Monthly Archives: June 2011

Eastern Market Metro: 8:30am Friday

 

 

Reginald Conyers Plays Baroque Concertos at Eastern Market Metro on Friday Morning

 

Reginal Conyers, Classical Musician

Eastern Market Metro:  8:30am Friday

by Larry Janezich

Reginald Conyers, classical music trumpeter, performed this morning at Eastern Market Metro. Accompanying recorded music, he played a selection of three Baroque concertos by Vivaldi, Telemann, and Handel. 

Conyers, 46, a Washington native, has earned a living as a street musician (busker) for the past 18 years in Boston, San Francisco, Chicago, New York, and DC.  He trained at Duke Ellington School of Music.

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ANC Alcohol Licensing Committee Refuses Carte Blanche to Hill Center

ANC6B ABC Committee Hearing on Hill Center Liquor License - l-r Commissioners Oldenburg, Frishberg, Glick, Chair Green, Commissioners Flahaven, Metzger, Pate

ANC Alcohol Licensing Committee Refuses Carte Blanche to Hill Center

by Larry Janezich

At Thursday night’s ANC6B ABC hearing on the Hill Center’s application for a liquor license, the Committee deferred a decision on the application, effectively bucking the issue to the full ANC6B meeting next Tuesday.

In the meantime, Committee Chair Carol Green will meet with Hill Center representatives to work out the conditions under which a liquor license may be granted.  The Hill Center was presented with two options, suggested by Commissioner Ivan Frishberg.  The first would limit the hours of the summer garden operations to 10:00pm during the week and 12:00 midnight Friday through Sunday.  The second option would limit summer garden operations to midnight 7 days a week, with a revaluation after six months.  In addition, a reduction in the number of people permitted to occupy the summer garden will also be negotiated downward from the 500 maximum specified in the original application.

Former Ward Six Councilmember Sharon Ambrose was present as the spokesperson for Hill Center.  She supported the application and asked the Committee to grant Hill Center maximum flexibility regarding operating hours and occupancy.  To further that effort, and in an effort to respond to concerns of nearby neighbors, Hill Center had, today, faxed a modification of their intended operating hours for outside events, cutting them back to a closing time of midnight, 7 days a week.  Operating hours for inside would remain the same.

Originally, the application provided that hours of operation for the Sale/Service/Consumption of alcoholic beverages for the inside premises and the summer garden are listed as 10:00am – 2:00am on Sunday, 8:00am – 2:00am Monday through Thursday, and 8:00am – 3:00am Friday and Saturday.

Several neighbors and community members rose to express concerns related to the hours or operation and the potential for noise.  These included nearby residents Barbara Eck, Yoonmee Chang, Helene Quick, Joe Shay, Frank Young, and Pope Barrow.  Barbara Eck has been and continues to be a strong supporter of and advocate for the Center, but warned against operating hours that would have an adverse effect on the community.

Some Committee members were concerned that Hill Center could not give an estimate of how often events such as weddings, receptions, bar mitzvahs, etc., would be held.  Ambrose said there was “no way to predict the number of events,” that at best, it would be a “guestimate that would not serve your purposes now, or ours in planning.”

Ambrose stressed the Hill Center’s desire not to have a negative impact, saying the primary function of the Center was to be a learning center available to the entire community.  At the same time, her implication that The Hill Center was only trying to raise “enough money to keep the property from going back to the city” was greeted with skepticism on the part of some commissioners.

Regarding concerns about parking, the Hill Center website says “events that expect more than 30 cars must contract with our approved valet parking vendor.”  Nicky Cymrot, President of the Old Naval Hospital Foundation, said that in conversations with a parking valet vendor, the company said they would “guarantee” that there would be no parking on residential streets.  It was not clear where these cars would be parked, however.  Nor was it clear what impact 30 cars would have on the surrounding streets, should that occur with regularity.  New parking restrictions will go into effect in some nearby areas – perhaps before Hill Center opens – but it is not clear exactly which areas will be affected, or whether that will push parking into areas north of Pennsylvania Avenue, but still within walking distance of Hill Center.

