Thursday, September 22, 2011

Adios, Amigos...For Now

Since we've received some questions about the lack of updates to the blog (because goodness knows there has been plenty going on around the neighborhood to keep updated on), we wanted to share a bit of bittersweet news to explain the lack of new posts.

In short: no, we weren't kidnapped, we just moved. A couple of weeks ago, the 14thandyous packed up and moved north to Montgomery County. And before we get the questions, yes, we are well-aware of the juxtapositions between a neighborhood like Logan and our new suburban stomping grounds. We have a number of reasons for making the move (and no, mom and dad, a forthcoming little 14thandyou is NOT among them), but thus far the move hasn't been as painful as we initially expected it to be. Being within walking distance to a Metro station helps, as does our proximity to two bagel shops and some fantastic Chinese food. (Sichuan Pavillion, anyone?)

But I digress.

We've certainly had a lot of fun on here over the past four years. When we started the blog back in 2007, there were surprisingly few bloggers covering all the issues, developments and day-to-day life around 14th Street and Logan Circle. I don't know how much we succeeded in that, but it was certainly enjoyable and rewarding--and we got to meet many wonderful, engaging people in the process, many of whom I consider friends today. And today, there are terrific blogs like Borderstan, U Street Girl and U Street Dirt that are providing all of the neighborhood news, analysis and snark one could hope for.

As for this blog, we'll keep it up for the time being. I've given thought to continuing to post here from time to time, to offer some perspectives on our new home as compared to a place like Logan, as well as to share some thoughts about the ongoing changes and developments occuring in our old neighborhood. (Just 'cause we don't live there anymore doesn't mean we stopped paying attention...) And we hope to move back to the city someday; both Mr. and Mrs. 14thandyou enjoy the trappings of urban life far too much to permanently replace it with picket fences, two-car garages and cul-de-sacs. So who knows where things will lead?

But for now, we're considering this blog on extended hiatus. Thanks to all of the followers, commenters, fellow bloggers, community activists, business owners, neighbors, developers and others who made this such a fun hobby for us over the past few years. So, till we meet again...

Thursday, August 25, 2011

You down with RPP?

(Yes, we're all about the puns here. And perhaps the earthquake added to my naturally loopy nature.)

Readers, prepare yourselves for a Mrs. 14th & You rant. Having recently celebrated my eight-year Logan Circle anniversary, here are my long-marinating thoughts on our dysfunctional parking system.

Residential parking restrictions protect parking at times when it least needs protecting.
Residential parking restrictions presumably function to preserve parking for residents. In most neighborhoods (including ours), these restrictions exist only during the business day. During regular business hours, most employed DC residents have either left their cars parked near home or driven their cars to work. In neither case do residents need the protection that residential parking restrictions provide.

Yet, during times when floods of out-of-ward drivers do park on residential streets, there are no parking restrictions. The most frequent challenges are created by out-of-ward and out-of-state restaurant, bar, and club patrons. (I always kick myself for working late on Thursday and Friday nights only to end my day by fighting for parking.) Other challenges to residential parking, such as weekend shopping or religious services, also typically fall outside of the days and times when residential parking restrictions are in effect.

RPP is ward-based.
With my RPP I can park in any legal street space in Ward 2 for an unlimited length of time. Indeed, I have used residential parking in Georgetown, and I once left my car in Kalorama for a few days following a breakdown. Not only may residents of other Ward 2 neighborhoods dish it right back by parking in Logan Circle, Ward 1 residents can also park in much of Logan: Parking within a few blocks of the ward boundaries at S and 11th Streets NW is zoned for both 1 and 2 permit holders. Such flexibility in parking takes the “residential” out of RPP.

Evening enforcement is lacking.
In Logan Circle residential parking restrictions are in place until 8:30 p.m. on weeknights. A casual stroll around 14th or U Streets early on a Thursday or Friday evening will reveal plenty of Maryland and Virginia license plates as well asa lot of out-of-ward registration stickers on vehicles parked well before 6:30. And why not take the risk of parking illegally on a residential street? Presence of parking enforcement officers on residential streets is exceedingly rare after 8:30 p.m. Besides, if one is ticketed, the cost is not prohibitive; it’s comparable to two evenings of paid parking in one of the lots along 14th and U Streets. As well, with all sorts of lore about whether or not parking fines follow one across state lines, some out-of-state drivers feel free to ignore non-moving violations.

RPP creates hassles for residents.
Though evening enforcement may be rare, daytime parking enforcement is efficient. Though it is not very common, I do sometimes have weekday daytime guests who drive to my home. They range from out-of-state family members coming to visit to contractors making repairs to our apartment. In such instances, I hate having to think about parking on behalf on my guests. It’s particularly crummy when my husband or I are taking time from work to see friends or family. Are we really going to use this time to go the police station to get a visitor’s parking permit? No. Are we still going to be bummed out if our loved ones are fined? Yes. On one particularly memorable day, my mother drove from Woodbridge to care for me after a surgery. I wasn’t really feeling like accompanying her to the police station to get a parking permit, nor did I really want her to go home after two hours, but a $25 ticket also seemed like a bad option. We ended up just rolling the dice on that one.

[Edit: In an earlier draft I stated that one needed a valid vehicle registration in order to obtain a visitor permit. While cleaning up some gnarly HTML gone wrong, I double-checked that. My eyes had skipped the words "one of" prior the the list of documents accepted as proof of DC residency.]

Issuing RPPs creates an expectation of parking availability.
When one has paid extra money at the time of registration for the privilege of parking on residential streets near his home, it implies that one be able to park on those streets. This is particularly true since the entire purpose of RPPs is to “increase access to on-street parking for residents in their neighborhoods”. The RPP brochure available online states further:
Our neighborhoods are the city’s greatest asset. That is why we developed the Residential Parking Permit (RPP) to help protect them. In the mid-1970s citizens were concerned about the increasing number of out-of-state cars parked on residential streets. Residents could not park on their own block. Commuters were turning our neighborhoods into parking lots. I would argue that it’s no longer commuters turning neighborhoods into parking lots, but the residents themselves. I also imagine that many RPP holders have given up on the 1970s dream of guaranteed parking on their own block. (I have.)

I ran a quick test of parking availability on my block and the four contiguous blocks. I estimate that there are about 0.67 parking spaces per existing household.* The current rate of parking availability is probably about right, particularly considering the number of condos with off-street parking. Yet, with residential density increasing within a two-block radius, parking will likely get tighter, even if vehicle ownership rates decrease.I make this point because DDOT is working with Glover Park residents to ease parking congestion in their neighborhood. The blunt instrument that seems most favored by residents is increasing restrictions on out-of-neighborhood vehicles. As Glover Park households are quite affluent and probably more likely to have children than Logan Circle households, their rates of car ownership are probably higher than our neighborhood's. Yet, Glover Park does not enjoy the same level of access to CaBi and Metro as we do, so I don't foresee anyone dumping those cars anytime soon. I don't think this story has a happy ending.

It's time to create a new system.
If we're going to insist on keeping RPPs, then I wish that DDOT and the DMV would take steps the make it more likely that the residents with RPP stickers can get parking. We'd need to look the the hours that the restrictions are in place and at the ways we enforce the restrictions. If spaces are tight, maybe residents who own off-street parking wouldn't be issued RPP stickers for their vehicles or would be limited in the number of vehicles per household that could get an RPP sticker. If residents would rather not have such restrictions put on vehicle ownership or where they can park, then I'd argue we need to consider going the other direction -- eliminating RPP altogether. After all, for as little good as it does in keeping parking spaces available for the few of us who drive during the weekdays, it causes some headaches.

*Admittedly, this is a rough estimate: I measured the block lengths using Google maps, subtracted alley entrances, parking meters, hydrants, and the areas near intersections to obtain the parkable street lengths (using both sides of the street, of course). I then divided that distance by 13.5 feet, my estimate of an “average” parking space. To count the number of households, I consulted the real property database.

Friday, August 5, 2011

MPD enforcement priority: Dupont Circle jaywalking?

Snapped this photo this morning of an MPD officer writing jaywalking tickets to pedestrians crossing against the light at Dupont Circle and New Hampshire Ave. During the 45-or-so seconds I stood there, I witnessed the officer write no fewer than four tickets to unsuspecting jaywalkers. (Not to worry: this blogger escaped the wrath of the vigilant MPD officer by crossing legally.)

