Will Frager’s Return to Its Former Pennsylvania Avenue Location?

Preservation Law Appears to Require Keeping Frager's Facade

Preservation Law Appears to Require Keeping Frager’s Facade

Will Frager’s Return to Its Former Pennsylvania Avenue Location?

Preservation Law Complicates Effort to Rebuild

by Larry Janezich

It’s been 15 months since Frager’s was destroyed by fire.  Customers were hoping for a quick rebuild as Frager’s opened up temporary outlets in three separate Capitol Hill locations.  The leased space at 1323 E Street, SE, was subsequently purchased by Frager’s and owner John Weintraub is being closed – ​mouthed about future plans for the original Frager’s site on Pennsylvania Avenue.  Efforts to contact Weintraub for comment on this post were unsuccessful.

However, Capitol Hill Corner has learned that earlier this year, Weintraub was soliciting interest in the redevelopment of the site but it is unclear whether this was to sell the site outright,​ or as part of some partnership arrangement.  The site, just inside the Capitol Hill Historic District, is​ located on​ prime real estate, an easy walk to Eastern Market Metro, Barracks Row, and Eastern Market itself.  As of yet, no agreement appears to have been reached.

One of the possibilities discussed,​ according to a source familiar with the meetings ​,​ was increasing the height of the building and adding additional floors.  Theoretically, there is nothing in the zoning regulations to prevent that, but it would require review by the Historic Preservation Review Board with an opportunity for community input.  The building could rise to 50 feet by right, and given the precedent set by the Hine development, potentially​ even​ higher. Butterfield House with 28 condos sitting diagonally across the corner from the Frager’s site at 11th and Pennsylvania Avenue ​is​ six stories.

A complicating factor in the rebuilding anything on the site is that historic preservation law appears to require preservation of the existing façade.  To that end, Frager’s owner has not yet applied for bracing and stabilization permits for the facades to begin the process of cleaning up the site, but it is unclear why.  Such a permit would likely be routinely approved by HPRB. According to one District architect, the case is similar to reconstruction of Eastern Market after its destruction by fire. “It is an expensive proposition which has always made me advise clients that an historic structure is a liability financially speaking….  An historic building is not an investment. It is rather an expense, meant for those who appreciate bringing a structure back to life as a source of pride and satisfaction regardless of the cost.  Good work requires generosity.”

7 Comments

Filed under Uncategorized

The Week Ahead…..The ANCs Start Gearing Up

Last Tuesday, representatives of CM Wells, Mayor Gray, ANC6B, MPD, Capitol Hill BID, Community Connections, and EMMCA held an informal meeting in NE Eastern Market Metro Plaza to address ongoing concerns about use of the park.

Last Tuesday, representatives of CM Wells, Mayor Gray, ANC6B, MPD, Capitol Hill BID, Community Connections, and EMMCA held an informal meeting in NE Eastern Market Metro Plaza to address ongoing concerns about use of the park.

The Week Ahead…..The ANCs Start Gearing Up

by Larry Janezich

Tuesday, September 2

ANC6B Planning and Zoning Committee meets at 7:00pm at St. Coletta of Greater Washington.

Among items on the agenda:

Unenclosed sidewalk café for District Doughnut Café at 749 8th Street, SE.

Historic preservation application for a two story rear addition to a proposed restaurant at 317 7th Street, SE

Historic preservation application for new Madison Investments condo project at 900 11th Street, SE.

Informational presentation on historic preservation application for 816 Potomac Avenue, SE.

Wednesday, September 3

ANC6B Transportation Committee meets at 7:00pm in Hill Center.

Among items on the agenda:

Review of proposed rule on Visitor Parking Pass program.

Discussion of Office of Planning’s Southeast Boulevard Neighborhood Planning Study

Wednesday, September 3

ANC6C Planning, Zoning, and Environment Committee meets at 7:00pm at Kaiser Permanente Capitol Hill Medical Center, 700 Second Street NE

Agenda unavailable at press time.

Thursday, September 4

ANC6B ABC Committee meets at 7:00pm in Hill Center.

