had 52 fewer than did Dunn.

These kinds of false comparisons help demonstrate why franchises such as the Nationals continually make mistakes on players like Werth. They look at a player who is coming off a career year, and extrapolate those numbers out throughout the life of a lengthy contract. However, the reality is Jayson Werth is virtually guaranteed to disappoint anyone who thinks that he is going to come close to replicating the numbers he put up last year in Philadelphia. Here's why.

First, it's important to examine Werth's numbers outside of the vacuum of last season alone. His numbers last year (.388 OBP/ .532 SLG/ .920 OPS) clearly placed Werth in the upper tier of NL outfielders. They also represent a marked increase over his career averages of .367/.481/.848 (numbers which, it should be noted, include Werth's 2010 career year). Looking back on Werth's last three seasons in Philadelphia prior to 2010, his OPS (on-base plus slugging) was .863, .861 and .879. Solid, but not superstar quality.

Werth's power numbers (HR totals of 24, 36 and 27 over the last three years) are decent enough, but also throw up a couple of red flags. Werth's 2009 season, in which he hit 36 HRs, is beginning to look more and more like an anomaly as his HR total fell by 25% last year (much closer to his 2008 number). Second, he benefited substantially the last several seasons from the protection offered by a Phillies lineup that featured Chase Utley, Ryan Howard and Jimmy Rollins batting around him--a luxury he won't have in Washington. Additionally, Werth benefited from hitting in a park--Philadelphia's Citizens Bank Park--that was slightly homer friendly (a HR factor of 1.125), and will be moving to Nationals Park, which offers no HR benefit whatsoever.

Inevitably, Werth's numbers will be compared with Dunn, as the Post letter writer did above. If they are, Werth will almost certainly come out on the short end. Dunn was much maligned for his strikeout totals, which over the last six seasons have been consistently towards the top of the NL. But those numbers tell only part of the story with Dunn, who is a model of consistency not just in regards to strikeouts, but across the board. He has a lifetime OPS of .902, and 4 of his last six seasons have seen him put up OPS numbers in excess of .900. He is a virtual lock to hit nearly 40 HRs every year--and will benefit immensely from moving to Chicago's absurdly homer-friendly U.S. Cellular Field. He stays healthy (having played 152 games or more each season since 2004), and has put up RBI totals of 100 or more for each of the last six seasons, despite playing in lineups that offered him little or no protection.

Werth, meanwhile, has seen his career peak at ages 31-32. It is exceptionally rare to see a player the caliber of Werth go on to post career numbers in their mid-late 30s, as the National's contract with him seems to imply that he will do. More than likely, Werth will post numbers at or close to his career averages for the next several years--OPS numbers around .850, HR totals around 25, RBI totals around 80-90--and then a tapering off from there. By the time he gets to age 39, it will take either an act of God or a prescribed regimen of pharmaceuticals more fitting for competitors in the All Drug Olympics for Werth to put up the good-but-not-great numbers he put up in Philadelphia. Werth does play better defense than Dunn, and will be an upgrade for the Nationals in right field.

Meanwhile, the Chicago White Sox signed Dunn to a contract that includes both less years (four) and money ($4 million less per year) than the deal the Nats signed with Werth. Clearly, there are other factors involved here: perhaps Dunn wanted to go to a team that had the potential to be a World Series contender next season, or he just wanted out of Washington. But the takeaway is this: Werth isn't a bad player by any means, but he is unlikely to approach Dunn's offensive production, and there's little doubt that the Nationals overpaid for him. Additionally, the length of the deal almost certainly ensures that the Nationals will be trying to unload him as it reaches its later years, and will have a difficult time doing so.

Nats fans, meanwhile, will likely have to suffer through at least another year or two of mediocrity on the field, while the only one who really makes out on this deal is Werth.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Plans Take Shape for 24-Hour Jazz/Supper Club at 14th and F

When plans were announced this summer that the Border's bookstore, located at 14th and F streets, was going to be closing and replaced with a new restaurant from the Clyde's group, it seemed like a rather mundane announcement about a new downtown restaurant from a familiar chain.

However, when it was later announced that, in addition to the restaurant, Clyde's had plans to open a 15,000 sf nightclub in the basement of the building, that raised a few eyebrows. In a part of town not known for its nightlife--particularly not on that scale--many wondered what kind of operation Clyde's had in mind.

Now, we're beginning to get some idea of what's to come. From its liquor license filing with ABRA, we learn that the new concept--which is tentatively called "Hamilton Square Grill"--will be seeking a CX (multipurpose) license, which would cover the restaurant, live music venue, and proposed 96 seat outdoor patio. The 35,000 sf space, which includes a 20,000 sf restaurant plus the downstairs nightclub, will feature sushi, a raw bar and, according to Clyde's executive VP Tom Meyer, "comfortable, good food and a menu with drinks."

Perhaps most interesting, however, are the operatiing hours for the space: they are requesting outdoor seating until 2 AM Sunday through Thursday, and 3 AM on weekends, and plan to be a 24 hour operation inside.

That's right: a 24 hour restaurant/club in downtown DC. Those of you who are NYC transplants are likely wondering what the fuss is about, but 24 operations are hard to come by in DC--even in neighborhoods known for their nightlife options.

The Clyde's group plans on a tentative late 2011 opening, but we'll see if that materializes.

Sunday, December 5, 2010

14th Street Facelift Continues: Commencement of 14th and W Project Imminent

2004-2008 saw a resurgence in development along 14th Street, particularly north of U Street. And while the 2008 financial collapse saw indefinite holds placed on several key developments (including the redevelopment of the since-demolished Nehemiah Center), there are signs that the development freeze is beginning to thaw.

Last week, it was announced that Perseus Realty, which since 2008 had planned to develop a project--the so-called '14W"--at the intersection of 14th and W streets had sold the project for $7.5 million to Jefferson Apartment Group (JAG), and that the project should commence within the month. Perseus will stay on as developer for the project.

To recap, the 14W will include 231 housing units, a 44,000 sf YMCA and 12,000 sf of retail. 18 of the housing units will be offered as affordable units for individuals and families making up to 60% of the area's AMI. (Note: This equates to roughly $62,000/yr. I remain unconvinced that these so-called affordable units function as they should, as though said units are indeed less expensive than their full-priced cousins, they're rarely what one could consider to be inexpensive. The recommended maximum monthly amount that should be spent on housing expenses is roughly 30% of gross income, or around $1,550/month. It's challenging, but not impossible, to cover all of your housing expenses, even with an "affordable unit," on that. But that's another discussion for another time.)

