U Street Dirt: “NOT Ballston” for 14th & U

by Borderstan.com June 30, 2011 at 12:33 pm 2,975 52 Comments

Yums, 14th Street NW, Borderstan, Luis Gomez Photos

The proposed building that would replace the current one-floor structures at the southeast corner of 14th and Wallach NW caught the attention of some neighbors. (Luis Gomez Photos)

From Matty Rhoades

Borderstan would love to hear from you on the subject of development and other subjects related to the Dupont-Logan-U Street area. Got an idea for a column? Email us at [email protected]

The battle lines over local development and new businesses close to residential areas often elicit a vehement yes or no. What you don’t always get is a yes, but or no, and here’s why.

When we found out that Doug Johnson was part of a new local blog, U Street Dirt, we wanted to find out more about the site and the reasons behind it. Was this a “no more development around 14th and U” gauntlet being thrown down, or something else? Johnson says he wants good development (a subjective term to be sure) and that he is not against density. Decide for yourself; we used a Q&A format.

Johnson and his partner, Craig Brownstein, are among the founders-editors of the site, Who Murdered Robert Wone? and and are also the creators of Puck Buddys. They live on Wallach Place NW, a block of row houses and back gardens that runs from 13th to 14th — just one street south of bustling U Street NW and right off the 14th Street corridor.

Johnson on a vision for the neighborhood: “NOT Ballston [an area of Arlington]. It seems that some people — a few I think, and mostly not residents — want to turn what is a genuine neighborhood into a phony one. One that’s more about chain restaurants rather than a dingy but useful Post Office…”

Borderstan: Can you define for us the mission of your new site? Is the focus on business and development?

14th & Wallach NW

Click for more information: The architect’s rendering of the proposed building at 14th and Wallach NW. (Image via scribd.com) 

Johnson: Probably the most common complaint we hear from our neighbors is that there’s just too much happening that they don’t know about. This was really catalyzed when we were nearly caught off guard by a massive new building proposal at 14th and Wallach. The developers (Level 2), architect (Eric Colbert), ANC 1B and neighborhood association (U Street Neighborhood Association) never once reached out to any of us around the Wallach/T/14th area — and probably wouldn’t have before all their boxes were checked and it was a done deal.

It was just the latest of a string of proposed developments that nobody but the developers and a select few know anything about. So at first, we’ll be focusing on what these proposals are and where they stand — sort of a one-stop site for this particular hood — but we really hope this becomes a very active micro-blog for our neighborhood. So “U Street Dirt” means literal and figurative dirt.

Johnson: I think the conversion at the new Room and Board building (14 & T) works very well, precisely because it genuinely respects the history and scope of the neighborhood, but makes an old space very relevant and productive. I do like the Studio Theater’s redesign (14 & P) of a few years ago, and I think the Ellington (13 & U) is a great success.

Borderstan: What’s your vision for the area?

Johnson: Whew, that’s a big one! Just from my standpoint: NOT Ballston. It seems that some people — a few I think, and mostly not residents — want to turn what is a genuine neighborhood into a phony one. One that’s more about chain restaurants rather than a dingy but useful Post Office, one that’s about seriously high-turnover and high density living rather than people who want to stay and invest here… one that’s more about ugly ‘contemporary’ architecture that serves economics and not the neighborhood’s needs.

There is a rolling rush for development here that doesn’t respect our homes or the history of this place. In fact, some of these developments actively turn their backs on us, like we can be ignored. Ballston is just about as ugly and dis-spiriting as a place can get. It’s more like a warehouse for people transiting through than anything like a neighborhood. You can smell the greed of those who built it up and then fled, leaving behind a shiny, empty mess. It seems pretty clear to me there are those who want to Ballston-up our neighborhood, and I don’t want that at all.

Borderstan: What type of development do you want for the 14th and U area?

