Reservation 13 Developer Sees Ground-Breaking in mid-2016 for Residential Retail Project

Preliminary Concept, South Building of Proposed Donatelli/Blue Skye Project on Reservation 13, Viewed from Stadium Armory Metro

Preliminary Concept, South Building of Proposed Donatelli/Blue Skye Project on Reservation 13, Viewed from Stadium Armory Metro

Preliminary Concept, North Building.  Metro Stop Far Left.

Preliminary Concept, North Building. Metro Stop Far Left.

Preliminary Concept of Project Showing Village Square Community Gathering Place Adjacent to South Building

Preliminary Concept of Project Showing Village Square Community Gathering Place Adjacent to South Building

Reservation 13 Developer Sees Ground-Breaking in mid-2016 for Residential Retail Project

Two Year Construction Period Anticipated

by Larry Janezich

Wednesday evening, Larry Clark, Vice President of Donatelli Development, told Hill East residents and stakeholders that Donatelli/Blue Skye hopes to break ground in mid-2016 on the mixed use buildings proposed for two Reservation 13 parcels adjacent to the Stadium Armory Metro at 19th and Massachusetts SE.

In September of 2013, DMPED awarded the proposal to develop the two city-owned parcels to the Donatelli Development/Blue Sky Construction team.  The proposal is for a mixed use project, built as a matter of right (no Public Unit Development (PUD) process required), with the following features:

Total Apartment Units: 354

248 Market Rate Units

106 Affordable Housing Units (30% of total)

53 Units at 30% of AMI

53 Units at 60% of AMI

Approx. 20,000 – 40,000 SF of ground floor retail

Approx. 222 parking spaces

Village square – a green community gathering place

Last night, Clark revealed that access and unloading difficulties have thus far precluded the attempt to place a large grocery in the project but that a boutique grocery outlet is a possibility.

The next step in the process is declaring the property surplus – i.e., no longer of use to the public – which requires City Council approval.  Wednesday night’s meeting to receive public input on surplusing the properties is required by the process prior to a City Council vote.

Fewer than a dozen residents attended the meeting.  The only concerns raised had to do with seeking assurances the land could not be re-purposed should DC win the Olympics bid, as well as assurances that the city receives value for turning over the properties to the developer in exchange for forfeiting land value and use of the property.  DMPED is in the process of having the properties appraised, and the results will be made public upon completion.

The period of public comment on declaring the pieces surplus will end November 10.  Comments may be emailed to DMPED project manager Ketan Gada here:  ketan.gada@dc.gov

Legislation in the form of a “surplus package” will be forwarded to the City Council along with a “disposition package” both requiring Council approval in December.  There could be an additional public meeting if the Council sees fit and there will be a public meeting prior to the disposition of the properties.

Remarking on potential retail for the project, Clark said “Donatelli/Blue Skye is committed to finding as exciting retail as possible.”

Asked about how the project will be financed, Clark replied that funding is being sought in the capital markets.

Ketan Gada of DMPED suggested to Clark that it would be a good idea for Donatelli/Blue Skye to appear before the ANC6B and ANC7F in a month or two to provide an update, and Clark agreed to do so.

The DMPED website for the project is here:

http://dmped.dc.gov/page/hill-east-district-redevelopment

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

Peter May, National Park Service Official, Goes Before Neighbors on “Swamp Fox” Controversy

Peter May, Associate Regional Director for Lands, Planning, and Design for the National Capital Region of the National Park Service He is also the overseer of Capitol Hill NPS Parks, Talks Process to Neighbors of Marion Park

Peter May, Associate Regional Director for Lands, Planning, and Design for the National Capital Region of the National Park Service He is also the overseer of Capitol Hill NPS Parks, Talks Process to Neighbors of Marion Park

Aerial View of the Six Potential Sites for the Swamp Fox Memorial

Aerial View of the Six Potential Sites for the Swamp Fox Memorial

Marion Park Neighbors Discuss Potential Siting Locations with NPS Personnel

Marion Park Neighbors Discuss Potential Siting Locations with NPS Personnel

Peter May, National Park Service Official, Goes Before Neighbors on “Swamp Fox” Controversy

Residents Unhappy About Proposed Statue in Marion (Turtle) Park

by Larry Janezich

Tuesday night, the National Park Service (NPS) held a “scoping meeting” to consider the siting for a memorial for Francis Marion (the “Swamp Fox”).  The meeting, convened in order to obtain public input on the project, was held at Northeast Library, far afield from the neighborhood where the proposed memorial is to be placed.  Nonetheless, some 20 residents attended the meeting.