Commissioner Brian Pate raised the issue of a potential conflict of interest for the Commission, since ANC6B has announced its intention of renting office space within the Hill Center but has not yet negotiated the amount of rent.  It seemed to be the consensus of the Committee to sidestep this issue by asking a disinterested third party to negotiate terms of a lease and to make that recommendation to the ANC.

The full ANC6B will meet at Church of Jesus Christ of LDS, 522 7th Street, SE, Tuesday, June 14, 2011 – 7:00pm.

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Barracks Row Blockbuster to Close in August

Barracks Row Blockbuster to Close

Barracks Row Blockbuster to Close in August

Opening for National Retail?

by Larry Janezich

The Barracks Row Blockbuster will close in August, according to Martin Smith, Executive Director, Barracks Row Main Street.  The move will open up a 4,100 square foot retail space – slightly over the standard 4,000 square foot minimum for a national retail outlet.  The space has an additional 650 square feet on the second floor.   According to Smith, the typical retail space on Barracks Row is 1200 – 1800 square feet because many of the buildings are former row houses.

Smith said that it’s not certain that a national retailer will become the next tenant.  It would be easy to cut the larger space into smaller ones, and a lot of independent businesses, reluctant to take on the overhead of a large space, can be accommodated in the smaller ones.

Still, the opening up of one of the only spaces on Barracks Row large enough for a corporate tenant makes it likely that such an outlet would be among the first choices for the property owner.

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Verizon to Remedy Cell Phone Dead Zones on Capitol Hill – Seeks Installation of 15 Antennas on Haines Building Roof

Haines Building Seen from North Side, Showing Two AT&T Antennas

Close up of Left Tower Showing Two Antennas

Verizon To Remedy Cell Phone Dead Zones on Capitol Hill – Seeks Installation of 15 Antennas on Haines Building Roof

by Larry Janezich

Verizon Communications representatives appeared before both the ANC6B Planning and Zoning Committee and the CHRS Historical Preservation Committee this week in support of their Historical Preservation Application regarding installing 15 new communication antennas on the roof of the Haines Building at 8th and Pennsylvania Avenue, SE.  The building is owned by Community Connections, and is already the home of 9 similar AT&T antennas, some visible from the Eastern Market Metro Plaza and Pennsylvania Avenue.

Tuesday night, before the ANC Committee, Verizon stated they need the additional coverage to remedy the dead zone problem on Capitol Hill.  Many Verizon cell phone users experience dead zones in the form of dropped calls or poor signal quality.  The company is requesting approval for the installation of the additional antennas in three groups of five each, one on the building’s north side, one on the south side, and one on the east side.  The ten foot tall antennas are set back 10 feet from the building’s façade, but all three installations would be visible from near-by streets.  Verizon’s goal is to start construction by late summer or early fall and be “on air” by the end of the year.

The installation appears to be a given.  At issue is whether to shield the new antennas or to leave them exposed, as are the current AT&T antennas.  The AT&T antennas currently in place look something like the framework of what might have formerly been billboards.

The ANC Committee received assurances from Verizon representatives that the amount of radiation involved is minimal, the company representative stating that the radiation is one-tenth of what is considered to be harmful, and that those exposed to it would “probably receive more radiation from their cell phones.”

Commissioner Ivan Frishberg, who conducted much of the questioning of Verizon officials, moved that the Committee approve the Historic Preservation Application without screening, with a request that Verizon come back before the full ANC6B Tuesday, June 14, and during the ensuing time, determine if it is possible to move the antennas away from the Pennsylvania Avenue side.  He noted that 2 absent Commissioners – Garrison and Campbell – are expected to be present at the full ANC6B next week, and that an amendment to require screening as a condition of approval could emerge during the full ANC6B’s consideration of the issue.

The motion was agreed to by a vote of 4 – 2, with 1 abstention.

