An annual sidewalk festival centered around dogs and local businesses will return to the 14th and U street corridors early next month.
More than 70 businesses, restaurants and organizations are expected to bring deals and freebies to parts of 14th and U streets as part of this year’s MidCity Dog Days festival on Aug. 6 and 7, said MidCity Exploration Manager Hallie Powell.
Founded in 2000, the yearly event has become a tradition where dozens of businesses in the area set up tents with giveaways and fun events for dog lovers and pups alike.
Before the sidewalk sale begins on Saturday, residents will have a chance to celebrate during the festival’s kick-off party at Miss Pixies (1626 14th St. NW) on Friday, Aug. 5. The party will include activities like balloon twisting, photo booths and music from classical jazz band Laissez Foure, Powell said.
From Cody Telep. Follow him on Twitter @codywt, email him at cody[AT]borderstan.com.
A man and a woman were stabbed near the intersection of 14th and U Streets NW early Sunday morning. The incident occurred outside Patty Boom Boom at 1359 U Street NW.
According to an investigation by the Alcohol Beverage Regulation Administration (ABRA), the suspect and two victims had a verbal altercation inside Patty Boom Boom and were removed from the club. The three then became involved in a physical fight outside that was broken up by security personnel.
During the fight, the male victim was stabbed in the chest and left shoulder and the female victim was stabbed under her left breast. The injuries suffered were minor and non-life threatening according to police and the victims drove themselves to the hospital.
Police are still searching for the suspect. He is described as a black male, about 5’9″ with a stocky build and a beard. He was last seen wearing an orange sweater, jeans and a beanie, according to the Washington Examiner. Anyone with information in the case is asked to contact the Metropolitan Police Department (MPD) at 202-727-9099.
According to Councilmember Jim Graham (D-Ward 1), MPD and ABRA continue their investigation in the case and no decision has been made by MPD Chief Cathy Lanier on whether or not to temporarily shut down Patty Boom Boom. She has previously closed other U Street bars for violent incidents including Tabaq Bistro, Tap & Parlour and Indulj.
From Tom Hay. Questions for Tom? Send him an email at tom[AT]borderstan.com. Follow him on Twitter @Tomonswann.
Two citizen groups have filed a petition with the DC Alcoholic Beverage Regulation Administration (ABRA) to establish a liquor license moratorium zone for the 14th and U Street NW corridor.
The Shaw Dupont Citizens Alliance (SDCA) and the Residential Action Coalition (RAC) request that a circular zone be established that extends 1,800 feet (about 1/3 of a mile) from 1211 U Street NW — the location of Ben’s Next Door — and adjacent to the iconic Ben’s Chili Bowl restaurant. (See New Citizens’ Organization Seeks Different Path for 14th U and Online Petition Opposing Liquor License Moratorium Draws Support.)
Borderstan was unable to find a website or Facebook page for RAC — only a listing for the organization with a T Street address. The signer for RAC on the petition letter was Kathryn A. Eckles while SDCA President Joan Sterling was the other signatory.
The proposed zone would be a circle, and extend as far as Clifton Street NW to the north, R Street to the south and have 8th and 15th streets as the east and west boundaries, respectively.
The zone includes blocks in Wards 1, 2 and 6 and portions of all four Borderstan area Advisory Neighborhood Commissions (ANCs) and four Metropolitan Police Service Areas (PSAs). The four ANCs impacted are 2B (Dupont Circle), 2F (Logan Circle), 1B (which includes U Street and Columbia Heights) and a small section of 6E (Shaw).
The filing by SDCA and RAC cites 107 liquor licences in the proposed zone, with another twelve in the regulatory pipeline or planning stages (see the full list submitted with the filing). The petitioners argue that the density of licenses in the area have “imposed extremely stressful conditions” on residents; specifically noise, crime and parking problems. The second factor is that growth of licenses in other areas of the city — where new businesses may be needed — has been stunted. SDCA unanimously voted to endorse a moratorium at their August 2012 meeting.
Once ABRA’s Alcoholic Beverage Control (ABC) Board determines that the petition meets all the criteria for consideration under DC Law, the Board will hold a public hearing to review the petition. In addition to public testimony for or against the petition, the Board will request comment from affected ANCs and Councilmembers, the Metropolitan Police Department and the Office of Planning, among others. The DC Council would also have to approve the moratorium.
The ABC Board has several options after hearing testimony and comments. Grant or deny the request in its entirety. Grant in part by enlarging or decreasing the size of the zone, or limiting the moratorium to one class of liquor license. There are currently five liquor license moratorium zones within DC: Georgetown, Glover Park, Adams Morgan, Dupont West and Dupont East.
