Update on Redesign of the Eastern Market Metro Plaza

Architect’s rendition of the redesigned Eastern Market Metro Plaza

Update on Redesign of the Eastern Market Metro Plaza

Councilmember Allen Asks Mayor for FY ‘18 Funding

by Larry Janezich

CM Charles Allen told CHC at his community office hours at Radicci on Friday morning, that he has asked Mayor Bowser for FY 2018 funding to initiate the redesign and development of Eastern Market Metro Plaza.

Allen said he expects the development will happen in phases, and acknowledged that Parcel 1 (where the children’s playground funded by community benefit funds from the Hine Project will be built) would be the easiest and least expensive place to start.  ANC6B Chair Chander Jayaraman told ANC commissioners recently that funding for the first year planning and development of Parcel 1 will cost $3 million.  CHC has previously reported that the plans for a children’s playground on Parcel 1 is moving forward here:  http://bit.ly/2n0M1g4

The redesign project will also include the expansion of the Southeast Library under 7th Street, with an above ground entrance on the Metro Plaza.  Funding for the initiation of the expansion reportedly has already been included in the FY ’18 budget.  Allen says that the first year of funding for the library would typically be devoted to planning, with funding for construction following in the subsequent fiscal year.

The City Council will hold hearings on the Mayor’s budget in April and May.  Allen said that if funds are included for work on the Eastern Market Metro Plaza, he will fight to keep them in – and if they are not, he will fight to include them.

The organization behind the redesign is Barracks Row Main Street, who used congressionally ear-marked funds to hire architect Amy Weinstein to create a plan to redesign the plaza about two years ago.  CHC reported on the June 16, 2014 meeting of the Eastern Market Metro Plaza Task Force to hear Weinstein describe the final plan here:  http://bit.ly/2mOFrHG

The redesign plan was referred to the Department of General Services (DGS) for an Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) some 18 months ago and appears to be in limbo.  DGS already knows a lot about the EIS for Metro Plaza, since a study was done for construction of the metro.  It is uncertain why the DGS has not made public the result of the EIS for the redesign; calls and emails to the DGS Office of Public Information were not returned.  Asked why he thought DGS had not reported out the EIS, Allen said, “Because they’re slow as molasses.”

Asked for comment on the status of the redesign, BRMS Executive Director Martin said:  “BRMS is fully committed to moving forward with the Eastern Market Metro Park project for this important L’Enfant-designed public space at the heart of Capitol Hill. Two years ago, we completed a year-long community input process that resulted in a world-class design that enjoys broad community support. We are continuing to brief city officials on the design and seeking support for the necessary funding to see it go from a concept to a reality. We are hopeful that the needed funds can be included in the city’s FY18 budget. In the meantime, BRMS has agreed to take the lead on utilizing the funds from the Stanton Eastbanc Community Benefits Agreement that were set aside for a playground and other improvements to construct an interim playground on the northeast parcel. This interim playground will provide Capitol Hill residents with a preview of the park’s potential while also providing a place for local children to play while the overall plan is being finalized and readied for construction.”

The community presentation of the final plan is here:  http://bit.ly/2nSxnFs

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The Week Ahead….

The view from Peregrine, circa 8:30am, March 18, 2017

The Week Ahead….

by Larry Janezich

Monday, March 20

  1. ANC6A Transportation & Public Space Committee meets at 7:00pm, Capitol Hill Towers, 900 G Street, NE. Photo ID required.

Agenda not available at press time.

  1. Tuesday, March 21

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

Among items on the agenda:

Discussion of request for new CT license filed by Dio, LLC t/a Dio Wine Bar, 904 H Street, NE

Discussion of request for new license to be filed by Quara Ethiopian Fusion Restaurant, 818 H Street, NE

  1. ANC6B Outreach & Constituent Services Task Force meets at 7:00pm, at Hill Center, 921 Pennsylvania Avenue, SE

Rats on Capitol Hill Discussion

Remarks by Director Gerard Brown, Department of Health, Rodent and Vector Control

Neighborhood Concerns Discussion

Recap Abatement Opportunities & Next Steps

Brainstorm April task force meeting agenda topics

  1. Capitol Hill Restoration Society board of Directors meets at 6:30pm, Capitol Hill Townhomes.750 6th Street, SE.

Wednesday, March 22

  1.  Eastern Market Community Advisory Committee meets at 7:00pm  in the North Hall of Eastern Market.

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ANC6B Moves Playground on Eastern Market Metro Plaza Closer to Reality

The site of the planned Eastern Market Metro Playground, March 18, 2017, circa 9:00am.

