Monthly Archives: February 2013

Ninnella Italian Restaurant on Lincoln Park Opens Tonight – Photos

Ninnella on Lincoln Park

Ninnella on Lincoln Park

Chef Simeoni on left; Angelo Forte makes final preparations before opening

Dining room features a winter fireplace

Dining room features a winter fireplace

Ninnella Italian Restaurant on Lincoln Park Opens Tonight – Menu Below

by Larry Janezich

Ninnella, the new Italian restaurant on Lincoln Park, formerly the Park Café, opens tonight.  Chef Emanuel Simeoni from Frioli in northern Italy joins brothers Angleo and Alessalandro Forte from Campania in southern Italy in the new joint venture.  Simeoni comes to Ninnella after 15 years of experience in Italian cooking in New York City at several restaurants, including his own.  Simeoni pledges at the minimum, a soft opening tonight, and offers a glass of wine on the house and maybe some appetizers when the door opens.

Although the menu currently does not feature gluten free pasta, Simeoni says that it will be offered in the future and notes that polenta is available. 

The menu is as follows:


Mediterranean sea bass tartar, capers, citrus dressing for $12

Fried calamari, rock shrimp with Marinara sauce for $14

Buffalo mozzarella with roasted tomatoes and basil oil for $14

Barolo Marinated Rabbit Liver Pate served with crostini for $12

Baby spinach salad with walnuts and balsamic reduction for $12

Organic mixed green salad, radishes, herbs, lemon citronette for $8

Baby Rucola salad with shitake mushrooms and shaved Grana cheese for $12

Frisee salad Caesar dressing, shaved Parmesan cheese and crostini for $12


Hand made angel hair pasta sautéed with clams, cherry tomato and zucchini for $16

Hand made Tagliatelle in classic tomato and basil sauce for $13

Hand made tagliatelle in classic Bolognese sauce for $14

Home made Pappardelle in Bolognese sauce for $14

Lasagna with lamb ragout, butternut squash, tomato sauce, grana cheese for $14


Pan seared filet of Mediterranean sea bass with fennel creme and Beluga lentils for $26

Roast wild salmon filet, salsa verede, roasted tomatoes for $22

Roasted lamb rack served with mashed potatoes and balsamic caramelized onions for $26

Beef filet mignon served with asparagus flan, vin santo, thyme and beef sauce for $26


Pannacotta for $10

Valrona chocolate mousse for $10

Classic Tiramisu for $10

A range of Italian wines will be served as well.  A gas fireplace will provide atmosphere to the front of the restaurant during the winter months.


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The Week Ahead….

The Week Ahead….

by Larry Janezich

Tuesday, February 26

ANC6B Executive Committee meets at 7:00pm in Hill Center to set the agenda for the March monthly ANC6B meeting.

Wednesday, February 27

Eastern Market Community Advisory Committee meets at 7:00pm in North Hall, Eastern Market.Wednesday, February 27

Community meeting to hear developer’s plans for a new 80 unit residential building at 1550 Pennsylvania Avenue, SE, currently a used car lot, 6:30pm, at New York Pizza, 1401 Pennsylvania Avenue, SE.

Wednesday, February 27
Permits 101: Ask the Experts.  CHRS presents Permitting for Homeowners in the  Capitol Hill Historic District, with Amanda Molson, DC Historic Preservation Office and Robbie Sabbakhan, DCRA.  Also introducing HPO’s new primary Preservation Specialist for Capitol Hill, Frances McMillen. 7:00 – 8:30 pm at Maury Elementary School,1250 Constitution Ave NE.

Thursday, February 28

ANC6B Zoning Regulations Task Force meets at 7:00pm in Hill Center to continue consideration of recommendations for the re write of DC Zoning Regulations. 

Thursday, February 28

DC Council on Human Services hearing on management of DC General Shelter at Reservation at 6:00pm at DC General Shelter, 1900 Massachusetts Avenue, SE.