SDCA was founded in 2012 and includes blocks near the center of the moratorium zone. RAC was founded in 1981 and serves residents in the Dupont Circle neighborhood, which would include about three blocks at the southwestern edge of the proposed moratorium zone.
The filing of the moratorium petition by SDCA and RAC comes just days after Mayor Vincent Gray officially enacted major changes to laws and regulations pertaining to alcohol sales. Among the changes in the law is a provision that would dismiss any liquor license protest by a group of five or more residents if an applicant reaches an agreement with their ANC.
DC Police are investigating a stabbing that occurred early Saturday morning around 3:30 am, January 19, near 14th and U Streets NW. An adult male was stabbed in the stomach. DC Police report he is in stable condition.
From the MPD Third District listserv: “The Third District is currently investigating an assault that occurred in the area of 14th and U Street NW where an adult male was stabbed in the stomach area. Anyone with information relating to this is encouraged to call (202) 727 9099.”
From the DC Police Twitter feed: “3D Stabbing //14th & U Street NW //Adult male stabbed in the stomach //6559.”
Police Alerts, More Information
You can sign up for alerts through Alert DC and get alerts by e-mail, cell phone, pager or wireless PDA. When signing up, you can select alerts on crime, transportation, utility outages/issues, government closings, breaking news, DC-sponsored events and Amber Alerts. You can follow the DC Police on Twitter @DCPoliceDept.
After about two years of speculation and rumors — ever since JBG Cos. announced their plans for the Louis residential-retail complex at the southwest corner of 14th and U Streets NW — The Washington Post reported Sunday that a Trader Joe’s grocery store will open in the complex.
The grocery store chain will open its second DC location on the 1900 block of 14th Street NW. There is a mini-Trader Joe’s in Foggy Bottom at 1101 25th Street NW. The chain has six other stores in the DC metro area. The chain has what some might call a near cult-like following — due in part to “Two-Buck Chuck” is the nickname given to the Charles Shaw Wines sold at Trader Joe’s at low prices.
The Louis complex started in February with demolition, and the last tenants left the site a few months ago. The building, developed by JBG Companies, will include 267 apartment units in nine floors, as well as 30,000-square feet of street-level retail. The expected completion date is December 2013.
At present the closest grocery stores in the area are YES! Organic at 2123 14th Street NW and the Best DC Supermarket at 1507 U Street NW.
Will Harris Teeter Follow?
The same Washington Post article reported, “A few blocks northeast of that project, JBG and its retail arm, JBG Rosenfeld, have lined up a commitment from another grocer, Harris Teeter, but it will require winning the rights to some city-owned property on Sherman Avenue.” The possible site for a second Harris Teeter grocery store in DC would be where V Street, Sherman Avenue and Florida Avenue NW connect.
Given the huge population gains in recent years in the Logan, U Street and southern part of Columbia Heights, you have to ask, “What took so long to get more grocery stores in the area?”
By Alejandra Owens. You can find Owens at her food blog, One Bite At A Time. Owens also writes for City Eats DC, a Food Network site, where you can book dinner reservations. Follow her on Twitter at @frijolita. Luis Gomez also contributed to this piece. Catch Gomez’s photos at One Photograph A Day. Follow him on Twitter @LuisGomezPhotos.
Being unfamiliar with early ’60s Brazilian artistic movements, I originally thought Tropicalia was an unironic name for a new concept bar opening at 14th and U NW. Plastic palm trees, bright colors and little umbrellas in my Tiki-style rum drinks, right? Well, bright colors yes. Okay… and maybe rum, too. But the kitsch, Caribbean-inspired, “yeah mon!” feel?
Nooooo. Repeat after me: No
When we sat down with JD Quioco of Tropicalia to discuss the new place, my first question was about the name. Dubbed “Tropicalia,” the basement space located below Lost Society and Subway at 14th and U is set to transform into a “global dance hall” at one of DC’s legendary intersections with an opening date of “very soon.”
“I don’t want to use the word ‘nightclub’ or ‘venue.’ You want to get the feeling you get from watching Buena Vista Social Club, and we want it to be a place where friends can gather for good drinks, some dancing and a fun night. In other words, a neighborhood place,” said Quioco.
The Dance Hall and Design
Tropicalia brought together a team with the best talent they could find — artists designers, and architect and sound people. Clocking in at 3,500 square feet with a capacity for 200 dancing people, Tropicalia has the potential for becoming DC’s next great dance hall. The music will come from a mixture of live musicians and DJs.
The DJ booth is mobile and can be moved to different locations on the dance floor depending on the night. The bar is a glowing one. Made out of white plexiglass and steel, it has thousands of programmable LED lights inside it that can be programmed depending on the music or the mood of the moment.