Assuming the project begins as quickly as they are hoping it does, expect a delivery sometime in mid-late 2012.

The 14W is but one of several projects set to come online along 14th Street. A few blocks south, JBG continues to await demolition permits in order to commence its mixed-use project at 14th and S. And last month, developer Douglas Jemal announced plans to construct a 30 unit apartment building with groundfloor retail at the decrepit and vacant former home of Latino Auto Sales at 14th and Florida (along the same block as the 14W project). Under the most optimistic (read: unlikely) of scenarios, Jemal hopes to break ground on that project by next summer.

The Neverending Story Continues: ANC Officially Withdraws Hank's Protest, ABC Board Yet to Rule

Believe me, if you're sick of reading about the ongoing drama related to the proposed expansion of Dupont Circle eatery Hank's Oyster Bar, we're even more sick of writing about it. It's one of those issues that seems to polarize the neighborhood--with most neighborhood residents either supportive or unopposed, and a small cadre of residents opposed to the expansion and insistent upon dragging the process on for a seemingly unendurable length of time.

There's no need to re-hash the issues at play here--click on one of the links above, or head over to Borderstan where Tom Hay should be considered for a Pulitzer for his work documenting the situation over the last several months. But here's where things currently stand:

At last week's meeting of ANC2B, the ANC voted unanimously (with one abstention) to withdraw its protest of Hank's expansion, which includes taking over an adjacent building and expanding both a sidewalk-facing patio as well as a "summer garden" in the back of the building. The ANC also voted unanimously to support the placarding of the changes because they were deemed to be "substantial" changes.

This leaves Hank's with the final hurdle of approval before the ABC Board before the expansion can proceed. The ABC vote will also be the last opportunity for a small but vocal group of resident protesters to derail the expansion plans, although that seems highly unlikely. As we've previously noted, the resident protesters, through multiple meetings and hearings, have been unable to demonstrate an adverse impact to the neighborhood to such a degree that the ABC Board would refuse to approve an otherwise legally permissible expansion.

In other words, come 2011, this nearly year-long saga might finally draw to a close. And we'll have to find something new to write about.

Monday, November 29, 2010

"So you don't want to pay $25k a year for first grade?" ANC2F to Host Community Discussion on Area Public Schools

This Wednesday at their regular monthly meeting, ANC2F, along with the Logan Circle Community Association, will be co-hosting a special forum on DC public school education. From the flyer they distributed:

Please Join Us for a Joint Community Forum

Wednesday, December 1,
Washington Plaza Hotel
14 Thomas Circle, NW
(14th and Massachusetts, NW)
7:00 PM



Additional information can be found on the ANC's website.

Who's Picturing DC?

Welcome back from what was hopefully a relaxing weekend of eating, sleeping and...well, I think Jim Gaffigan put it best:

Thanksgiving. It’s like we didn’t even try to come up with a tradition. The tradition is, we overeat. “Hey, how about at Thanksgiving we just eat a lot?” “We do that every day!” “Oh. What if we eat a lot with people that annoy the hell out of us?”

(Just kidding, mom.)

Before we dive back into the fun and lunacy that is local neighborhood politics stuff, I thought I'd share something lighter and, to me at least, interesting in that wastes-a-lot-of-my-time-at-work kind of way. If you don't know who Eric Fischer is, he's the guy that does all of those colorful maps of cities around the world that show things like demographic data, transit usage and so on. (If you missed his series on race and ethnicity, go immediately and check it out.)

Because I am a nerd at heart, I found myself perusing Eric's Flickr photostream recently and came across a series entitled "The Geotaggers World Atlas," where he took data derived from images on Flickr and Picasa and mapped them to show where it was in each city that people take photos. But then he took it a step further and categorized each image based on whether they were taken by a tourist (red dot) local (blue dot) are undetermined (yellow dot). In addition to showing which cities get photographed the most (DC checks in at #8, ahead of Rome but behind Boston; #s 1-3 are NYC, London and Paris), it provides some insight into what sections of cities tourists go (and take pictures), and where they don't.

I'm struggling to find a great amount of "real life" applicability here, but I'll be damned if these aren't tremendously fascinating.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

HR-57 Moving to H Street

In what is sad news for Logan/Shaw/Dupont jazz fans, but great news for people around north Capitol Hill and the Atlas District, the City Paper is reporting that longtime 14th street jazz club HR-57 will be moving to a space near 9th and H Streets NE in January.

According to the City Paper, HR-57 owner Tony Puesan was quoted as saying "It's a very nice place, it's just in a little bit cheaper building." Puesan owns HR-57's current location, which seems to indicate that by "cheaper" he is referring to property taxes.

Though there is no shortage of jazz clubs remaining in the area--Bohemian Caverns, Twins and Utopia all have acts on a nightly basis, and many other restaurants and lounges feature jazz performances many nights throughout the week--HR-57's casual vibe, relatively low cover and top-notch acts will certainly be missed in the neighborhood, particularly by yours truly. Although the space could get a bit crowded on Friday and Saturday nights, the drink prices are high (although it is one of the few BYOB places in the city) and the food options aren't exactly options, it is also my favorite jazz club. Though I'm sure I'll make out to H Street for the occasional performance, the new location won't be particularly convenient.

HR-57's current building is up for sale, so it's a safe bet that something new will be moving into that space. Although what it will be is anyone's guess (trendy, small plate restaurant, anybody?)

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

ANC2B Files, Then Withdraws, Protest of Hank's; Residents Threaten Legal Action

Tossing aside months of statements amounting to "we're not going to get involved," ANC2B voted at last week's meeting to protest the renewal of the liquor license for Jamie Leeds' popular Hank's Oyster Bar--then promptly rescinded the letter of protest after working out a deal with Leeds.

Meanwhile, a group of resident protesters led by Q Street resident David Mallof have threatened to file an appeal with the DC Court of Appeals should the alcohol board allow the termination of Hank's VA with the residents, along with a request from Leeds to add a rooftop garden and french doors leading to the street-level patio.

That's right: residents are threatening legal action over french doors.

If you're wondering what happened, well, so are we. it's rather long and winding road towards what has been a rather absurdly drawn-out protest of a popular neighborhood eatery. (Our post from a few months ago covers the protest in excruciating detail. Pour yourself a stiff drink before reading it.)