Commissioners Frishberg, Pate, Flahaven, and Oldenburg voted for the motion.  Commissioners Metzger and Green voted against.  Commissioner Glick abstained.

Separately, on Monday night, the Restoration Society’s Historic Preservation Committee heard the same presentation from Verizon Communications.

Like the ANC Committee, the Historic Preservation Committee seemed somewhat ambivalent regarding whether screens or no screens would be more intrusive.  The shielding could be fabricated to look like the exterior of the building, but as with the ANC Committee, opinion appeared to be divided whether that would look better or worse.

The final recommendation of the Committee is unknown, since, as is the usual practice, Chair Nancy Metzger announced that the Committee would go into executive session – with only committee members present – to discuss the matter.

The next CHRS Board meeting is on Tuesday, June 21, and the full board could consider the question, or, as is often the case, the Committee may make its recommendation directly to the Historic Preservation Office.

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Chipotle Stumbles on First Hurdle – ANC6B Planning and Zoning Committee – Vote to Oppose Application Sends Issue to Full ANC

Proposed Chipotle and Adjacent Restaurant Space on Barracks Row

Chipotle Stumbles on First Hurdle – ANC6B Planning and Zoning Committee

Vote to Oppose Application Sends Issue to Full ANC

by Larry Janezich

ANC6B’s Planning and Zoning Committee voted to oppose a Chipotle Mexican Grill on Barracks Row Tuesday night, but left the door open for further consideration by the full ANC6B next week.

The architect of record appeared before the Committee prepared to discuss architectural plans and historic preservation.  But the Committee wanted to hear a rational from corporate officials for their request for a special exception to zoning regulations prohibiting businesses from opening fast food restaurants in the commercial corridor as “a matter of right.”

Since corporate representatives who could speak to the question were not present, the Committee voted 4 – 3 to oppose the request pending receipt of information supporting the rational for granting the exception.  Chipotle representatives will have the opportunity to make their case before the full ANC6B at its regular meeting on Tuesday, June 14.

Committee members stressed that they want to hear the same presentation that Chipotle representatives will make to the Board of Zoning Adjustment to justify the exception, and expressed a preference to hear from the franchise operator.   It emerged during the discussion that Chipotle’s plan is to establish the restaurant and later place an operator.  In lieu of the operator, Committee members said they wanted to hear from corporate representatives and from the building owner, Streetsense.

A secondary but related issue was the question of how good a corporate neighbor Chipotle would be.  Commissioner Ivan Frishberg noted his efforts to effect redress regarding community concerns about corporate retailers in the community were too often frustrated by a distant corporate bureaucracy with no understanding or appreciation of neighborhood or community problems.

He said he was not comfortable in hearing from corporate representatives about what the policy of future franchise holders toward participation in community civic efforts would be.   He stated flatly, “the track record of corporate chains is abysmal” in this area and “I’m not sure we can trust a corporate regional representative to be a good neighbor.”

Neighborhood activist Yoonmee Chang agreed with Frishberg, and addressed the adverse effects that a fast food restaurant would have on the immediate neighbors of Barrack’s Row, including litter, traffic, contribution to a transient atmosphere, and setting of precedent.  Chang asked, “Why not Burger King next year?”  Asked if she preferred the current tenant over Chipotle, Chang replied that it was comparing apples and oranges, and she preferred not to think of it as a tradeoff.

Frishberg made the motion to oppose the application for zoning adjustment pending receipt of information supporting the rational for granting an exception.  The motion was agreed to by a vote of four to three.  Commissioners voting for the motion:  Frishberg, Oldenburg, Metzger, and Green.  Those opposed:  Flahaven, Pate, and Glick.

The building owner, Streetsense, is a brokerage, design and development company specializing in retail and real estate.  Their clients include Chipotle, Starbucks, Matchbox, and Le Pain Quotidian.  Chipotle has been a client since 2007 when they engaged Streetsense to handle architecture, interior design, brokerage and market analysis.  Chipotle has more than 65 restaurants open in the DC metropolitan market.