The Drink Menu
A menu of Caipirinhas with various fruit juices as the base are the foundation of the drink menu, but five types of Cachasas will also be offered. Cachasa is a liquor made from fermented sugarcane and is similar in nature to rum, but largely unheard of or sold in the DC area. Quioco told me it has a “smokey, molasses flavor” which piqued my interest.
Not one to don my dancing shoes and head out on a Saturday night, I’m actually really excited for Tropicalia to open. It seems to be just what the neighborhood needs at the right time, off-beat drink offerings and music that won’t leave this 30-something feeling woefully uncool from the moment I walk in.
It’s a very unusual space, there’s no way around it. Puffy “clouds” (chandeliers) dot the sky above the plexiglass, lit bar, a psychedelic mural of a forest scene hangs prominently next to the front bar and some 60 hand-painted neon pink chairs drip with a rainbow motif.
Part of the Neighborhood
Aside from some questions about how the neighborhood, and DC at large, will receive a new place inspired by a mixture of art forms and music types, Quioco says, “Time will define what we really are.” Though he hopes the spot soon becomes a place where neighborhood folks can convene on quieter nights, enjoying good drinks and company.
After spending more than a decade in the 14th and U Street neighborhood, it’s an understatement to say that Quioco is deeply embedded in the fabric of the community. Quioco spent years as general manager of two 14th Street restaurant-bars.
“You have to stay responsible, and loyal to people in the neighborhood. You need to have employees who can interact with the public,” said Quioco. “Anyone who is successful in this city knows that they need to work with the neighborhoods and the city government… to reach out and be responsive to people’s concerns.”
Tropicalia is like nothing DC has experienced before, and I think that’s just what the city needs right now — something to shake us up a bit.
From Matty Rhoades. You can email him at matty[AT]borderstan.com.
Borderstan first learned earlier this spring that a new neighborhood organization was being formed, one whose mission was to change the course of the rapid pace of development along the 14th and U corridor — including a possible push for a liquor license moratorium. (For another view, see Online Petition Opposing Liquor License Moratorium Draws Support.) Moreover, changes are being considered to DC’s zoning laws as recently noted in the City Paper’s Housing Complex blog.
The new Shaw Dupont Citizens Alliance (SDCA) held its first meeting May 21. The boundaries for membership in SDCA are from 12th to 15th Streets and from S to U Streets NW. Joan Sterling is president of the board of directors and some of the other names on the board are familiar to people who follow neighborhood politics and community organizations — Elwyn Ferris (partner of ANC 2B09 Commissioner Ramon Estrada) is secretary, and Doug Johnson and Craig Brownstein of U Street Dirt are on the board of directors.
The entire 14th and U corridor has been undergoing rapid change in the past decade, with numerous residential-retail complexes still under construction, from S Street past Florida Avenue NW; the strip of 14th below S Street saw the first wave of new construction on empty lots earlier in the decade. One such complex just getting underway is the Lous at 14th and U Streets NW (see Plans Unveiled for the Louis at 14th/U; Will Remake Famous Corner.) Another project, spanning 14th from S to Swann Streets is expected to be completed this fall. Demolition work will soon begin on the project at the southeast corner of 14th and Wallach NW. And there are more projects under construction or on the drawing board (13th and U NW, for example).
Not surprisingly, not everyone in the area views the changes — or the trajectory of the development — in quite the same way.
SDCA Organization’s Message Points
The membership application for SDCA is quite blunt in terms of the message points it drives home to potential members, with the following Q&A on the membership applicaton:
Q: Finding it increasingly difficult to park?
A: Local developers are being granted variances from the required parking regulations!
Q: Is late night noise and disturbance increasing?
A: New establishments are requesting operating hours till 4 and 5 AM!
Q: Are you concerned about the drastic increase in street crime?
A: Three stabbings of local restaurant patrons in the past year!
Q: Did you know that new development almost caused us the permanent loss of our Post Office.
A: A vocal group of citizens (our members, and our neighbors, just like you) fought it, and saved it!
Q: Are you aware that new legislation could strip away the legal standing residents have in alcohol licensing?
A: The right to negotiate a reasonable Voluntary Agreement may be permanently eliminated!
Interview with SDCA President
Borderstan asked SDCA President Joan Sterling about the new organization, its priorities — and why its members felt the need to form the organization instead of working through three neighborhood organizations in or near the 14th and U corridor.
Borderstan: What is your organization’s top priority as of now?
Sterling: Shaw-Dupont Citizens Alliance (SDCA) views this neighborhood as a residential community, a historic treasure, an educational center, and a vital component of the District of Columbia’s retail and tourism economy. The association seeks to maintain a unique mix of missions for the community, while seeing that the views and interests of residents and homeowners are well represented in the neighborhood’s continuing evolution. DSCA’s mission is to preserve the historic character, quality of life, and aesthetic values of this area with a particular eye toward protecting the interests of the neighborhood’s residents and homeowners. We all welcome the new businesses and the exciting development. At the same time we also have some concerns about the impact of that growth on the quality of life in the neighborhood.