Schematic of Eastern Market Metro Plaza. Playground would be located on Parcel 1.

ANC6B Moves Playground on Eastern Market Metro Plaza Closer to Reality

by Larry Janezich

Last Tuesday night, ANC6B signed off on combining the $50,000 pledged by Hine Developer Eastbanc  for EM Metro Plaza landscaping with Eastbanc’s pledge of $75,000 for a playground on the northeast quadrant of the Eastern Market Metro Plaza (Parcel 1 above).  The combined fund will be used for a playground to replace the “guerrilla playground” of plastic toys that neighbors contributed to the space before the city removed them last summer.

The resolution supporting merging the funds, which was adopted 9 – 0, was offered by Commissioner Diane Hoskins, in whose single member district the whole of the Eastern Market Metro Plaza lies.

The total of $125,000 is more in line with what will be necessary for the playground after taking into account establishing a safe play surface and a Historic Preservation Review Board-approved fencing.

Both pots of money were part of a community benefit package negotiated by ANC6B on behalf of the community, to partially compensate it for loss of open space occasioned by construction of the Hine Project.  Two other benefits resulting from the construction are a child care facility within the development and ANC6B office and community meeting space.   Under the terms of the agreement, the funds for the playground have to be contributed prior to the city issuing a certificate of occupancy for the office component of that project.  Eastbanc expects to apply for the certificate of occupancy in June or July.

Under the resolution the landscaping funds will be joined with and transferred to Barracks Row Main Street – which set up a non-profit to accept the money – who will undertake the coordination with the city for creation of the playground.

According to Barracks Row Mainstreet Executive Director, Martin Smith, ”If all the stars align, the playground could be up and running this summer.”  That’s a heavily qualified estimate, but if BRMS can pull it off, they deserve the applause of the community.  In any event, odds seem good that the playground will happen this year.

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Residents Close Deal on Ambar Indoor Trash Storage After ANC Bogs Down on Jurisdiction Issue

ANC6B Chair Chander Jayaraman (at left), tells Ambar owner Ivan Iricanin (standing) that he can’t support the Historic Preservation Application without a commitment for indoor trash storage. Also pictured, left to right, Commissioners Burger, Loots, Grace, and Hagedorn.

Residents Close Deal on Ambar Indoor Trash Storage After ANC Bogs Down on Jurisdiction Issue

by Larry Janezich

The first item on ANC6B’s agenda Tuesday night following the outpouring of community outrage at the city’s inability to deal with rats (see here: http://bit.ly/2mQRCFS), was the Historic Preservation Application for the planned roof deck on Barracks Row’s Balkan Restaurant Ambar.  The ANC has been pressuring Ambar to store trash indoors as part of the on-going battle against the rats of Barracks Row.

Technically, Historic Preservation is far removed from the issue of rodent control, and the ANC was trying hard to find a way to signal the applicant and the city the degree of their commitment to use every tool available to impose best operating practices on restaurants in ANC6B.  Ambar plans to add an additional 50 seats in a new roof top dining area with a retractable glass roof, doubling their daily production of trash.

ANC6B Chair Chander Jayaraman and Commissioner Diane Hoskins maneuvered to find a way to tie the trash storage issue to the Historic Preservation Application.  Other commissioners balked, saying that although they might support the trash storage requirement, that matter would be more properly addressed when Ambar came back to ask the ANC’s endorsement for a “Substantial Change” in their liquor license.

For his part, Ambar owner Ivan Iricanin told the committee that while his plan provided for indoor storage of grease, indoor trash storage was impossible – there just wasn’t enough space.

For Committee Chair Chander Jayaraman, who has made best practices for Barracks Row restaurants the cause célèbre of his Chairmanship, this was too much: “I’m disappointed.  You said you would try and now you’re saying ‘no’ – we want you to succeed, but not at the expense of giving up on indoor trash storage and rodent control.”