Basically, what it comes down to is this: a few area residents have decided that Leeds' plans to expand into the adjacent vacant space, and to vacate her existing VA with them, amounts to the end of life as we know it. Or something akin to that. Never mind that Leeds is perfectly within her rights to pursue expansion into the adjacent space--the recently re-ratified 17th Street Liquor License Moratorium specifically permits Leeds to do exactly that. And never mind that said protestants were unable to demonstrate any actual or potential harm by such a move--or even why a VA was necessary.

The ANC had voted to take no action on either the' "substantial change" to Hank's license (namely, the expansion into the neighboring building and outdoor space) or Leeds' request to terminate her VA with the Dupont Circle Citizen's Association and the aforementioned neighborhood residents.

The ANC's decision to reverse course came as a result of comments made by Leeds' attorney, Andrew Kline, at a November 3 alcohol board hearing, where he mentioned that Hank's would be legally permitted to maintain sidewalk cafe hours until 2 AM weekdays and 3 AM weekends--which they would. Except, they had no intention of doing so. Leeds had stated repeatedly that she had no intention of expanding Hank's patio hours.

Still, the ANC, as commissioner Victor Wexler put it, "does not want to risk having those hours allowed for anyone." So they filed a protest. Leeds immediately filed letter with ABRA which restricted her hours to 11 PM and midnight, which matched the statements she repeatedly made under oath at the alcohol board hearing. Subsequently, the ANC withdrew its protest, leaving Leeds' last remaining hurdle an upcoming ABRA Board hearing on the resident's protest of the expansion and substantial change.

Or perhaps not. In a ridiculously hyperbolic email recently sent by Mallof to a group of "interested" residents (subject line: "Grave ABC Board actions affecting all of DC"), he threatens to pursue further legal action should the alcohol board not side with his and his group's opposition to Leeds' plans:

"We await word on theses dramatically proposed instant license change requests," the email states. "If the Board approves these without placarding and public comment, we shall appeal to the DC Court of Appeals as well."

Is it any possible wonder why Leeds wanted to vacate her VA with these people?

In case you were wondering, Leeds' request to vacate her VA is entirely within the bounds of the law--any business that has been operating under one for at least four years has the right to make such a request. And although such requests were rare, in Leeds' case the alcohol board found that the key points of contention which would otherwise be addressed in the VA--namely, occupancy and operating hours--were addressed in the licensing agreement, thus making the VA redundant.

And so here we are, nearly a year after Leeds launched an effort to expand her restaurant: the ANC is not opposing the move, and the alcohol board seems poised to permit it. So where does that leave Mallof and the other resident protesters? They could certainly appeal the alcohol board's decision, but it's unlikely that such an appeal would meet with success. Most likely, they're going to be left on the outside looking in: having only themselves to blame for behaving so unreasonably and essentially forcing Leeds to pursue remedies to vacate the agreement she had signed with them. Ultimately, they'll likely be left with no recourse other than sending emails to each other complaining of the "hurricane of precedent setting, DC-wide rule of law and negative externality impact implications happening here in Dupont Circle."

Goodness, you'd think Jamie Leeds was trying to install french doors or something.

Monday, November 15, 2010

TBD Reports on Hate Crimes Along 1400 Block of R Street

A truly horrific story appeared this morning on TBD detailing a series of brutal attacks on homosexuals gays that have occured along the 1400 block of R Street.

The piece centers around the recent efforts to attract moderate and higher income-earning individuals to the R Street Apartments along the 1400 block, following the successful effort last year to ensure that affordable housing units remained on the Block for the next 40 years. The initiative was the result of an agreement between the District government, the National Housing Trust and Hampstead Development Group.

That the 1400 block of R Street has a higher rate of crime that surrounding blocks has been the area's worst-kept secret for years. However, marketing efforts by the Trust were geared towards attracting more affluent residents to a development that had predominantly been home to low-income African-American residents. The dreaded "g word," in other words.

So how's that working out?

Not so good for at least a couple of white, homosexual gay males who decided to take the plunge. According to one excerpt from the story, within a week of moving in, a gentlemen named Stanley experienced the following:

On March 26, Stanley moved to R Street; by April 2, he found himself splayed out in the middle of it. Stanley was drifting in and out of consciousness, talking with a paramedic on the pavement. He remembered walking home on the south side of the street, his grocery cart in tow. He passed a group hanging outside the row of apartment buildings on the block. A woman led the group in taunting him. “She screamed at me about not wanting another white faggot on her side of the street,” Stanley says. A fight broke out, Stanley felt the cart pulled from his hands, and “after the whack on the head, I don’t remember much,” he says.

According to a police report, Stanley was punched in the face and repeatedly beaten on the back of the head. A neighbor from across the street recovered his cart and called an ambulance. He spent the night in Howard University Hospital.

Things weren't any better for Ted Puntanen, who moved into a studio apartment in the complex nad soon encountered problems.

The next day, Puntanen noticed “five young black guys standing around in my hallway, just standing around,” he says. “I didn’t think anything of it. I said hello, and they all just stared at me.”

Two days later, Puntanen noticed another group of black men inside the lobby. As he walked past them with his bicycle, the suspects said, “you don’t belong here, faggot, we’re going to kill you,” and “we don’t need any more faggots in here.” According to a police report, five to six suspects beat and kicked Puntanen in the eye, nose, and knees. “They had pulled my pants down and left me half-naked, half in and half out of the door, bleeding,” says Puntanen. His right eye swelled completely shut. “And out of all the screaming, all the run-around, all of the laughing and calling me faggot,” Puntanen says, “nobody called 911.”

In all, it's both a horrific and sad commentary on what human beings are capable of doing to each other. Crime has been a problem along that stretch of R Street for years...but to learn of the personal story behind such a violent act is particularly troubling.

According to the story, two of the men who beat up Puntanen--Michael Speight and Delonte Olden--were arrested and pled guilty to assault with significant bodily injury. The crime was deemed to be bias-motivated, meaning that both Speight and Olden are looking at longer jail terms. Practically inconceivable, however, was the statement made by Speight's mother: "Michael is a good kid. He just got in the wrong place at the wrong time." As if *anyone* would have beaten the crap out of Puntanen, it just happened that Michael drew the short straw.