As a newly incorporated organization we are very busy with membership and organizing our committees in a way that will reflect the varied interests of the members. We have had a lot of feedback regarding things such as parking, new development, new retail, improved daytime activity in the neighborhood, and concerns related to the significant late night activity that borders the residential areas.
Borderstan: Are you actively pushing the DC Government for a liquor license moratorium in the 14th and U area?
Sterling: That is one of the options that the members have discussed as a possibility to get a little ‘breathing space’ while trying to find a way to improve the implementation of the ARTS Overlay and Comprehensive Plan for the neighborhood. We hope to work with both Councilmember Graham [D-Ward 1] and Councilmember Evans [D-Ward 2], along with the Office of Planning, BZA [Board of Zoning Adjustment], ABRA [Alcoholic Beverage Regulatory Administration], DCRA, DDOT and the other agencies that all have a piece of the puzzle. We are interested in having a vibrant and safe community during both the daytime and the evening hours. (Editor’s note: The Alcoholic Beverage Regulation Administration (ABRA) lists five moratorium actions in DC. The neighborhoods with liquor license moratoriums are Georgetown, Adams Morgan, Glover Park, Dupont West and Dupont East (17th Street NW).
Borderstan: How would you respond to Bryan Martin Firvida’s claim that liquor license moratoriums are ineffective?
Sterling: It’s an interesting position to take considering Mr. Firvida provides no data that supports that opinion – the petition language is long on hyperbole, but short on facts. Existing Moratoria have been renewed which would indicate that, in the areas that have them, the residents are happy with the results. Moratorium zones as defined by ABRA can only be in a radius of 600 feet, 1,200 feet or 1,800 feet. Implying that because online petition signatories are in a particular zip code means that they live in a moratorium zone is far from accurate. It does not correctly reflect the very small sizes of ABRA defined zones compared to the much larger areas covered by zip codes.
Signatures of approximately 600 DC residents is just not reflective of those residents that are directly impacted by the current over-concentration of licenses in this particular small area. We are very interested in all ideas that can actually be implemented to help alleviate the problems that residents are experiencing and are eagerly awaiting Mr. Firvida’s alternate suggestions. We are aware that Mr. Firvida has authored other online petitions such as D.C. Council and the D.C. Taxicab Commission: Make “Red” the standard color for Taxicabs in Washington, D.C.
(Editor’s note: Martin Firvida is a past president of the U Street Neighborhood Association (USNA), elected president four times, 2002 to 2004 and again in 2010. He also served as chair of USNA’s Business Development and ABC Committee and served on the USNA Board of Directors. Martin Firvida also spent four years as a Special Assistant in the Executive Office of the Mayor and the Office of the City Administrator working on neighborhood issues. )
Borderstan: Why did you decided to form a new organization instead of working through existing community associations, such as the U Street Neighborhood Association, the Logan Circle Community Association and the Dupont Circle Citizens Association?
Sterling: We felt that we needed a residents association to address the things that are of interest to our neighborhood. Because the area straddles two different ANCs and two Wards it made sense to start an organization that could represent the neighborhood in a more cohesive way. Both the Dupont Circle Citizens Association and the Logan Circle Community Association represent residents in different areas than SDCA. The residents in those areas are clearly ably represented by their associations and we hope to follow their examples.
From Alejandra Owens. You can find her at her food blog, One Bite At A Time. Alejandra also writes for City Eats DC, a Food Network site, where you can book dinner reservations. Follow her on Twitter at @frijolita and email her at alejandra[AT]borderstan.com
As someone who is constantly on the hunt for quality produce, dairy and meat, I was particularly excited to finally check out Smucker Farms of Lancaster Co. The owner, his family and a few local producers hosted a grand opening party where a number of food bloggers and local residents got to sample a variety of the items sold in the store
It’s a simple, unassuming store front — so much so that Tammy and I nearly walked right past it. Smucker Farms was founded by Eric Smucker, a Lancaster-native and long-time DC resident, to create a direct connection between producers in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania, and consumers in DC at their store at 2118 14th Street (just below W), which opened last November.
“I was between jobs as a result of the financial crash,” said Smucker. “It wasn’t a good time to be in finance! I was at home in Lancaster and felt the residents of DC were missing out on all the great produce and goods coming from where I grew up.”