In 2008, Congress authorized a memorial for South Carolinian Francis Marion, Colonel in the American Revolutionary Army and General in the South Carolina Militia.  The National Park Service is charged with locating a site for the memorial and approving a design, and Peter May, as the National Park Service official overseeing National Park Service Parks on Capitol Hill was present to explain the process.  (Recently, City Paper ran a lengthy front page profile of May, who it calls “the most powerful man shaping D.C.’s growth you’ve never heard of.”)  May, by virtue of his NPS position, also sits on DC’s Zoning Commission and the Board of Zoning Adjustment.

When NPS officials appeared before the ANC last month to outline the proposal to place a statue of Marion in Marion Park on South Carolina Avenue, they received a chilly reception from commissioners for lack of communication with the ANC, as well as strong criticism from nearby residents (see CHC posting here:  http://bit.ly/Xr3Fcy ).

At Tuesday night’s meeting, a preliminary presentation from NPS personnel was followed by a presentation by project sponsor John McCabe, who argues Marion deserves a memorial based upon his exceptional service during Revolutionary War.

May then took the floor to explain that the way the NPS site selection process was structured, and noted that the purpose of the meeting was not to have a general discussion but to solicit written commentary which would be facilitated by breaking the group up into “workshops” where residents could interact with NPS staffers standing by to take questions on each of the six potential sites for the memorial.  May said that the comments would be collected and considered  – both hard copies from those at the meeting as well as comments on the NPS’s project website.

Despite disclaimers that the process was an open one and that no decision had been made, the process seemed heavily tilted in favor of the only one of the six sites that the NPS has direct control over:  Marion Park.  Correction: The National Capitol Planning Commission (NCPC)  National Capital Memorial Advisory Commission or NCMAC indicated a preference for Marion Park, although Peter May, as Chair of the Commission, stated that they would be sending the memorial sponsor  – Mr. McCabe of the Francis Marion Memorial Project – a letter advising them to keep at least one non-Marion Park project in the mix as they went through the environmental analysis.

The National Capital Planning Commission will make a recommendation in December, but May noted that NCPC is an advisory body, not a decision making body,.  The final decision will be made by the Secretary of the Interior after consideration of the recommendation of the NPS.  May cited instances where the NPS has had to go to a second site to place a memorial.  He also noted that the Congress’ authorization is limited (it expires May 8, 2015) and the project might have to be re-authorized.  “There have been memorials authorized that have never been built,” he added.

The six sites being considered by the NPS for siting the memorial are:  Garfield Park West, Garfield Park East, Marion Park, Metro Plaza Park, the triangle park at South Carolina and C Street, and the park at the intersection of South Carolina, Independence and Massachusetts Avenue.  NPS planners said they have spoken to Barracks Row Main Street to see if there is an opportunity to place the memorial in conjunction with the redesign of the Plaza Park, but were told there was not.

The project anticipates a statue of Marion less than 1.5x life-sized, situated on a pedestal 40-42 inches high.  The design concept is preliminary, and a scoping meeting for the design of the memorial itself will be scheduled in January or February of 2015.

Though May said the purpose of the meeting was to elicit written responses from the community, he agreed to takes some general comments from the neighbors.  Some of the concerns expressed involved the short notice neighbors were given of the meeting; whether a memorial less obtrusive than a statue is being considered; the question of whether it was appropriate to honor Marion (a slave owner) across from a church designed by DC’s first African-American architect and built by freedmen; the lack of representation in Congress which gives residents no voice in authorizing the memorial; and the lack of evaluation of the project in terms of the park being a staging area for law enforcement officials during emergencies.

