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Author Archives | michellel

The Buildings They Left Behind

News from Dupont-Logan-U Street

By Michelle Lancaster. You can follow her and let her know your news on Twitter @MichLancaster. Email her at michellel[AT]borderstan.com.

Given the developments that seem to bloom overnight in our neighborhood, news of a building being razed to make way for the new is, well, hardly news.

But have you ever wondered how some buildings are deemed historic and stick around and others become bulldozer fodder? Local blog The Location reviews the history of a building at 11th and K Streets NW as per the 2008 application for landmark status filed by the DC Preservation League.

The building(s) have all sorts of interesting historical components, including a cistern and a type of architecture once common but now largely absent from the city. Despite that, developer Jemal has filed a permit to raze the structures. Developers get to call a lot of shots on how our city will appear in the future; are they also determining what remains of our past?

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DC: The Ninth Worst Place to Own a Car?

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At least there are eight other worse places in the United States than DC to own a car. (Luis Gomez Photos)

By Michelle Lancaster. You can follow her and let her know your news on Twitter @MichLancaster. Email her at michellel[AT]borderstan.com.

A survey of Jalopnik readers rated DC as the ninth worst place to own a car, based on traffic, “confusing roads’ and cab drivers that ‘operate on a completely different plane of existence.” BTW, the motto of Jalopnik’s website is “Drive Free or Die.” A little take-off from the New Hampshire motto?

As DCist notes, the traffic clearly qualifies the city for the top 10 list. The cab drivers (not all, some are lovely drivers) seem content to meander through the city at their own pace.

But confusing roads? The entire city is laid out on a grid! Some cities with bigger problems based on the survey include Boston, Chicago, New Orleans and San Francisco. Here’s the full list.

Parking your car in Borderstan is not as easy as it used to be either, with proposals for resident-friendly regulations being under consideration in the Dupont-Logan area. And as for car break-ins — smash-and-grabs as we locals call them — let’s not even go there.

Oh, in case you’re wondering, Jalopnik also listed the best place in America to own a car: Colorado.

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NYT: 14th Street Gets All Fancy

"Borderstan", 14th, Street, DC, Luis, Gomez, Photos

Development at 14th and Belmont Streets NW. (Luis Gomez Photos)

By Michelle Lancaster. You can follow her and let her know your news on Twitter @MichLancaster. Email her at michellel[AT]borderstan.com.

The New York Times recently took note of 14th Street’s transformation in a piece entitled, “A Street’s Grit Gives Way to Glamor.” While The Times loves to deliver backhanded compliments to our fair city, this one gets to the heart of a brewing neighborhood debate: How many luxury apartments and expensive restaurants are too many?

While no one is really mourning the loss of liquor stores or pawn shops (well, a few are), there are many area residents we’ve spoken to that worry about how high rents are climbing for real estate and retail in the area. The Times credits the area’s explosive growth to the opening of Whole Foods in 2000.

In case you don’t feel like reading the Grey Lady, the article does get around to this question at the end of the article, asserting that many residents are happy with the transformations but there are a few that miss the grit. You may recall a Q&A piece with national journalist (and Borderstan resident) Julie Mason in which she mentioned how she missed seeing the transvestite prostitutes in the ‘hood.

What about you? Are you happy to trade Central Mission, hookers and a pawn shop for the possibility of ‘little’ big box stores?

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We All (Can) Have (More) Blue Crabs!

By Michelle Lancaster. You can follow her and let her know your news on Twitter @MichLancaster. Email her at michellel[AT]borderstan.com.

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An abundance of blue crabs this year. (One Photograph A Day)

Climate change (whether you believe it’s man-made, caused by same-sex marriage or Lindsay Lohan, or just barometric pressure mixed with fossil fuels) brought us a mild winter, which was enjoyable.

But it continues to give to our region, as the warm winter and conservation measures have brought a bounty crop of blue crabs. The population is up more than 60 percent, as reported by DCist. For more information, check out the Chesapeake Bay Program website.