The now settled into store features produce, meats, milk, cheeses, ice cream, gelato, baked goods, kombucha and more. At the moment, about 85% of the store features items or goods sourced or made in Lancaster County but they hope to flip that number to feature items or goods sourced from right here in DC. A few of the items that stood out to me were bottles from DC’s first kombucha microbrewery, Capital Kombucha, pickled items from Gordy’s Pickle Jar and pints of my personal favorite, Dolcezza Gelato.
Once you enter the store and realize just how big the space is, you appreciate how truly jam-packed it is with so many delicious things. Homemade pastas, crackers, specialty popcorns, “cookie in a jar” mixes (which made really lovely cookies by the way), jams, vinaigrettes, an entire case of a variety of cuts of 100% grass-fed beef, organic free-range chicken and sausages, a cooler stocked with fresh herbs, beets, lettuces, stir fry mixes and more, and a variety of spices that would make even the most well-stocked kitchen blush.
As if the “charm” factor wasn’t high enough, when Eric Smucker took to the daïs (an overturned wooden produce crate) to thank us all for coming, his mother asked him a question. “Is the grass-fed beef only fed grass, Eric?!” clearly tossing him a softball and making it all the more clear that Smucker Farms of Lancaster County isn’t some hippy/hipster, organic, locally sourced market — it was a family venture, something Eric Smucker wouldn’t or couldn’t have done alone.
“The building hadn’t been occupied since 2004 or 2005, and it was my father and I that did most of the demolition and build-out in the space,” added Smucker. “We had to tear up three layers of flooring to get to what you’re standing on now.”
Smucker then gave us the run down of all the blown up photos hanging throughout the store. “Those are chickens from our farm,” he said somewhat ironically. “And that’s my uncle sitting in a field on our farm. That’s the barn raising from my grandparent’s farm. And that’s a milk cow. Oh and that’s my nephew sitting on a tractor!” To which the group sighed a collective “awwwww.”
I have high hopes for the Smuckers’ store, and particularly see it filling a gap come winter when the markets shut down or it’s slim pickings throughout. Will you be making a trip to check it out soon? Or have you already? What did you guys think of it?
Smucker Farms of Lancaster County is located at 2118 14th St NW and is open from 9am to 9pm all week long.
From Tom Hay. Questions for Tom? Send him an email at Tom[AT]borderstan.com. You can follow him on Twitter @Tomonswann.
See list of related stories on JBG Cos. projects and development in the area at the bottom of this story.
Nearly 50 people turned out Tuesday evening for a community forum at Busboys & Poets on 14th Street to hear the latest plans for the development at the southwest corner of 13th and U Streets NW. The presentation was by the developer of the project, JBG Cos. and the architect, David M. Schwarz Architects.
Things heated up a few weeks ago when JBG announced at the March meeting of the U Street Neighborhood Association that they were indeed going forward with a plan — originally presented back in 2008 — for a boutique hotel at the site. About a week later information was circulated that suggested a hotel was off the drawing board and the building would instead be residential.
The hotel concept is indeed off the drawing board. JBG’s James Nozar explained that the proposed 250-room hotel would not be financially viable given the pressure from neighbors to reduce the size of the building. JBG is exploring other sites in the area for a hotel.
Not entirely surprising for JBG; the nimble developer has been known to react quickly to market demands. Late last year JBG announced that they were changing course on the 14th and S project and would market the units as luxury apartments rather than condominiums.
History of the Site
The site is a one-story commercial strip built about 20 years ago at the corner of 13th and U. The corner is anchored by the Rite Aid drugstore and sits opposite the Ellington Apartment building. The last storefront impacted on the western end of the site would be Al Crostino restaurant at 1324 U Street NW, which is about mid-block.
The back of the site faces the rear yards of the residential row of two-story townhouses on Wallach Place. James Nozar of JBG, and now a frequent fixture before Advisory Neighborhood Commissions and community groups, started things off with an update on their plans. The hotel concept is indeed off the drawing board. Nozar explained that the proposed 250-room hotel would not be financially viable given the pressure to reduce the size of the building. JBG is exploring other sites in the area for a hotel.
Plans for Residential Building
The residential design presented Tuesday night would have 138 units, 72 underground parking space and ground floor retail. Rite Aid would remain as the primary tenant at the corner. The floor plans would be a mix of 1- and 2-bedroom apartments with potential to combine units. No efficiency units are planned. The overall building height would be 90 feet with an 18-foot mechanical penthouse.
Many people inquired about the possibility of an office building for the site; given the need for more daytime foot traffic to support businesses. Apparently the lot dimensions would not allow a floor plan suitable for office suites.
The plan will allow for a 20-foot alley along the rear. David Schwarz, the architect, said the facade of the building will have the same spirit and character of the earlier hotel design, with a few changes to the overall massing. Specifics on the material and color are still being developed. Schwarz explained that the building will have almost have three front facades given the site — U Street, 13th Street and the alley-facing facade, since it would be so visible as you head north on 13th Street.
