by Tim Regan October 10, 2016 at 12:15 pm 0

49th Annual Dupont Circle House TourHomeowners across Dupont Circle will open their doors to complete strangers this weekend as part of the 49th annual Dupont Circle House Tour.

The annual event and fundraiser from the Dupont Circle Citizens Association gives people the chance to peek inside some of the neighborhood’s interesting or historic homes.

The tour will run from noon to 5 p.m. this Sunday, Oct. 16.

This year, the self-guided tour will let attendees “take in the unexpected charms of condos in a chateau-style mansion once gutted by fire but now restored to a variety of tastes, a ‘mouse house’ as well as a carriage house turned art gallery and D.C.’s own Spanish Steps.”

The tour also includes “lavish afternoon tea” at the historic Friends Meeting House (2111 Florida Ave. NW) from 2-4:30 p.m. and complimentary pedicab service.

Tickets for the house tour are available online for $40.

Photo via Dupont Circle Citizens Association

by Sean Meehan October 16, 2015 at 3:45 pm 0

Dupont Circle House (Photo via Dupont Circle Citizens Association)Homeowners in Dupont Circle will open their doors and welcome all who stop by on Sunday as part of the 48th annual Dupont Circle House Tour.

The event is an annual fundraiser for the Dupont Circle Citizens Association during which Dupont residents show off their homes and neighborhood. The main focus of the tour is preservation and how homeowners have managed to build modern homes without destroying the historic houses.

“The tour is 48 years old and it really grew out of a desire to show that preservation is worthwhile,” Dupont Circle Citizens Association President Robin Diener said. “The tour is intended to show that these are beautiful buildings and to promote the neighborhood.”

Homeowners volunteer to show their houses as part of the tour. According to Diener, many owners choose to join the tour after a large renovation or to show off new designs in their house.

This year, in addition to several houses, historic mansions and condos, the tour will also include a sneak peak at the Dupont Underground, the art space being built in the former trolley tunnels that run under the neighborhood.

Included in the ticket price is the self-guided tour of all the houses and entrance to an afternoon tea party at the Heurich House Museum. The citizen’s association is also coordinating to have pedi-cabs available for those who may get tired on the tour. Tickets for the tour are available online for $40.

Photo via Dupont Circle Citizens Association

by Borderstan.com December 23, 2011 at 12:00 pm 1,743 4 Comments

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

16th Street and Riggs Place NW: The recently poured concrete at the Republic of Congo Embassy came up on December 19. (Luis Gomez Photos)

From Michelle Lancaster. Follow her and tell her your news on Twitter @MichLancaster or email her at [email protected].

Apparently, the squeaky wheel does get the grease. Or perhaps it often just has a better PR person? At any rate, Dupont Circle residents made so much noise about the decision by the Republic of Congo Embassy to pave their front yard that the embassy relented and began tearing up the concrete on Monday. (See No More Concrete at the Embassy of Congo.)

It took the DC Department of Transportation, the State Department and other local officials — along with neighborhood organizations — to make it happen. But now even the Grey Lady is in the picture. The New York Times story on Wednesday was after the Republic of Congo took corrective action with plans to replace the concrete with “bushes and mulch.”

The Dupont Circle Conservancy gets much of the credit in the article and the president is quoted a few times. The actual protests in front of the embassy were organized by the Dupont Circle Citizens Association.

The coverage of this squabble in the The Times means a few things:

  • First, it is an extremely slow news week leading up to Christmas.
  • Second, enough attention in local blogs can trickle up to the highest echelons of power (I’m talking about the State Department, not the The Times for any of you FOX News lovers).
  • Third, be very careful if you want to build/renovate/alter anything in Dupont Circle.

The money quote in the article from the Republic of Congo’s ambassador, Serge Mombouli: “They asked us remove the pavement, and that is what we are doing,” he said. “I know that that will not look nice, but that for me is as far as it goes. If we are required to do more, we will lodge a strong protest with the U.S. government.”

Merry Christmas to you, too, Mr. Ambassador.

Previous Posts

by Borderstan.com December 19, 2011 at 12:06 pm 1,583 5 Comments

"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.

Previous Posts

by Borderstan.com December 8, 2011 at 10:45 am 1,124 0

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 [email protected].

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.

Previous Posts

 

 

by Borderstan.com December 2, 2011 at 1:00 pm 1,438 2 Comments

 

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 [email protected].

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.

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.

Previous Posts

by Borderstan.com November 18, 2011 at 9:24 am 1,757 14 Comments

BorderstanFrom Michelle Lancaster. Follow her and tell her your news on Twitter @MichLancaster or email her at [email protected].

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?

by Borderstan.com November 14, 2011 at 11:00 am 2,038 2 Comments

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.

Related Stories

by Borderstan.com March 15, 2011 at 11:32 pm 1,266 0

Borderstan, Hank's Oyster Bar, 17th Street NW

Hank’s Oyster Bar will expand indoors and outdoors with work getting underway in May. (Luis Gomez Photos)

From Laura Herman. Follow her on Twitter @Lmhhabs.

