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Tag Archive | "Republic of the Congo"

No More Concrete at The Embassy of Congo


"Borderstan""16th Street NW""Embassy of Congo"

No more concrete at the Embassy of The Republic of Congo. (Luis Gomez Photos)

From Luis Gomez. Catch his photos on Picplz and at One Photograph A Day. Follow him on Twitter @LuisGomezPhotos.

Work is underway at the Embassy of the Republic of Congo to remove the recently poured concrete from the front lawn — we’re assuming they’re not simply replacing it with a different type of concrete. The old Toutorsky Mansion at the corner of 16th Street and Riggs Place NW, now the Republic of Congo Embassy, is getting some green back. The action comes after a protest from the  Dupont Circle Citizens Association (DCCA) — and even  a letter from the State Department complaining about the willful destruction of the front lawn and several large trees during renovation of its new embassy on 16th Street.

The Congo (Brazzaville) purchased the 1894 Toutorsky Mansion earlier this year. In January ANC 2B voted 8-0 to protest the Congo’s plans to turn the mansion into a chancery-embassy location.

Under DC law, front lawns are city property, but Embassy properties are considered foreign soil and exempt from DC law. Knowing this, neighborhood officials had specifically requested that no changes be made to the historic greensward. The sale was approved by the Board of Zoning Adjustment’s Foreign Missions Department only after Congo agreed.

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Pavementgate: State Department Smackdown on Congolese Embassy


Republic of Congo Embassy, 16th Street NW, Luis Gomez Photos

The Republic of Congo Embassy at 16th Street and Riggs Place NW. (Luis Gomez Photos)

From Michelle Lancaster. Follow her and tell her your news on Twitter @MichLancaster or email her at michellel@borderstan.com.

Stop rolling your eyes, this paved embassy front yard at 16th and Riggs NW is a big deal! I’m serious, actually.

It’s a big enough deal that the State Department has intervened and issued a pretty scathing letter to the Republic of Congo (Brazzaville) regarding their choice of landscaping for the chancery. Greater Greater Washington has a good recap of the series of events and the actual regulations in play.

The State Department letter, in no uncertain terms, says they “expect the Embassy to comply” with the District DDOT’s provision on unauthorized paving. Their 30 days are running, and we will keep you posted on what, if anything, happens. I say that in jest, but I know this is an eyesore to many residents and a concern to others about the lack of control over embassy actions on their properties. I kid, because I love.

If you haven’t been following the story, the property is still known to many in the neighborhood as the Toutorsky Mansion. Located at the northwest corner of 16th Street and Riggs Place NW, it was a Bed and Breakfast operation for several years. After being denied with their request to expand operations, the owners sold to the government of the Republic of Congo. That, of course, is when the real issues began. Previous stories listed below.

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The Other Side on the B&B that Became a Cement Embassy


 

Republic of Congo Embassy, 16th Street NW, Dupont Circle

16th and Riggs NW: After purchasing the Toutorsky Mansion from the B&B owner, the Republic of Congo paved the front yard and removed trees. (Luis Gomez Photos)

From Michelle Lancaster. Follow her and tell her your news on Twitter @MichLancaster or email her at michellel@borderstan.com.

It’s known as the Toutorsky Mansion. Located at the northwest corner of 16th Street and Riggs Place NW, it was a Bed and Breakfast operation for several years. After being denied with their request to expand operations, the owners sold to the government of the Republic of Congo. That, of course, is when the real issues began.

I recently reviewed Mark Lee’s column in the Washington Blade that suggested protests to the former B&B there and its expansion request led to the Congolese Embassy (Brazzavile not Kinshasa) —which in turn begat a paved-over lawn. Now, the Blade has given equal space for the response from Doug Rogers.

Rogers is a board member of the Dupont Circle Citizens Association (DCCA) and is particularly peeved at the suggestion of anti-gay bias in any DCCA dealings. Rogers doesn’t delve into what happened with the opposition to the former B&B’s plan several years ago in disputing these claims (I suggest you check out our piece and the comments for a lot more insight).

Rogers’ response to Lee’s column focuses more on the present. (I agree that regardless of what happened with the previous owner, the paving of the lawn was wrong and should be protested.) Rogers also argues that the majority of DCCA’s protests have prevented things such as a U Street Beltway from coming to fruition.

Protests are an important part of our 1st Amendment rights, and let the record show I support them. But I don’t think I’m alone in feeling a bit trapped in PCU, waiting for Jeremy Piven to show up and break the tension.

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Embassies, Trees, B&Bs: Be Careful What You Protest?


BorderstanFrom Michelle Lancaster. Follow her and tell her your news on Twitter @MichLancaster or email her at michellel@borderstan.com.

We posted earlier this week on the demonstration outside of the Congolese Embassy after the embassy paved the front lawn. I drive by it daily and I do miss the trees.

But as Mark Lee writes in the Washington Blade, the same neighbors who protested the lost trees may have had a hand in letting the embassy into the space to make such concrete decisions with the lawn. It’s worth knowing your history in our ‘hood.