Streetsense announced their acquisition of the Barracks Row property on May 11, 2011.  The two-level, 8,700 square foot building is actually two separate spaces, currently occupied by China Wall and Dollar + Continental.

According to the Streetsense website, Streetsense Architecture has been engaged to reconstruct the two street-front retail spaces (1,399sf and 1,544sf respectively) into ADA compliant, clean shells, with all utilities required by restaurants stubbed to the premises. Streetsense Retail Advisors brokered a deal with Chipotle to occupy the 1,544sf space; the restaurant plans to open in early 2012. The remaining 1,399 square feet will soon be made available for lease.

The full ANC6B will meet at Church of Jesus Christ of LDS, 522 7th Street, SE, Tuesday, June 14, 2011 – 7:00pm.

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Heritage Foundation Seeks Clearance to Demolish Church on Third Street, NE

424 Third Street, NE

Heritage Foundation Seeks Clearance to Demolish Church on Third Street, NE

by Larry Janezich

At Tuesday night’s CHRS Historic Preservation Committee, a representative of the Heritage Foundation made a presentation supporting the Foundation’s request for clearance to demolish the small church at 424 Third Street, NE, in the first block north of Massachusetts Avenue.  The church has been extensively modified and is not regarded as a contributing structure in the Historic District.

The representative explained that the building is in hazardous condition, and efforts by the Foundation to stabilize it have not succeeded.  The zoning for the site is R-4 residential, and the representative stated that the Foundation had no interest in applying for re-zoning, though their plans for the site at present are uncertain.

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Restoration Society Historic Preservation Committee Gets First Look at Revised Hine Drawings: Members Give Lukewarm Welcome to Some Proposed Changes

Hine Project Architect Amy Weinstein Briefs Historic Preservation Committee Members - Stanton Development's Kitty Kaupp Looks On

Restoration Society Historic Preservation Committee Gets First Look at Revised Hine Drawings:

Members Give Lukewarm Welcome to Some Proposed Changes

by Larry Janezich

The Restoration Society’s Historic Preservation Committee got a peek at Stanton/Eastbanc’s revised plans for the Hine development Tuesday night.  Project architect Amy Weinstein briefed the committee at its regular monthly meeting.

Weinstein described the major changes she has in mind for the project while emphasizing that it is still a work in progress.

Current thinking is that the façade of the 8th Street residential building should look like “terrace housing” with a unified design.  Weinstein cited several examples of terrace architecture, pointing specifically to “Schneider’s Triangle” near Washington Circle, referencing its variety and interesting massing.  http://www.flickr.com/photos/anomalous_a/4290184760/  The color palate of the 8th Street residential building will be red brick, purple red brownstone, and real slate, with the entrance of the building set off by grey brick.  No changes to the height or basic structure of the residential building were detailed at the meeting.

The 8th Street building facing D Street will retain its modern façade.  Bay windows projecting four feet on upper floors have been added, and the columns crowning the top story will be reduced to balustrade level, bringing down the buildings height.  The façade will be gray brick.  A committee member said that the grey brick courses separated by a course of white brick suggested a stack of concrete blocks.  Another raised the issue of the ungainly tower on the southwest corner of the building which houses the air-conditioning.  Another committee member questioned the “change in language” from the 8th Street residential Victorian façade to the modern façade of the 8th and D office building.  Weinstein defended the modern look, saying, “I believe as we move forward in the Historic District, we have to find a way to be modern and still be respectful.”  Questioned about the placement of the windows in the modern façade as not in keeping with other aspects of the project, the architect said she respectfully disagreed, and that there was a place for “playfulness” and “idiosyncrasy.”

With respect to the use of the ground floor space in the 8th and D building, Weinstein says that three possibilities are being considered:  Shakespeare housing, office space, and “light” retail.

The 7th floor of the 7th and Pennsylvania office building will be set back 12 feet and the penthouse will be minimized, providing the perception of a lower building; as of now, no floors have been eliminated entirely.  A glass railing on top of the 6th floor will enclose a roof top “communal” roof deck.  The asymmetrical rotating columns on the 7th Street office building remain.