The commission deadlocked on three attempts at incorporating language related to trash storage in their recommendation to the Historic Preservation Review Board (HPRB) before finally voting 6 – 4 (with Commissioner Nick Burger changing his vote to aye to dispose of the issue) to take “no position” on Ambar’s Application.  With the matter referred up to HPRB with no mention of trash, Ambar owner Ivan Iricanin left the room.  Hot on his heels, however, were the Barracks Row neighbors who were determined to use the momentum of the community’s heated antipathy to rats to wring a commitment on indoor trash storage from Ambar.

In the ad hoc hallway meeting which followed – Ambar neighbors Linda Elliott, Linda Young, and Catherine Szafran – with support from the Mayor’s Ward Six representative, Kelly Jeong –  convinced Iricanin to commit to indoor trash storage in exchange for community support before the Bureau of Zoning Adjustment for a variance to allow Ambar to extend their building three feet to the property line, allowing additional square feet for all three stories of his building.  They told Iricanin this was feasible because of precedents set by Matchbox and CAVA.  In exchange, and if successful, Iricanin agreed to carve out enough extra space on the first floor for indoor storage of trash, recycling, and grease.  ANC6B had previously pitched this to Iricanin who resisted it as too difficult and time consuming, but neighbors were able to overcome those reservations.  Several Commissioners, when told of the outcome of the hallway negotiation, seemed pleased at the outcome.

Elliott cited the other Barracks Row restaurants, e.g., &Pizza, which had adopted best practices and told Iricanin, “We want to make you another example of a good way to address the issue.”  She later told CHC, “The goal is to show Councilmember Allen what works on the 400 and 500 blocks of Barracks Row and build a city-wide model on that.  Compactors and sheds have been tried and are not effective.  Indoor storage is the only way to fix this, from an efficiency and marketing point of view.  Getting rid of or minimizing the food source is huge step toward mitigation.”

The need for a better strategy is obvious.  CM Allen has pledged to take a crack at it, and it should be city wide.  If Allen needs a place to start, how about addressing the enforcement problem?  Here’s an idea.  The Office of Rodent Control is understaffed.  Give it more funding.   Why this easy remedy hasn’t already been taken is hard to understand.  And, according to Elliott, the Office of Rodent Control has lost the ability to issue fines for trash storage infractions or the existence of burrows.  They should have the same ability as the Department of Public Works or the Department of Health.  Give it to them.

ANC6B’s Community Outreach and Constituent Services Task Force, co-chaired by Commissioner Jennifer Samolyk and Diane Hoskins, will hold a community meeting on the rodent issue on Tuesday, March 21, at Hill Center.  Gerard Brown of DC Rodent Control will be a featured speaker.

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Responding to Residents, Ward 6 Councilmember Allen Pledges to “Take A Crack” at Rat Problem

Ten Capitol Hill restaurant neighbors (two out of frame) voiced their concern about the city’s failure in the war on rats at ANC6B Tuesday night. Standing center left, Sylvia Csiffary, standing in front at right, Linda Elliott, middle rear in red jacket, Linda Young.

Responding to Residents, Ward 6 Councilmember Allen Pledges to “Take A Crack” at Rat Problem

Capitol Hill Restaurant Neighbors Push For City-Wide Indoor Trash Storage for Food Services Venues

By Larry Janezich

CM Charles Allen made his annual spring visit to ANC6B Tuesday night, addressing numerous issues which have his attention in commission’s district.  But it was the issue of rats raised by two groups of residents – one from the 3rd and Pennsylvania neighborhood and another from the Barracks Row neighborhood – that dominated the conversation during the question and answer period.  Allen said that the “strong voices had shown him this was a serious issue” and he would enlist the ANC, Barracks Row Main Street, and the Capitol Hill Bid to supplement city’s efforts at rodent control.

Sylvia Csiffary spoke for the first group citing efforts to work through regular channels to address a problem with rat-attracting restaurants in the 300 block of PA Avenue had been only partially successful.  Although the neighbors and ANC6B had been successful before the Alcohol Beverage Regulation Administration which ruled that there is a relationship between trash management and the serving of alcohol (thus validating the use of liquor license renewals to impose trash and rodent management practices on a restaurant) it had been labor intensive, had come at a great price – both financially and at the additional cost of peace of mind – and had taken 18 months.