Periodically, it seems that MPD goes on a jaywalking ticket spree, posting officers at "high incident" intersections and generating some serious revenue for the city in the form of $20 tickets. But it does beg the question: is this part of a larger effort to clamp down on "minor" crimes like jaywalking throughout the city, or is this nothing more than a one-day spurt that will bring in a few thousand dollars to the city's coffers and annoy a number of pedestrians--most of whom will go right back to jaywalking on Monday morning, when the MPD officer is gone?

This isn't to completely excuse jaywalkers, but one does have to wonder what ends are being achieved by haphazardly ticketing a handful of pedestrians one or two days a year in a location where tens of thousands of people jaywalk every day? This episode also brought to mind the time several years ago when MPD officers started ticketing bicyclists who were riding the wrong way on New Hampshire Ave., just south of 16th Street. of course, we know how that ended.

Sunday, July 31, 2011

Abdo to build apartments on vacant Logan Circle site; McDonalds and ChiDogO to return @ 14th and U

DC Urban Turf and DC Mud report that local developer Jim Abdo is seeking to construct an apartment building on one of the last remaining vacant parcels in Logan Circle. The developer is seeking to construct 70 apartment units at 1427 Rhode Island Ave. NW, along with an underground parking garage.

Why is the site vacant, you ask? Abdo acquired the property, along with the adjacent lots, in 2001. The adjacent lots have since been redevelped, while the currently vacant lot housed two 19th century romanesque townhouses. Abdo's team originally removed the roof from the townhomes after they were found to be hazardous; in 2007, the entire structures were demolished.

According to DC Mud: "Design of the building will mirror the adjacent buildings, designed by William Harris in 1929 and 1930. The new addition will add "a classical tripartite organization, with a two-story stone base, a five-story midsection clad in brick, and a brick attic story with a cornice." Abdo Development is seeking a zoning variance for reduced parking, and will share the existing driveway to a planned underground garage."

The project has received the support of the Historic Preservation Office, but must still receive approvals from both HPRB and BZA.

* * * * * *

In other development-related news, as reported here and in the Business Journal reported last week, JBG Cos. and Georgetown Strategic Capital announced plans to commence work on the unnamed project formerly dubbed the "Utopia Project" in the 4th quarter of 2011.

According to JBG, at least two tenants for the project are already known: McDonalds will return at its 14th and U location becaus eit has a longterm lease there, and recnet arrival ChiDogO will return as well. In addition, the developer also announced that they would work to retain as many of the existing tenants along the U Street-side of the project as possible. These tenants, which inhabit the series of rowhouses that will be preserved and incorporated into the project, include Coppi's Organic, DC Noodles and restaurant and jazz lounge Utopia.

The massive project will rise nine stories above the 14th and U intersection and include 267 apartment units.

"Local Color" at Gallery Plan B

This past thursdy, July 28, Gallery Plan B opened their most recent show, "Local Color," which features works from a number of artists in and around the Logan Circle, Shaw and Dupont Circle neighborhoods.

The show features works in various media depicting scenes of local DC neighborhoods by Chad Andrews, Michael Crossett, Ron Donoughe, Charlie Gaynor, Isabella Spicer, David Ballinger, David Kalamar, Joey Manlapaz, Luis Gomez, Steven Stichter and more.

The 14thandyous attended the opening party on Thursday (invited by fellow blogger and area photographer Luis Gomez, of One Photograph a Day and Borderstan), and came away thinking that it was one of the best exhibitions put on by a local gallery in some time. Of particular note were Gomez's stark photographs, the mixed-media collages of Crossett, and Ballinger's negative prints.

All artists featured unique and interesting perspectives of day-to-day life in central DC--buildings, houses, people and intersections. (Don't miss Crossett's "Wonder Collage," which captures in an erratic and disjointed way the beauty of Shaw's abandoned Wonderbread Factory. Catch it now before Douglas Jemal finally makes good on his threat to redevelop the property.)

The show will be up until August 28 at Gallery Plan B, 1530 14th Street NW. For more information, check out Gallery Plan B's website at

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Tonight: U Street Movie Series Continues with "930 F Street"

With the temperature a practically balmy 92 degrees (hey, it's better than 102), it seems like a great night to head out to catch the next installment of the U Street outdoor movie series.

Tonight's feature is "930 F Street," the 2004 movie about our neighborhood's own 930 Club (the title, of course, pays homage to the club's original downtown location). The feature will be preceeded by "Howard Theater: A Century in Song."

For more information about the U Street Movie Series, check out

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Utopia project set to get going as businesses, Freemasons move out

Last week, we snapped the photo below of employees from local Tex-Mex restaurant El Paraiso packing up their belongings for greener pastures. (In this case, their sister restaurant, El Paraiso II in Alexandria.)

Soon after, the City Paper's Lydia DePillis reported on the sale of the United Supreme Council National Headquarters and Archioves building, located next door to El Paraiso at 1924 14th Street NW, to JBG for $5 million. With the recent exodus of the fast food restaurants further up the block, that moves things a step closer for JBG's groundbreaking of the Utopia project, which is anticipated this fall.

The Utopia project will bring 220 rental units and over 20,000 sf of retail to the intersection that serves as the inspiration of this blog's name, which is also one of the busiest in DC. Originally announced back in 2008, the financial market calamity took its toll on JBG's ability to finance the project. However, financing is now on track, and the recent departures pave the way for the commencement of construction of the 90 foot high, Eric Colbert-designed building.

Utopia will be JBG's second large construction project along that stretch of 14th Street, with their District Condos project in full swing two blocks south at 14th and S. And it will be one of many projects currently ongoing in and around 14th Street, all set to deliver at some time during the next one to three years. (Not included in that post, BTW, are Giorgio Furioso's office project near 14th and P, and the recently announced--and HPRB rejected--Level 2 development at 14th and Wallach Place.)

In other words: get used to seeing a lot of upturned dirt along 14th Street over the next few years.

Friday, July 15, 2011

City Development and Business Ethics Issues Come Calling

I usually participate in telephone polls unless I truly do not have the time to do so. A research geek, I think valid surveys are important. I see little harm in answering a few questions when I’m otherwise free, and I always have the option of ending the call if the questions seem inappropriate or drag on too long. That said, I was infuriated by a telephone survey call I received two days ago. Despite my misgivings, my curiosity motivated me to stay on the line. “Who is behind this survey and what do they want?” I thought. Then, as the answers to those questions became clear, I continued to respond to survey items so as to learn what data being collected.

The survey began with questions about my opinions of politicians. Do I view Barack Obama very unfavorably, unfavorably, favorably, or very favorably? What about Vincent Gray, Kwame Brown, Marion Barry, Yvette Alexander, Harry Thomas Jr., Michael Brown, Vincent Orange, and Tommy Wells? Oddly, the titles mayor and council member were not included as the names were read. Also strange was the list of politicians itself; why were some CMs omitted? I was asked only one more question about DC politics. What single DC political issue, from a list of more than ten items, was most important to me? As the long list was read and my working memory struggled to keep up, I was initially frustrated that I could choose only issue. Then I was struck by the omission of important issues and inclusion of other issues. Where was transportation? Why was illegal immigration on the list, particularly since it so rarely features in city politics? My discomfort rose: Either this poll was incompetently written or the organization behind it designed the questions to support an agenda. After a brief shift into questions about my shopping habits and opinions of locally operating retail chains all of the remaining questions were about …Walmart. Ah, this call was related to Walmart’s plans to open four stores in DC.

This was not a simple survey of public opinion; it was a push poll. After establishing that I knew Walmart planned to open stores in DC and my level of support for these developments, it became immediately clear why I had been asked earlier in the survey to pick the one DC political issue that was most important. (Education is what I selected.) I was asked if I knew that Walmart had given hundreds of thousands of dollars to education efforts in DC and over $100,000 to a local non profit that provides jobs and training for city youths (an organization located in Logan Circle). Following this statement disguised as a question, I was asked If I was “strongly opposed to, opposed to, supportive, or strongly supportive of Walmart?” “Um, based on the information I just received?” I asked. “I can’t elaborate on the question,” the surveyor responded.