Perhaps owing to the controversy the project has engendered, a second scoping meeting of site location will be held on December 3, 6:30pm – 8:30pm, this one at the more convenient Southeast Library.  According to the NPS website, the period for comments ends December 3, though a date of December 10 was given at Tuesday night’s meeting.  The public can provide comments at the second scoping meeting on December 3 (6:30 to 8:30pm at the Southeast Library) or online at http://bit.ly/1wGFDIQ

The link to the City Paper article on Peter May is here:  http://bit.ly/1u0tRYD

1 Comment

Filed under Uncategorized

The Week Ahead … and Radici Opens Across from Eastern Market

Radici the new Italian deli/grocery (formerly the Silver Spork) opened, softly, this weekend.  They should be fully stocked by weeks’ end.  By Tuesday, they expect to be open 7:00am – 8:00pm and by next week from 7:00am until 9:00pm – maybe later.  For more information go here http://www.radici-market.com/

Radici, the new Italian deli/grocery (formerly the Silver Spork) opened this weekend. They should be fully stocked by week’s end. By Tuesday, they expect to be open 7:00am – 8:00pm and by next week from 7:00am until 9:00pm – maybe later. 

The Week Ahead….

by Larry Janezich

EARLY VOTING BEGAN on Saturday, October 25, at Sherwood Recreation Center (10th  and G Streets, NE).  Monday – Saturday, 8:30am – 7:00pm – through November 1.  Closed Sunday.  For more information, go here:  http://www.dcboee.org

Monday, October 27

ANC6B Candidates meet and greet.  Eastern Market Metro Community Association (EMMCA) is holding a meet and greet with the ANC 6B candidates 6:30pm  to 8:30pm at Southeast Library.  EMMCA has also produced an ANC Voter Guide for 2014.  It is available here:  http://www.capitalcommunitynews.com/content/anc-6b-2014-voter-guide

Tuesday, October 28

ANC6B Executive Committee. Meets at 7:00pm in Hill Center to set the agenda for the November meeting of the ANC.

Tuesday, October 28

Swamp Fox Statue at Marion Park.  A public scoping meeting will be held by the National Park Service and the Francis Marion Memorial Project from 5:00pm and 7:00pm at the Northeast Library, 330 7th St NE.  The project team will be available to discuss possible locations for the Memorial. (A second public meeting will be held on Wednesday, December 3rd from 6:00pm and 8:30pm at the Southeast Library, 403 7th St. SE.)

Wednesday, October 29

Reservation 13 Disposition Meeting to discuss disposition of parcels F1 and G1 on Reservation 13 adjacent to Stadium/Armory Metro Stop.  The Deputy Mayor for Economic Development’s (DMPED) office will host the meeting, 6:00pm – 8:00pm at St. Coletta of Greater Washington, 1901 Independence Avenue, SE.

Thursday, October 30

Closing of DC General Homeless Shelter and Future of the Eastern Branch (Boys & Girls Club at 17th and Massachusetts).  ANC 6B Hill East Task Force will meet 6:30pm – 8:00pm in Congressional Cemetery Chapel (1800 E Street, SE) to discuss both Mayor Gray’s recently released plan to close the Temporary Emergency Family Homeless Shelter at DC General and the Department of General Services’ Eastern Request for Proposals for development of the Eastern Branch building.  The task force has invited any organizations/developers who are considering or planning a response to the RFP to attend the meeting and provide some brief remarks about their plans. The Eastern Branch RFP discussion will likely begin around 7:15.  The chapel is located in the center of the cemetery. Attendees can enter Congressional Cemetery through the main gates at the intersection of 18th, E and Potomac Avenue.

Thursday, October 30

Marijuana legalization.  DC City Council’s Committee on Business, Consumer, and Regulatory Affairs and the Committee on Finance and Revenue will hold a joint (I know, I know) hearing on the legalization of marijuana, 11:00am in the Wilson Building. Anyone wishing to testify should contact (202) 727-6683 or email fcaldwell@dccouncil.us by Thursday, October 23.

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

Eastern Market Agrees on Protection of First Amendment Rights

Eastern Market, Friday Afternoon, October 24, 2014

Eastern Market, Friday Afternoon, October 24, 2014

Eastern Market Agrees on Protection of First Amendment Rights

Weekend Vendors Wanted Tighter Restrictions on Political Activities

by Larry Janezich

Wednesday night, Eastern Market Community Advisory Committee (EMCAC) amended a draft version of written regulations aimed at governing the activities of “different users of the market space” when farmers, arts and crafts vendors, non-profit groups, buskers, political petitioners, and artists all vie for operating space in the areas which by statute and Mayoral Order fall under the jurisdiction of Eastern Market on weekends.

The spaces involved include the Eastern Market sidewalks and North Plaza, the space in front of the Capitol Hill Natatorium, and 7th Street (including sidewalks on both sides of the street) between North Carolina and Pennsylvania Avenues.

