From Alden Leonard. Contact him at alden[AT]borderstan.com and follow him @aldenleonard on Twitter.
The Washington Blade‘s Mark Lee skewers Councilmemer Jim Graham (D-Ward 1) for his lack of support for Mayor Gray’s proposed extension of alcohol service and sales hours. Additionally, Lee faults Graham for proposing a hike in alcohol taxes, saying it would add to the already overburdened District hospitality industry.
Mayor Gray recently proposed allowing alcohol service and sales to be permitted one hour later. Graham proposed raising alcohol taxes as high as 10 cents per drink, an endeavor that would net an additional $34 million annually for the city.
Lee says Graham is out of step with the mayor and the people. Similarly, Restaurant Association of Metropolitan Washington President Lynne Breaux called Graham’s failure “startling” and said the proposal’s failure was a “loss/loss” for the District.
- DC Liquor Licenses by the Numbers: Ward 2, 40% and Ward 1, 16%
- 14th and U: Petition Opposes Possibility of Liquor License Moratorium
- Later Liquor Sales or “Pay $10,000 in Taxes”? (Not Really, Of Course)
- Restaurant Association Backs Extended Alcohol Sales Hours
- Mayor Gray Proposes Extension of Alcohol Service to Boost Revenue
- 14th & U: Approval for More Bars, Restaurants Expected
By Michelle Lancaster. You can follow her and let her know your news on Twitter @MichLancaster. Email her at michellel[AT]borderstan.com.
If anyone can quiet the NIMBY naysayers in Shaw (or anywhere else), it has to be the brothers Hilton, of Eighteenth Street Lounge/Marvin/American Ice Company reknown. Ian and Eric (Eric also has a Grammy with Thievery Corporation to go along with the restaurant empire) are taking on a daunting challenge on U Street this time around.
They are going to try to get approval on a bar and taqueria with outdoor space (a daunting task already), with the building as essentially two shipping containers joined by steel girders and some glass. The location is 919 U Street NW.
Lest we be too negative about their chances, Mark Lee at the Washington Blade points out that the staff of the Historic Preservation Review Board has recommended that the board endorse the project, saying the containers and design fit with the character of the Uptown Arts District. Hey, if you really hate it, the containers help to ensure that it’s essentially a temporary structure. The project is currently titled El Rey; stay tuned to get the skinny on approvals and opening dates!
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.
- The Other Side on the B&B that Became a Cement Embassy
- Embassies, Trees, B&Bs: Be Careful What You Protest?
- SYMHM: Concrete, Lincoln and Vintage
- DCCA to Protest Congolese Embassy Over 16th Street Renovations
- SYMHM: ANC 2B Says No to Congolese Chancery
- Toutorsky Mansion Owners Apply for Chancery Use
It’s known as the Toutorsky Mansion. Located at the northwest corner of 16th Street and Riggs Place NW, it was a Bed and Breakfast operation for several years. After being denied with their request to expand operations, the owners sold to the government of the Republic of Congo. That, of course, is when the real issues began.
I recently reviewed Mark Lee’s column in the Washington Blade that suggested protests to the former B&B there and its expansion request led to the Congolese Embassy (Brazzavile not Kinshasa) –which in turn begat a paved-over lawn. Now, the Blade has given equal space for the response from Doug Rogers.
Rogers is a board member of the Dupont Circle Citizens Association (DCCA) and is particularly peeved at the suggestion of anti-gay bias in any DCCA dealings. Rogers doesn’t delve into what happened with the opposition to the former B&B’s plan several years ago in disputing these claims (I suggest you check out our piece and the comments for a lot more insight).
Rogers’ response to Lee’s column focuses more on the present. (I agree that regardless of what happened with the previous owner, the paving of the lawn was wrong and should be protested.) Rogers also argues that the majority of DCCA’s protests have prevented things such as a U Street Beltway from coming to fruition.
Protests are an important part of our 1st Amendment rights, and let the record show I support them. But I don’t think I’m alone in feeling a bit trapped in PCU, waiting for Jeremy Piven to show up and break the tension.
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?