Items on the agenda include:

Exception to single sales restrictions for DCanter, 545 8th Street, SE.

Letter to Alcohol Beverage Control Board regarding the substantial change process (construction of a retracting roof over the rooftop patio) for The Ugly Mug Dining Saloon, 723 8th Street SE

Thursday, September 4

ANC6C Transportation and Public Space Committee meets at 7:00pm at the Kaiser Permanente Capitol Hill Medical Center, 700 Second Street NE.

Agenda unavailable at press time.

Thursday, September 4

CHRS Planning and Zoning Committee meets at Kirby House, Kirby House, 420 10th Street, SE.

Agenda unavailable at press time.

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

Pop Ups and Development in Hill East

Pop Up at Independence Avenue and 17th, SE

Pop Up at Independence Avenue and 17th, SE

Pop Up, 1600 Block of A Street, SE

Pop Up, 1600 Block of A Street, SE

Pop Up Near Pennsylvania Avenue and 15th Street, SE

Pop Up Near Pennsylvania Avenue and 15th Street, SE

Rear View of Pop Up in 1800 Block of A Street, SE

Rear View of Pop Up in 1800 Block of A Street, SE

United Church of Christ Child Care Services on 15th between C and D, SE

United Church of Christ Child Care Services on 15th between C and D, SE

Condos at 15th and D, SE

Condos at 15th and D, SE

Condos at 15th and D, SE

Condos at 15th and C, SE

Condos Near 18th and D, SE

Condos Near 18th and D, SE

Pop Ups and​ ​Development in Hill East

Office of Planning Proposes Restrictions on Pop Ups

by Larry Janezich

In Hill East, immediately outside of the boundaries of the Capitol Hill Historic District, development has trended toward condo​s ​for young​er DC residents.

In addition to stand alone multi-residential units, some of the development has taken the form of pop up additions to row houses – both for the purpose of adding living space for families ​and the conversion of single family units to multiple residential units by developers.

This conversion of existing housing stock to multi-residential units is blamed by the Office of Planning (OP) for pushing up the prices of existing townhouses, as developers pay more for properties to convert them than the homeowners who intend to reside in them.

To that end, OP is proposing a series of amendments to the zoning regulations to make it more difficult to build pop ups and to convert row houses to multifamily units.

The proposals would:

1) Reduce building height for row houses in residential districts from 40 to 35 feet without special exception;

2) Change the definition of “mezzanine” to include these partial floors in the number of stories permitted in a residential zone; and,

3) Eliminate a zoning law provision that allows for the conversion of row houses to multi-family (more than 2) buildings.

These changes might be a tough sell in areas where the potential for easy pop ups and additions increase the value of existing housing stock. Homeowners there are caught between desire for increasing property values and trying to maintain the character of neighborhoods.

​As the accompanying photographs illustrate, much of that character has already deteriorated, owing either to pop-ups or to developments that – in distinct contrast to the historic preservation areas where residential development is held to perhaps too exacting a standard – give the residents a sense that there is no threshold whatsoever to meet when it comes to building in Hill East.

ANC6B will soon have an opportunity to weigh in on the proposed zoning regulation changes which could be the subject of public hearings in late October or early November.  On August 4, ANC1A in Columbia Heights and ANC1B in the U Street District, held a joint meeting to hear presentations by representatives of the Office of Planning on the proposed changes to the zoning regulations as well as legislation currently being drafted to provide for the creation (by neighborhood petition) of “conservation zones” which would require Historic Preservation Office review of any major alteration or expansion of existing row houses.  See posting on the blog “Short Articles About Long Meetings” (SALM)) here http://bit.ly/1Ch32mA

9 Comments

Filed under Uncategorized

End of the First Day Back at Watkins Elementary – Photo Essay

3:10pm, Watkins Elementary School, 12th Street Entrance

                                   3:10pm, Watkins Elementary School, 12th Street Entrance

3:15pm, Watkins Elementary School, 12th Street Entrance

                                          3:15pm, Watkins Elementary School, 12th Street Entrance

3:20pm, Watkins Elementary School, 12th Street Entrance

                                            3:20pm, Watkins Elementary School, 12th Street Entrance

3:24pm, Watkins Elementary School, 12th Street Entrance

                                            3:24pm, Watkins Elementary School, 12th Street Entrance

3:25pm, Watkins Elementary School, 12th Street Entrance

3:25pm, Watkins Elementary School, 12th Street Entrance

3 Comments

Filed under Uncategorized

The Gentrification of Hill East. Perspective: Jim Myers, Hill East Activist

Jim Myers, Hill East Activist.

