From David McAuley. Email him at david[AT]borderstan.com.
Rose Previte and David Greene, aspiring proprietors of the bar/restaurant Compass Rose (1346 T Street NW), will try to take another slow painful step toward operation next Tuesday. That’s when the DC Board of Zoning Adjustment (BZA) will hear the request of the Shaw Dupont Citizens Alliance (SDCA) for a decision that will effectively prevent Compass Rose from opening.
Advisory Neighborhood Commission (ANC) 1B/U Street weighed in on the side of Compass Rose against the SDCA at its regular monthly meeting last Thursday, June 6. A motion by Commissioner Jeremy Leffler, 1B-02, to write a letter to the BZA supporting Compass Rose passed unanimously. Leffler is also the chair of ANC 1B’s liquor licensing affairs committee.
The SDCA is also the petitioner for a liquor license moratorium in the 14th and U Street area.
The story of the SDCA’s second front against Compass Rose is a complicated saga of the Uptown Arts-Mixed Use (ARTS) Overlay District, a zone created by the DC government in the hopes of encouraging development on the 14th and U Street corridors. This zoning overlay was supposed to limit the size and number of liquor licensees by limiting the frontage of liquor-licensees on any block to 50 percent.
The SDCA contends ANC1B and DC authorities have been deaf to its appeals to enforce the Overlay District, and more than one block in the area exceeds the 50 percent limit.
“The ANC has, on multiple occasions, discussed tools and other solutions to address the over concentration of liquor licenses (as opposed to a moratorium). When they had an opportunity to support the use of tools and solutions such as the enforcement of the ARTs Overlay, they refused to do so,” Sterling said in an email.
I am not a lawyer but, as far as I can tell from looking at the documents, there are two major points of contention. They are:
- Is the ARTS Overlay District intended to apply only to businesses facing 14th Street, or does the district wrap around the corner of T Street? If the latter is the case, then Compass Rose, which will face T Street, will be subject to their restrictions.
- Assuming the district wraps around to include T Street, does the total frontage of the area include more than 50 percent liquor licensees? In this case, there is a disagreement about whether the nearby Source Theater (1835 14th Street) is considered a liquor licensee for the purpose of frontage calculation. The Source Theater has a liquor license, but its primary use is not as an eating or drinking establishment, so DC authorities have ruled it should not count toward the frontage limit. The SDCA disagrees. If the Source Theater is not included in the frontage calculation, Compass Rose may open without exceeding the 50 percent limit.
“If the Board decides to deliberate, they would have 90 days to make a decision. We’ve already invested tens of thousands of dollars. As a tiny business, we watch every cent. Every day we are delayed and can’t open, it becomes harder. Three more months could be devastating,” Previte said in an email.
The public hearing concerning the SDCA’s petition will take place on Tuesday, June 18, at 1pm, at the DC Board of Zoning Adjustment, 441 4th Street NW.
Documents relating to the case can be viewed at the Interactive Zoning Information System of Office of Zoning by entering case number 18568 into the search bar.