The most contentious section of the regulations is the part regarding political petitioners.  Vendors complain that political petitioners can be too aggressive, interfering with shoppers while they are shopping or impeding access to spaces rented by vendors to market their products.  Several vendors, including outdoor vendor representative Erika Rubel, spoke in favor of tougher language restricting the activities of petitioners deemed to be impeding business or the flow of pedestrian traffic.

In contrast, some community members, including ANC representative Ivan Frishberg – ANC6B’s  EMCAC representative – remain leery about infringing on the First Amendment rights of citizens and non-profit organizations operating on public space.  A controversial early draft was sent back to the drawing board last month before being brought back to the Committee at Wednesday night’s meeting.

The language, as amended by EMCAC, now reads that individuals petitioning for candidates or governmental reform may conduct petitioning activities anywhere outside Eastern market.  Petitioners are requested to not impede the flow of pedestrian traffic on the sidewalk, not to leave leaflets or flyers unattended, not cause the accumulation of trash, and not impede the transaction of business by the farmers or vendors.

The proposed regulations also state that a petitioner who wants to set up a table or tent may rent ($35) one of the five spaces reserved for community groups on a first come, first served basis.

Outdoor vendor Anita Jefferson pushed to tweak the language regarding interfering with the flow of pedestrian traffic on 7th Street, but ANC Commissioner Frishberg was staunchly opposed, deeming these suggestions an attempt to regulate a problem which barely exists and would entail establishing procedures for enforcement.

In the end, the Committee agreed to forward to ANC6B for consideration the broader language upon which there was a consensus.  EMCAC Chair Donna Scheeder asserted that the policy could be amended if problems arise.

A final section of the new policy prohibits for-profit solicitors from operating on public space controlled by Eastern Market.  This will not affect the activities of the not-for-profit Street Sense vendors who will be allowed to continue to sell their papers to support the homeless.

1 Comment

Filed under Uncategorized

H Street Alley Issues: ANC Committee Seeks Collaborative Solution

More than 2 dozen Atlas District residents turned out for ANC6A's Transportation Committee Hearing on alley conditions

More than 2 dozen Atlas District residents turned out for ANC6A’s Transportation Committee Hearing on alley conditions

ANC6A Transportation Committee Members listen to neighbor's concerns about rats, trash, parking, standing water and parking

ANC6A Transportation Committee Members listen to neighbor’s concerns about rats, trash, parking, standing water and parking.

Resident Commissioner Todd Sloves showed the audience this picture of Linden Place alley to show the alley's condition.  ANC6A will make DDOT's list of alley re-development projects available to residents.  Photo:  Todd Sloves

Resident Commissioner Todd Sloves showed the audience this picture of Linden Place alley to show the alley’s condition. ANC6A will make DDOT’s list of alley re-development projects available to residents. Photo: Todd Slovesd

Gil Davidson, Department of Consumer and Regulatory Affairs

Gil Davidson, Department of Consumer and Regulatory Affairs

Jeff Baxter, DC Department of Transportation

Jeff Baxter, DC Department of Transportation

Conditions in an H Street alley last summer.  The fence has been removed but trucks displaced by street cars must use the alley for deliveries to H Street restaurants.

Conditions in an H Street alley last summer. The fence has been removed but trucks displaced by street cars must use the alley for deliveries to H Street restaurants.

H Street Alley Issues:  ANC Committee Seeks Collaborative Solution

Lax Enforcement, Street Cars Compound Problems

by Larry Janezich

ANC6A’s Transportation Committee convened its monthly meeting last night to draw together residents, businesses and city agencies in a collaborative effort to address the numerous problems besetting H Street and associated with rapid development Atlas District.  Last night’s focus was on cleanliness, surface maintenance, rats, garbage, trash, safety and parking.

City officials present included Gil Davidson from the Department of Consumer and Regulatory Affairs (DCRA) and Jeff Baxter of DC Department of Transportation (DDOT).  A third agency whose participation is critical to addressing the host of problems – Department of Public Works– was a no-show.  Another key organization with a vested interest in problem solving who failed to show was H Street Mainstreet.

Committee Chair Omar Mahmud said that the crux of the problem was the lack of inter agency communication to coordinate a multi-pronged approach to addressing the multiplicity of problems.