Jim Myers, Hill East Activist.  Also pictured is the house he grew up in outside of Ithaca, New York

Copy of one of 3,000 flyers posted by Myers and others in 1998 "all over the city" to focus authorities'  attention on Hill East drug issues

Copy of one of 3,000 flyers posted by Myers and others in 1998 “all over the city” to focus authorities’ attention on Hill East drug issues

The Gentrification of Hill East

Perspective:  Jim Myers, Hill East Activist

by Larry Janezich

Asked about the biggest change in Hill East over the past 20 years, Jim Myers replies, “gentrification.”  One of the most dramatic manifestations he says is the “strange loneliness to the street that you didn’t have before – when there were people everywhere, it gave you a tremendous sense of security.  The neighborhood looks depopulated.  How did this happen?”  He answers his own question, “There are fewer people per house.  The new people coming in take more space per person.  The city thinks density is the number of dwelling units – but density used to mean the number of residents per unit.”

According to Myers, gentrification was spontaneous, but it’s clear that Myers played a part in it.  He moved to Hill East in 1990, saying, “I was married to a black woman then and she wanted to live in a black neighborhood.  We moved into a house that had been occupied by blacks since 1905.”  Now he says, he is not sure this is the place he moved to 30 years ago – “It’s not as compelling in terms of interests or experience.  It felt more engaging when the neighborhood was having a lot of problems – and engaging the neighborhood to make things better for the people who lived here was an important part of my life.”

Myers says he is not totally at peace with gentrification, “But it’s one of the ways the city renews itself.  It brings no pleasure to me but if the market produces that result, what can I say?”

Hill East was not called that 30 years ago.  Rumsey Aquatic Center used to be the Capitol East Natatorium.  Eastern Market wasn’t on Capitol Hill,​ which was a small enclave close to the Capitol.  The creation of the Capitol Hill Historic District in the mid-1970s promoted a sense of what we think of as the “Capitol Hill brand.”  Real estate agents extended the definition of Capitol Hill to real estate well beyond the Historic District.

Myers was a journalist writing about cities for USA Today.  In March of 2000, he wrote a piece for the Atlantic Monthly entitled: “Notes on the Murder of Thirty of My Neighbors,” which chronicled the violence and everyday​ life in​ the​ neighborhood.  

Myers said that in the late 90s and early 2000, the city started getting a handle on the homicides and drug issues which had been beyond the capacity of police to deal with.  Until then, activists such as himself were not having much success improving things.  He says, “The first break through was community policing.  It changed the neighborhood and made it possible to imagine homes which someday might have families and increase in value.”  One of the things he did to focus the city’s attention on Hill East was to publicize problems and say”​we want them fixed. ​”​  In April of 1998, he and others ​printed up 3,000 flyers – purporting to be authored by crack dealers inviting customers to meet sales associates at a list of open air drug markets in Hill East (pictured above).  Myers and his friends posted them “all over the city” which got the attention of both the politicians and new MPD Chief Ramsey.

One of the key factors in changing the character of the neighborhood was closing down in 1997 of Kentucky Courts – the Hill East public housing project notorious for shootings and the sale of drugs which characterized the city’s violence of the early 1990s.

Myers said that for him, it was a moral decision to shut it down.  He asked himself whether it was better to let single mothers raise kids there or tear it down.  When it was declared a health hazard due to the accumulation of pigeon waste, among other things, the city moved to remediate it and moved residents out.  The DC Housing Authority subsequently razed and replaced it with a mixed income project.  Myers says, “I was naïve to think we could close down Kentucky Court and produce a better place to live without bringing major change to the neighborhood.”