Johnson: Rather than being defined by the negative, I want this area to be a place that’s built by and for those of us who live here, and have invested serious amounts of time, and those who want to join us. Do me or my neighbors want a “Matchbox” on the corner, or parking on the street? Do we want another $10-dollar martini, or a vet our dogs can walk to?

I, and I think most of my neighbors, want to see development where it makes sense, and where it respects us. Not a huge building that is built in-scale to another proposed behemoth, but a scaled building that lives in harmony with the neighborhood. Buildings and residents that actually want to be here — not those that are just passing through — that’s my vision for this neighborhood. But that’s just me. I’m really much more curious to hear from my neighbors about what they think, what they want, and what their vision is.

Borderstan: Can you point to examples of buildings along 14th or on U Street that you like? What about ones you don’t like?

Johnson: Again, just me personally — I think the conversion at the new Room and Board building (14 & T) works very well, precisely because it genuinely respects the history and scope of the neighborhood, but makes an old space very relevant and productive. I do like the Studio Theater’s redesign (14 & P) of a few years ago, and I think the Ellington (13 & U) is a great success. It’s a large building, but the street level is very porous and engaging, the significant set-backs create a pleasing visual rhythm and keep the building from looming over the neighborhood, and the setting — with Harrison Playground in the back – makes it work.

None of these buildings dominate or diminish the neighborhood… large or small, old or new, good design will always succeed. As for buildings I don’t like, there are several of them. I’ll decline to say which ones, but I think any resident would point them out as developments that don’t work — they age poorly, they look tatty, and they feel like a drag on the neighborhood.

Borderstan: Is it the increasing population density that concerns you, or the way the development is being done?

Johnson: Much more the way development is being done. You can have high density in a smart way — and responsible developers and architects really work at creating something that will contribute to the neighborhood for decades to come. Poor developers and architects are merely looking to make bank on our backs. There’s not a soul in our area — at least not one I’ve met — who doesn’t welcome new people and a lively neighborhood. But poor development often leads to warehousing of people who have no connection to the hood other than passing through for a year or two. And that’s exactly how you get a disaster like Ballston.

Borderstan: Do you have a background in architecture or urban planning? If not, will you be talking to people in these areas?

Johnson: No, I have no training in architecture or urban planning, but if you saw the books on our shelves you would learn that we’re both — Craig especially — very passionate about this stuff.  He’s probably the one with the better eye. I might be a bit more sensitive to how people move and flow. And yes, we definitely will be talking with others who do this stuff for a living, although we’d both say that urban design is too important to be left just to the professionals.

Borderstan: Have you talked all this with neighbors and other people in the area? Will you be forming an actual group or association?

Johnson: We’re talking to our neighbors every night — or more like, they’re talking back! Last night it was leafleting, and chatting with people on the street or in their homes — doing that, I met a charming woman who has roots in the neighborhood that go back three or more decades. How cool is that? The night before it was phone calls, or web posts or whatever. Whether people need to form a group, rather than working with the organizations that already exist… well, that’s their call. I’m not interested in new groups. I’m interested in making sure the groups that already exist hear what we have to say, and that we all operate in a more cooperative fashion.

  • SG

    They seem like reasonable and good-natured NIMBYs, but NIMBYs nonetheless. Sorry, but your parking concerns are warrantless. If you live in a congested city, you just don’t have a right to parking unless it’s behind your house (in your own space). You can choose to park on the street, but there’s a high probability you won’t find parking. I live nearby and take this as a given.

    What I DO agree with is that the architecture is crap. But beyond that, the whole thing about “warehousing” people is elitist and a bit patronizing towards renters or owners of small condos. Improve the architecture, keep the density. The city is not static or “only” for people who have lived on a particular street for what, 10, 15 years? Once you “get yours” doesn’t mean you can keep it the exact same as how you found it. In fact, that’s a really silly view. I don’t fault them for shaping the way the city evolves, so long as they don’t become like the slash and burn version of NIMBYs who distort the truth and do everything they can to scuttle change in their neighborhood.

