Saturday, June 12, 2010

ARTS Overlay News: 50% Cap Appears Set for Passage

Yesterday, the Zoning Commission met to hear testimony regarding the permanent raising of the cap on bars and restaurants to 50% in the Uptown Arts Overlay District, which includes substantial portions of U Street and 14th Street.

There had been some speculation as to who might show up to oppose the measure--after all, last week ANC2B commissioner Ramon Estrada had written a letter on behalf of the ANC's Zoning and Historic Preservation Committee expressing opposition to the matter. Estrada, however, was nowhere to be found at yesterday's meeting, and in fact ANC2B voted unanimously at their last meeting to support the recommendations of the ANC2F Arts Overlay Committee to raise the cap on bars and restaurants to 50% of retail frontage.

The measure seems set to pass in spite of some concerns related to increased traffic and noise in the neighborhood brought on by the density of restaurants and bars. For various reasons, the oft-made comparisons to Adams-Morgan aren't really applicable for 14th or U Street--even though the neighborhood is quickly becoming one of DC's preeminent drinking and dining destinations. As to the concerns about parking, well, we're somewhat sympathetic, but with Metro, the Circulator, buses and taxis...why would you drive? (Yes, I'm talking to you, guy from Virginia who can't seem to figure out DC's grid layout and takes 20 minutes to park in a space the size of a mobile home.)

Still, there is a recognition that holding back 70-75% of retail frontage for non-food and drink-serving establishments is too high, particularly in the current environment. As local broker Blake Dickson stated at the meeting, "today in our market, the only thing working is food and beverage."

Thus, with no real opposition, and strong community support for the measure, it seems that one of the most critical issues needed to ensure the continued growth of the 14th and U Street corridors will move forward. The Zoning Commission will meet on June 28 for a final vote on the measure, which barring some unforeseen developments, appears all but assured of passing.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Ramon Estrada is a neighborhood wrecker.