All of the remaining survey items began with preambles about the positive virtues of Walmart. Did I know that they employed many people? That they made fresh meat and produce available to areas lacking grocery stores? That DC residents spent millions last year at Maryland and Virginia Walmarts? This “survey” was a read-aloud of press releases and talking points. The only thing not qualifying this call as a one-on-one press conference is that I was asked after each glowing report of Walmart’s saintliness how I felt about the chain coming to my city. Of course, the survey designers did not provide for a “neutral” or “no opinion” response option for these questions.

This survey would be laughably bad if the results were not important. Though I cannot prove that Walmart is behind the call, I think it unlikely that a pro-Walmart citizen group would have the money to engage in such shenanigans or that any DC political group with such cash reserves would risk its credibility by push polling. I have a problem with any corporation calling from home to home to share slanted information about their business operations, but Walmart’s efforts cause me particular concern.

At best, I think that this call was being used to test which of Walmart’s talking points will be well received by DC consumers. At worst, the completely statistically invalid data gathered from these calls will be used to influence politician’s feelings about the proposed Walmart stores. I am vividly imagining a Walmart representative saying to a CM, “the vast majority of District residents support Walmart’s development plans. I have the survey data to prove it.” In fact, in response to Living Wages, Healthy Communities' request that Walmart sign a community benefit agreement, Steve Restivo, a Walmart spokesman said, “Unfortunately, some of the louder voices in this discussion just don't represent the majority opinion of D.C. residents" (The Washington Business Journal). I previously wondered how he could trot out the word “majority” with any confidence.

Commentariat: Have any of you received such calls? If so, how do you feel about it?

I believe that Walmart opening in DC is inevitable, and the point of this post is not to discuss the litany of issues at play there. What is within my control, though, is to draw attention to Walmart's unethical PR efforts. I can also ask the council members who represent me to negotiate with Walmart in a way that preserves the interests of the citizens of the District.

Friday, July 8, 2011

Fire guts U Street wine shop, dance studio

DCist is reporting that a fire swept through the commercial building at 1351 U Street at around 5 AM this morning. The building houses the U Wine and Beer store, as well as a dance and martial arts studio.

While no official damage tally is yet available, DCist is reporting that it appears that the wine and beer store suffered "heavy losses" in inventory.

U Street had been closed between the 1300 and 1400 blocks this morning for approximately an hour, but has since been reopened.

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Residential project at 15th and V adds to growing list of area projects

Last month, we noted the announcement of a forthcoming residential project at 14th and T set to bring new residents, retail, and some really staid architecture to the 14th Street corridor. Although, as recently launched blog U Street Dirt (welcome to the blogosphere, guys) reported, the Historic Preservation Review Board didn't look to fondly upon architect Eric Colbert's plan for the building, and basically sent him back to the drawing board.

Earlier this week, the Meridian Hill Neighborhood Association blog broke the news that yet another large (by DC standards) residential project is forthcoming, this one for the parking lot of the Paul Revere Dunbar Apartment complex at 15th and V streets.

The project, which is being developed by Jair Lynch Associates and was designed by WDG Architecture PLLC, is proposed to stand 9 stories tall and will contain 96 units. It does not appear that any ground level retail will be included as part of the plan, but two levels of underground parking will be included.

Pardon us, if you will, but the rendering for this project looks remarkably similar to a number of residential buildings that have either been proposed, are under construction, or have been built throughout the neighborhood in recent years. In fact, it doesn't look tremendously dissimilar to the Colbert-designed building that was just rejected by HPRB (although, it should be noted, HPRB personnel had other, specific reasons for rejecting the 14th and T building--namely, its size in relation to nearby structures.)

According to Jair Lynch, the senior citizen residents of the Dunbar building have given their full support to the project, which will also include a complete renovation of the existing Dunbar building.

The plans for the building are currently with HPRB, who could discuss and vote on the matter as soon as their July 28 hearing.

DDOT set to tackle U Street reconstruction project

Anyone who has ever driven, ridden or cycled along U Street NW knows that it can be a bone-jarring ride. And anyone who has tried to navigate U Street's crowded, narrow sidewalks, particularly during busy times of the day or night, knows that it can seem like an obstacle course. This fall, DDOT aims to fix that when it kicks-off its reconstruction project of U Street between 9th Street NW and Florida Ave NW.

Eric Fidler over at Greater Greater Washington has done an excellent overview of the project, which I won't repeat here. But there are a few details of the project that are worth calling out.

Perhaps the most significant aspect of the project is that DDOT is guaranteeing a four foot wide sidewalk minimum throughout the length of the street. Where less than four feet of sidewalk currently exists--such as along the 1300 block of U Street, where the stairs of several buildings make traversing that portion of the sidewalk a single-procession affair, DDOT will eliminate parking on that section of U Street and extend the sidewalk into what is currently the roadway.

Anyone who has ever been bounced into the roadway to avoid an oncoming group of pedestrians (or drunk, rowdy co-eds) will certainly appreciate the importance of this enhancement.

At the intersection of 16th, U and New Hampshire, a notoriously bad intersection for anyone who has to cross it, DDOT will be installing buildouts to reduce the distance that pedestrians must travel. Eric Fidler also notes the elimination of so-called "slip lanes" on New Hampshire, which will help cut down on speeding vehicles and provide additional pedestrian safety.

On the north side of the 1700 block (the residential block), an exceedingly narrow and choppy sidewalk will be replaced and extended outward, with the casualty being the loss of a number of parking spaces along that portion of the street.

This work is of course all in addition to repaving the the length of U Street, replacing gutters and, along the western portion, replacing the water main. This is not an official "streetscape" project, which means that many of the decorative flourishes found on recently completed streetscape projects such as H Street and 18th Street won't be found along U. Additionally, in spite of plans to eventually run a streetcar line along U Street, streetcar tracks will not be included as part of ths project.

The reconstruction project is set to commence this fall, and will begin with the eastern portion of the street between 9th and 14th street. This phase of the project is anticipated to last 9 months, followed by phase two between 14th and Florida Ave., which will commence at the completion of phase one of the U Street project as well as the 18th Street project currently ongoing in Adams Morgan.

For more details, check out the post on Greater Greater Washington, or head over to DDOT's website for the project,, where they have been kind enough to include a link to this blog.

ANC2F Meeting tonight: Tortilla Coast, Studio Theater banners on agenda

It's a pretty quiet agenda for ANC2F's monthly meeting tonight at the Washington Plaza Hotel at Thomas Circle. Highlights include a discussion related to California Tortilla's Tortilla Coast's liquor license (you may recall that the Capitol Hill tex-Mex restaurant is opening a second location in the former McCormick Paints space at 15th and P streets).

Other items of note include a discussion related to supporting another year of banner hanging for the Studio Theater (likely to be a no-brainer), and a discussion from the Community Development Committee related to a traffic mitigationplan for Pepco's O Street substation.

The full agenda is below. As with all ANC2F meetings, the meeting will begin at 7 PM. Also, the ANC will not be meeting in August, so this is your last chance for two months to air your grievances.

MEETING Wednesday, July 6, 2011 – 7:00 PM



Call to Order – 7:00
Commissioner Announcements – 7:00
Report from Executive Office of the Mayor – 7:00
Report from Office of Jack Evans, City Council Member, Ward 2-0 – 7:00
PSA 307 Report – Metropolitan Police Department, 3D – 7:10
DDOT Report – Ward 2 Transportation Planner – 7:25
Community Announcements – 7:30

-10 Minute Recess-

Business Meeting

Approval of Agenda – 7:40

Approval of Minutes of Meeting of June 1, 2011 – 7:40
DCHSEMA/Street Closures – 7:50

14th Annual Leukemia & Lymphoma Light the Night Walk
DC Road Runners and DVLEAP
ABRA – 8:00

Tortilla Coast Street, 1454 P Street NW- New License Petition Date: 7/11/11 Hearing Date: 7/25/11

DDOT – 8:15

Studio Theatre- Pole Banners
Crime and Public Safety Committee (Bryan Goodman) – 8:20
Arts Overlay Committee (Andrea Doughty) – 8:25

Community Development Committee (Mike Benardo, Chair) – 8:30

1211 10th Street, NW Condo Conversion
1427 Rhode Island Ave- Variance Relief
Pepco O Street Substation Traffic Control Plan
1309 Q Street- two unit condo conversion
Arts Overlay Committee – 8:40
New Business – 8:45

Department of Housing and Community Development’s proposed funding of 1417 N Street Northwest DC Tenants Association (A.K.A. Norwood Tenants Association)
Treasurer’s Report (Sam Goekjian, Treasurer) – 8:55

Approval of Expenditures
Adjournment – 9:00

NOTICE: The agenda attached to this notice of meeting is provided by ANC 2F in advance of its public meetings contains matters that are expected to come before the meeting. It is, however, subject to formal adoption by the ANC at the meeting, which may result in additions or deletions to the draft. Individuals who may have official business before the ANC or persons with interests in specific matters are advised to contact the Executive Director or a Commissioner in advance of the meeting. See for contact information

Monday, June 27, 2011

Transportation in Logan

A few things caused me to ponder transportation issues lately. The first is my own increasing frustration when trying to park my car. The second was a post at Greater Greater Washington advocating more infill stations on Metro rather than suburban train sprawl.