After several months of heated debate, local seafood hotspot Hank’s Oyster Bar at 1624 Q Street NW announced this week that they plan to undergo renovations to double seating capacity in May. Hank’s will expand into a vacant commercial space next door, 1,800 square-feet of space in a former row house.

A list of Tom Hay’s stories on Hank’s is at the bottom of this post. And you can find out what Alejandra Owens likes at Hank’s: What Does Alejandra Order at Hank’s?

The proposed expansion to the small restaurant space was contested over recent months by community members and Advisory Neighborhood Commission (ANC) 2B, citing concerns about  noise levels, hours of operation, outdoor traffic, and liquor licensing. Chef and owner Jamie Leeds’ bid for expansion was finally approved by the DC Alcoholic Beverage Control (ABC) Board on December 8, 2010, with conditions that Leeds must take steps in construction, design, operating hours to mitigate neighbors’ potential noise concerns.

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by Borderstan.com September 30, 2010 at 12:10 am 1,870 8 Comments

Hank's Oyster Bar Dupont Circle Citizens Association 17th Street NW

1624 Q Street NW: Hank’s Oyster Bar wants to expand into the empty space on the east side of the restaurant. A group of residents are protesting the expansion. (Luis Gomez Photos)

From Tom Hay

Wednesday morning’s status hearing on the Hank’s Oyster Bar expansion effort shined a light on how drawn out and complex the ABRA protest process can be–that’s Alcoholic Beverage Regulation Administration in DC-speak.

The hearing before the The ABRA’s Alcoholic Beverage Control Board (ABC) was on the expansion/substantial change that chef-owner Jamie Leeds is seeking for Hank’s, her popular 17th and Q restaurant.

Wednesday’s status hearing should not be confused with the protest concerning Leeds’s request to vacate the voluntary agreement (V.A.) that the restaurant has been operating under since Hank’s opened in 2005. The V.A. protest is the second Hank’s case before ABRA.

ABC Board chairman Charles Brodsky opened the case by asking the parties to identify themselves. Jamie Leeds and her attorney, Andrew Kline were present along with David Mallof, representing the signatories to the expansion protest, and his attorney, Mike Hibey. Also seated at the table was Robin Diener, president of the Dupont Circle Citizens Association (DCCA).

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by Borderstan.com August 2, 2010 at 9:56 pm 4,578 26 Comments

Hank's Oyster Bar Dupont Circle 17th Street NW

1624 Q Street NW: Hank’s Oyster Bar wants to expand into the empty space shown in the left side of the photo, on the east side of the restaurant. (Luis Gomez Photos)

From Tom Hay

A group of 23 Dupont Circle residents last week filed a protest with the DC Alcohol Beverage Regulation Administration (ABRA) opposing the expansion plans of Hank’s Oyster Bar.  The restaurant, owned by chef Jamie Leeds, is at 1624 Q Street NW  just off the 17th Street NW corridor. The expansion would be into the vacant space adjacent to Hank’s on the east side of the restaurant.

A majority of the protestants to the publicly available letter reside in the 1700 block of Q Street NW and the 1500 block of 17th Street NW, as well as 16th Street and Massachusetts Avenue NW. Notably absent from the list of protestants are any residents of the 1600 block of Q Street where Hank’s is located.

Leeds seeks to expand into adjacent space and increase both indoor and outdoor seating. She appeared before Advisory Neighborhood Commission (ANC) 2B-Dupont at the July meeting and the ANC took no action against Leed’s plan at that meeting. Leeds also seeks to vacate her voluntary agreement (V.A.) and the commission has decided not to oppose Leeds’ request. Leeds seeks to operate Hank’s without a V.A. and has noted that the requirements in the current V.A. are already listed in the restaurant’s liquor license.

Reasons for Protest

The protestants’ letter cites several reasons for their objection to Hank’s expansion, including, “The [Alcoholic Beverage Control] Board should continue to prohibit any incremental impacts generated by restaurant and bar seating in the ‘hyperconcentrated’ area on 17th Street between P and Q Streets, NW, including the wrap-arounds along P and Q, which are directly across the street from high-density residential dwellings. Any further restaurant and bar approvals in this hyperconcentrated zone are incompatible with the central objective of the moratorium to maintain a healthy mix of non-licenses, neighborhood-serving retail business.”

The moratorium referred to in the protest letter is the Dupont East liquor license moratorium put in place years ago and last renewed in 2006. However, on March 11, 2009, ANC 2B voted to ease some of the restrictions and allow for businesses to expand laterally. Under those changes, the expansion of Hank’s would not be prohibited by the moratorium.

DCCA Protesting V.A.

The July protest from the group of 23 followed a June 28 letter to ABRA. The June 28 letter was from a group of five residents (who are also part of the group of 23) plus the Dupont Circle Citizens Association (DCCA) and they are protesting Leeds’ desire to vacate her V.A. In the June 28 letter, DCCA does not protest the the expansion plans–just Leeds’ desire to vacate the V.A.