A potentially valuable suggestion was offered by Gil Davidson, Housing Inspections Program Manager for DCRA.  He referenced the “Core Group” concept employed under the Fenty administration – a group comprised of representatives of city agencies and community stakeholders meeting regularly to address community issues.  Davidson said, “It was very successful – but it fell off under Mayor Gray.”  He said one “Core Group” is still active in the First MPD District in Southwest.

H Street is struggling to transition from residential/retail to residential/entertainment (food has become entertainment) and new multi-unit residential development.  According to a NYT article on DC restaurants moving into residential neighborhoods (http://nyti.ms/1zijqUO), the number of DC restaurants has doubled over the past ten years and by September of this year, there had been a ten percent increase over the total number of alcohol beverage licenses issued in all of 2013.

The problems resulting from more restaurants have been compounded by the construction of a streetcar line on H Street.  In addition to making driving down H Street much more problematic and elimination of parking on H, the streetcar has displaced delivery trucks to narrow, poorly maintained alleys running parallel to H Street (and behind residents’ homes) which were already choked by dumpsters, trash cans, construction.

More than two dozen residents from a broad area of the Atlas District attended the meeting to cite issues that are affecting their quality of life – many directly related to the increased density brought to the neighborhood by the promotion of H Street as a destination, and by the attendant burgeoning construction of new residential units.  Hundreds of new condos and apartments have already been built, and more than 1,000 new units are planned or under construction.  One resident said, “We don’t know what to do next when what is supposed to happen doesn’t happen.”  Overflowing dumpsters, rat infestation, rotting food, “horrific stench,” sludge, and stagnant pools of greasy water beset neighbors.  They cite lax enforcement of city regulations, and say that fines, when they are levied, do not serve as effective deterrents.   

The consensus of both commissioners and residents was that the city needs to be proactive rather than reactive.  As one resident put it, the transition of H Street came very quickly, leaving the city with no idea how to handle the emerging issues.  The answer, she said, was not to be reactive – it involves much more than trying to “fix all these problems separately.” CM Tommy Wells’ office was not represented at the meeting, though it is clear that the participation of his office will be necessary.

City officials who were present agreed that a piecemeal approach does not work, with one telling the group that “People in other agencies push projects and we don’t have the infrastructure to deal with this kind of development.  There is no way to have this much development without having a way to get people in and out.” 

Mahmud said the Committee would continue consideration of how to improve H Street alley conditions at the next meeting in November and that he will push to get the Department of Public Works to that meeting.  Malmud said his take-away from tonight’s meeting was the need to follow up on DCRA’s suggestion regarding the development of a Core Group approach, to make the DDOT’s list of alley re-development projects available to residents, to urge city agency officials to reach out to colleagues in other departments to bring them into the effort, and to encourage greater participation by business owners. 

1 Comment

Filed under Uncategorized

The Week Ahead…..

The fog crept into town last Monday night.

The fog crept into town last Monday night.

The Week Ahead…..

by Larry Janezich

Monday, October 20

EARLY VOTING begins today at One Judiciary Square (441 4th St, NW)

October 20 – November 1, 8:30am to 7pm, (Closed on Sunday)

EARLY VOTING at the nine early voting centers begins Saturday, October 25, including Sherwood Recreation Center (See Saturday, below)

For locations of the nine early voting centers opening on Saturday, contests on the ballot and more information, go here:  http://www.dcboee.org

Monday, October 20

ANC6D meets for its regular monthly meeting at 7:00pm, 200 I Street, SE.

Agenda not available at press time.

Monday, October 20

ANC6A Transportation and Public Space Committee meets at 7:00pm at Maury Elementary School (1250 Constitution Avenue, NE).

Among items on the agenda:

Consideration of traffic calming petition for the 800 block of 7th Street, NE

Discussion with officials from District Department of Transportation, Department of Consumer Regulatory Affairs and Department of Public Works concerning collaborative partnership with residents, businesses and ANC 6A to address sanitation, traffic and safety concerns in alleys

Monday, October 20

ANC6A Constituent Outreach Committee meets at 7:00pm, at Maury Elementary School (1250 Constitution Avenue, NE)

On the agenda:

Review of grant guidelines.

Tuesday, October 21

ANC6A Alcoholic Beverage Licensing Committee meets at 7:00 at Sherwood Recreation Center, 10th and G Streets, NE

Among items on the agenda:

Update on status of Settlement Agreement termination requests by Rock n’ Roll Hotel, and Little Miss Whiskey’s Golden Dollar.