I could feel the cold, judgemental stares of some readers even as I typed that I find parking frustrating. Yes, I drive almost daily. Let me explain: I can drive to work in about 35 minutes, but commuting by bus and train would be a 90 minute ordeal, requiring that I leave home shortly after 6 a.m. As I am not a morning person and my chosen profession is teaching sixth graders, this commute scenario conjures up visions of a Lord-of-the-Flies-like scene in my classroom as my students and I become progressively more and more exhausted throughout the week. Even in my wildest fantasies of fitness, biking would be a similar time drain. Granted, though my morning commute by car is relatively fast, my evening commute is hairier. On truly ugly nights, it can take 75 minutes, if I include the time it takes for me to get parked at home in Logan.

Mr. 14th & You also has a commute conundrum. He works about a mile from home, which is great. The conundrum part is that there is no Metro or MetroBus that will get him to work. So Mr. 14th & You takes a Capital Bikeshare bike (when one is available) and gets to work in about 10 minutes. Absent an available bike to let, Mr. 14th & You walks to work. When attired in a suit on a hot or wet day, the commute that otherwise seems like a lovely opportunity for some light exercise becomes a 20 minute slog. Though cabs are certainly an option, the price of a round-trip fare and tips is comparable to the cost of using a parking garage for the day.

Despite these (minor) commuting challenges, both Mr. 14th & You and I love our jobs and love our apartment. Depending on the day, I mostly accept the trade-offs of life in a vital urban area. I offer these scenarios not as complaints. These are the daily journeys that our household makes for better or worse.

Now, let me get to the other reason why I have been thinking about transportation options. While reading the above-mentioned post on Greater Greater Washington, I noticed the following comment from Tom Coumaris: "I live at 14th and S and Metrorail is worthless to me except for DCA." Other GGW readers jumped on Tom for this statement. One retort was, "14th and S NW? 3 blocks from the U Street Station? How is that worthless?" This back-and-forth got me thinking. How often do Mr. 14th & You and I use Metro? How often could we use it.

As it would be for many Logan/U St. residents, the U Street stop on the Green Line is our closest Metro station. My opinion, informed by eight years of experience riding the Green Line from U Street is that it rarely offers a time benefit over other alternatives. The Circulator gets me to DC USA faster than walking to U Street, awaiting a train, and riding one stop. Even driving will get me to CoHi and parked within 15 minutes for very little money. Metro is a great way to get to Penn Quarter, but cycling is still faster. Where time really starts to drag, though, is when one attempts to transfer to the Red or Blue/Orange Lines from the Green Line. In such cases, I will typically begin my trip by walking to Dupont Circle or McPherson Square, respectively. Why do I walk to McPherson? Because, if I jaywalk judiciously, I can keep pace with a bus from 14th and R to 14th and L during rush hour. When one factors in waiting for the bus to arrive, walking almost always saves time.

Speaking of the bus, it's mostly off my radar. Though I can understand the utility of using Metrobus to commute north-south along 14th or 16 streets, it doesn't get me many places where I need to be. Two summers ago as a grad student at GW, I thought I'd finally make friends with the bus. Alas, the WMATA trip planner said it would take me either a bus to Metro tranfer or two bus lines to make that 1.8 mile trip. Total trip time was optimistically estimated at 31-33 minutes by WMATA and 25 to 27 minutes by Google Maps (assuming the bus was one time, heh). Mr. 14th & You, in a push to be an enlightened non-car-dependent urban dweller, once recommended that we take the bus to Georgetown. We spent 15 minutes sitting on G2 bus at 14th and P awaiting a driver shift change that day. Once the bus finally achieved forward momentum, we stopped on the 1500 block, the 1600 block, AND the 1700 block. All members of our party agreed that taking a cab home would be wise.

So the answers to my own questions are that Mr. 14th & You and I might go weeks between using Metro and Metrobus even if we tried to use them more often. Fortunately, walking and driving are typically convenient for us. I might be better able to leave my car parked if I embraced Capital Bikeshare. I'm still overcoming my fears of urban cycling that stem from the close calls I witness between cars and cyclists every day. Also, though I can ride a bike competently on the tow path, I am easily overstimulated and have a significant lack of large motor coordination. If you ever see what appears to be a tangle of knees and elbows zig-zagging down the road, it likely means that Mrs. 14th & You is now using CaBi.

I do understand, though, that we are just one case study of travel habits among Logan Circle households. I'm curious how other residents feel about transportation options along 14th and U Streets. We have more choices in transportation than many of our DC neighbors, not to mention residents of other cities. Trends in parking space utilization at new condo developments certainly seem to show that many folks are giving up cars in the city. Do you feel like you have been able to get away from using a car? Have you tried to avoid using a car and been frustrated by the experience? If you were being 100 percent selfish, how would you re-align existing transportation options to better serve Logan residents?

P.S.: Yes, this post was penned by the Mrs. 14th & You, the very same woman who walked off of blog duty about two years ago to go back to school and change careers. You may see some more of my ramblings between now and the start of the school year.

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Weekly wrap-up: Lost Society opens, Shariah law comes to CityCenter, shooting in Pleasant Plains

Scouring the web so you don't have are a few things in and around the neighborhood that Caught our attention.

Lost Society opens: This blog's eponymous intersection is getting a new "boutique steakhouse" with a rooftop deck. Begining July 1, Lost Society, from the Local 16 team, will commence operations in the building located at 14th and U. The menu is designed by former Smith & Wollensky chef Joseph Evans. Eater DC has all of the details, including pictures of the interior and the rooftop--which will undoubtedly be full come next Friday evening.

No bars in CityCenter?: Hot on the heels of a glowing piece from the New York Times regarding downtown DC's massive CityCenter project, the City Paper's Lydia DePillis examines an interesting yet seemingly glossed-over point regarding it. Seems that a huge chunk of the financing of the $700 million project is comign from a team of Qatari investors. And while it's true that their money is quite good here, it does come with some strings attached: most notably, the project must follow Shariah law. This means no banks, and no businesses that sell alcohol as their primary business. Avoiding banks isn't that big of a deal--after all, developers Archstone and Hines have been quite vocal about not wanting banks to consume commercial space in the projcect, aiming instead for more dynamic retail. But what of the ban on primarily alcohol-selling establishments? Does this mean no liquor stores, bars, clubs or wine shops? It would seem so. Also, what of a restaurant that derives more than 50% of its sales from alcohol--would they be included?

Considering that the project sits on multiple acres of city-owned land, the fact that religious tenets might impact the type of retailers that can be recruited into spaces in the project might not sit well with some. For their part, the project's developers are downplaying any potential negative consequences of the Shariah law requirements, and are insisting that their plans for the project's retail space--of which nearly 300k square feet will be available upon the project's completion--will not be impacted by the religious requirements.

Four shot--one fatally--near Howard University: Just after yesterday's Caribbean Day parade, four individuals were shot, one fatally, in the 700 block of Gresham Place, just off of Georgia Avenue. MPD have indicated that they believe the shooting related to a neighborhood dispute and was not related to the parade or the day's festivities.