Sorry to be the bearer of bad news Ms. Speight, but your son is not a good kid. Perhaps he looked out for you, brought the groceries in from the car, or picked up little sister after school sometimes. But he also pummeled a man senseless for no reason other than because he was gay. That is appalling behavior. I hope prison helps your son straighten out his life, because he is not a "good" kid now by any definition of the word.

As for the 1400 block of R Street: I guess old habits die hard.

Friday, November 12, 2010

So You Have a Question About the DC9 Case?

Well, who doesn't? Like, what was the deal with the blood in the infamous Washington Post picture? What's going to happen to DC9 now that the ANC voted not to support a renewal of its license? Do police suspect race as a motivating factor?

Today, TBD hosted an online chat (specifically, it was hosted by editor Sommer Mathis) where interested parties could submit questions that had been at the top of their minds. It's actually pretty informative, so if you have a few moments available head on over to TBD and check it out.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

"Screw the Pedestrians, They Just Get in My Way"

I can't think of a better way to celebrate this blog's 500th post than to revel in the unique driving habits of DC's drivers. Damn the pedestrians, they say!

Arts District Branding Initiative: Update on Banner Designs

Last night at the Hamiltonian Gallery, the Arts District Branding Committee unveiled the latest round of designs for the street banners that will hang throughout the neighborhood. The designs unveiled last night are based off of the feedback received at last weeks meeting, when the original design ideas were unveiled.

As the DC Arts District blog states, "Five original graphic designs illustrate the vibrancy of the Arts District. Four strong, bold colors create the color palette. Each logo banner is topped by a "buzz word" that is descriptive of this Arts District."

The designs are included below, but first some context. The Committee raised several points regarding the "whys" of the designs previewed last night, including:

* We now have a slogan: "It's more than art"

* There was strong pushback from individuals and groups, including the residents of the Shaw neighborhood and councilmember Jim Graham, regarding the use of the term "Mid-City" in the name of the arts district. Reasons cited included the lack of a strong geographic identity conveyed by the term and potential confusion with other existing "mid-city" groups, such as the Mid City Business Association and Mid-City Artists.

* There was also overwhelming feedback that the names of the district's three core neighborhoods--Shaw, Logan and U Street--be incorporated into the branding.

* The Committee has finalized potential names for the district: the U Street/Shaw/Logan Arts District, or the U Street/Shaw/Logan Arts + Design District.

* Each "designed" panel will appear alongside a panel consisting of art provided by area artists, including photographs, sketches, paintings and other visual mediums. The "designed" panel will always appear on the "street" side, whereas the artist panel will appear on the sidewalk side.

* There was a conscientious effort to include "DC" imagery in at least some of the banners--you'll note in the images below the use of the District outline and Logan/Shaw streetgrid, replete with traffic circles. The circles, in fact, show up several times throughout the banners.

The banners that were presented last night ca be found below. What do you think--will they contribute to the ongoing development of the neighborhood? Do you like the design? More information about each, as well as updated status on the project--which is set for a public unveiling throughout the neighborhood in early December--can be found at the DC Arts District blog.

1. DC Arts District

2. Arts + Design District

3. DC Arts District ( generic)

4. 4 in 1 montage

Friday, November 5, 2010

Charges Against DC9 Employees DROPPED

According to the City Paper and DCist, the United States Attorney's Office announced today that it has dropped all charges againt the five DC9 employees accused of assaulting/murdering Ali Ahmed Mohammed.

The USAO released this statement, as reported by the City Paper:

Our work is not done. The tragic death of Ali Ahmed Mohammed demands that we undertake a careful and comprehensive investigation to determine precisely how he died. Today’s action was taken after a detailed examination of the evidence gathered during the first three weeks of the investigation and a determination that we need more information before moving forward. Our investigation will be informed by pending forensic analyses and the ruling of the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner on the cause and manner of death, important factors in any death inquiry.

The search for justice cannot be rushed, and we will continue to pursue an active and vigorous inquiry. This is a time of unbearable grief for Mr. Mohammed’s family and friends. We thank them for their patience and understanding as we continue our work.

So, not even an assault charge. Clearly, the door remains open for any and/or all of the individuals--Bill Spieler, Darryl Carter, Evan Preller, Reginald Phillips and Arthur Zaloga--to be charged again, depending upon the results of the DC Medical Examiner's report.

But still, this is a shocking turn of events. I'm inclined to believe what a DCist commenter wrote: someone f'ed up bigtime.

Tonight: Mid-City Artists Reception; This Weekend: Mid-City Artists Open Studios

This weekend is supposed to provide us with some sunny--if a bit chilly--weather. (In other words, perfect as far as I'm concerned.) So if you're looking for an excuse to be out-and-about in our neighborhood, you might want to take advantage of a couple of arts-related activities.

Tonight, Mid-City Artists is hosting an artist's reception at the Hounshell Real Estate/Gary Fisher Gallery located at 1505 14th Street from 6p-8p. Appetizers courtesy of the Cap City Brewing Company will be served, and all of the Mid-City artists will be in attendance.

This weekend, those same artists will be hosting open studios throughout the neighborhood. A map of all participating artists and their locations can be found here.

Finally, this Monday, November 8, the final of two public meetings regarding the Arts District logo/branding concepts will be held from 7p-9p at the Hamiltonian Gallery at 1353 U Street NW. Those interested in reviewing the preliminary concepts unveiled at the last meeting may do so here.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Today: Vote Early, Vote Often

So, there's a little election going on today, and more is at stake then simply crowning Vince Gray leader of our constitutionally prescribed federal district. There are some contested ANC races (including several with potential ramifications in and around the 14th and U areas), City Council seats up for grabs, and an amendment that would grant the residents of DC the right, beginning in 2014, to elect DC's attorney general. A quick recap:

In area ANC races, several are worth watching. In ANC1B, Peter "The Commish" Raia is being challenged by not one but two residents for his seat on the ANC-- Tucker V.E. Gallagher and Aaron Spencer. Raia has been a controversial figure of sorts along U Street due to the ongoing debate about the volume of bars and restaurants along the corridor--although over here at 14th & You, we have to wonder if anyone could be non-controversial while heading up ANC1B's Liquor Licensing Committee.

A bit south and west, ANC2B is hope to another contested race involving a controversial figure. Ramon Estrada, who has served in the role for eight years and is seeking reelection, is being challenged by Sunit Talapatra. Estrada withstood a challenge to his seat in the 2008, so it will be interesting to see whether he survives another race, or whether those dissatisfied with his representation are successful in voting him out.