Residents Wary of Project
Attendees asked pointed questions to the presenters — some barbs were even directed at other attendees. Only a few people asking questions identified where they live, but it was obvious residents from Wallach Place and the adjoining blocks of 13th Street were well represented. Questions were raised about the building’s alley access, planned retail tenants, roof deck and affordability.
Many people inquired about the possibility of an office building for the site; given the need for more daytime foot traffic to support businesses. Apparently the lot dimensions would not allow a floor plan suitable for office suites. There were grumbles of protest when Schwarz suggested that the new building is better than the current uninspired strip of retail with a row of dumpsters along residents rear yards. The new building will have an enclosed loading dock in the rear for deliveries, which only seemed to impress a few people.
Many inquiries concerned zoning variances that JBG will need to proceed, the presenters explained that they will pursue a Planned Unit Development (PUD). for the project. The DC Zoning Commission defines a PUD as “a planning tool which allows a developer greater flexibility in site planning and building design. This flexibility permits the developer to incorporate amenities in the project that exceed those that could have been achieved under the general provisions of the Zoning Regulations.”
Other Nearby projects in Pipeline
Wallach Place residents and nearby community groups went through several rounds of negotiations with another developer over the appearance and size a planned residential building on the stretch of 14th Street between Wallach Place and T Streets NW. Plans were eventually downsized by about 10 units.
The effort and surrounding development in the area even prompted the creation of a new neighborhood blog, U Street Dirt. JBG is embarking on a building frenzy in the blocks surrounding 14th and U. At least five projects are either underway or in the development pipeline: The District apartments at 14th and S, The Louis at 14th and U NW, an unnamed project at 8th and Florida NW, the 13th and U project and another planned for the “Atlantic Plumbing” lots near the 9:30 Club.
The developer will continue to make the rounds of neighborhood meetings and DC agency reviews, and adjust plans to respond to the recommendations.
- JBG Cos. Developing All Around U Street Corridor (Hotel or No Hotel?)
- Plans Unveiled for the Louis at 14th/U; Will Remake Famous Corner
- Feb. 2: ANC 1B Takes Closer Look at Florida Avenue Development
- Developer Changes Course: Rentals Not Condos at 14th & S NW
- U Street Dirt: “NOT Ballston” for 14th & U
- In Pictures: Development Projects Line the 14th Street Corridor
From Matt Rhoades and Luis Gomez
The massive — by DC standards — mixed-use building coming to the southwest corner of 14th and U Streets NW isn’t really news anymore; the project has been discussed for the past two years and was originally known as the Utopia Project. However, to truly understand how it will alter the landscape of one of the city’s best-known intersections requires visuals.
At the Tuesday unveiling of the project at 14th and U Streets NW — to be called the Louis — the artist renderings of the mixed apartment-retail complex did just that — showing how the 1900 block of 14th Street and the 1400 block of U Street NW will look when the project is completed. (See artist rendering at bottom of page.)
In addition to replacing a number of buildings on the 14th Street side, the project is also a fill-in of areas behind current buildings and parking lots. Demolition is scheduled to begin next week.
A member of the JBG public relations team concocted a “Louis 14 cocktail” for the occasion: ½ oz. crème de cassis, 1 oz. vodka, 3 oz. dry vermouth, club soda, blackberry garnish.
The name of for the complex was used for the promo signs and visuals at the Tuesday event — with King Louis XIV of France theme in evidence (check the website). What would called a high-end rental building, Louis is a joint effort of The JBG Companies and Georgetown Strategic Capital. The estimated completion date for the project is the fourth quarter of 2013, according to Project Manager Bryan Moll of the The JBG Companies.
Certain buildings with historic facades, including the former El Paraiso restaurant building on 14th, the McDonald’s at the corner, and the stretch of buildings on U Street — 24/7, DC Noodles/Stem, Coppi’s Organic and Utopia — will be preserved. The Louis will be built behind this stretch of buildings on the U Street side. Moll said that these business on the U Street “will have to close for one year” during construction.”
“We are still in negotiations with two of the U Street tenants,” said Moll. He could not elaborate on which of the U Street-side businesses had or had not reached an agreement with JBG. However, he said the need for closure is related to the kitchens, which are located in the rear of the restaurants.
The Louis will have nine floors (seven floors on the southern end of the 14th Street side) and 268 rental units, with a mix of floor plans that includes studio apartments up to two-bedroom units –and several penthouse units on the top level. The three-level underground parking garage will have 40 spaces for retail customers and 110 units for tenants of the rental building.