Business Journal interviews Jeff Black: DC restauranteur Jeff Black will soon be bringing two new enterprises to the space at 1612 14th Street: the Pearl Dive Oyster Bar, and the BlackJack Lounge on the second floor. DC UrbanTurf has renderings of the two spaces (including, apparently, a BlackJack bartender who is preparing to fire a weapon). Meanwhile, Missy Frederick at the Business Journal has an interview with Black, where he discusses the 12+ years it has taken him to open in Logan, and his plans for both establishments. (Note: the WBJ website is subscription-only.)

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

In case you missed it: Monument Realty exploring massive Logan Circle redevelopment

While we've been away on a bit of a blogging hiatus (much like the city itself, the 14thandyous slow down a bit during the summer months), there has been a steady stream of news coming into the neighborhood. The most intersting, in our opinion, was the story broken last week by Lydia DePillis at the City Paper regarding Monument Realty's potential acquisition and redevelopment of two massive sites in the Logan Circle area.

You probably know the Frontiers developments (one located at 14th and Riggs, the other at 11th and N): the series of bland brick townhouses built in that oh-so-lovely 1970s style, each featuring an almost comically massive (by urban neighborhood standards) parking lot. Originally built as public rental housing by the city, the units were eventually sold to private owners in the late 1990s. Today, the units that were originally purchased for around $125,000 are now appraised at upwards of half a million.

But in Logan Circle, where new developments are going up practically every day, developments such as the Frontiers aren't exactly aligned with the rest of the neighborhood. So in steps Monument Realty to address that issue.

DePillis takes readers through a recent meeting Monument representatives held with members of the Frontier condominium associations about a potential acquisition of the properties. In short, it would look something like this: 80% of the 54 unit owners in the east and west Frontiers associations would have to vote to dissolve the master condo association, and then the east and west associations would have to vote unanimously to dissolve themselves. If that unlikely series of events occurs, Monument is prepared to pay each unit owner over $800,000 for their respective units, along with an assurance to make units available in the new development(s) available to owners who wish to remain in the neighborhood.

In all, Monument could end up with one, both, or neither parcel, and end up paying upwards of $40 million to acquire both. (Which tells you how profitable the condo market is these days.)

Initially, it's easy to take a cursory look at this situation and proclaim it the clearest example in an ever-lengthening list of perceived attempts to purge Logan and the 14th Street corridor of low- and moderate-income residents. Undoubtedly, if this sale goes through, there will be those pining for the redevelopment of the buidlings along the 1400 block of R street as well.

But as with most such issues, the situation is a bit more nuanced than that. After all, receiving an amount equal to 175% of the value of your home is a deal that many people would take. $800,000 would grant you pretty wide latitude to purchase a new property in many areas throughout the city. And, since all units are privately held, and with the complexity of the condominium association governing documents, each individual owner literally has final say as to whether the deal moves forward. And based upon comments made by Monument representatives, they appear prepared for the very real possibility that it won't.

Owners also seem to be aware that they're in an advantageous position: the developers came to them, and they basically hold all of the cards. But Monument is unlikely to have endless patience (or pockets) for pursuing the acquisition of the properties. In the meantime, there are 54 condominium owners in Logan Circle who have a lot of thinking (and meeting) to do.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Happy hour for a good cause on June 23

We don't typically post news or event items related to Adams Morgan (unless, of course, it relates to warnings of 14th Street or U Street becoming the next iteration of that cesspool of drunkeness and debauchery), but today we're making an exception.

One of the 14thandyou's favorite nonprofits, Community of Hope, is hosting a "Happy Hour for Hope" next Thursday, June 23 from 5p - 8p. Community of Hope provides some tremendous and much-needed services to individuals and families in central DC. More details about the event are below. If you're planning on being out in Adams-Morgan that evening, please consider stopping by one of the establishments listed below and supporting this very worthwhile organization.

Community of Hope will be joining forces with six Adams Morgan restaurants to host Happy Hour for Hope, an event to raise awareness, volunteerism, and funds for our continuing efforts to provide healthcare, housing, and supportive services to low-income and homeless families and individuals in Washington, DC.

Happy Hour for Hope will be held on June 23, 2011 from 5 to 8 p.m. A portion of proceeds from food and drink sales from participating restaurants will go to Community of Hope.

Participating restaurants are Bardia’s New Orleans Café, Bukom Café, Madam’s Organ, The Reef, Savour, and Sutra Lounge.

For more information, check out our website at:

Thursday, June 9, 2011

14th Street Becoming Restaurant Row: Slew of Restaurant News

A French restaurant, a cousin to Estadio, a sister to Ted's Bulletin, a new Matchbox, and Rogues States burgers 2.0.

What do these places all have in common? They all might be on their way to 14th Street.

Lydia DePillis, the City Paper's crack Housing Complex reporter, unleashed a slew of news today about new restaurants coming to the neighborhood. Perhaps the biggest piece of news out of all of them is that the notorious "Shirt Laundry" building at 14th and Q, which had been slated to become an Italian restaurant until high renovation and environmental remediation costs got the better of the Whisk Group, is set to become Parc, a French brasserie from Philadelphia-based Starr Restaurant Group. The apparently deep-pocketed Starr Group is undeterred by the high clean-up costs of the desirable space, and those of you who have strolled by the building recently may have notice that the posters, stickers and handbills have all been sraped away. No timeline that I'm aware of, but I would expect movement there shortly.

Up the street and across the block, DePillis is also reporting that two restaurants are close to signing leases in the new District Condos building, although JBG's James Nozar isn't confirming anything yet. First, Mark Kuller of Proof and Estadio is said to be signing on for a space there, while the owners of Barracks Row's Ted's Bulletin will be opening up a companion restaurant there as well.

Moving up the street a bit more, local pizza joint Matchbox will be filling the space that was formerly the home of the Arena Stage warehouse at 14th and T. And, just to top things off, Raymond Mendizabal--whose Rogue States burger spot in Dupont ran into a bit of trouble with the Steptoe & Johnson law firm--will be opening up the new iteration of his burger spot, Black and Orange, at 1931 14th Street NW, near the intersection of 14th and U.

Combined with the recent announcement of the arrival of Taylor Gourmet sandwich shop, Jeff Black's Pearl Dive Oyster Palace and BlackJack Bar at 1612 14th Street, and the still-anticipated Italian Cinema Restaurant down the block...well, is 14th Street going to be anything other than a row of restaurants and furniture stores?

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Neighborhood news: Irvine Contemporary to close, Azi's gets a new owner

Here's a couple of news items to pass along:

Azi's Cafe in Shaw is getting a new owner. (Initial reports that it was closing ended up not being correct.) Azi, the owner, sold the business--but the coffee shop/cafe concept will remain. It's unclear whether the name will remain the same, since Azi will no longer be involved--although for now that seems to be the case.

Those of you who have been in tne neighborhood longer than a couple of years will remember Azi's as one of the businesses that contributed towards changing perceptions of Shaw. While the always-smiling Azi will be missed, it's great that the coffee shop will remain.

In other not-so-good news, 14th Street is losing another one of its galleries. From Borderstan, Irvine Contemporary gallery owner Martin Irvine has announced that he will be relocating his gallery from 14th Street to an as-yet-undisclosed location. The gallery will close following the closing of the Artist Tribute Exhibition show, which is set to open on July 23.

The closing of Irvine represents yet another blow to the 14th Street arts scene, which in the past couple of years has also seen the loss of the Randall Scott Gallery and G Fine Arts. Other arts-related businesses--such as jazz club HR-57--have also left the neighborhood in search of cheaper rents elsewhere. And while the ANC2F arts overlay committee made recommendations two years ago for steps the city could take to help retain arts-related businesses in the neighborhood, few tangible results have come out of it aside from last year's controversial banner campaign.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Taylor Gourmet coming to 14th and T

A bit of news to pass along this morning: there have been some questions and speculation as to what might open in the space that is being vacated by Ruff & Ready Furnishings (beneath Yoga District). Today we learn the answer:

Local sandwich chain Taylor Gourmet, which prides themselves on their Philly-style hoagies, will be opening up shop in the former furniture store. Washingtonian reports that co-owner Casey Patten is anticipating opening in the fall, but that is of course dependent upon the permitting process and the completion of the renovation of the building (which is not in terrific shape, to say the least.)

Although the lease was just signed, taylor has apparently been in negotiations for the space since February.