Finally, in ANC2F, in addition to a contest for a seat being vacated by current commissioner Andrew Werth, commissioner and Community Development Committee chair Mike Bernardo is being challenged for his seat by Kate McMahon. As individuals who are residents of ANC2F and thus very familiar with Mike's tenure on the ANC, we can personally vouch for his work as a Commissioner--and quite frankly, nothing in Kate's interview with Borderstan would sway us to her candidacy. So, I suppose this becomes our 14thandyou's first quasi-endorsement of a candidate.

Moving away from the ANCs, another issue on the ballot worth considering is the so-called "Attorney General amendment," which would allow the residents of DC to elect their attorney general, rather than have the AG appointed by the mayor. The Washington Post's editorial board and current AG Peter Nickles oppose this idea, which is reason enough for many to support it. Does it risk turning the AG into a political position? Of course it does. But having an AG independent of the mayor's own political agenda wouldn't necessarily be a bad thing.

Finally, there are a few City Council seats up for grabs--including Ward One's Jim Graham--but it's unlikely that any will change hands. We're still pretty much a one-party town, after all.

Oh yeah, and there's that pesky Fenty write-in campaign that continues to plod along...

If you're not sure of the location and hours of your nearest voting station, DC's Board of Elections website can help you with that. Now, get out there and exercise your civic duty.

Monday, November 1, 2010

"District Condos": What's in a Name?

There was speculation when details came out a couple of months ago about what JBG might call their new development at the former Whitman Walker site at 14th and S. After all, they have a lot of options to choose from in a neighborhood like Logan/U Street that is so rich in history and historical figures. We've seen the region's history used before in names like The Ellington and the Langston Lofts. (It has also been completely forsaken with names like The Metropole and Union Row, but no matter.)

So, what eye-catching name did JBG ultimately decide on?

If you guessed "District Condos," you have very little imagination--but you'd be right. If you're like me, you were more than a bit perplexed about the rather mundane name that was bestowed on such a significant project. So I contacted JBG's project manager James Nozar for a bit of an explanation.

"We’ve read the many comments about the “District” name," he said. "It’s impossible to please everyone, but we tried to find a name that would market the neighborhood (your “district”), the building (how the building is different), and the end-user’s personal style."

OK, but still. The name seems a bit...boring.

"It is obviously an incredibly simple name, but that was the point," said Nozar. "We’re confident the overall project marketing campaign will work quite well and will resonate with those in the neighborhood."

Fair enough--I guess we'll wait for the marketing campaign to kick in before passing complete judgment on the name. Onto more important information, such as when demolition and construction might finally get underway. On this point, Nozar sounded a familiar refrain.

"(We) should be in a position to start demo in the next few weeks. We’ll start actual construction in late November or early December, which keeps us on our schedule of delivering units in Spring 2012."

When complete, the project will feature over 120 units and over 18,000 sf of retail along the western side of 14th Street between S and Swann streets.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

[Breathless Tone] ROGUES STATES IS COMING TO 14TH AND U (or are they?)

Goodness, we step away from the blogosphere for one day, and what happens? Well, for one, the feds arrested some kook who thought he was doing some scouting for Al Queda by videotaping some Virginia Metro stations. (Hint: target the Arlington Cemetery stop after 8 PM).

But what REALLY had people going was today's announcement that recently evicted Dupont burger place Rogue States would be relocating to 1931 14th Street NW, in the vacant space formerly home to Bargain World.

Well, OK, the announcement wasn't made today, per se. It was actually made about two weeks ago, in a statement made under oath by Rogue States' owner during their legal battle with mega-law firm Steptoe and Johnson regarding the ventilation--or lack thereof--from their restaurant. Rogue States, you may recall, was forced to close that location.

But still, Holy Belated Restaurant News, Batman, there could be a new burger joint on 14th Street! If this move pans out, the guys over at Desperado's can't be too thrilled at yet another deceased cow purveyor only a block or so away.

It should be noted, however, that Rogue States' move isn't quite a done deal. According to comments made to the Washingtonian, Rogue States owner Raynold Mendizabal indicated that he was counting on revenue from the Dupont location to pay for the opening of the 14th Street location. With the Dupont location now sucked into the grease trap of history, it's unclear whether Mendizabal will be able to move forward with the 14th Street location.

Even if he doesn't, another burger/hot dog joint is destined for 14th Street anyway, with the eventual opening of "Standard" in the former Garden District spot at 14th and S.

LivingCocial UnCorks Confusion with Coupon Deal

In some respects, Logan Circle residents have an embarrassment of riches: numerous top-rated restaurants and bars, great shopping options, a thriving arts scene, and two similarly named wine retailers. Recently, that last one led to a bit of confusion for people who didn't read the fine print--or, in this case, the name of the establishment.

A few weeks ago, local Deal of the Day purveyor LivingSocial announced a deal that many Logan Circle wine lovers couldn't pass up: $25 worth of food and wine at a Logan Circle wine merchant with the word "Cork" in the name for only $10. Sounds like a great deal, and it was snatched up by a number of area residents eager to get a deal on their favorite wines and gourmet foods at local wine merchants Cork Market.

A slight problem arose when these purchasers went to Cork Market to redeem their coupon: the coupon was actually for Cork and Fork, an entirely different retailer located a few blocks south of Cork Market's 14th and S street location. The situation presented a dilemma to Cork Market's owner Khalid Pitts.

"People started coming in expecting to redeem this coupon they had purchased for what they thought was our store," Pitts said. "When we realized what had happened, we kind of had that moment of awkwardness where no one is quite sure what to do."

Ultimately Pitts decided to accept the coupons at his store.

"When they learned that the coupon they had purchased wasn't for us, people were saying things like 'Oh, we wouldn't have bought it if we realized it wasn't for your store.' We're very grateful to have such loyal customers, so we decided to accept the coupons anyway."

In all, Pitts estimates that "at least 30" people made the mistake but were allowed to redeem their coupons at Cork Market. So, is this the latest chapter in a rivalry between the two closely named 14th Street wine merchants?

"Well, we both know that the other one is there...but really we're just trying to be good neighbors. I think the biggest difference between them and us is that Logan is our neighborhood--we live here. So it means a lot to us to have relationships with our neighbors and customers."