So go track down some soft shells (we prefer ours sautéed rather than fried), eat some crab cakes (broiled, not fried) or just pick some crabs (lots of Old Bay, beer and patience).

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Who’s the 1% in the DMV? A Higher Bar to Entry, Especially in D.C.

Think you might be in the 1% in DC? Think again. (Borderstan)

By Michelle Lancaster. You can follow her and let her know your news on Twitter @MichLancaster. Email her at michellel[AT]borderstan.com.

D.C. and the surrounding areas are often deemed part of the ‘elite’ by politicians running against incumbents. Most of us who live here take some small bit of pride in that, too.

But if you thought that automatically qualified you as both elite and a 1-percenter in terms of income, you had better check that W-2 from last year. Even if you make a lot of money, chances are you are in the 99%.

The Washington Post reports the 1-percenters in our region must earn more than $500,000 in household income (the national average for 1-percenters is $387,000). Specifically, in D.C. you have to earn even more — $617,000. Plus, more than 13 percent have household incomes of over $200,000.

Surprised? Some of the top earners feel they have been unfairly targeted by ‘political rhetoric’, which is perhaps less surprising.

And, yes, let me remind you again: We live in a bubble within a bubble. Unemployment rates for the Dupont-Logan-U Street area are not only much lower than national averages, they are far below D.C. levels for other areas of the city.

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I’ll Take Professor Plum with Meningitis on a Metrobus

By Michelle Lancaster. Follow her and let her know your news on Twitter @MichLancaster. Email her at michellel[AT]borderstan.com.

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The ill Metro bus driver was working the 52 and 54 lines last Friday morning on 14th Street NW. (Cody Telep, file photo)

Just when you thought your biggest worry was the bus actually showing up, here’s some scary news. Metro issued a viral meningitis warning for the 14th Street bus line.

Huffington Post broke the story on Monday that a driver working the 14th Street to L’Enfant Plaza morning shift was diagnosed with viral meningitis. Apparently it was the 52 and 54 lines.

(And if you don’t understand my reference to Professor Plum, read up!)

The operator is clearly not working any longer and is recovering; the bus was removed from service to be sanitized. Other buses in the Northern Division were also sanitized.

Viral meningitis is not typically fatal and most adults with a good immune system recover within a week or so. But if you rode the 52 or 54 on Friday morning and feel ill, see the doctor!

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Washington Capitals Knock Off Defending Cup Champs

By Michelle Lancaster. Follow her and let her know your news on Twitter @MichLancaster. Email her at michellel[AT]borderstan.com.

Look, I don’t care if you don’t like hockey or know anything about it. But a seven-game series (that means the teams were tied at 3 games a piece, and all series are best of 7 games), all decided by one goal, with four going to overtime? It’s about time you become a Capitals hockey fan — last night the Caps beat the Boston Bruins (who won the Stanley Cup last year) in the seventh game of the first round. Moreover, the Caps won the series with their third line goalie.

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The Caps, who play at the Verizon Center, advanced Wednesday night in the playoffs in Boston. (Scott Leibowitz, file photo)

SB Nation brings you the game winning goal (in overtime, again) and here’s the story in the The Washington Post. At the very least, you need to skim an article so you can keep up at the water cooler today.

There’s not much reason for joy in DC sports, so grab a seat on the bandwagon and Rock the Red! The Caps are headed to the Eastern Conference semifinals of the Stanley Cup playoffs.

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What’s Orange and Black and Bruised All Over?

By Michelle Lancaster. Follow her and let her know your news on Twitter @MichLancaster. Email: michellel[AT]borderstan.com.

The owner of Black and Orange, a popular local burger place at 14th and U NW, has been through the wringer with DC licensing restrictions and bares all in his interview with the Washington Blade. (See Black and Orange Opens at 14th and U.)