So, those of you who have been pining for a sandwich shop on 14th Street: here it is.

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Resaurant and Bar update: Happy Hour on its way

While we've been away on a (somewhat unanticipated and not particularly enjoyable) "vacation" some restaurant and bar news has crept up that we wanted to pass along:

Remember Mova, the former bar on P Street that vacated its space last year amid cries of exhorbitant rent in excess of $25,000/month? At the time, owner Babak Movahedi indicated that Mova wasn't closing--it was simply going to relocate.

Now it looks like we know where. U Street Girl noticed that there are signs up in the former Bicycle Station space at 14th and W streets for a "martini lounge and tapas-style restaurant" under the name Mova. A tapas lounge would certainly be a departure from Mova's previous incarnation as an upscale gay bar, but sometimes the description of the restaurant/bar on the placard differs from how it will actually operate. (And, yes...another tapas bar, you're thinking? You can't really have too many, you know.)

Left for Ledroit has the news about a new bar called Happy Hour to be located above the Islander at 1201 U Street. In addition to the drinks and "light fare" to be sold by the bar, the owners also want to host live bands as well as--wait for it--skiball. THIS might actually be a place I could get excited about, even if the name leaves a bit to be desired in the creative department. (Some day, I'm going to open a bar called "Class C Tavern License". My other idea is for a chic urban lounge called "Solstice" that will only be open twice a year.)

Next, some restaurant departure news: Prince of Petworth notes that the closing of the KFC/Taco Bell located on 14th between T and U is imminent. This is, of course, to make room for the long-awaited Utopia project at the corner of 14th and U. Guess you're going to have to find a new spot to satisfy that midnight craving for chalupas and absolutely horrible service. Opportunities abound.

Finally, it's nice to know that the "OMG the bars iz coming!" scare tactics aren't limited just to Logan/U Street. Columbia Heights: brace yourself.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

14th and R Bikeshare station moved to make way for construction

In a further sign that construction on the PN Hoffman project at the Verizon building at 14th and R is about to get underway, Capital Bikeshare workers this morning relocated the station across 14th Street. the station now resides at the northeast corner, in front of the Whitman-Walker clinic.

The PN Hoffman project is one of two significant development projects set to get underway at that corner this summer--the other being the Bonstra | Haresign-designed condo project at 1638 14th Street, next door to the AYT Auto Shop.

Unfortunately, Bikeshare is not adding any docks to the 14th and R station, despite the fact that it--like most area stations--is devoid of bikes by 8 AM most weekdays.

Friday, May 20, 2011

This morning's redundant post: Peregrine Espresso likely opening Wednesday

As reported over at Borderstan and U Street Girl this morning, Peregrine Espresso, the purveyors of fine coffee beverages on Capitol Hill, is set to open their new 14th Street location next week.

"Probably Wednesday," said Ryan Jensen, Peregrine's owner, at last night's "sneak peek." Jensen and his team were offering sweet snacks, wine and complimentary coffee to the crowd at the event, which turned into something of a DC blogger caffeine-infused happy hour.

Jensen indicated that the Logan Circle location was the first of two additional Peregrine locations that he was looking to open, but was coy when I pressed him about the location of Peregrine #3.

The space inside was clean and well-designed, courtesy of local design firm Aesthetic Answers. Indoor seating appeared to be on the low-end (which could make finding a place to sit down and crank out a blog post a bit challenging), and outdoor seating appeared to be a ways off, pending the receipt of a public space permit.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Humanities Council of DC Honors U Street Businesses

Last night under threatening skies, the DC Humanities Council held their inaugural "Celebration of U Street" event. In attendance were local business owners, community leaders, District government officials and interested citizens.

At the event, the Humanities Council presented three U Street-area businesse were honored for their "contributions to the rich urban history and world-class reputation of U Street."

Nizam Ali of Ben's Chili Bowl, Richard Lee of Lee's Flower and Card Shop, and Suman Sorg of Sorg Architects (architects of area buildings such as the Solea) were all on hand to both accept their respective awards and participate in a brief panel discussion hosted by author Blair A. Ruble, who wrote "Washington's U Street - A Biography," a history of the street and its surrounding neighborhood. (A must-read for anyone interested in the tremendously rich history of the U Street neighborhood.)

Lee spoke briefly about what he views as the three defined stages of U Street's life: as the epicenter of African-American life and culture, as a decaying neighborhood plagued by neglect and under-investment in the aftermath of the 1968 race riots, and as a neighborhood reborn and resurgent in recent years. I couldn't help but notice that the crowd in attendance--a mix of people of different ages and races--seemed fairly emblematic of today's U Street.

There were some interesting facts and anecdotes that came out during the discussion and subsequent q&a. For instance, Ben Ali--founder of Ben's--never ate one of his restaurant's notorious half smokes, because he kept halal. Richard Lee, who is himself not a native Washingtonian but was actually born in Montreal, spoke of living around U Street before and after the desegregation of the District. Most interestingly, he noted that while U Street was the preeminent African-American neighborhood in DC, the People's Drugstore at 14th and U was a segregated store, and didn't allow African-Americans to sit at the lunch counter until after repeated sit-ins led by the likes of Mary Church Terrell and Mary McLeod Bethune.

Following the discussion, each business representative, along with Blair Ruble, received awards from the humanities council that reflected their individual and collective contributions to the neighborhood.

The Humanities Council of DC, which is based on U Street, "is a non-profit organization that provides grant support for community programs that enrich the lives of DC citizens through the humanities disciplines." More information about the Council, as well as how you can offer your support, can be found at their website,

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

U Street movie series back for 2012

Those of you who enjoyed the opportunity to take in moving picture shows while out in the elements last year, rejoice: the U Street Movie Series is back for its second season.

Once a month, now through October, you will have the opportunity to catch a movie outdoors from the Harrison Recreation Center, located on V Street between 13th and 14th. Gates open at 7, and the movies typically begin by 8:30. They're also offering a moon bounce for the kids this year (sadly, no moon bounce for adults.)

The full schedule and additional information can be found below. Oh yeah, they're also accepting donations and sponsorships for the Series through their website, located at All proceeds benefit the friends of the Harrison Recreation Center.

After a successful inaugural season in 2010, Friends of Harrison Recreation Center, the U Street Neighborhood Association, and the Meridian Hill Neighborhood Association announced today the launch of the 2011 Summer U Street Movie Series.

This year’s movie series lineup includes films that feature and celebrate Washington DC, including both classic and family friendly Hollywood films set in Washington, DC, documentaries addressing environmental and education issues that resonate in Washington, DC, and films about local U Street entertainment institutions such as the Howard Theater and the 9:30 Club.

In collaboration with the AFI Silverdocs Festival, prior to the feature film will be a screening of a short documentary featured at a previous AFI Silverdocs Festival (

The schedule is as follows:

May 24: AFI Short: This Chair is Not Me (rain date May 26)
Feature: Mr. Smith Goes to Washington

June 28: AFI Short: The Poodle Trainer (rain date June 30)
Feature: Night at the Museum: Battle of the Smithsonian

July 26: Short: Howard Theatre: A Century in Song (rain date July 28)
Feature: 930 F Street

August 23: AFI Short: City of Cranes (rain date Aug 25)
Feature: National Treasure 2: Book of Secrets

Sept 20: AFI Short: Big Birding Day (rain date Sept 22)
Feature: Bag It

Oct (TBD): Feature: Waiting for Superman, indoors, followed by community forum on
education policy

Admission is free, and all films with the exception of October’s Waiting for Superman will be shown at the field at Harrison Recreation Center on V Street between 13th and 14th Streets, NW. Gates will open at 7 pm. Attendees are encouraged to come early starting at 7 pm to picnic in the park and listen to music spun by local DJs. Free popcorn will be provided to the first 100 attendees beginning at 7 pm by Ventnor Sports Cafe. Showtime will be at sundown, exact time will vary. Several local food truck vendors will be on site serving food. On the June and August “family” nights, children can play in a moonbounce from 7:00 – 8:30 before the films. Full information can be found at

Monday, May 16, 2011

Yet another huge condo building coming to 14th Street

Back in March, we wrote a post that took a look at all of the development projects currently ongoing around the 14th and U Street corridors and noted that it felt like a return to the middle part of the last decade, when development was going like gangbusters throughout the neighborhood.