Pitts also mentioned a couple of upcoming events at Cork Market, including its first-ever beer tasting next month.

As for the LivingSocial subscribers: next time, you might want to read the offer a bit more carefully.

Street Sweeping Ends October 29

Car owners and clogged gutter fiends, rejoice: street sweeping, and its attendant alternate-side parking restrictions, will cease on Friday, October 29.

This means that, according to DPW's website, "“No parking/street cleaning” restrictions will be lifted and motorists may park along posted, alternate-side, daytime street sweeping routes without being required to move their cars on street-cleaning days."

Street sweeping is ending nearly a month earlier this year than it did last year, and some astute observants may point out that the cessation comes during a year when the District is facing a significant budget shortfall and may be looking for ways to reduce costs. Not so, says DPW.

By suspending the street sweeping program, DPW personnel can focus on leaf collection, which will begin November 8, as well as the upcoming snow removal season. The 2010-2011 leaf season will run November 8, 2010, through January 15, 2011. During this time, leaves will be vacuumed from each street at least twice.

So there you go. DPW will send an announcement around when street sweeping resumes next spring. Until then, enjoy a a season replete with unfettered parking restrictions.

Friday, October 22, 2010

Development Round-Up: 16th and U getting a makeover; Dupont Underground plans announced

Earlier in the year, we wrote about a City Paper piece that discussed forthcoming changes to the building located at 1610 U Street, which currently houses a Results Gym and Bang Salon, among others. Shortly (read: within the next week or two) building owner David von Storch expects to break ground on a radical redesign of the building which, when finished, will feature a 51,000+ sf VIDA Fitness, Bang Salon, Aura Spa and a Capitol City Brewing Co.

Altogether, von Storch is designing what he calls a "desirable urban lifestyle center." Or, as we prefer to call it, a Big Building With Stuff.

DCMud has all the details about the new development, including the big plans for the roof:

"...the new complex will be outfitted with a "rooftop club including a 60-foot pool, resort cabanas, communal fire pit, outdoor waterfall, sundeck and a membership lounge with full food and beverage service.""

Egads. I, for one, can't wait to observe the wild-eyed protests that a "communal rooftop fire pit" will engender.

For those wondering about the history of this development, I would encourage you to read the aformentioned City Paper article. Oh, the drama.

All of the approvals are in place, so at this point a few permits and 10 months are all that is standing in the way of you and this Desirable Urban Lifestyle Center.

* * * * *

A little farther west and south, big plans were announced for the creepily abandoned Dupont Underground space. (Warning guys: your site is delivering a 404 error. As the error explains, "it's dark down there.")

For those who have been living in a cave, or perhaps an abandoned streetcar tunnel, the Dupont Underground project is the District's effort to redevelop a nearly eight block-long streetcar tunnel that runs underneath Dupont Circle. This has already been attempted once, during 1997, when a disastrously planned food court opened up and promptly shut down only months later.

This time the District is determined to get things right. As Borderstan reports, the winning proposal submitted in response to the District's RFP--in fact, the only proposal deemed legal--was submitted by an organization calling itself the Arts Coalition for Dupont Circle. Their proposals calls for them to transform the vacant and dilapidated space into an "important cultural institution" consisting of an art gallery showcasing local artists, a "top-tier" dining establishment (of course), and potentially a wine-themed operation (ditto).

The project, which must still be approved by the District Council following the completion of the public comment period in November, will be completed in two phases: an initial 40,000 sf phase that will include the gallery, restaurant and perhaps another operation and will deliver sometime in 2013, and a second 60,000 sf phase that will deliver two years later.

The Arts Coalition, which is comprised of a large team of architects, developers, artists and businesspeople, includes individuals and organizations involved in some of the District's most high profile projects in recent years, including the Spy Museum and GALA Hispanic theater at the Tivoli Theater.

Hopefully, with the amount of time and effort invested into this project, its shelf life will be a bit longer than the food court. Although I maintain that it would be nice to have a Sbarro nearby...

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Meet the man who wants Ramon Estrada's ANC seat

For the past eight years, Ramon Estrada has represented the constituents of ANC2B09. During that time he has cultivated his share of admirers and detractors for his strong positions and occasionally outspoken views. Love him, loathe him, or feel ambivalent, there's no denying that Estrada has played an integral role in the ongoing transformation of the 14th and U Street corridors throughout the past decade.

Now, however, Estrada finds himself in somewhat unfamiliar territory, for himself and most ANC commissioners: he's in a contested race.

Sunit Talapatra, a resident of the 1400 block of Swann Street NW, will be challenging Estrada for the ANC2B09 seat on the November 2 election. Given that Estrada has been something of a lightning rod in neighborhood politics over the past eight years, you might expect his challenger to be something of raging anti-Estradaite: pro-liquor license, anti-voluntary agreement and generally less confrontational. The differences between the two candidates, however, are a bit more subtle. Recently, 14thandyou had the opportunity to sit down and chat with Mr. Talapatra over coffee at the Mid-City Caffe to find out why he's running, what he'd do differently, and what he thinks about nightclubs with rooftop decks staying open until 5 AM. (Hint: he's not a fan.)

14thandyou: What initially drew you to the neighborhood?
Sunit Talapatra: In 2002, I was looking for a new place to live in DC, and I had narrowed by choices down to Georgetown, Adams-Morgan and Logan Circle. Georgetown felt a bit too established, while Adams-Morgan felt like a place I had passed in my life. In Logan however, I found a neighborhood that was being revitalized, wasn't unsafe, was walkable and central to everything. It had all of the aspects i was looking for in a neighborhood. I ended up buying a place near 14th and P, where I lived with my wife until we had children and needed more space, which is why we moved up to Swann Street.

14th: Why elect to run for the ANC2B seat now?
ST: Now that I've lived in the neighborhood awhile and have gotten to know the history, it's so much more interesting watching the things change, and I want to be a part of it. I want to be involved in the back-and-forth between the residents, businesses and the city, to foster partnerships between those group. And I want to be informed.

14th: Ramon Estrada seems to invoke rather strong feelings from those who have observed neighborhood politics over the years. Are you running against Mr. Estrada, or are you simply running for a seat that happens to be occupied by him?
ST: There's nothing that Ramon has done that makes me want to say "stop". In fact, I admire his years of civic service to the residents of the neighborhood. There's not much substantively different between us; ours is really a difference of style. I'm not challenging him because of who he is, there are simply some things I would do differently. For example, the ANC plays such a substantial role in the experience of residents in the neighborhood, but there's so little reporting on what the ANC is doing or why it's doing it. My focus is going to be on communication between residents and the ANC--to hold regular meetings with residents of my single member district (SMD), which is currently not being done; to own and operate a blog communicating what the ANC is doing; and so forth.

