Wednesday, January 5, 2011

2011: A Look Ahead

By now, hopefully you have shaken off your post-New Year's hangover, you've cleaned out the remnants of the holiday feast from your fridge (and no, I don't mean Thanksgiving) and you haven't yet broken any of you new year's resolutions.

As we move into the new year, I thought we'd take a brief look at what's to come in our neighborhood during 2011. Call them predictions, prognostications or wishful thinking, here's what's on my list for 2011:

  • District Condos will finally break ground.  I know, it seems like JBG is simply teasing us recently with talks of an "imminent" groundbreaking for their new mixed-use development at 14th and S streets.  But, sooner or later, the demolition of the site's current buildings will commence, and earth really will start getting pushed around, and we'll finally start to see real progress after years of discussions.  And once that happens, the real fun can commence; by which I mean, the hemming and hawing over who the project retailers will be.  Who wants an IHOP?

  • 14th Street north of U Street will go gangbusters.  With both Perseus Realty's 14W development and the long-awaited Nehemiah Shopping Center development breaking ground, and Jemal's project across the street, it's shaping up to be a busy couple of years north of U Street for new development.

  • O Street Market will/will not break ground.  This long-anticipated project remains frustratingly in a state of suspended animation.  In spite of a pronouncement in September 2010 that the project was set to commence, there's been little activity at the site in the four months since.  We keep looking out for signs of earth-moving equipment and an official announcement from the Giant at 9th and P that it is closing, but nothing yet.  At least nearby Progression Place finally broke ground:  it, along with the O Street Market, Howard Theater restoration and Marriott Convention Center hotel threaten to dramatically remake the Shaw neighborhood in the coming years.

  • The Hiltons will continue adding to their DC restaurant/nightlife empire.  Marvin, The Gibson, ESL, U Street Music Hall, Patty Boom Boom, American Ice Co....brothers Ian and Eric Hilton have, seemingly overnight, turned into the kings of the DC lounge and nightlife scene.  Expect that to continue into 2011 with the soon-to-open Blackbyrd Warehouse near 14th and U, along with a new restaurant/lounge on Georgia Avenue in Petworth at the former Billy Simpson's House of Seafood and Steaks.  The Hilton's aren't the only ones with expanding ambitions along 14th and U Street, however.  Expect to see a new steakhouse and lounge from the Local 16 crew at the currently vacant building at 14th and U streets, and--perhaps--the opening of Local 14 along 14th Street between T and U.

    A little farther south along 14th Street, look for the opening of burger-and-fries eatery Standard at the former Garden District location at 14th and S, a new taqueria from the Masa 14 team next to the Black Cat on 14th between S and T, and maybe the new location of hamburger purveyors Rogue States near 14th and U (assuming there are no lawyers in the building).

  • Transit:  A temporary reprieve from the streetscapes.  Don't expect too many headaches transit-wise throughout the mid-city area.  Although DDOT is nearing completion of its design for the 14th Street Streetscape project, actual construction remains years away.  And with the recently completed 17th Street Streetscape project, and the soon-to-be-completed 18th Street project (the Dupont portion, at least), the jackhammers and paving machines should be relatively quiet throughout our neighborhood.

    However, beginning soon (January or February) look out for major headaches in Adams-Morgan, as a reconstruction project for 18th Street between Florida Avenue and Columbia Road commences.  In addition, look for an announcement at some point in the first quarter of 2011 regarding the completion of the U Street Streetscape design.

  • Housing prices will continue to rise.  Oh yes they will.  And in other shocking news, Ward Three residents remain unconvinced of Vince Gray's mayoral capacities.

  • Hank's Oyster Bar will finally expand into their adjacent space.  Prepare your fallout shelters now, because I have it on good authority that this development will most certainly lead to a cessation of all human life within a four block radius of Hank's.  Oh the humanity.

  • The 14th Street arts corridor will look a little less artsy.  Never mind the recent branding campaign to raise awareness of the so-called "Arts District,"the single greatest issue facing arts organizations and related businesses--spiraling commercial lease rates--remains unresolved by the city.  And with the District facing a mounting budget deficit and a continuing soft economy, don't look for the road to get any smoother for neighborhood arts institutions.  Longtime jazz club HR-57 has already packed up its Steinway and headed east to H Street, where the commercial tax rate is lower.  Who's next?

  • 14th Street will get a decent sandwich shop.  Actually, that already happened.
Happy 2011 everyone.


bryandc said...

Also soon to be added to the Hilton Brothers' Greater U Street inventory is the "Brixton Pub" at 901 U Street, NW.

Plans for this were presented to the U Street Neighborhood Association way back in November 2009:

"Brixton Pub, 901 U Street, NW; Ian Hilton and FormDesign

Plans were presented for the design of the Brixton Pub, planned as a British Pub that would occupy what is currently a vacant building at the corner of 9th and U Streets.

The historic uses of the building include a laundry facility, driving school, liquor store, and it has been vacant for the last 20 years.

The design intends to have a prominent corner with a wood storefront. The top half of the formstone fa├žade would be left installed and repainted, as it cannot be removed due to structural risks. The windows would all be replaced. There would be a roof deck. The occupancy would be planned for 83 seated occupants on the first floor, 102 seated on the second floor, and 102 seated on the roof deck."

Original post here:

Anonymous said...

Does anyone have any updates on Pearl Dive which plans to open in the vacant 100% Mexico storefront on 14th Street and Q. I've heard there is another bitter person trying to organize an opposition group to keep this restaurant from happening. I would like to find out when there are any ANC meetings regarding this property so that I can attend and voice my support for this restaurant. From what I hear the restaurant will be coming from the person who is responsible for Black Salt which is one of the cities best in my opinion. I'd hate to see this restaurant lose to a couple of mis-guided individuals who love to have our buildings sit vacant and blighted.

Anonymous said...

I second Anonymous' comment!

Anonymous said...

I have to say the Fast Gourmet on 14th, the one in the lowest price gas station, makes an awesome sandwich. The tuna sandwich I had there is nothing like your Mom's tuna, and that is a good thing. Not that there is anything wrong with Mom's tuna but this is in a new realm altogether.

Anonymous said...

Speaking of blighted buildings, I was told that Abdo is backing out of the Italian Shirt Laundry restaurant that it was going to open up at the corner of 14th & Q due to problems with the space (perhaps environmental). I hope that's not true. I was looking forward to having a moderately priced, "non-small plates" restaurant" in that space.

Mr. Other Upper NW said...

Bryan- Thanks, had forgotten all about the Brixton.

Anon- I'm trying to confirm the Abdo/Shirt Laundry rumor, as multiple people have mentioned that. If true, that's a huge blow for that block, as the size of that building is going to make it difficult to attract a non-food serving retailer.

Anonymous said...

If the shirt cleaners building really is having trouble attracting a lease because of environmental remediation issues then the DC gov't needs to get involved. Under CERCLA they should be able to force whatever party is responsible for the issue to fund the cleanup.

Anonymous said...

Has anyone heard any more news about the proposed 99 bus, that would connect U St to Dupont Circle? I think going west on U St. it would follow Florida and then make a left down Connecticut. The last I read about it is below. If there's a way for neighborhood residents to show their support or otherwise expedite this bus line, please let us know!

Anonymous said...

Absolutely no activity has happened at the Shirt Laundry at 14th and Q since early October when the removed the asbestos. I too was wondering if Abdo has abandoned his plans?