Topping off the entire building will be a pool (see artist rendering above right). According to Moll, the 14th Street side will have anywhere from three to seven retail spaces — with no leases signed yet. There will be a total of 42,000 square feet of retail space in the building.
The building boom along the 14th Street corridor that started in the last decade has recently taken a turn from condo to rental buildings. The District Condos project — spanning the west side of 14th from S to Swann Streets NW announced in November that its 125 units (with first-floor retail) would be rentals instead of condos. JBG and Grosvenor partnered on that project. The new name is District Apartments with leasing expected to begin in the fourth quarter of this year, according to Moll.
In an economy that has still not fully recovered from the 2008 financial crisis and housing-market bust, mortgage requirements have tightened — and people who might have considered buying are not renting.
- Developer Changes Course: Rentals Not Condos at 14th & S NW
- In Pictures: Development Projects Line the 14th Street Corridor
- Construction to Begin this Month at 14th and S NW
- 14th & S Project to Be Named “District Condos”
- SYMHM: Demolition Begins, Liquor License Retained, Deli Coming
- DC Metrocentric: “Utopia is Happening” at 14th & U
The MidCity Business Association (MCBA) announced that their Board of Directors decided to put the association into dormancy. In an email to members, Kamal Ali — owner of Ben’s Chili Bowl and MCBA President — said that dormancy means that the Association “will cease to accept annual dues, as well as cease all day-to-day operation; however, the Association will not be dissolved.”
Ali went on to say that the goal had always been to have a self-sustaining business association supported by member dues, but over time that model did not work due to lack of participation from the small business community in MidCity. MCBA had an executive director until late 2010 when the organization was no longer able to fund the position.
The MidCity BA was formed in 1998 to represent businesses along the commercial corridors along 14th Street NW from Florida Avenue to Thomas Circle and along U Street from 9th to 17th Streets. Their website lists dozens of business members, ranging from small independent shops such as Som Records and Rue 14, to landmark national retailers Room & Board and Whole Foods.
The MidCity BA had been the force behind the annual Dog Days Sidewalk Sale which has grown in popularity over the past 12 years. Ali said the board hopes to keep Dog Days alive through a partnership with Think Local First DC (TLFDC). During dormancy several MCBA board members will explore options and hopefully find and organizational plan to keep things afloat and continue to be an advocate for the business community.
TLFDC has been growing and active in DC, including the MidCity area, over the past two years. The organization has an executive director, Stacey Price, and a number of it members in the Borderstan area are also MCBA members. The organization is a member of the Business Alliance for Local Living Economies (BALLE), which helps Think Local First organizations get established across the country. TLFDC was a driving force locally for the Think Outside the (Big) Box retail tour on Small Business Saturday, November 26.
Borderstan readers, I want you to know that this review is completely biased. I love Taylor Gourmet sandwiches so much so that I spent my anniversary at their new restaurant, enjoying orange Pellagrino with my significant other. That being said, here are a bunch of reasons why the sandwiches at Taylor Gourmet are worth the $7.10 for the 6-inch or $9.50 for the 12-inch.
The new Taylor Gourmet opened on 14th street on Tuesday and if there was a seeming lack of line, it wasn’t for a lacking of buzz. Owners Casey Patten and David Mazza opened their fourth store of gourmet hoagies just in time to greet customers coming in from the blustery cold with a hot marinara sauce. The hoagies, named after streets in Philadelphia, are homage to their Pennsylvania roots and work to fill a deep-seated desire in the two best friends for a quality sandwich.
What’s a hoagie, you ask? It’s a sub! Wikipedia: “The sandwich originated in several different Italian American communities in the Northeastern United States from the late 19th to mid 20th centuries.”
“We spent a couple of years trying to find something that filled that void. We invested in some property on H Street and… I said, we’re going to build a hoagie shop,” said Patten.
The hoagies are the star here, but you can also get a solid salad and sides, like risotto balls or fried ravioli. Patten’s favorite cold hoagie is the 9th Street Italian — salami, capicola, prosciutto and provolone — but he also recommends the Pattison Avenue (roasted pork and provolone), particularly for the salted broccoli rabe.
Their vegetarian sandwiches are a welcome step away from the typical grilled vegetables seen at many places. My perennial favorite is the Christian Street — goat cheese, arugula, roasted peppers and beefy strips of portabella. Tip: Pay the extra $2.40 for the 12-inch hoagie, keep half and you’ve got lunch the next day!
Taylor Gourmet is meant to be a neighborhood establishment–a place for people to congregate, to meet for lunch or dinner. “It’s a phenomenal neighborhood,” said Patten, a former Borderstan resident, “14th Street has a lot of energy.”