    • agreed. so much. perfect assessment of this.

    • U Street Neighbor

      Who is arguing for keeping the neighborhood “the exact same”? Everyone would probably agree that’s a silly view. Nor do I hear anyone trying to “scuttle change in their neighborhood.” Johnson says he wants to see development – just a more reasonably-scaled kind.

      This can be a reasonable exchange of ideas that doesn’t need to resort to inaccurate characterizations.

      • AZ

        Exactly. Residents are attempting to have a reasonable exchange of ideas. You can call it NIMBY if you want but i dont think anyone wants an out of character monstrosity OR a Yums in their back yard. The point is how can we accomplish development that enhances the neighborhood. As a resident since 2003 we’ve seen a lot of good around here. I only hope that when the development of this lot is done it takes the history of the area into account.

      • I’m with you on good design, but the scale of the proposed developments is entirely reasonable.

        DC’s height limit more or less makes unreasonably out of scale buildings impossible. Density is what makes a city thrive – more of it should be welcome.

    • LTR

      Most of us who have been in the neighborhood for decades are huge supporters of development But there is nothing wrong in pointing out flaws. We want new buildings that we are all going to love 20 years from now. And especially if we are going to live right next to them.

  • Kronos

    Let’s see…Ballston vs. 14th Street…what do they have in common?

    National chain furniture store selling overpriced midcentury knock-offs…check

    Starbucks every three blocks…check

    Over supply of uninspired architecture either built or in the pipeline…check

    Restaurants serving bad Mexican food with overpriced margaritas…check

    Rapidly escalating property values because for some reason everyone wants to be a part of this…check

    Newcomers who take the oldtimers to task for asking too many questions…check

    Cheesecake Factory…HA! No comparison whatsoever.

  • MyHome

    One of my big beefs with the new buildings on 14th Street has been the huge size of the retail units on the first floors. They seem to beg for restaurants and chains of all sorts. I am guessing the owners only want to deal with large (and as few as possible) tenants. But the size of them is usually too big for someone who wants to open a small deli, a smallish bar, a drycleaner,etc. Can the zoning commission force developers to make the retail space into smaller units?

    • R Street Resident

      This is a great comment. I totally agree.

      The streets where retail units are no more than 25 feet wide (they can be as deep as they want) are SO MUCH better for pedestrians than the ones 1 or 2 stores taking up the whole block.

      • LTR

        I agree. I grew up on the Upper West Side when it was a wonderful mass of tiny and individual non chain stores.

      • Anon

        I would use the Busboys and Poets as an example where that same effect is achieved within one space. The have a book store, coffee house, lounge, restaurant, performance space, providing a flexibility and crossover that would be harder to achieve in multiple spaces.

  • ANCFun

    I would give automatic approval to any developer who signs a 99-year agreement stipulating that they will NOT (1) rent to a restaurant serving “small plates” (also known as Nancy Reagan lunch portions) and (2) rent to furniture stores that sell sofas that cost more than $5,000.

  • Since 1985, when there was no Ballston, I’ve been proud to live there and watch and participate in the complex development process. We’re not done yet but the newest buildings coming online are stunning. No new building goes in with a tangient park or plaza, fountains and gardens. And Wilson Blvd. is every bit as jammed with young people as U Street at night. What prompted this urge to publically trash a shining example of smart growth and urban planning? Ballston is the feather is the region’s cap, not 14th and U. For example, “Yum’s” is a slummy, low-class dump and yet you’re fighting to KEEP the damn thing. Yeah, let’s keep this ‘hood slummy and depressing. The values and priorities of this website are upside-down.

  • Jack

    Look at the mess that was made in Columbia Heights. It looks like a suburban shopping mall. Keep up the good work, guys.

    • R Street Resident

      The Target could stand some improvement, but the mixed use buildings in Columbia Heights look GREAT, and not the least bit like anything suburban.

    • Mandy

      AMEN !!! The new Columbia Heights just looks plain nasty.