Since that time, real estate development tycoons PN Hoffman announced plans to convert the Verizon building at 14th and R into a residential building with ground level retail. And today, courtesy of the City Paper's Lydia DePillis, we learn of yet another project for 14th Street: the eastern side of 14th near the intersection of Wallach Place (between T and U), which is currently the T Street post office (oh, you didn't know the Post Office was closing?), a furniture store and a Yum's carryout, is set to become a seven story condo building replete with ground level retail.

Image courtesy ofthe City Paper

The project, which is being developed by Level2 Development (of View 14 fame) and is designed by Eric Colbert and Associates, will house 126 residential units in addition to the aformentioned retail.

As you can see from the rendering above, it looks pretty much like...well, it looks pretty much like all of the cookie-cutter condo boxes that have been springing up around town recently. I sometimes wonder if we'll look back at this time in the city's development 30-40 years from now and view these buildings the way the brutalist SW federal center is viewed today: products of their time that have not aged particularly well.

No matter--progress is progress, right? A potentially greater issue than mundane architecture was raised on the Twitters today: namely, is DC starting to run out of Yums? With the loss of this location, and the anticipated loss of the one between Rhode Island and P street when that section of the block gets redeveloped, one does have to wonder: have we reached Peak Yums, and are venturing along the beginnings of a downhill slide from which we may never recover? Heaven help us.

Redistricting meeting with Jack Evans tonight

With the 2010 census figures in, the District is currently going through the redistricting process--that is, determining which areas and neighborhoods in the city will belong to which ward. One of the most interesting discussions relates to the residents of and near the so-called "Ballpark District" in southeast, who may move from under the auspices of Tommy Wells and Ward 6 to Marion Barry's Ward 8. However, some movement may also be afoot for neighborhoods in and adjacent to Ward 2, which includes Logan Circle, Dupont Circle and sizeable chunks of Shaw.

To learn more about the current state of negotiations, and to take an opportunity to ask questions about the process, plan to attend this evening's redistricting briefing at the Wilson Building, hosted by Ward 2 councilman Jack Evans. See the information below, which was distributed by the Ward 2 Democrats:

Monday, May 16, 2010
6:00 pm

Wilson Building - Room 120
1350 Penn. Ave. NW

At the meeting Jack Evans will give us a briefing on the status of the re-districting as a result of the 2010 census and will take your questions and comment on the process. Re-districting will affect the boundaries of Ward 2 and the ANCs and is of interest to all of us involved in politics, so it should be an interesting and lively meeting.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Adams-Morgan comes to T Street, Courtesy of the Post Office Bistro

Here's an exciting piece of news that you may have missed over the last couple of weeks: T Street has become Adams-Morgan.

Thart's right! The four block stretch along 18th Street notorious for its late night bars, nightclubs and restaurants has packed up shop and relocated south, to a commercial space near the corner of 14th and T streets. Adams-Morgan will henceforth be known as the Post Office Bistro, and will be reborn as a casual restaurant serving an extensive weekend brunch with a patio and summer garden. The neighborhood/restaurant will also be owned by someone with ties to New York, which unfortunately does not coincide with the arrival of a decent bagel shop.

Skeptical? So were we, until we saw this flyer (courtesy of Prince of Petworth) and its attendant exclamation points, noting that the arrival of the Post Office Bistro meant the end of T Street as we know it.

Some of the highlights of the flyer, which was put together by Elwyn Ferris, partner of ANC2B commissioner Ramon Estrada, and another neighborhood resident, include:

"URGENT! A New York investor plans to turn the Old Post Office building on T Street into a destination, special events venue under the guise of a "restaurant"! DO NOT BE FOOLED!"

"T Street will never be the same again"

"Only massive, unified opposition from by us (the residents who have to live here) has any hope of stopping this disaster!"

"The Post Office Bistro wants to eat your children and destroy your flower garden!"

OK, that last one was mine--I guess I was just a little caught up in the moment. But the rest of those hyperbolic statements were taken directly from the flyer itself.

Now, here's the thing: anyone who has read this blog over the years knows that we tend to fall somewhere in the middle when it comes to negotiating voluntary agreements with area liquor license holders. These businesses absolutely impact the lives of nearby residents by the very nature of their operation, and thus the residents have a right to at least attempt to mitigate some of the potentially negative impacts.

But there is a process for that: the negotiation of a voluntary agreement, frequently through the local ANC. A well-designed VA helps mitigate factors such as noise, trash and parking, which can have significant impacts on nearby residents, while encouraging the opening and success of a business that will continue the growth of the 14th Street corridor into the vibrant, energetic corridor that many of us enjoy.

Needless to say that vitriol and hyperbole, such as that found in this flyer, are tremendously unhelpful. Not only does it poison the negotiation process and serve to harden most neighborhood residents (and ABRA) against anything that involves a "protest" against the establishment, but it is written to portray all neighborhood residents as being vociferously against a business that a) many residents likely support, and b) helps build the character and dynamic of our neighborhood.

If you support the opening of the Post Office Bistro, and want to ensure that the process of negotiating a sensibile agreement with the establishment is not hijacked by a handful of loud, resourceful opponents, then make plans to attend tonight's ANC2B meeting, being held at the first floor of the Brookings Institution at 1775 Massachusetts Ave. NW at 7:30 this evening.

Additional information can be found on ANC2B's website.

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Community Happenings: Ward 2 townhall with Mayor Gray; Book Event with U Street Historian; DC Scores art gala

A few community notes of interest to pass along:

This Monday, May 9, DC Councilmember Jack Evans and all Ward 2 ANCs will co-host a town hall meeting with DC mayor Vince Gray to discuss the mayor's 2012 budget proposal. The event will take place Monday, May 9 at 7 PM at the Immaculate Conception Church at 1315 8th Street NW in Shaw.

An email distributed by ANC2F had this to say abot the event:

This coming Monday, May 9, 2011, our Mayor is holding a town hall meeting to present and discuss his 2012 budget for the District. Your Advisory Neighborhood Commission 2F is co-hosting this meeting and urges your attendance. This will be an opportunity to show our concern over the budget and to give the Mayor our thoughts on it.

I believe it holds several serious defects:

1. Our police chief, Kathy Lanier, whom we generally hold in high regard, has chosen to make cuts in prostitution enforcement throughout the City. As you know, our area is a center for prostitution in D.C. Far from being a victimless crime, prostitution plagues our community with its associated crime and health problems. MPD has already abolished the central prostitution unit, which had become increasingly effective. Despite MPD assurances to the contrary, enforcement efforts will decline, particularly when we move into the prostitution spike which comes each summer.

2. The education budget includes funds to reinstall most of the middle management personnel who in fact do very little in the school system. Education in our community is a number one priority; we want to see the money go for front line facilities, good teachers and refurbishing of the decaying structures of the schools in our area.

3. The income tax increase is insupportable. DC Residents already bear one of the highest tax burdens in the nation. Increasing taxes in D.C. adds injury to the insult already visited on us by a Congress which will not even permit us to vote.

Whether or not one agrees with the points raised by ANC2F above, this is a unique opportunity to express your opinions on these and other important issues facing the District. For more information, please contact Kenyon Churchwell at 202.727.2822 or

* * * * *

Can't get enough Jack Evans and DC politics? Congratulations--you're in luck! Next Monday, May 16, the Ward 2 Democrats will be hosting a meeting with Councilman Evans to discuss the District's upcoming redistricting plan. Every ten years, like other jurisdictions, the District examines census data in each of the city's eight wards and sets ward district boundaries accordingly. Although, as with most politically sensitive issues, things are rarely that simple.

According to the Ward 2 Dems statements about the event:

At the meeting Jack Evans will give us a briefing on the status of the re-districting as a result of the 2010 census and will take your questions and comment on the process. Re-districting will affect the boundaries of Ward 2 and the ANCs and is of interest to all of us involved in politics, so it should be an interesting and lively meeting.

(Note: "Lively" meeting is codespeak for "expect the expression of more strong opinions than at an ANC liquor license protest.")

The Dems are asking for comments or questions in advance of the meeting for issues that residents would like to discuss. You are encouraged to contact Chairman Patrick Allen ( with your ideas.