Stanton Development will go back to the Historic Preservation Review Board (HPRB) on June 30th for historic preservation review of the 8th Street residential building, the 8th and D Street office building, and the 7th Street office building.  Weinstein characterized Stanton’s efforts in the upcoming reappearance before HPRB as responding to HPRB’s comments – “not everything, but what would work for us.”  Stanton will file the revised plans with HPRB on June 14th or 15th, to allow time for HPO staff analysis.  ANC6b will hear from the developers on June 21st and consider a resolution of recommendations to HPRB on that date.

In July, the developers will return to HPRB with revised plans for the 7th Street residential building, the plaza, and the North residential building.

Following the presentation, the committee went into executive session to discuss the Hine case and other matters before the committee.

Asked if the committee would make a recommendation in light of the fact that the drawings they saw tonight were still a work in progress, committee chair Nancy Metzger said “I don’t know what we’re going to do.  We may make comments to the developer based on what we heard tonight.”  Asked if the developers would appear before the committee prior to the HPRB meeting or if the committee would meet again before the HPRB meeting, Metzger responded “no,” but “when the drawing are filed with HPRB we will discuss them by email,” and, she implied, make a recommendation to HPRB at that time.

In addition to Chair Nancy Metzger, other members of the committee who attended tonight’s session included Judith Capen, James Dean, Shauna Holmes, Marisa Lewis, and Georgina Ardelan.

The Special Call Meeting on the Hine Development Project on June 21st will be at the Peoples Church, located at 535 8th Street, SE.   The meeting will start at 7:00pm.

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City to Reduce Cost of Parking at Barracks Row Lot under Freeway to 75 Cents per Hour – Transportation Issues Move to Front Burner for Community Organizations

City to Reduce Cost of Parking at Barracks Row Lot under Freeway to 75 Cents per Hour

Transportation Issues Move to Front Burner for Community Organizations

by Larry Janezich

Two prominent community organizations are gearing up to focus on transportation issues.  Last night, new the ANC6B Transportation Committee held its first meeting.

The news coming out of the meeting of immediate interest to the community is that DDOT has agreed to reduce the parking rate to 75 cents an hour in the 8th Street lot under the freeway.  This idea came out of the recommendations of the work last year of the ANC’s Retail Mix Taskforce and was facilitated by subsequent discussions with DDOT by Commissioners Garrison, Oldenburg, and Metzger.  Garrison said that the new parking rates would become effective once DDOT had reprogrammed the parking meters and could begin in several weeks, though the timing is uncertain.  The Retail Mix Taskforce made the recommendation in an effort to encourage use of the lot to relieve parking pressure in residential areas around Barracks Row.

The new ANC6B Committee is chaired by Commissioner Oldenburg.  Commissioner Garrison is Vice Chair.  All ANC6B Commissioners are also members of the committee, which will include resident members from several Single Member Districts.  (Commission by-laws permit one resident member per single member district to serve on committees.)

One of the first acts of the new committee was to select itself to lead the effort to find ways to spend the monies accruing from the Performance Parking Fund.  Commissioner Garrison characterized the fund as being akin to the Federal Reserve’s ability to print money.  20% of the funds from the additional parking created by the impact of the new ballpark go to a fund which can be tapped for non-automotive improvements to the area most affected by the stadium parking.  So far, the funds have been or will be spent on the new biking program, digital signs for real time announcements of bus schedules, solar powered trash compactors, the soon-to-become-real information kiosk at Eastern Market Metro Plaza, and landscaping for the Plaza.

The committee will solicit ideas for using the funds from other commissioners and other community organizations.  Garrison singled out CHAMP’s Chuck Burger for his work in promoting the information kiosk, saying it was valuable infrastructure and a significant addition to the community.  Garrison emphasized that it is essential to bring forth a structured process for effecting the completion of a project, and not just having an idea.