  • LTR

    Believe me, as a very very long time resident of U Street, NO ONE wants that Yums building. I have been praying for its demise for more than 20 years. We ALL want Level 2 to build a great building there.

    The Board ALL agreed with the residents of WP today that the building site was not appropriate. They said it was too commercial, too boxy, too high, wrong mass, did not reflect the historic neighborhood. Too K Street.

    It is not NIMBYism to talk about scale, mass, the neighboring architecture. The Board pointed out that small, narrow, short, intimate streets like Wallach have to be treated differently than the wider, longer, grander L’Enfant streets like R or P. (The ‘enfant streets can absorb buildings with more mass).

    So, we want to work with Level 2 to create a building that fits the fabric of Wallach and the Eastern side of 14 between Wallach and S. We want them to succeed. And yes, we want affordable housing there as well.

    • LTR

      Correction: building design not the building site

  • dcvoterboy

    I hope Doug and Craig become active in the neighborhood association, their energy would be of a great benefit and could be a good addition. Reaching out to developers and maintaining relationships is a never ending job, and requires time and energy that many volunteer associations simply don’t have the capacity to do without new people stepping in and becoming part of the solution as well.

    Not all development projects or developers are made equal, and its a difficult chore for anyone to keep up with them all. For every “good” developer that’s willing to work with the community and listen and incorporate smart input into a project, there’s another developer that’s going to try to do the project “By Right” as quickly as possible, build to the max that zoning will allow and get in, get built, and get out.

    14th and U Streets are large streets and are zoned for large development, and now that the market and there’s the demand for it, multi-story projects are going to be the norm for this corridor as the one and two story buildings are being replaced. “By Right” projects even more challenging to keep tabs on. There’s no notification requirements, no variances needed, there’s nothing that requires a developer to come forth to the community and say “Hey! We’re building something here!” Nothing. For example, the 2020 Lofts project at 12th and V was built by right (it’s also not within the boundaries of the historic district) and nobody in the neighborhood knew about the project until Bush construction presented to the ANC to get approval for their traffic control plan.

    The challenge for the neighborhood association is to being ready to be part of the conversation when there is an opportunity. Fortunately, the U Street Neighborhood Association was the force behind creating the Greater U Street Historic District some years ago, which gives the neighborhood a critical voice in shaping at least the design and impact of the look and feel of buildings if nothing else.

  • Adams Morgan Rez

    So far so good guys! Keep up the good work. Plough past the NIMBY-callers if you can, and I know you can. No more phony neighborhoods! Hear hear! And yes, too often things happen without people knowing about them. Good work. And a huge thank you from Adams Morgan.

  • Anon

    While I agree with some of what they say, it is really too bad that they launch into others conspiring to keep information from them as the basis for the blog. The trash other neighborhoods to make themselves fell better about their stance.

    I’ll admit I have never been a fan of Eric Colbert’s designs, I think they lack context and flair in most cases, and am not surprised by the ruling by HPRB to send this back to the drawing board.

    I think we can also all agree that the Yum’s, Carpet Store, and Post Office are non-contributing buildings to the historic district and are not a loss from a design standpoint. Not happy to lose the Post Office, however given their downsizing, not unexpected.

    However I do greatly disagree with the comments on size an scope. I appreciate the density that is being brought to 14th & U and how the historic district protects the existing archictecture. We are talking about relatively small buildings, a maximum of 120′ for the area at the high points and generally a max of 70′ or so at street line. These are not hulking behemoths, we have a height cap in this city.

    The building proposed for 14th and Wallach is also shorter by 20′ than several building within two blocks, the Reeves Building, Union Row, 2020 lofts, and the proposed Utopia project across the street. While coming in 10′ shorter than the Ellington and Langston Lofts. This is what it is zoned as and should not be a surprise.