Discussion of request for change in entertainment hours and addition of Sunday hours by RedRocks at 1348 H Street, NE

Discussion of Class D Restaurant License application for Pizza Parts and Service at 1320 H Street NE

Wednesday, October 22

ANC6B’s Outreach & Constituent Services (O&CS) Task Force meets at 7:00pm at Hill Center.

On the agenda:

Discussion of vacant and blighted properties. 

Wednesday, October 22

Eastern Market Community Advisory Committee meets at 7:00pm, North Hall, Eastern Market.

On the agenda:

Discussion of the draft Vending and solicitation policy.  Comments and discussion will proceed section by section.  See draft policy in “Library” at top of home page.

Thursday, October 23

PSA 108 meets at 7:00pm, Liberty Baptist Church, 527 Kentucky Avenue, SE.

Saturday, October 25

Early Voting begins at Sherwood Recreation Center Gymnasium

640 10th St, NE Ward 6

Hours: 8:30am – 7:00pm Daily – Open Oct 25 – Nov 01 (closed Sunday)

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

Interim DC Fire Chief Jones Provides Curious​ Presentation to ANC6B

Interim Fire Chief Jones Provides Curious​ Presentation to ANC6B

Advised Firefighters Keep Criticism Inside the Department

by Larry Janezich

ANC6B had few questions for DC Fire and EMS Interim Chief Eugene Jones after his good will tour presentation last Tuesday, when he told commissioners that he would “move the department forward” during his tenure as Interim Chief after the retirement under fire of Chief Kenneth B. Ellerbe on July 2.

In response to a question from Commissioner Brian Pate  – regarding Jones’ plan for moving forward in the face of ​much “negative press,​”​ Jones gave a rambling answer which failed to touch on any of the major incidents which have recently received widespread critical press coverag​e.

He did say, however, that he had visited all of the stations and asked that firefighters who perceive a problem with a colleague to  ​keep their interventions internal and the department would work with the Union to resolve them.  ​His response​ sounded like Jones had advised firefighters not to talk to the media.  In recent months, news coverage has focused on numerous issues regarding the serviceability of the ambulance fleet, personnel lapses, and most notably, the death from a heart attack in January of Medric “Cecil” Mills on the sidewalk across the street from a fire station in NE Washington. ​ When Commissioner Ivan Frishberg prompted him in a follow-up question to distinguish his station visits from an effort to silence whistleblowers, Jones quickly agreed.  ​

Residents attending the meeting had some additional questions for Jones.  Jones responded to a question whether the department was considering re-thinking its role as a first responder, by saying that 80% of the calls to the Fire Department are for emergency medical response, and fire trucks are taken out 70% of the time in response to those calls.  He said firefighters are trained Emergency Medical Technicians (EMTs) and “to remove them would have a huge impact on the city.”  Another resident said “it offends me when a hook and ladder truck responds to a drunk [person in need of assistance] – why not use smaller vehicles?”

Jones agreed there was a need to employ more of the smaller units, saying that the District’s 30 fire stations would need 30 ambulances.  He said that the department had recently acquired five ambulances but it was not clear what connection this had to former Chief Ellerbe’s claim that one of his accomplishments was obtaining 30 new ambulances.  (See here:  http://wapo.st/1xevSla)

Further, in failing to reference Firefighter Union and lawmaker opposition to Ellerbe’s plan to implement what has become standard procedure in many departments of cross training firefighters as paramedics and paramedics as firefighters, Jones left the impression that the department is giving no consideration to re-thinking its role as first responder and will keep sending out fire trucks for medical cases, many of which are non-emergencies.  (For more, see this column by Petula Dvorak in the Post: http://wapo.st/1vEHMFV )

Another question posed by a resident was what steps the department was taking to recruit DC residents.  Jones responded that the way the system is set up, the only opportunity to recruit DC residents is at the lowest level – Emergency Medical Technicians.  He said that there are one million paid firefighters in the country and four million volunteer firefighters, each of whom is more qualified than an untrained DC resident when a position opens up – and “when positions open up, people from all over apply.” He did not mention the Cadet program – reinstituted by Ellerbe in 2011 after a troubled history – that has received so much scrutiny in the wake of services denied to a Medric “Cecil” Mills, nor did he convey a sense that recruiting more DC residents would be on his agenda as he serves as chief for the next few months.

The City Council is expected to name a new DCFD Chief next year.