Looking forward, the Committee intends to concentrate on changes associated with the 11th Street Bridge Project and the CSX tunnel reconstruction.  To that end, the committee began laying the ground work for a meeting in July where commissioners would be briefed by representatives of DDOT, the 11th Street Bridge Project Contractors and CSX regarding how the community will be affected while transitioning to new traffic patterns during the construction of these two projects.

Meanwhile, the Capitol Restoration Society is reconstituting its Transportation Committee under the Chairmanship of Board Member Monte Edwards.  Membership of the committee, which has been defunct for almost two years, has not yet been established.  The primary purpose of the committee will be to engage on the issue of streetcars, but it will also concern itself with pedestrian and bicycle problems and supplement the work of mayoral taskforces on these issues.

Edwards will moderate a film presentation showing Washington’s streetcars in operation during the 1950s at the June 7 CHRS Membership Forum at Maury Elementary School.  Laura Trieschmann, from EHT Traceries, will talk about the history of Washington’s streetcars, including its car barns.

Maury Elementary School is on the corner of Constitution Avenue and 13th Street, NE.  The entrance is on 13th Street and doors will open at 6:45 pm. This event is free and open to the public.  No reservations are necessary.  For more information, e-mail CapHRS@aol.com or call 543-0425.

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Old Naval Hospital seeks Liquor License – and a Summer Garden with 500 Seats – Also: Chipotle for Barracks Row?

Old Naval Hospital Foundation Applies for Liquor License

Mirage? Owners See a Chipotle Mexican Grill Here

Old Naval Hospital seeks Liquor License – and a Summer Garden with 500 Seats

Also:  Chipotle for Barracks Row?

by Larry Janezich

Nearby residents might want to pay close attention to a couple of items on the agenda for the next ANC6B meeting on Tuesday, June 14.

The first is a request by the Old Naval Hospital Foundation for a liquor license for the new Hill Center.  It’s a little hard to assess the overall impact on the community from the limited description of the ensuing use of the Center, but the application for the license states, “Educational, cultural and community programs to include concerts, meetings, receptions and events.  Entertainment will include dancing, occasional DJ and live music for special events.  A planned summer garden with 500 seats.  Total occupancy load of 500.”

The application goes on to state the hours of operation for the inside premises and the summer garden as 7:00am – 2:00am Sunday through Thursday, and 7:00am – 3:00am Friday and Saturday.  Hours of operation for the Sale/Service/Consumption of alcoholic beverages for the inside premises and the summer garden are listed as 10:00am – 2:00am on Sunday, 8:00am – 2:00am Monday through Thursday, and 8:00am – 3:00am Friday and Saturday.  Often the applicant will reduce the operating hours and make other concessions in a voluntary agreement in order to smooth the way for license approval.

Details of the Center’s business plan have been sketchy, but at a fund raiser in March, Diana Ingraham, the Center’s Executive Director, mentioned that they already had two weddings scheduled for September.

The ANC6B Alcohol Beverage Control Committee will hear The Old Naval Hospital Foundation present its case for a liquor license and make a recommendation to the full ANC.  The ABC Committee will meet at 7:00pm on June 9, at the Southeast Library.  After consideration by the full ANC, the petition is scheduled for a hearing before the Alcohol Beverage Regulation Administration on July 18.  Petitions and requests to appear before the Board must be filed on or before July 3.

The second item is a request for a special exception to allow a fast food restaurant – Chipotle Mexican Grill – to occupy 413-415 8th Street, SE, currently occupied by The Dollar Store and a space formerly occupied by China Wall.  A special exception will be required because regulations do not permit fast food restaurants in this commercial district.

Similarly, the ANC6B Planning and Zoning Committee will hear the applicants present their case before it goes to the full ANC.  The Committee meeting will be held at 7:00pm in the cafeteria at St. Coletta School, located at 1901 Independence Avenue, SE.

The next ANC6B meeting will be Tuesday, June 14, at 7:00pm at the Church of Jesus Christ of LDS, 522 7th Street, SE (the old Safeway Building).

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