    We are an urban area and Wallach Place backs onto two major commercial corridors and serves as a transit crossroad with alley’s that serve the commercial structure. The parking woes are really just not a good reason. There are options, implement the new one side of block resident only, convert your back yard to parking, pay for an excess spot in a nearby building, or search like everyone else.

    The city has invested in the transit infrastructure, Metrorail, Circulator, Smart Bike, Zipcar, Buslines and walkable neighborhoods allow people to live and visit the area. This infrastucture is a way to manage the density, we should make sure it is used.

  • LB

    When it comes to Lance’s prolific theorizing across various DC blogs– especially the ones that attack people for their personal motivations, as opposed to remaining focused on the policy debate at hand–I am reminded of a famous retort from debates long ago:

    “One could drive a prairie schooner through any part of his argument and never scrape against a fact.”

  • LB

    << Most highly-couched, conditioned, spin-heavy "apology" for inaccurate personal attacks and false allegations on a comment thread ever seen.

  • I think you are confusing your Dougs.

  • Lance

    One thing I haven’t seen mentioned in the discussion is how these buildings are going to affect the rowhouse neighborhoods around them … In particular Wallach Street behind it. I know I keep hearing ‘we are an urban neighborhood’ … but I ask that people step back and ask themselves what does that mean? Are we an urban neighborhood like mid-town Manhattan which is very much a mid-20th century urban neighborhood? Or are we an urban neighborhood like Chicago’s downtown neighborhoods which are very much early-20th century neighborhoods of a big industrial city? Or are we an urban neighborhood maybe like the older, lower, pre-industrial Paris in-town neighborhoods?

    I know the ‘urban’ neighborhood I live in, Dupont, is nothing like mid-town Manhattan or downtown Chicago … nor, do I ever want it to become like them. I like it as it is … a late 18th century urban neighborhood … where the really tall buildings are maybe 3 or 4 stories high. We need to give this ‘urban’ word more thought. We’re lowrise and we’re village like … yet we are urban. We know our neighbors and converse about places we frequent in common and have a ‘smalltown-ness’ that even most suburbs around here would envy. That’s our urban-ness. Do we really want to give that up under some misguided belief that to be ‘urban’ we must build as much and as high as we can? Or do we instead want to respect the defining characteristics which got codified when we became historic districts and respect the smalltown / village urban-ness that defines us?

    • LB

      “I live in, Dupont…where the really tall buildings are maybe 3 or 4 stories high”


      – 1650 R: 7 stories
      – directly across the street, another historic apt bldg: 6 stories
      – Chastleton on 16th St: 8 stories
      – 2 address to the left, another historic apt bldg: 7 stories
      – across the street, 16th & R, SW corner: 8 stories, no setbacks, blocky massing
      – capping the other end of the 1600 block of S, another historic apt bldg, The Shelbourne, 1631 S: 8 stories, no setbacks, blocky massing.

      • LB

        More: Going down the quaint little low-rise historic Dupont boulevard of 17th Street, from T to P Streets–with 17th much narrower than the major commercial corridor of 14th:

        6-story apt bldgs = 1 historic, 2 modern
        7-story apt bldgs = 1 historic
        8-story apt bldgs = FOUR, all historic.

        None of the above have setbacks, all are very blocky in their massing. The above proposed apt bldg is 7 stories.

    • NIMBYmuch

      They’re not building this building on Wallach, its being built on 14th Street. Nobody is bringing highrise development to the middle of the Wallach Place block.

      However, anybody on Wallach that is surprised that there’s major commercial development taking place on 14th Street – one of the largest north/west streets in the city which is zoned for high density development is living on the wrong block.

      14th and U has never been a lowrise neighborhood. The Dunbar Hotel at 15ht & U was built in the 1800s and was the same size as the Campbell Heights building that replaced it.

      The lowrise buildings that are being redeveloped today were built to what the market would support at the time. The redevelopment plans for the horrible Rite Aid-strip-mall-storefront is a perfect example. Both the demand and the market now support new buildings that conform to the zoned density allowed as well as planned for in the DUKE plan and other comprehensive plans. 14th & U are not lowrise streets.