1 Comment

Filed under Uncategorized

Frager’s Owner and Roadside Development Tell ANC Plan to Redevelop Frager’s

Lionel Lynch and Rich Lake from Roadside Development, join Frager's Owner John Weintraub (far right) at Presentation on Frager's Redevelopment Plan.  Photo:   Kathleen Frydl

Lionel Lynch and Rich Lake from Roadside Development, join Frager’s Owner John Weintraub (far right) at Presentation on Frager’s Redevelopment Plan. Photo: Kathleen Frydl

Frager’s Owner and Roadside Development Tell ANC Plan to Redevelop Frager’s

by Larry Janezich

Frager’s owner John Weintraub told ANC6B last Tuesday night that redeveloping Frager’s was “out of his comfort zone” and he had entered into partnership with Roadside Development to rebuild the site.  Weintraub had reported earlier, that the fire damaged the site so severely that, “even with insurance proceeds, we could not afford to rebuild the site alone.”

Roadside Development’s team of Rich Lake, Lionel Lynch, and Bryan Corcoran were on hand to tell the ANC that they were continuing the investigations on preserving the façade of the building.  Roadside has not yet purchased the property at 1101-1117 Pennsylvania Avenue, SE, but does have the property under contract.  Lake has said that construction could start as soon as next spring.  Weintraub will return its hardware, paint, garden center, and equipment rental operations to the site under a long term lease.

The new building will provide additional office, retail and/or residential space, but will be built as a matter of right (with a 50 foot height limit).  It will not be a mixed use building subject to the public unit development (PUD) process wherein public amenities are exchanged for increased height and/or density.  The new structure will need HPRB approval, which will bring it before ANC6B.

Lake said that Roadside hopes to schedule public meetings soon with the community to solicit feedback.   In the meantime, Roadside is accepting public comments through a voice mailbox at (202) 375-7942, and at fragers@roadsidellc.com.

Comments Off

Filed under Uncategorized

Mehari Sequar Takes H Street Condo Project before ANC6A Zoning Committee

"Flatiron" Condo Project Proposed for Intersection of H Street, Florida Avenue, and 14th Street NE

Preliminary Renderings of “Flatiron” Condo Project Proposed for Intersection of H Street, Florida Avenue, and 14th Street NE

"Flatiron" Project Footprint (in blue)

“Flatiron” Project Footprint (in blue)

ANC6A Planning and Zoning Committee

ANC6A Economic Development and Zoning Committee

Mehari Sequar Takes H Street Condo Project before ANC6A Zoning Committee

Committee Raises Concerns about Requested Variances

by Larry Janezich

Mehari Sequar, representing Dulwich, LLC, and Jeff L. Goins of PGN Architects, came before ANC6A’s Economic Development and Zoning Committee Wednesday night, to present initial plans for a 34 condo unit “flatiron” building on the triangular site at the intersections of H Street, Florida Avenue, and 14th Streets, NE – 1401 Florida Avenue, NE.  Goins stressed that the plans were preliminary and subject to change.  He told the Committee that although the site was challenging, it presented a unique opportunity for a gateway project for H Street, NE.

The developer and the architect appeared before the Committee to seek its support for numerous zoning variances, including exemption from the requirement to provide 20 parking spaces, an exemption from the floor area ratio, an exemption from the height limitation, as well as relief from the roof setback and H Street Overlay requirements.

The Committee, although enthusiastic about the prospect of developing the site, had serious concerns regarding the increased density and the potential parking problems the project could bring to the neighborhood.  Chair Dan Golden termed the project “ambitious “and told Sequar that Sequar’s assertion that increased height and floor area ratio were necessary to make the project economically viable were “not the kind of thing that variances were designed to address.”  He urged Sequar and Goins to consider reducing the density and to think creatively about ameliorating the needs of condo purchasers who might well not be eligible for resident parking permits, and might therefore, be totally dependent on transportation other than autos.

Commissioners also urged design changes to make the structure conform more closely to design principles related to better definition of top, middle, and bottom.  Commissioners subsequently expressed concern about deliveries and trash pickup.

Sequar – whose brother, Habta, developer of a similar project at 12th and Florida Avenue (see CHC report here: http://bit.ly/1jEyZcf) – told the Committee that the plan anticipates 15 two bedroom and 19 one bedroom condos.  The plan entails a first floor, the use of which is uncertain, although Sequar held out the possibility of retail.  Given the difficulties of attracting and supporting retail in Capitol Hill commercial corridors the use of the space for retail would seem problematic.