14th: A question that gets discussed frequently, on this blog and elsewhere, is the proper role of ANCs in the regulation of commerce in the neighborhood. What do you think is the appropriate role for an ANC commissioner to play in regards to regulating businesses in the neighborhood?
ST: I believe that the role of the ANC commissioner is to communicate the viewpoint of the SMD as a whole. One, two or three people should not be able to hijack an ANC, and a commissioner should be able to separate his or her own personal views from those of the SMD. If, for instance, I polled my constituents and discovered that they were supportive of a nightclub having a rooftop deck open until 5 AM, I would vote to support it. Although you can believe that I would be at every ABRA meeting as a neighborhood resident opposing it.

14th: Reading the candidate's statement on your Facebook page, you made a comment that I found interesting. You stated that you are "literally up at night thinking about ways to keep the noise and traffic off our streets." Can you expound on that?
ST: Actually, think I said that the traffic is keeping me up at night. (Ed.note: it is in fact the former.) But there's really not much you can do to keep noise and traffic off of 14th Street. I would like to increase the use of public transportation--Metro, MetroBus, the Circulator line--which would help keep fewer cars off the street. And I'm very supportive of the 14th Street streetscape project, with wider sidewalks that will hopefully increase foot traffic.

14th: In your candidate statement, you discuss the importance of building "healthy, respectful relationships" between businesses and residents. What do you think are the hallmarks of a healthy, respectful relationship?
ST: Well, for one, "no" is not an acceptable answer. You cannot go to a business owner who has the lawful right to do something and simply tell them "no." You should adopt a posture of cooperation. Businesses can help raise property values and improve the quality of life in a neighborhood, whereas restaurants need residents to patronize their establishments if they are going to succeed and prevent the neighborhood from deteriorating. If you say "no" to a proposed restaurant, you need supporting evidence beyond simply proximity. You need to take the pulse of the residents of your neighborhood when making a decision. It's not easy--this takes work.

14th: Speaking of restaurants, one thing that I've increasingly heard from people is that they feel the voluntary agreement process is flawed. So, do you think VAs work?
ST: Well, with VAs, it's pretty clear that most residents like them, and most businesses don't, mainly because they don't view them as "voluntary." I think there are aspects of the VA process that need to be changed. Otherwise, we risk losing businesses throughout the neighborhood.

14th: I don't know how much you have been following the efforts to brand the neighborhood as an "arts district." (Note: more info here.) Do you have any thoughts on that?
ST: Honestly, I haven't been following it very closely. However, I do believe that branding can help establish a community's identity.

14th: What would your message be to someone considering a move to the 14th and U street area?
ST: I would tell them that it's a fantastic neighborhood with everything you could want in an urban neighborhood: wide sidewalks, boutiques, restaurants, farmer's markets, professionals, artists. It's a very diverse neighborhood--i think the word I would use is "bohemian." It's a great neighborhood for people who don't want to live in the suburbs!

14th: Any final words you'd like to share with people regarding the upcoming election?
ST: I think the neighborhood needs a commissioner who can harness the wave of excitement surrounding our neighborhood. And I'd encourage people to visit my campaign website,

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Restaurant News: Work Underway at "Italian Shirt Laundry", No Sandwich Shop (for now) at S and

At long last, work appears to finally be getting underway at the vacant "Shirt Laundry" building at the corner of 14th and Q streets. This summer, it was announced that the building--which for many years had housed the Shirt Laundry Dry Cleaners store--was going to be converted into an Italian restaurant and bakery called the Italian Shirt Laundry. The group developing the property, The Whisk Group, will also be opening a a second Italian restaurant a bit further down 14th Street called The Italian Cinema.

We had heard that the site may have some environmental remediation issues to contend with, which appears to be true with the current "Asbestos Removal" project going on at the building. Never fear though, as that part of the project will be over with very quickly, and come spring diners should be able to enjoy asbestos-free pasta and charcuterie.

The Italian Shirt Laundry will be the slightly downmarket of its ritzier cousin, Italian Cinema. The arrival of both restaurants will mean three Italian restaurants within a few blocks of each other along 14th Street (with Posto currently in operation in the Viridian building). Having three Thai restaurants within close proximity seems to be working out so far, so perhaps the market for Italian cooking is not yet saturated in Logan.

One thing that most CERTAINLY is not saturated is the desire for a good sandwich shop in the neighborhood. Yes, yes...having an embarassment of Italian riches from which to choose for a night out is a nice problem to have, but what about those times when you just want a nice roast beef and havarti? Sadly, those of us who live in Logan and have experienced that craving have not had much satisfaction. We had a glimmer of hope back in May that a deli might be coming to the corner of S and 12th street, but unfortunately, as U Street Girl reports, it seems like that is longer in the cards.

The space is still vacant, and the owner of the property indicates that the gentleman who was going to open and operate the deli will not be moving forward with the project. For shame.

Still, the building's owner indicates a strong desire to get a business opened in the building, which appears contingent upon a rezoning of the property. Meanwhile, those of us looking for a nice chicken salad on rye will have to be content to wander over to the Dupont Market on 18th. Which, if you haven't been, makes a very mean sandwich.

Two Deadlines Upcoming in Arts District Branding Initiative

As the initiative to brand the "arts district" (the area bordered by 16th Street, Florida, U Street, 7th and Massachusetts) continues, two deadlines are quickly approaching--one this week, and one next week.

If you are an area artist and would like to have your work considered for use as one of the street graphics (i.e. banners) that will appear throughout the district, the deadline for submission of artwork is tomorrow, October 15.

The competition is open to artists throughout the city. Judging for the winning submissions will be completed by November 3, winning entries will be on display throughout the area by November 7th, and the banners will be installed by December 1 - in time for the holiday shopping season. More info can be found on the Arts District blog,

The second deadline pertains to the naming of the district. If you have attended any of the arts district public meetings, you know that the subject of the name of the district has been a point of much discussion. Until October 22, everyone will have the opportunity to submit his or her choice for the name of the district. Simply go to and register your favorite name there. The winning name will be announced shortly thereafter.