The interior of the new restaurant exudes the kind of enthusiasm Patten describes. With a light installation made of drywall buckets and reclaimed wood throughout the dining area, the restaurant is well situated among the eclectic and original stores along 14th Street.
“I’m a fan of contemporary furnishings — what we’ve done at all the stores is to make it contemporary, with rustic elements. Reclaimed wood, raw steel, a hundred dry wall buckets. It’s comfortable, we want to make people feel at home to a degree,” says Patten.
Patten is pretty complimentary of his new neighbors too — asked about his favorite places in Borderstan he admitted to spending “one too many late nights at Black Jack,” and regularly enjoys Pearl Dive Oyster Palace, Estadio and Mandu. And outside Borderstan? “My go to place, if I have time, is Pasta Mia (in Adams Morgan). It feels like my mom or my grandma’s cooking to me. Good simple, American-Italian food, there is something very comforting about it.”
Get your fix of Taylor Gourmet. If you’re like me, you’ll know the names of the staff making your sandwich soon enough.
Taylor Gourmet: The Details
- Where Am I Going?1908 14th Street NW, below District Yoga
- When Am I Going? Sunday to Wednesday 11 am to 10 pm; Thursday, 11 am to 2:30 am; Friday and Saturday, 11 am to 3:30 am.
- Delivery? Yes, but delivery lines are still being drawn. $2 surcharge and $18 minimum.
- Paycheck Pain? $7.10 for a 6-inch hoagie, $9.50 for a 12-inch hoagie.
- Say What? A good beat going over the speakers, but my guess is that once people find out about this place, much louder.
- What You’ll Be Eating: Philly-style hoagies with fresh ingredients.
Trader Joe’s has a near fanatical following for a number of reasons — cheap but good frozen prepared foods and of course, the vaunted cheap wine that isn’t completely terrible. Given the cult of TJ, it’s not surprising that rumors of a new store in the ‘hood have flown for a year or more.
But Washington City Paper‘s Lydia DePillis has a source that says it could be coming, and soon, to the new apartment-retail project at 14th and U Streets NW. Note: this is a best guess scenario — there are no leases, no approvals and not much else. I’m crossing my fingers and toes and hoping someone else can confirm or deny the rumor.
If you don’t know, “Two-Buck Chuck” is the nickname given to the Charles Shaw Wines sold at Trader Joe’s at low prices.
Heritage India Somehow Keeps Liquor License
In keeping with the theme of how you assess ‘justice,’ Heritage India got to keep its liquor license, despite an extremely violent and ill-managed event that left one dead and several injured. WJLAreports that the license comes with several restrictions, however. They must give up their entertainment license, which means closing at midnight. The restaurant also must honor its name and serve food with alcohol. It will re-open on December 21. See Heritage India Melee: 1 Dead, 5 Injured Early Sunday Morning.
Driver in Fatal Hit and Run Sentenced
The driver responsible for a fatal hit and run on October 7, 2010, while under the influence, has been sentenced to three years, reports the The Washington Post. The jury didn’t come to a unanimous verdict on the voluntary manslaughter charge, which carried a longer sentence. That may still happen, as the judge opened the door to have the driver retried on that charge. According to The Post, Davidson was found guilty of negligent homicide, driving while under the influence and leaving the scene after a collision in connection with the death of Kiela M. Ryan, 24, of Howard County.”
Jewish-Style Deli Coming to Dupont Circle
For those of you trekking to Loeb’s or Star and Shamrock, here’s some good news: serious chef Barry Koslow has applied for a liquor license in Dupont Circle. Plans are for a Jewish-style deli, according to Washingtonian. Does anyone have any other news on menu ideas, location or date? I am now starving for corned beef on rye and would like the deets, ASAP. Koslow was formerly at Mendocino Grille and Tallula.
Saturday: DC Dreidel Championships at Historic Synagogue
The DC Dreidel Championship will be held at the Sixth and I Historic Synagogue this Saturday, December 17, at 8 pm. Admission is free if you RSVP, which gets you a chance to compete, hear live music and two of the most glorious words I’ve seen in an event invite: latke bar.
A rainy night and a short two-hour voting period did not deter residents from Advisory Neighborhood Commission (ANC) 1B02 to turn out for Wednesday night’s special election. Candidate Alexandra Lewin-Zwerdling easily won, defeating fellow Wallach Street NW resident Stanley Mayes by a vote of 80-22.
A quorum of Commissioners from ANC 1B was pulled together shortly after the votes were counted, and a resolution was passed certifying the vote. The special election was held to fill the seat after Commissioner Aaron Spencer moved out of the district.
Commissioner-elect Lewin-Zwerdling will be the community voice for residents east of the 14th and U Street intersection on such matters as liquor licenses and development.
Previous Stories on the Special Election