The project will come before the Board of Zoning Adjustment in January, and could come up before the full ANC6A at its next meeting, November 13.

3 Comments

Filed under Uncategorized

ANC Votes No on Barracks Row Ugly Mug Expansion

ANC6B Commissioners Campbell, Pate, Frishberg, Flahave, and Loveland before the Vote on the Ugly Mug.  Photo: Kathleen Frydl

ANC6B Commissioners Campbell, Pate, Frishberg, Flahave, and Loveland before the Vote on the Ugly Mug. Photo: Kathleen Frydl

Gaynor Jablonski, Owner of the Ugly Mug, Listens to Opponents of His Plan to Double the Ugly Mug's Seating Capacity.  Photo: Kathleen Frydl

Gaynor Jablonski, Owner of the Ugly Mug, Listens to Opponents of His Plan to Double the Ugly Mug’s Seating Capacity.  Photo: Kathleen Frydl

ANC Votes No on Ugly Mug Expansion

Residents, Landlords, and Business Owner Oppose Ugly Mug Plans

by Larry Janezich

Tuesday night, at its October meeting, ANC6B voted 6 – 0 – 2 to oppose Gaynor Jablonski’s plans to double the Ugly Mug’s seating capacity to nearly 200, expand the operation to the second floor, and add a 16X30 room with a retractable glass roof.  Nearby residents, landlords, and business owners rose to cite the Ugly Mug’s failure to live up to its Operating Agreement on trash, as well as its inability to mitigate the impact of rodents, noise, and odors with its current seating capacity of 89.

Commissioners said they had been bombarded with emails opposing the expansion, accompanied by graphic photos taken this week of rat feces, trash strewn in the rear of the restaurant, and open and overflowing dumpsters belonging to the Ugly Mug – this in the face of concerns on these very issues raised at last week’s ANC Planning and Zoning Committee.

One resident in an apartment directly across from the back of the Ugly Mug said from the first week she moved in in August she noticed that” in the evenings my apartment vibrates, the walls shake, and there is an intense low humming.…My apartment shakes so much and there is such a loud noise some evenings that it sounds like an airplane….on weekend evenings at around 1-2 a.m., I am sometimes awakened by overwhelming odors of … food.”

Diane Hoskins, representing neighbors north of Pennsylvania who support best operating practices for food and drink establishments on 7th Street near Eastern Market, urged the ANC to take a harder line with the Ugly Mug in an effort to impose best practices as standard operating procedures for both 7th Street and Barracks Row.

Jablonski had made few concessions since opposition arose at last week’s Planning and Zoning meeting.  He had agreed to close the retractable roof at 10:30pm Sunday through Thursday, at midnight on Friday and Saturday, and to cut back the occupancy slightly on the second floor.  But he’d made no progress to move in the direction of best practices on trash, noise, or odors, claiming that the cost was prohibitive.

Despite the concerns expressed by other commissioners, Commissioner Phil Peisch, in whose single member district the Ugly Mug resides, said that he could support the expansion if the owner agreed to close the retractable roof at 10:00pm Sunday through Thursday, and at 11:00pm on Friday and Saturday.  He was alone in articulating that support.

ABC Committee Chair Sara Loveland said Jablonski’s practices in managing the Ugly Mug “say you don’t care about the neighbors at all.”  She asked if he would consider expanding without the retractable roof.  Jablonski said no, that the roof was an attractive feature essential to the expansion.

Commissioner Pate cited his difficulty with the proximity of the sometimes open patio to neighbors, the lack of odor mitigation, and the graphic pictures of alley conditions behind the Ugly Mug.

Commissioner Frishberg told Jablonski that he had reached new heights of opposition – and that “doesn’t happen much.”

ANC Chair Brian Flahaven, who is normally pro-development and who said he was “inclined to try to work things out” to encourage businesses, told Jablonski he hadn’t made the case for expansion and moved to protest the application before the Alcohol Beverage Control Board on the basis of peace, order, and quiet.  The motion passed 6 – 0 – 2, with Commissioners Flahaven, Campbell, Opkins, Pate, Frishberg, and Oldenburg voting for the motion.  Commissioners Peisch and Loveland abstained.

1 Comment

Filed under Uncategorized