The mansion used to house a B&B, until area residents voiced their opposition to renovations that would have added four guest rooms, another employee and other seemingly minor items. Neighbors said they feared delivery trucks, noise and other unsavory possibilities due to the expansion. Four years later, the B&B was shuttered, and the owners sold to the Congolese government.

What say you, tree loving protestors? Did you stand in silence when they came for beds and breakfasts? Would a B&B with 10 rooms have been preferable to an embassy?

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SYMHM: Concrete, Lincoln and Vintage


"Borderstan" "Embassy of Congo"

16th and Riggs NW: A group of local residents protested the removal of trees and the paving of the front entrance area at the Embassy of Congo. (Luis Gomez Photos)

From Michelle Lancaster. Follow her and tell her your news on Twitter @MichLancaster or email her at michellel@borderstan.com.

DCCA Protest at Embassy of Congo

Dupont Circle residents, organized by the Dupont Circle Citizens Association, demonstrated in front of the Republic of Congo (Brazzaville) Embassy on 16th Street NW. The Congolese government paved the front lawn and chopped down trees. It is unclear how much of a legal recourse the residents of the area have now that the house belongs to the Congolese government. One of our favorite signs was the “Republic of Concrete” left hanging on the embassy fence.

Occupy Lincoln Theatre (Sort of?)

Or not at all. The DC Commission for the Arts and Humanities has taken control of the financially-troubled Lincoln Theatre. DCist has the full story, but the press release from the Commission indicates that the first priority will be to develop a long-term comprehensive plan for the theatre. I’m not toting an MBA and the associated student loan debt, but a functioning business plan would seem like a necessary first step and not particularly novel thinking. No word on the status of the theatre and programming in the meantime, though.

Profile of Vintage Store Foundry

U Street has become the go-to spot for good vintage finds of late, and part of that momentum was generated by Foundry. The owner, Yvette Freeman, lives in the ‘hood on Swann Street NW and painstakingly tracked down prime vintage finds until making her ultimate find — the actual store location on U Street. Washingtonian has a nice profile of the store and Yvette. If you’re looking for a once-worn Motley Crue T, this is not that vintage. Foundry specializes in furniture and adornments like vintage lamps and maps.

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DCCA to Protest Congolese Embassy Over 16th Street Renovations


Republic of Congo embassy, Toutorsky Mansion

The Toutorsky Mansion in early 2011 prior to its purchase by the Republic of Congo and renovation work. (Borderstan file photo)

The Dupont Circle Citizens Association (DCCA) announced Saturday it will hold a demonstration on Tuesday evening protesting the Republic of Congo’s “willful destruction of the front lawn and several large trees during renovation of its new embassy on 16th Street.”

The protest will take place Tuesday November 15, from 5 to 7 pm, in front of the Embassy of the Republic of Congo at 1720 16th Street NW. According to the DCCA, members at the November 7 monthly membership meeting voted unanimously in support of a board resolution demanding the replacement of the lawn and of the three mature trees.

According to the DCCA news release, “We decided on a course of political action,” said DCCA Preservation Committee Chair and Second Vice President Charles Ellis, “after formal complaints from our colleagues at the Dupont Circle Conservancy and the Advisory Neighborhood Commission (2B) proved not to have the desired effect.”

The Congo (Brazzaville) purchased the 1894 Toutorsky Mansion earlier this year. In January ANC 2B voted 8-0 to protest the Congo’s plans to turn the mansion into a chancery-embassy location. Commissioner Jack Jacobson (2B04), whose district includes the property, told Borderstan in January that the resolution of disapproval passed after the commission reviewed photos of the Republic of Congo property at 16th Street and Colorado Avenue NW. The photos show serious maintenance problems with the property.

The Congo property, at the corner of 16th Street and Riggs Place NW, is in the Sixteenth Street Historic District. According to DC tax records, the previous owners bought the property in 2001 for $2.2 million and it was assessed by the city at $4.5 million when the Congo government was negotiating its purchase. The previous owners started a limited bed and breakfast operation soon after purchase and sought to expand in 2004, but were denied by the BZA.

Under DC law, front lawns are city property, but Embassy properties are considered foreign soil and exempt from DC law. Knowing this, neighborhood officials had specifically requested that no changes be made to the historic greensward. The sale was approved by the Board of Zoning Adjustment’s Foreign Missions Department only after Congo agreed.

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Toutorsky Mansion Owners Apply for Chancery Use


 

Toutorsky Mansion 16th Street NW Luis Gomez Photos

The owners of the Toutorsky mansion at 16th and Riggs NW have applied for zoning review to locate a chancery in the landmark property. (Luis Gomez Photos)

From Tom Hay. Questions for Tom? Send him an email.

The owners of the historic Toutorsky Mansion at 1720 16th Street NW in Dupont Circle have filed an application with the D.C. Board of Zoning Adjustment (BZA) seeking approval to locate a chancery in the property. The filing by owners Humberto and Francisco Gonzalez is on behalf of the contract purchaser of the property, The Embassy of the Republic of Congo (Brazzaville). Under the Foreign Mission Act of 1982, the location of a chancery in certain mixed-use areas of the city is subject to review and possible disapproval by the BZA.

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