Some longtime residents started taking advantage of an opportunity sell houses in which they had been living or renting out.  Myers: “We never thought that gentrification would be the result.  It worked out in a way I did not feel good about.  Many of the old community based institutions are gone.  Churches like the Providence Baptist Church at 15th and Kentucky, the recreational center at Payne, and the Boys and Girls Club at 17th and Massachusetts.  Change was a slow process but it turned out that that happened in a way that was out of control.  Houses changed hands.  New residents came in waves then became a tidal wave.”  

Myers points to a pivotal moment he experienced in 2000.  He was walking near a long time trouble spot and drug market, the New Dragon Carryout at 15th and C.  He passed a white couple with a baby carriage.  He asked if they were lost, and they replied, no, they were thinking of buying in the neighborhood.  Up until then, Myers says, only the fore runners of gentrification –people he dubs,​“pilot fish” –  artists, gays, and political radicals​ who were attracted to the neighborhood.

He cites the work of Andre Duany, Florida architect and city planner who describes three waves of gentrifiers: first are the “risk oblivious” – those not attuned to risk because there is something else about the neighborhood they like.  Second are the “risk aware” – those who see property which might be worth something someday, get in now and when prices increase and make some money.  Third are the “risk averse“ who buy into a neighborhood after housing prices have gone up and see danger in anything impacting the potential value of their homes.  Myers says

the latter​ fear the word of crime as much as crime itself.  Of himself, he says, “I’m risk oblivious surrounded by risk aware and risk adverse.”

A strange thing has happened as gentrification spread eastward from neighborhoods close to the Capitol Building – resistance to expanding the Historic District began as properties turned over.  Myers said he missed a meeting at Payne School when the community met with the Historic Preservation Office to discuss expanding the Historic District, but his impression was they must have done a bad job because they left people with the impression that every little thing was going to be a matter of inspection.  People who benefited from the Capitol Hill brand resisted the Historic District – a “cognitive dissonance” according to Myers.  Not recognizing the value the Historic District brought to their properties, “People want their cake and eat it too.”​

Asked about expanding the Historic District into Hill East, Myers replies, “In some ways, I don’t think the expansion of the Historic District will happen here. The horses have bolted,” referring to recent developments, including popups and the building of multi-​unit residential complexes free from Historic District constraints.  Myers allows that there were some prohibitions associated with the Historic District which might have made development in Hill East look better, saying, “I regret that we weren’t more demanding about what was put on the available land on 15th Street.”

As evidence of Historic District regulations casting those policies in a negative light, he cites the example of the controversy over preservation of the “Shotgun House” in the 1200 block of E Street, SE.  “The issue left people puzzled, especially the new generation of Hill dwellers who are pro-development.  The preservationists couldn’t have done a better job of (undercutting the expansion) of the Historic District.”

 

 

11 Comments

Filed under Uncategorized

The Week Ahead…..and a Look Back: 11th Street Ramp to SE/SW Freeway Reopens

Harris Teeter Goes All In on a Name Some Find Offensive

                                   Harris Teeter Goes All In on a Name Some Find Offensive

The Week Ahead…..and a Look Back: 11th Street Ramp to SE/SW Freeway Reopens

by Larry Janezich

A Look Back…

Last Friday, DDOT reopened the 11th Street westbound ramp to I-695, the SE/SW Freeway.  Residents have had to use the 3rd Street ramp for the past two months, after the 11th Street ramp was closed for construction. 

The Week Ahead…

Monday, August 25

ANC 6’s Community Outreach Committee meeting originally scheduled for August 18 meets at 7:00pm, in Maury Elementary School, 1250 Constitution Ave NE

Tuesday, August 26

ANC6b’s Executive Committee meets at 7:00pm in Hill Center to consider the schedule for the next ANC6b meeting, September 9

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

Custom Furniture Retail Outlet Replaces 7th Street’s “Monkey’s Uncle”

323 7th Street, SE, formerly "Monkey's Uncle"

323 7th Street, SE, formerly “Groovy” which relocated to space vacated by “Monkey’s Uncle”

Custom Furniture Outlet to Occupy Space Opened Up By Departure of 7th Street’s “Monkey’s Uncle”