  • Lance

    TYPO: should be: “a late 19th century urban neighborhood”

  • Lance

    Incidentally, I ask the readers here to take a good look at the picture of the proposed development which is posted here. (And was produced by the developer.) That Victorian house to its left which appears almost as tall as it … well, it’s actually only about a third as high (or less) than the proposed building. And that tree on the right side of the picture which appears to be just about as tall as the building’s right corner? Well, you’d have to be laying on the sidewalk and looking up to get it to appear that tall … and even then, the perspective would be totally different from what we’ve been given to look at … by the developer. And where’s the 2 story house immediately behind it on Wallach Place? I wonder how all those people in all those back yards down that stretch are going to feel about their really tall neighbor at the end?

    View Larger Map

  • LB

    “Doug being a board member of the neighborhood civic association”
    “a few years ago Doug ran on a platform that the commissioner he was trying to unseat was trying to stymie development”

    Lance: Try again with some facts. You’re speaking of neighborhood activist Doug Rogers. The Q&A above clearly states that the Doug behind U Street Dirt is Doug Johnson. The full name “Doug JOHNSON” appears in the preface, and the last name “JOHNSON” appears a full six more times, in the above responses.

  • LB

    “And where’s the 2 story house immediately behind it on Wallach Place?”

    It’s right there in the drawing. Peaked bay, tan. 1350 Wallach.

    You’re on a roll today.

  • Lance

    @LB … LOL … do you really see a house back there? Or is it just because you know there’s supposed to be a house back there (actually a whole row of houses) that you know that that blurred tiny image behind the building is an actual house … and the rest of the blurred row part of a real neighborhood street … I think you helped me make my point. Thanks!

    • LB

      Your “point” was that the house behind the proposed bldg doesn’t appear on the drawing.

      It does.

  • NIMBYmuch

    Hmmm…this is a telling quote: “…a rolling rush for development…”


    You’re living on Wallach, which is 1 block off of 14th and U, two major streets that are zoned (and properly so) near mass transit, in the center of a neighborhood that has been one of the hearts of economic development in DC for at least the past decade and Doug and Craig think there’s a “rush”.

    I’m sorry, but after 10-plus years of steady development, I don’t think anybody would call this a rush.

    • LB

      Bingo, and this “rolling rush” is just a revival of what should have been paced development all during the last ten-plus years. The recession very temporarily braked the inevitable development–many of which are occurring on what were either empty or partially-empty parcels (or, in this instance, is taking place on a parcel populated by a very plain low-budget structure placed nearly 20 years ago, perhaps more, when there was no money for anything beyond low-and-plain).

      • dcvoterboy

        Good point on the recession issue. We’re seeing a number of projects – Utopia at 14th & U, YMCA at 14th & W, the JBG U Street Hotel project at 13th & U, the condos at 14th & S, and others – all spring back to life now that financing is once again available for these projects. There’s no rush, there’s just money available once again.

        There’s not many people in the neighborhood that would think tearing down a 1 story building that’s 15-20 years old and replacing it with smart multi-purpose, transit-oriented, multi-floor projects is a bad idea.

        This is EXACTLY what 14th Street is zoned and exactly where we should be building these larger projects.

  • NotMuchHowAboutYou

    This is just awesome: “No, I have no training in architecture or urban planning…although we’d both say that urban design is too important to be left just to the professionals.”

    So we have a profile about a new blog about development written by two people that admittedly know nothing about development. Behold the power of a blog. On the internet nobody knows you’re not an expert, unless you admit it….

    Will U Street Dirt also be offering their expert opinion on the newly proposed PSA and police district boundaries? As you know, public safety is too important to be left just to the professionals…

    Will U Street Dirt also be offering their expert opinion on continuing DCPS school reform? As you know, school reform is too important to be left just to the professionals…

    • Not Much: And the irony is that the six members of HPRB totally agreed with us and our nine neighbors who testified, and unanimously rejected the developer’s plans. Not bad for laymen, huh?