Csiffary blamed the lack of coordination and fragmented approach among the agencies responsible for rodent control.  “The rats are picking us apart by institutional fragmentation,” she said, “we need a fresh, systemic approach.”   She also noted that that the wheels seemed to have fallen off the Mayor’s “Rat Riddance” program.

Linda Elliot spoke for the Barracks Row neighbors, citing the success ANC6B and the neighbors have had in persuading restaurants on Barracks Row to adopt best operating practices including indoor trash storage, by using liquor license renewals as leverage.  She pointed to & Pizza, Eat Bar, and Tandoor Grill as businesses which have demonstrated their willingness to partner with the community in adopting indoor trash storage.  Elliot lauded those restaurants which have gone the extra mile, saying their efforts have “benefited both the businesses and the community at a little bit of additional cost.”

Linda Young, also from the Barracks Row group, said she had spent “thousands of dollars dealing with the issue of rats” in her home, but had not been able to eliminate them from her yard.  She pointed to the need to regulate all food serving outlets, citing the problems caused by the Barracks Row 7-11, which is difficult to pressure, because they have no liquor license.  Young asked Allen, “What can we do – what can the city do?”

Allen replied, “I don’t have all the answers”, and noted his own recent confrontation with a rat in his alley.  He said that regulations are not enforced or tied together – “we don’t have a single city actor that pulls all these things together”.  He praised Gerard Brown of DC Rodent Control, but said his office was stretched too thin on this.  Still, Allen said, “You have shown me this is a high priority.  Let me take a crack at it.”  He said he would come back to the ANC and determine the next step.

Elliott got in a final plug for indoor trash storage, saying that regulations requiring indoor trash storage for anyone selling food would be a “big step toward showing that something can be done.”

ANC6B’s Community Outreach and Constituent Services Task Force, co-chaired by Commissioner Jennifer Samolyk and Diane Hoskins, will hold a community meeting on the rodent issue on Tuesday, March 21, at Hill Center.  Gerard Brown of DC Rodent Control will be a featured speaker.

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Councilmember Allen Makes ANC Rounds – Talks to ANC6D About Last Week’s Shooting in SW

Councilmember Charles Allen takes questions from the audience at last night’s ANC6D meeting.

Councilmember Allen Makes ANC Rounds – Talks to ANC6D About Last Week’s Shooting in SW

by Larry Janezich

Councilmember Charles Allen appeared before ANC6D Monday night.  Allen has been making the rounds of Ward Six ANC’s to talk about issues in those ANCs.  The first thing he addressed last night was the recent drive-by shooting last week which sent a victim to the hospital and roiled the neighborhood around King Greenleaf Recreation Center at 201 N Street, SW, SW.  Allen said he had engaged MPD First District Commander Morgan Kane and Ward 8 colleagues and MPD had pointed to a “beef” between residents of Ward 8 and residents who frequent the SW recreation center.   The violence, Allen said he learned, was the result of “back and forth” between the two groups in the different wards.  Greenleaf has proposed to limit access to the center involving a build out of the entry way which would require a buzz-in for access.  “I don’t like this,” said Allen, but seemed to acknowledge that a concern for public safety was of primary concern.

Regarding other ANC6D issues, Allen said he was pushing the Mayor to move more quickly on the renovation of Jefferson School, moving it up before the current plan which is three years out.  Allen noted the school had recently been visited by Secretary of Education De Vos, who subsequently – and unjustifiably, according to Allen – trashed the school in a conservative newspaper.  Allen also said that the complete rebuilding of the Southwest Library is on track.

A few members of the audience had questions for Allen, including the problem of unruly students congregating in front of the CVS near the Navy Yard entrance.  Allen said he had sat down with CVS after hearing from neighbors, telling them that CVS has to own part of the problem and can’t just call MPD.  Allen told company officials they had to increase security.  He has also reached out to schools and to the SW Library whose staff has suffered harassment.  These efforts resulted in the identification of aggressors and MPD has conducted home visits in an attempt to engage families to help address the problem.

Another resident expressed concern about the “significant uptick in noise and vibration” now that trains are beginning to run through one of the CSX tunnels.  The resident said he and his neighbors are hearing trains for the first time, and have lobbied CSX – to no avail – for additional insulation.  A resident told Allen he had filed a claim for minor damage to his home to start a paper trail.  Allen indicated he would look into this.