Acqua Al 2 Restaurateur Branches Out

by Larry Janezich

DC restaurateur Ari Gejdenson has purchased the property at 323 7th Street, SE, formerly occupied by Groovy which relocated to the space held by Monkey’s Uncle after the recycled children’s clothing shop closed. Gejdenson plans to open a custom furniture showroom featuring furnishings, including tables, chairs, stools, and light fixtures.  The custom furniture will be built to order.  The announcement will likely be welcome to residents who frequently bemoan the lack of retail in a commercial district with a heavy presence – some say too heavy – of of food and drink establishments.  

Asked for the genesis of the new venture, Gejdenson said that “we have always built our own stuff for our restaurants,” and that inquiries from customers about where they could buy the furniture convinced him and a business partner – who will actually design and build the pieces – to launch the project. 

Gejdenson, who today told CHC, “I’m excited to bring a small retail option to the community – to 7th Street,” has not decided on a name for the outlet which he hopes to open in a “couple of months.” 

The restaurateur, owner of Mindful Restaurant Group, which includes Acqua al 2 (where he is the chef), Ghibellina in Logan Circle; and Harold Black – the speakeasy above Acqua al 2 – is also talking to the Douglas Development, about leasing a building currently under renovation at 1301 Pennsylvania Avenue, SE.  As first reported in CHC, Gejdenson hopes to open a ground floor specialty food market – items generally unavailable elsewhere, but which will complement shopping at nearby Harris Teeter – and a restaurant. (See here:  http://bit.ly/1j1zbIl)

1 Comment

Filed under Uncategorized

Troubled XII Lounge To Become Restaurant/Culinary Arts Training Academy

XII Restaurant and Lounge, 1123 H Street

                                                  XII Restaurant and Lounge, 1123 H Street

Troubled XII Lounge To Become Restaurant/Culinary Arts Training Academy

by Larry Janezich

The notorious H Street Lounge XII at 1123 H Street whose raucous tenure was characterized by violence and violations of its settlement agreement with the community will become a restaurant and culinary arts academy according to Jayne’ Lamondue Price, General Manager, Naomi’s Ladder, LLC.  Tuesday night, Price described a plan to ANC6a’s ABC Committee which envisioned a full service restaurant and a post-secondary educational institution offering certified occupational training in bartending, hospitality services and restaurant management.  A full service catering company offering on and off premises catering to local businesses, schools and community centers will be part of the operation.  Price said the company would apply for a license for the educational and training component of the operation before next January.  The operation described appears to be similar to a proposed venue still under construction at 13th and H Streets.

Wanda James is the new owner of the business which Price says has no relationship with any of the prior owners or with Bernard Gibson, owner of the building and one of the founders of Lounge XII.

On June 6, 2014, the Alcoholic Beverage Regulation Administration (ABRA) suspended XII’s tavern license based on the Board’s finding that the “operations of the establishment create an imminent danger to the health and safety of the public.”  This followed a series of acts of violence, the last being a stabbing on May 24, 2014.  XII’s tavern license – which allows a venue to minimize the serving of food in contrast to a restaurant license – will have to be transferred to the new entity by ABRA.  ABC Committee Chair Jay Williams warned that the issues related to the suspension may have to be resolved before the transfer can take place.

Price told ANC6a ABC Committee Tuesday night that the first floor will be a full service dining area, the second floor (used for training purposes during the day) at night will feature entertainment and dancing. The roof – which the new owner hopes to eventually enclose to permit year round use – will feature a garden and dining.  Price says she hopes to fill a void in H Street entertainment options with the kind of talent now available at Blues Alley, the Birchmere, and Blues & Jazz in Bethesda. 

Commissioners, clearly concerned about the transgressions which occurred while XII was operating that so alienated the community, raised a number of issues to which Price responded with assurances that the academy/restaurant would operate differently and work hard to meet the expectations of the community and the ANC.  Price said the owner was “hoping to bring something strong which will last to the community.” 

In literature distributed at the committee hearing, the owner profile for Wanda James provides the following information:

Native Washingtonian with over 50 years in the community.