      We’ll leave PSA and DCPS issues to you – where’s the link to your site? One the Internet, everyone knows you’re a dick.

      • NotMuchHowAboutYou

        Wow. That’s the level of the discourse we’re to expect from your website? Name calling?

      • LB

        Is Craig actually posturing that the self-satisfied snark of a late entry blog as having been the hard work and force behind an HPRB decision? Residents gather all the time, go to HPRB all the time, and initial designs are rejected all the time. It also happened with the design of the Whitman-Walker project. They’ll change the building, but it’ll be built. The additional rhetoric on that blog, i.e. against density, simply won’t prevail.

  • Lance

    @dcvoterbuy There’s not many people in the neighborhood that would think tearing down a 1 story building that’s 15-20 years old and replacing it with smart multi-purpose, transit-oriented, multi-floor projects is a bad idea.

    I call strawman on you on this statement. NO ONE said they thought it was a bad idea to tear down a non-contributing 1 story building … What they said, replace it with something that in compatible with the contributing buildings near the site (i.e., the 2 – 3 story row houses).

    This is EXACTLY what 14th Street is zoned and exactly where we should be building these larger projects.

    Not really. In a historic district compatibility with contributing structures trumps the height allowed by the zoning code. I.e., Yes, you can go 10 stories if that’s what the zoning code allows for but only if it’s compatible with the surrounding contributing buildings. Given that the houses behind it (and abutting it) are only 2 stories … (and there isn’t even an alley separating the two), I think a good case could be made that this building’s height is not compatible with those buildings. Additionally, there’s already Utopia up around the corner on U Street. That complex rightfully could justify its height (after shaving off a floor or two from what was first proposed) because it fronts U Street … which has a lot more of these high structures. AND the bulk of the height of that building is on the U Street end of the corner, and not further down 14th. I’m going to guess that the massiveness of this building complex is going to hurt the chances of the size and height these developers are trying to get in here. Yes, they may want to point to Utopia and say ‘but look, that’s massive too!’. But the problem is that while the neighborhood may be able to handle the externalities of one massive building, a second one could push it over the tipping point.

    • NIMBYmuch

      Then i call strawman on johnson’s opening quote; “The developers (Level 2), architect (Eric Colbert), ANC 1B and neighborhood association (U Street Neighborhood Association) never once reached out to any of us around the Wallach/T/14th area — and probably wouldn’t have before all their boxes were checked and it was a done deal.”

      That’s a helluva an accusation to start off with.

      For over the last 20 years, the association has been a 100% volunteer organization with nothing but the betterment of the neighborhood at the heart of what they do. The development and the destination that our neighborhood has become is in part because of the large amount of work members and leaders of the association and other neighbors have done over the last 2 decades; and now people just want to complain.

      The ANC and the neighborhood association are both volunteer organizations, neither with the capacity or resources to reach out to everyone about everything. If anything, the U Street Neighborhood Association is much up front and transparent about what they do, and about the information they have.

      Show me anywhere you can find out more about the proposed U Street Hotel project than their website, http://www.ustreet-dc.org

      How does the ANC tell people what’s going on? Yup, they use the U Street Neighborhood Association’s email list. Only in the last few years has the ANC become something people can even engage and have a glimmer of hope that’ll make a difference.

      Did Johnson and Brownstein ever reach out and ask anyone about anything going on? Have they been members of the neighborhood association at least? Did they attend meetings? Visit the website? Visit the neighborhood email lists that have thousands of subscribers? It seems to be standard operating procedures these days to simply cast out criticisms, start up a blog/website/twitter account and complain than join up and be part of something

      Its more than a little self-centered to expect everyone to come to you, most of this information is out there, you just have to make a little effort to part of the neighborhood instead of sitting back and waiting for the neighborhood to come to you.