If you're looking for additional background information on the arts district project, you may view the ANC2f Arts Overlay Committee report here, or read our previous posts on the topic here.

Friday, October 8, 2010

Green Pets and Dogs By Day Moving, Changing Names

Last year, we reported that local pet store Green Pets, which used to be located at 1722 14th Street (next to Cork), was searching for a new home. Although they hoped to stay in the neighborhood, Green Pets owner Linda Welch was uncertain as to whether a suitable location could be found.

We're proud to report that they in fact have found a new home, and happily will be staying in the neighborhood. Green Pets will reopen soon under the name Planet Pet in the former Mar Del Plata space at 1410 14th Street, just a few blocks south of their (old) location. Green Pets' companion shop, Dogs By Day, is also relocating, albeit farther north. It will also be named Planet Pet and will be located at 1711 Florida Avenue in Adams Morgan, in the ground floor of The Park condo building.

As reported on Borderstan, the Adams-Morgan location opened last week, while the boutique at 1410 14th Street is set to open in November.

Monday, October 4, 2010

Area ANC Candidates to Appear at October 14 U Street Neighborhood Meeting

Candidates for area ANC races in both ANC1B and 2B will be at the upcoming U Street Neighborhood Association meeting on Thursday, October 14. Details are below. Meetings take place at the Source Theater (1835 14th Street) in the second floor rehearsal room.

Additional information can be found on the USNA's website.

Want to find out more about the folks running to be your ANC Commissioner? All of the candidates that are running within the boundaries of U Street Neighborhood Association will be speaking at our October 14th (Source, 1835 14th Street, NW; 2nd Floor Rehearsal Room) meeting including:

ANC 1B01 - Myla Moss;
ANC 1B02 - Peter Raia, Tucker Gallagher, Aaron Spencer;
ANC 1B04 - Deborah Thomas, William Girardo;
ANC 1B11 - Gail Hollness; and
ANC 2B09 - Ramon Estrada, Sunit Talapatra.

Friday, October 1, 2010

Saloon Owner Threatens to Leave U Street Due to Liquor License Dispute

The 14thandyous love the Saloon. We really, truly do. How can you not love a bar that refuses to have a TV, forbids patrons from standing, and will toss you and your party out if you get too noisy?

But The Saloon has gotten themselves into a bit of hot water, and it has to do with DC's oft-maligned liquor license laws. The Saloon, which is owned by Kamal Jahanbein, operates under a "Restaurant Class" liquor license which, among other stipulations, requires that it derive at least 45% of its sales from food.

As the City Paper reports, Jahanbein was given a good talking-to during a recent Alcohol Beverage Control (ABC) Board hearing because The Saloon only generates food sales in the neighborhood of 35%. In order to operate without a food restriction, Jahanbein would need to transition to a "Tavern Class" license, only neighborhood residents tend to flip out whenever a business does that.

The problem, as Jahanbein sees it, is that DC doesn't officially recognize the type of establishment The Saloon is--a pub.

Now, we hate to say that we called this one, but this is a point we made way back in the day (March 2010, to be exact) we raised this very issue, and how a third classof license for alcohol-serving establishments--a Pub License--needed to be created. This would address those types of establishments that do not sell enough food to be a restaurant, but may not operate as an out-and-out bar.

Or, as Jahanbein put it, "If they want to call us a tavern, we are a tavern. But we are a pub."

Indeed they are. Only DC has no Pub Class license, leaving Jahanbein in a bit of a quandary--he can pay a $1,000 fine and submit to ongoing monitoring of his establishment, or he can pursue a Tavern Class license. According to the CP article, he's not happy about either situation, but would be willing to pursue a Tavern license if he thought it would be successful. If not, he mentions that he might pack up and move his bar to a more accommodating neighborhood.

I'm not inclined to get on my soapbox about this again, so I'll keep my rant here simple: the city is shooting itself in the foot by refusing to acknowledge that there is a class of licensee that exists between a restaurant and a bar. Anyone who has visited London, for instance, could tell you this. By refusing to acknowledge this, the city is creating two unhelpful situations: businesses who do not wish to be beholden to the food service requirements (such as having a chef on premises up to two hours before closing time) must either seek to convert to a tavern license (and thus leave the city with no recourse to regulate them via a food service requirement), or risk being shut down or levied with fines.

As this issue begins to crop up more and more, you'll likely see more businesses advocating for this type of thing. As it stands, time will tell whether U Street residents have the stomach for another "tavern" along the corridor.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Support a Worthy Cause Tomorrow Night: Community of Hope's 30th Anniversary Event

One of the 14thandyous favorite nonprofits, Community of Hope, will be celebrating their 30th anniversary at a gala event tomorrow evening at the Willard Hotel downtown. Tickets for the event ($75 single/$125 couple) can be purchased here.

Based in Columbia Heights, Community of Hope provides healthcare, housing, and educational support to underprivileged individuals and families throughout DC. We've been supporting them for years and find them to be one of the most helpful and support-worthy institutions in the city. If you've got not plans for tomorrow evening, we urge you to consider attending this event and contributing towards a very worthwhile cause. More details below:

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Help Community of Hope celebrate our 30th Anniversary at our signature event, Feeding the Soul, Strengthening the Community, on September 30, 2010 from 6:00 – 8:30 pm at the Willard Office Building (1455 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW). Proceeds benefit Community of Hope's health and housing programs and help improve the health and quality of life for DC's most vulnerable families. Join Lesli Foster of WUSA Channel 9, Platinum Sponsor Freddie Mac Foundation and Gold Sponsors MeadWestvaco and National Air Traffic Controllers Association to enjoy tastes from Participating Sponsors CEIBA, FINEMONDO ITALIAN COUNTRY KITCHEN, NEW HEIGHTS RESTAURANT, and GEORGETOWN CUPCAKE. Tickets are $75 per person or $125 per couple. Sponsorships are also available. Contributions are welcome.

A portion of the proceeds will be matched by The Morris & Gwendolyn Cafritz Foundation as part of Community of Hope's "$30,000 in 30 Days" Fall Campaign, up to a maximum of $30,000.

To get more information or purchase tickets, please visit our website at or call us at (202) 407-7753.

Community of Hope works to improve the health and quality of life for low-income, homeless, and underserved families and individuals in the District of Columbia by providing healthcare, housing with supportive services, educational opportunities, and spiritual support.