Finally, Allen – in response to a final question – said that DDOT Director Dormsjo would be holding quarterly meetings with Southwest leadership to work on transportation issues and planning. Allen indicated that he would support and join that effort to help keep that conversation moving forward.

Allen is scheduled to appear tonight, Tuesday, March 14, before ANC6B, which meets at 7:00pm in Hill Center.

(This post has been updated to reflect MPD referring to a “beef” between residents of Ward 6 and Ward 8, and to clarify that DDOT will be hosting quarterly meetings on Southwest transportation issues. 4:12pm, Tuesday)

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The Week Ahead….CM Charles Allen at ANC6B & ANC6D Meetings

Hine Project, Residential portion of the South Building, seen from 8th Street, SE, looking Southwest.

The Week Ahead….CM Charles Allen at ANC6B & ANC6D Meetings

by Larry Janezich

  1. ANC6D meets at 7:00pm, 200 I Street, SE.

Among items on the draft agenda:

Presentation:  Ward 6 Councilmember Charles Allen

Presentation:  57th Annual Sakura Matsuri – Japanese Street Festival

Request for Public Space Permit for Slipstream (82 I Street, SE)

Presentation:  Cultural DC http://www.culturaldc.org/

Hotel Beverage Company, 1233 First Street, SE – New DT (Tavern) license

Masala Art, 1000 4th Street, SW – Amendment to entertainment hours

Zoning application:  Half Street Ballpark Site, Bowling Alley

Historic Landmark Application Federal Office Building No. 6 (400 Maryland Avenue, SW – Lyndon Baines Johnson Department of Education Building)

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

  1. ANC6B meets at 7:00pm at Hill Center.

Among items on the draft agenda:

Presentation:  Ward 6 Councilmember Charles Allen

Letter to DDOT and DPR supporting Community’s Preferred Plan for the Renovation of Virginia Avenue Park

Historic Preservation Application for 411 8th Street, SE (Lake Arbor Dental); Redesign of the Primary Façade

Letter requesting a Traffic Signal at 11th & D Streets, SE, Intersection

Letter to DDOT/DPR on 6B07 Pocket Parks

Historic Preservation Application for 523 8th Street, SE (Ambar); Concept/Rooftop deck with a retractable roof and rear addition

Housing Coalition Statement of Principles on affordable housing that should be addressed as part of the review of the DC Comprehensive Plan

ANC 6B Input on Legislative Activities

Letter to the Mayor and the City Council requesting that funds be appropriated to renovate Parcel 1, as described in the Eastern Market Metro Plaza Comprehensive Plan (the plastic park area)

Resolution Concerning the Physical Renovation of Jefferson Academy Middle School

  1. PSA 104 public meets at 7:00pm, Sherwood Recreation Center, Corner of 10th and G Streets, NE

Wednesday, March 15

  1. ANC6A Economic Development & Zoning Committee meets at 7:00pm, Sherwood Recreation Center, Corner of 10th and G Streets, NE

Among items on the draft agenda:

Kingman Park Historic District: Request by residents to make Kingsman Park and surrounding areas a historic district.

1701 H Street, NE (Case Number 15-31): The PUD seeks a land use designation change from the existing C-3-A to C-2-B to construct a mixed-use building with approximately 14,342 square feet of ground-floor retail uses and 180 residential units on nine floors above.  The applicant will also use the PUD process to obtain relief from other requirements of the Zoning Regulations, including the parking, loading and roof structure requirements.

  1. PSA 106 meets at 7:00pm CQ Community Center, 1000 5th Street SE (5th & K SE)

Thursday, March 16

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

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City Bikes Opened Today at Its New Barracks Row Location – Photos

City Bikes opened it’s new Barracks Row shop today.

City Bikes features the electric bike shown here.

Here’s the interior.

And the service area in the rear of the store.

Founder and owner of City Bikes, Charlie McCormick, engages a couple of neighbors from the Marine Barracks across the street.