* * * * *

Those of you who are curious about the history of our neighborhood--particularly U Street--would be well-advised to seek out local historian Blair Ruble's book, "Washington's U Street: A Biography," an intensely fascinating and thorough examination of the history of our neighborhood.

Mr. Ruble will be in attendance at this week's U Street Neighborhood Association meeting to talk about his book. The discussion will take place from 7:00 to 7:30 PM, after which time the USNA will hold their regular meeting. Meetings are free (although donations are accepted) and held at the Thurgood Marsahll Center at 1816 12th Street NW.

More information can be found at the USNA's website.

* * * * *

Finally, next Wednesday, May 18, local nonprofit DC Scores! will host their Inspired Art Gallery at the Corcoran. The event will feature the works of local and national artists, including U Street's Isabelle Spicer.

More details can be found below, and at DC Scores website.

WHAT: Join DC SCORES for an evening of student voice and artistic vision at the second annual Inspired Art Gala, featuring a silent auction and showcasing the talents of DC SCORES youth and area professionals through spoken word performances. More than 200 guests are expected to attend the gala in support of DC SCORES' unique focus on creative expression and poetry for students across the District.

WHEN: Wednesday, May 18, 2011, 7-10 p.m.

WHERE: Corcoran Gallery of Art, 500 17th St., NW Washington, DC 20006

TICKETS: $200. See the event website for ticket and sponsorship information

DETAILS: The Inspired Art Gala provides artists with the unique opportunity to support the instruction and cultivation of creative expression through poetry among DC SCORES poet-athletes. The unique silent auction features works of art created by local and national artists inspired by the poetry of DC SCORES poet-athlete. Poetry readings by DC SCORES’ most outstanding students cap off the night.

The event will honor Beverly Perry, Vice-President of Pepco Holdings, Inc., and Congresswoman Mary Fudge as the recipients of the evening’s Inspiration Award recognizing individuals whose leadership in the Washington, DC community directly or indirectly inspires creative, athletic, and/or civic growth of Washington, DC youth.

Friday, May 6, 2011

Local Outlet on El Centro D.F.: "Bringing Mexico to DC without the drug lords and fire ants"

As U Street Girl had mentioned, the folks over at El Centro D.F. (Masa 14's Richard Sandoval and Kaz Okochi) were successful in making their Cinco de Mayo grand opening last night. And from the looks of the line, getting a table at the new 14th Street taqueria is going to be a might bit difficult.

Did anybody manage to squeeze their way in last night? If so, was the months of anticipation worth it?

How are the local journos reacting to the opening, you ask? Well, the most interesting description of the new tacqueria thus far comes courtesy of DC scene publication "Dining Bisnow," which described El Centro this way:

El Centro D.F. is bringing Mexico to DC (without the drug lords and fire ants).

I must say, this city has gone long enough without a drug lord- and fire ant-free tacqueria, and I for one am glad that someone was able to step up and fill the void.

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Tortilla Coast coming to 15th and P, and other restaurant news

Some rather significant restaurant news to pass along this morning: the team behind Capitol Hill's Tortilla Coast (and the local Cafe Deluxe chain) will be bringing the Tex-Mex-themed eatery to the former McCormick Paint space at 15th and P Streets this fall.

The image above presents a very rough depiction of what the finished restaurant will look like, with indoor seating for around 150 and an additional 60 outdoor seats along the 15th street-facing side.

There are few other details at the moment, but it is worth noting that the outdoor seating would be in private space, rather than public space, so no public space permit would be required. (Thus, any restrictions on noise/hours etc. would need to be discussed as part of the inevitable liquor license protest.)

They are gearing for a fall opening, but as with all business openings, it's best to not hold your breath waiting to order that pitcher of magaritas.

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Some other restaurant news to pass along, in brief:

The old post office building on T Street (next door to Policy) is set to become a "casual bistro" creatively called "the Post Office Bistro." You know the drill: casual fare, outdoor patio, summer garden, etc. The most striking thing about the liquor license application is a note that the total occupancy will be nearly 260 seats. No, I don't think there will be a protest at all about this one...

The new tacqueria coming to the space next door to the Black Cat, El Centro D.F., looks poised to meet its Cinco de Mayo opening date, notes U Street Girl.

And finally, also from U Street Girl, it looks like the folks over at Peregrine Espresso are gearing up for a grand opening at their new 14th Street location soon.

Details emerge of plans for Verizon building at 14th and R

Last night, the ANC2f community development committee met to review plans for PN Hoffman's renovation ofthe Verizon substation building at 14th and R streets. A few interesting details emerged from the meeting that shed some light into what the project will entail.

The biggest piece of news is that PN Hoffman acquired only the smaller south building for their project, not the larger building to the north. Verizon will retain that building, as well as a small amount of space in the renovated south building to store equipment.

The image above depicting the building as it appeared in its former life decades ago was provided by the PN Hoffman team and their architect, Eric Colbert. While the renovation will not be an exact replication of how the building once appeared, it provides a good indication of where Colbert and the development team are taking the project.

Chief among the alterations will be the reintroduction of the large storefront windows on the first floor of the building, and the repair/replacement of existing windows, along with the installation of new windows throughout the building. The image below shows the architectural rendering of the building along the R Street-facing side.

The building will have room for one ground-level commercial tenant, most likely a restaurant. (The developer has plans for the eventual installation of some kind of sidewalk seating.) The building will have four levels of residences, including a penthouse level with private rooftop decks/gardens for each unit, along with a communal rooftop area. The penthouse structure will very closely resemble the rooftop structure at the top of the Room and Board building at 14th and T streets.

There was discussion of what would happen to the SmartBike rack at that corner during construction, particularly since the construction of the condo building across the street will be underway at the same time. PN Hoffman representatives indicated that they weren't certain whether the station would be able to remain where it is, but that they have been scouting possible nearby alternatives (the ZipCar lot was mentioned.) It's worth noting that, once both of these projects are built, it's unlikely that there will be a bike to be found at that station after 8 AM on weekdays. Just sayin'.

PN Hoffman is looking at an agressive timeline for construction, with an anticipated delivery of mid-late 2012. All in all, it's an exciting development for the neighborhood, and by all rights appears to be a very thoughtful design of a woefully underutilized building.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

CityMarket at O financing clears hurdle; construction still a ways off

Those in Shaw who have been waiting for an inkling of positivie news related to the long-awaited CityMarket at O development finally have something to celebrate. Developer Roadside Development announced yesterday on the project's website that the HUD loan deal, which had stalled the project for decades months, had finally been approved, meaning that the project can officially go forward.

But before you start getting excited about shopping at the new Giant store, Roadside also cautions that "there is a lot of work to get done before a CityMarket construction start" and that this is only "the beginning of getting construction funding in place."

In other words: don't hold your breath. The project, which was originally scheduled to break ground in 2008 with an anticipated late-2010/early-2011 completion date, is now likelu looking at a late 2013 delivery, and even that may be an optimistic projection.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

PN Hoffman puts signs on Verizon building

When PN Hoffman announced recently that they had acquired the Verizon building at the northwest corner of 14th and R streets, they indicated that they wanted to move swiftly with the project, and hoped to deliver by late 2012.

They weren't messing around.

I snapped this photo this morning of Hoffman's signs wrapping around the base of the building. In addition, they will be coming before the ANC's Community Development Committee this evening seeking support for their plans--presumably for exemptions or exceptions they will be seeking before BZA and historic preservation.

Election Day: Do you know where your polling place is?

Perhaps you've been busy watching Dan Snyder tunnel his way to China, but there's a little election today in the District to fill the Council seat vacated by Kwame "Fully Loaded" Brown when he assumed the Council Chair seat.

There are nine candidates vying for the seat, including one Republican (Pat Mara) and one woman (Dorothy Douglas). Others running include professional politician Vincent Orange (who apparently walks and talks like Ward 8 residents), "incumbent" Sekou Biddle, Fenty write-in campaign leader (and, at 27, a spring chicken) Josh Lopez, former Adams-Morgan ANC commissioner and tie-detester Bryan Weaver, Ward 8's Tom Brown, Green Party candidate Alan Page, and the mysterious Arkan Haile.

Not sure where you should be voting? The DC Board of Elections website can help you with that. Happy voting!