However, DCCA is asking that a V.A. be required for Hank’s to expand in the space just east of the restaurant. Hank’s has been operating under the V.A.–which was signed with the DCCA and several area residents–since it opened in 2005.

ABRA Procedures

ABRA encourages parties to resolve the protest through cooperative or voluntary agreements. If issues are not resolved, the process moves to a protest hearing where the parties present evidence and testimony on the “appropriateness” of the licensing action. It is incumbent upon the protestant(s) to prove their case. After the hearing, parties may present findings of fact and conclusions of law to the Board. The Board issues a decision within 90 days.

What are Voluntary Agreements?

One of the best-known and sometimes contentious things ANCs are known for is voluntary agreements with local businesses–especially restaurants and bars. For example, ANCs in this area will often automatically protest the granting of a liquor license until the ANC reaches a voluntary agreement with the establishment. The “V.A.” will set certain conditions and guidelines for the operation of the business in order to address concerns by members of the ANC or residents of the area.

Perhaps the new establishment will agree to shut down its outdoor cafe earlier than it closes its inside business–even though the establishment is under no legal obligation under DC law to do so. Once the voluntary agreement is reached and approved by both the ANC and the business owner, the ANC will vote to recommend that that the establishment gets its liquor license or business operating license. The appropriate DC regulatory bodies are then supposed to take this agreement into account when deciding whether to grant the liquor license or operating license.

Previous Posts on Hank’s

by Borderstan.com June 17, 2010 at 4:27 pm 2,487 4 Comments

Hank’s Oyster Bar at 1624 Q Street NW. (Luis Gomez Photos)

From Tom Hay

The long lines for a table at Hank’s Oyster Bar may soon be a thing of the past. The popular restaurant at 1624 Q Street, just off the 17th Street corridor, has taken a few steps forward in obtaining approval to expand into adjacent space.

Chef and owner Jamie Leeds opened Hank’s in 2005 after a contentious negotiation process with several neighbors and the Dupont Circle Citizens Association (DCCA) over conditions of their Voluntary Agreement (VA).

Without a VA in place a business could risk losing a liquor license entirely if any opposing party takes the protest all the way to a DC Alcohol Beverage Regulation Administration (ABRA) hearing. Hank’s current VA controls things like hours of operation, seating capacity and also prohibited expansion. Advisory Neighborhood Commission (ANC) 2B-Dupont was not a party to the original VA.

With its liquor license up for renewal Hank’s has petitioned ABRA to vacate the VA that has been in place since 2005. Establishments are eligible to vacate a VA when their license is up for renewal and they have operated under the VA for four years. Hank’s has met both conditions.

Some recent actions by the Dupont Circle ANC have also eased some restrictions on expansion. First, ANC 2B voted to revise the 17th Street liquor moratorium to allow Hanks’s to expand, and then supported rezoning of the building adjacent to Hank’s from residential to commercial. ABRA notified ANC 2B of the petition to vacate the current VA and allowed them to comment or oppose.

An ANC board member’s motion to oppose the petition was not supported by a majority of the board. The four commissioners who favored Hank’s expansion were Mike Feldstein, Will Stephens, Victor Wexler and Jack Jacobson. The three commissioners against expansion were Bob Meehan, Ramon Estra and Phil Carney. Mike Silverstein did not vote as he is now the ABRA Board, and Bhavna Patel abstained.

Interestingly, the intersection of 17th and Q NW is where boundaries of four of ANC 2B’s nine single member districts meet. Wexler represents District 05, where Hank’s is located. Across the street (north side of Q) is District 04, which is represented by Jacobson. District 03 is represented by by Meehan and 07 by Carney. The third commissioner opposed to Hank’s expansion, Estrada, represents 09, which is in the far northeastern part of ANC 2B; he has been a vocal opponent of additional restaurants on the 14th and U corridor.

The DCCA and the individuals who were parties to the original VA may still oppose the petition to vacate. Hearings are scheduled for later this summer.

Leeds has long had ties to the Dupont-Logan area. She got her start here in 2002 at 15 Ria, located at 1515 Rhode Island Avenue NW in the Doubletree Hotel. Leeds and her restaurants were recently profiled in Metro Weekly.

by Borderstan.com April 20, 2009 at 7:18 am 0

by Borderstan.com March 6, 2009 at 10:28 am 1,060 0

Borderstan.com learned that Joel Lawson resigned over the weekend as president of the Dupont Circle Citizens Association (DCCA). John Hockensmith is currently serving as Acting President. What was noteworthy is that Lawson resigned at a time when DCCA is involved in the discussions with Advisory Neighborhood Commission (ANC) 2B and businesses over the 17th Street NW Liquor License Moratorium.

Borderstan.com asked Lawson to provide a statement regarding his resignation; it follows. An email query to Hockensmith regarding Lawson’s resignation has not been answered as of this time.

Note: If you are wondering, What’s this 17th Street-liquor-license-moratorium-brouhaha all about?… check out the links at the bottom of this posting (following Lawson’s statement) for more information.

Statement by Joel Lawson:

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