      • zoney

        Amen, NIMBYmuch! What Brownstein and Johnson (B&J) do is to say something and never want to have to be responsible for it.

        Have a look at their website WhoMurderedRobertWone. It’s a mess as we speak. B&J don’t know anything, not even what to say, when or who to say it to. They don’t know anymore than you or me, or anyone elses. Both are a pair of desktop bugheads who go out of their way to criticize and try to manipulate people to get a result that they want – and by not doing anything at all.

        They sure will make a parasite to our neighborhood!

  • LB

    “and there isn’t even an alley separating the two”

    Not true. There IS a public alley behind this proposed bldg. One rowhouse immediately behind the proposed bldg, then indeed there is an alley. Pic here: http://bit.ly/l11lNo Also, on the drawings linked at U Street Dirt, there is a space provided from the rear of the proposed bldg before you even hit the alley.

    “there’s already Utopia up around the corner on U Street. That complex rightfully could justify its height…because it fronts U Street…the bulk of the height of that building is on the U Street end of the corner, and not further down 14th.”

    Not true. The propsed Utopia bldg will front on 14th St., DIRECTLY across the street from the proposed bldg. above. The 8+ story mid-section of the Utopia bldg will directly face the bldg above: http://dcmud.blogspot.com/2010/04/buying-into-utopia.html

  • Mistr Knucklz

    Let’s take a quick pause in the debate about development on 14th Street and focus for a moment on the gruesome twosome and their new blog. Now that Robert Wone’s widow has apparently settled with the trio of roommates who were acquitted of his murder, these two have lots of free time on their hands to stick their noses into new and different issues (design, urban planning, neighborhood development) that they know absolutely nothing about. If their new blog is anything like WMRW, it is sure to be a toxic blend of rumors, lies, and character assasination designed to create as much chaos as possible. These two egomaniacs thrive on conflict and will do everything possible to stir the shit and start fights in the neighborhood. I wish they would just go away to another place, somewhere far, far away.

    • Mr. K – If you’ve read the Wone blog carefully, you’d know settlement is far from a done deal and the October trial is still a distinct possibility – and that no one has been acquitted of murder. But apparently facts won’t stand in the way of you flaming us anonymously.

    • Hi Joe!

      • steve

        Well, well, well…we meet up again, Mr. America! So, you think you can solve another murders (plural) by posting up another blog in my neighborhood? Your partner in crime, Doug Johnson, sure is busy these days covering up your arse in WMRW while you are busy campaigning for a new U St Mayor? What about that marxist red axe of your. Since when have you change to a dancing cricket?

    • steve

      MK, isn’t that the truth? C and D would love to run for politics here in our quiet, peaceful, neighborhood. They would love to shake, shake, shake, and stir, stir, and stir, to our bones (if not, they would stab you to death with their dispicable ideas of “I am the King of the Hill and you have to think and do what I tell you to.” If you see names like Clio, Susan, AnnaZed, Bill 2, Bill Orange, Bea (OMG, she is so Nancy Grace of the West), it’s better for the rest of us to leave town. It’ll be all stinky trash that never gets cleaned up. Of course, C and D have never have to pay them to speak. They all are senior volunteers for Mr. America!

  • steve

    This message is to Craig Brownstein (I am sure Doug Johnson is reading it too). If you are a fair person, Craig, you won’t delete people out of your blog WMRW and trim it to only have few full time staff left who are nothing but bunch of losers. You don’t take up challenge like a good journalist/editor/citizen. You are not playing a “fair games” with your blog with bunch of people who you have “discounted” their ideas, opinions, contributions. You are too bold, too B.S. to create a blog and “abuse” people who have interests in the same subject as others – but you chose to “delete them when you feel like it.” Many of us know what you did to that blog.

    As Mistr Knucklz says, you twosome (Craig & Co.) “thrive on conflict and will do everything possible to stir the shit and start fights in the neighborhood.” You should move to Miami Shores and “give our peace in my neighborhood a chance.”


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