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Chef and owner Raynold Mendizabal at the opening of Black & Orange in January. (Luis Gomez Photos)

Raynold Mendizabal went through legal proceedings with Rogue States, the precursor to Black and Orange. Unfortunately, his opponents objecting to the burger smell were a well-known law firm. This time, Mendizabal has been working to obtain a liquor license and regulatory approval for a sidewalk patio area.

While you may argue with Mark Lee’s favoring of the business owner over concerns of local residents, it seems difficult to conclude that the existing license and regulation system is working. For example, the nearby McDonald’s is allowed to operate 24/7. No, they do not serve alcohol (although they may serve those who have consumed it and think a Big Mac is a great 3 am idea).

But clearly an extended hours Black and Orange would still be required to observe the liquor laws, and serve only food after the booze cut-off times. Whether the protesters were aware of this, don’t care and object to late-night places in general, or simply hate the idea of more liquor licenses on the street is unclear. We do hope they inform us soon.

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Later Liquor Sales or “Pay $10,000 in Taxes”? (Not Really, Of Course)

By Michelle Lancaster. Follow her and let her know your news on Twitter @MichLancaster. Email her at michellel[AT]borderstan.com.

The most recent town hall event in Foggy Bottom yielded some interesting feedback from the crowd, who seemed decidedly opposed to Mayor Vincent Gray’s proposal to extend liquor sales hours. The move is intended to make up a budget shortfall, but some residents and Council members fear the short-term budget solution would cost residents peace, quiet and safety.

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Would longer hours for liquor sales and bars keep taxes down? (Luis Gomez Photos)

If approved, the change would allow bars and restaurants to continue slinging libations until as late as 4 am beginning October 1. The proposed change would also allow retail liquor sales to begin at 7 am, two hours earlier than what currently stands, Monday through Saturday (same for beer and wine sales at grocery stores). Sunday sales at liquor stores would still be prohibited.

The GW Hatchet covered the event and provided a choice quote. We’ve discussed the resident suing Mood Lounge in the past, and he showed up to voice his displeasure at the idea of having to hear more Beyonce at 3 am (we sympathize).

But the group opposing the liquor extension had best be careful about who they enlist to their cause, because a certain Mr. Smith’s comment may inflame some folks. During his remarks, he said, ““I’d rather have every citizen of DC pay an extra $10,000 a year in taxes to fill the budget hole than have this plan.”

Of course, I am sure the amount would not hit anything close to $10k per year per citizen in extra income tax — but you get the idea.

As noted in an earlier post from Alden Leonard, some local neighborhood listervs have been abuzz over the proposed changes (particularly the U Street one), in areas with a high concentration of bars and clubs. There are concerns about trash and litter, in addition to people being out and about drinking even later.

As a lady that likes her cocktails and just paid DC a good bit of money in taxes, I have to admit this gave me some pause. Clearly, it is not an either booze-all-hours or take a giant-tax-hike-choice. But put in terms like that…”All the Single Ladies” sounds a little less terrible to this writer.

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Will the Caribbean Carnival Parade Happen this Year?

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The Caribbean  Carnival Parade is on Georgia Avenue NW. (Aaron DeNu, Flickr pool)

By Michelle Lancaster. You can follow her and let her know your news on Twitter @MichLancaster. Email her at michellel[AT]borderstan.com.

The Caribbean Carnival Parade on Georgia Avenue NW is one of the parades that draws a reliably strong crowd year after year. Despite that, the organizers are in debt from previous parades and the city is unlikely to lend a helping hand to keep it going. The parade is tentatively scheduled for June 23 and 24.

The current situation may be due to the outbreaks of violence at last year’s parade, particularly since the organizers’ debt includes a $200,000 IOU to the city for police protection overtime.

DCist reports that new parade routes are being sought, as the Gray administration appears to be reluctant at the prospect of shutting down Georgia Avenue, despite the $176,000 in city funds the parade received last year. We’ll keep you posted on the funding and location status.

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