City Bikes Opened Today at Its New Barracks Row Location  – Photos

by Larry Janezich

City Bikes returned to Barracks Row on Friday afternoon at 719 8th Street, the former location of Capitol Hill Bikes, which closed last December.  City Bikes founder and owner Charlie McCormick told Capitol Hill Corner:  “We’re so happy to be back…the outpouring of support from the community has been humbling.”  McCormick cited the company’s deep roots in the community, referencing their previous location at 709 8th Street, SE.  City Bikes left Barracks Row in March of 2016 after a five year run and relocated to Tenleytown.  He said, “We were sad to leave, but very happy to be back with a better presence and featuring the electric bike.”

The retail shop will be a “store within a store,” according to McCormick, offering electric bikes as well as standard bikes, and maintenance for both.

He said he has seen incredible growth and interest in the electric bikes at his Tenleytown location, calling the product a “spectacular success.”  The electric bike is often misconceived as similar to a Moped, but is actually still very much a bicycle according to McCormick.  A majority of his customers are women who want to ride with their partners or spouses, but who might not have the same fitness level – and the electric bike serves as an equalizer.

The shop will only offer products from top quality manufacturers; electric bikes are priced at $1200 and up, with most Tenleytown purchases being in the $2500 – $3000 range.

In addition to Barracks Row, City Bikes has outlets in Adams Morgan, Chevy Chase, and Tenleytown.

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Barracks Row Anomaly Gets Face Lift and Maybe a New Restaurant

Lake Arbor Dental Associates at 411 8th Street, SE, which looks like this…

…will look like this if HPRB signs off on the planned changes to the facade envisioned by Dep Designs

Barracks Row Anomaly Gets Face Lift and Maybe a New Restaurant

by Larry Janezich

Last Tuesday night, ANC6C’s Planning and Zoning Committee considered a Historic Preservation Application regarding the concept design for a new façade for the building housing Lake Arbor Dental Associates at 411 8th Street, SE.  The building is owned by Zusin Development, which also owns buildings housing the 14th Street Matchbox and the Capitol Hill restaurant Bearnaise.

Architect Chuong Cao of Dep Designs, who presented the concept for the new design, told the committee that for now, only exterior work is being planned, though renovating the interior will come later.  When questioned about what kind of retail might occupy the space, Giang said, it was not certain, but that “a restaurant is what the street wants to have.”

Zusin Development co-owner Ilya Zusin said that the timeline for re-development is uncertain, and that he currently does not have a new client for the space.  According to DC tax records, Zusin Development purchased the building on January 17, 2017, for $2,110,000, apparently in a foreclosure sale.

Commissioner Kirsten Oldenburg expressed some reservations about the plate glass window on the second floor, but ended up supporting the plan.  The committee moved to support the application, 12 – 0, and placed it on the ANC’s consent calendar for consideration at its March 14 full commission meeting.

For more on Zusin Development, see here:  http://www.zusin.com/

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Barracks Row Serbian Restaurant Ambar Plans Roof Deck Expansion

Ambar, Servian Restaurant, Barrack Row.

The layout of the proposed roof deck for Ambar. Click to enlarge.

Barracks Row Serbian Restaurant Ambar Plans Roof Deck Expansion

by Larry Janezich

At Tuesday night’s ANC6B’s Planning and Zoning Committee meeting, Gayll Worsley of W+W Associates Architects Pc, presented her design concept for Ambar’s planned rooftop deck with a retractable glass roof.  Pending before the committee was Ambar’s Historic Preservation Application, the first step in gaining city approval to proceed with the project.  The plan anticipates table seating for 48, plus an additional 5 at a bar.

The Alcohol Beverage Committee (ABC) Committee chair Chander Jayaraman pressed the architect to incorporate indoor trash storage in accordance with ANC6B’s  policy of encouraging existing restaurants to adopt best operating practices regarding rodent control and noise and odor abatement when substantial renovations are undertaken .  Worsley was amenable to addressing the issue of indoor trash storage.  The Planning and Zoning committee is currently considering a Historic Preservation application – the first step in gaining city approval for the expansion.  Technically, the indoor trash storage issue will come back before the ANC through its ABC Committee when the committee considers the restaurant’s request for substantial change in the alcohol license which the addition will entail.  Meanwhile, the Planning and Zoning deferred action on the Historic Preservation Application until the meeting of the full Commission on March 14, pending modification of the design concept.

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