Retired US Army veteran.

BA in International Business and Certification in Acquisition Contract Management.

Established 501c3 organization for health, education and family development.

Mother, grandmother and community outreach volunteer. 

This appears to be the first venture of this type that Ms. James has undertaken.

 

2 Comments

Filed under Uncategorized

Rattlesnake Chili and Bison Ribs on H Street – Update on Kitty’s Saloon

Kitty's Saloon, 1208 H Street, NE.

                                                       Kitty’s Saloon, 1208 H Street, NE.

Rattlesnake Chili and Bison Ribs on H Street – Update on Kitty’s Saloon

by Larry Janezich

Last night, David Conn, executive chef and managing partner of Kitty’s Saloon, opening soon at 1208 H Street, NE, (formerly Souk) appeared before ANC6a’s ABC Committee to support renewal of the restaurant liquor license associated with the building.  He told the committee that the restaurant would have a western theme and would serve tap beer, premium whiskies, and bourbon.  The restaurant will extend the novelty venue tradition begun by Joe Englert and his partners.  The menu will feature small plates and entrees focusing on Western and Southern food, including rattlesnake chili (really), bison ribs, and roasted squab – as well as some “fun” dishes like fried baloney sliders.   

The restaurant will open “late summer – soon” according to Conn, evenings only at first, but for brunch as well, shortly. 

The operators are in talks with the owner of the building to expand to the building’s second floor and its rear deck, though the plan was in its very early stages and timing is uncertain.  The restaurant has no plans to ask for an entertainment endorsement for the license. 

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

The Week Ahead…..ANC6a Committees Take Center Stage

Market Lunch, Eastern Market, 10:00am Sunday Morning

Market Lunch, Eastern Market, 10:00am Sunday Morning

The Week Ahead…..ANC6a Committees Take Center Stage

by Larry Janezich

Monday, August 18

ANC6a Transportation  & Public Space Committee meets at 7:00pm at Maury Elementary, 1250 Constitution Ave NE (enter from 13th St. NE). 

Among items on the agenda:

Public space application for sidewalk café at 1380 H Street NE, Oh Zone Lounge, formerly the Ohio Restaurant;

Request for information from Department of Public Works (DPW) concerning

process for requesting public litter cans at and around the intersection of 12th and K Streets, NE;

Request for District Department of Transportation (DDOT) to conduct assessment

of traffic conditions and drainage/cleanliness related to the alley between the 1200 block of Wiley Street, NE, and H Street, NE, and the alley just north of the 800 block of H Street NE;

Request for DPW to address concerns about vacant city owned property at 802 10th Street, NE,  including frequent illegal parking;

ANC6a’s Community Outreach Committee meeting, normally would meet August 18, but has been rescheduled for 7:00pm, Monday, August 25 at Maury Elementary School. 

Tuesday, August 19

ABC6a Alcohol Beverage Licensing Committee meets at 7:00pm, Sherwood Recreation Center, 10th and G Streets, NE;

Among items on the agenda: 

Restaurant liquor license renewal for Kitty’s Saloon (formerly Souk) at 1208 H Street, NE;

Restaurant liquor license renewal for Ocopa (formerly Chicken Tortilla) at 1324 H Street NE;

Presentation by new owner of 1123 H Street NE (formerly XII Restaurant and Lounge) regarding license transfer and future plans.

Wednesday, August 20

Economic Development and Zoning Committee meets at 7:00pm, in Sherwood Recreation Center, Corner of 10th and G Streets, NE.

Among items on the agenda:

Special exception to permit a two story garage addition with second floor apartment at 1229 F Street, NE;

Special exception to permit a one story rear porch addition at 1419 F Street, NE;

Consideration of possible violation of zoning code in connection with new construction of a three-story single-family dwelling in R-4 district on 825 square-foot lot;

Discussion of seeking designation as a blighted and or vacant tax status for 1000 C Street, NE

Thursday, August 21

Police Service Area (PSA) 108 public meeting, 6:30pm, First Baptist Church, 527 Kentucky Ave SE.

 

Comments Off

Filed under Uncategorized