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Capitol Hill Restoration Society Update

Capitol Hill Restoration Society Update:  Secret Session, Capitol Place Micro-grants, The Blue Castle, Community Gardens

by Larry Janezich

Capitol Place Micro-grants

The Capitol Hill Restoration Society’s Board of Directors met last night and immediately moved to convene in secret session excluding staff, volunteers, CHRS members, and press.  The secret session lasted some 45 minutes.  There was no word what was discussed, but it might have been about the disposition of the $250,000 that the CHRS was awarded in the settlement of the PUD application for the Dreyfus (now Fisher Development) Capitol Place property on H Street, N.E.  The developer agreed to fund two micro-grant programs for a total of $250,000:  $150,000 for façade improvements to homes of nearby neighbors, $80,000 for energy conservation grants for nearby neighbors and $20,000 for CHRS to administer the grants.  The foot print for eligibility for grants is the blocks between 2nd and 4th Streets and F and H Street, NE.  The CHRS Board is clearly interested in using the $20,000 in administration funds toward expansion of the Capitol Hill Historic District northward to H Street.  The current northern boundary of the historic district is F Street, NE.  Board President Janet Quigley announced that Larry Pearl, Chair of the CHRS Grants Committee, “is reviewing the information” on the Capitol place micro grants.  An update on the micro-grants will be provided to the CHRS membership at the CHRS Winter Members Forum at 6:30pm, Wednesday, February 27, at Maury Elementary School. 

The Blue Castle

According to Historic Preservation Committee Chair Shauna Holmes, the representatives of Madison Marquette, developers of the “Blue Castle” on lower 8th Street near the Navy Yard, have quietly begun to reach out to community organizations opening lines of communication in anticipation of the redevelopment of the historic Car Barn into a large scale mixed-use project that will help connect lower 8th Street to the historic Capitol Hill neighborhood to the north.

The 100,000 square foot property at 770 M Street SE was purchased in 2005 by Preferred Real Estate Investments Inc. of Conshohocken, Pa., for $20.2 million.  Leases for the three charter schools who were then operating out of the building ran until 2012.  In 2008, Preferred Real Estate Investments sold the property to Madison Marquette for $25 million.  The company announced that the building would be developed into a mixed use project with restaurants, offices and/or residences, and retail – possibly including a grocery store. 

The “Blue Castle” was designed by architect Walter C. Root in 1891, the Romanesque Revival building was originally known as the Washington and Georgetown Railroad Car House (commonly referred to as the Navy Yard Car Barn). The Blue Castle was added to the National Register of Historic Places on November 14, 2006.

Zoning Regs Rewrite Imperil Community Gardens

According to Gary Peterson, Chair of the CHRS Zoning Committee, some 150 alley lots – mostly in the eastern part of Capitol Hill – could become eligible for construction of alley dwelling under changes proposed in the zoning regulations.  Many of these spaces are currently occupied by community gardens, popular with gardeners across the Capitol Hill community.  According to Peterson, there are about 500 alley lots in Ward Six and 200 or so are already developed.  An uncertain number are too small for development.  The remaining 150 to 200 could be developed, and a lot of these are in Hill East.  The greatest impediment for many is that the developer will have to run utilities – water, sewer, and electricity – to the lots, an expensive undertaking.  Some alley lots – where industrial buildings once existed – have utilities, but many do not. 

Two CHRS Board Members Will Retire

Two Board members, Secretary Doriann Fengler and Treasurer Sharon Weiss, have announced they will not seek re-election to the Board in the upcoming elections this spring.  Currently, there is also a vacant member at large slot on the board.  President Quigley has appointed board members Paul Cromwell and Gary Peterson, as well as Hill Center Founder Nicki Cymrot and former board member Cathi Smith to the 2013 nominating committee.  The nominating committee will solicit candidates from the CHRS membership and recommend a slate of officers. 

Historic Preservation Update

The contemporary addition to the Stuart Hobson School and the Heritage Foundation Development will go before HPRB on March 7.  CHRS is still unhappy with the Stuart Hobson project.  The earlier report in this story that the Heritage Foundation plan to wrap the retail around the corner of the building at 3rd and Massachusetts, NE, and put an outdoor café on Third Street, has been nixed by the HPO staff is in error.  Actually,  the HPO staff report, which was published on February 22, supports the corner seating area at Third and Massachusetts and recommends approval by the HPRB.   The staff has some concerns about the proposed new café space on Third Street which is detailed in the staff report.

The third story addition at 426th 11th, objected to by CHRS and the new townhouse in the empty lot at 820 C Street will both go to HPRB at the end of this month.  The owner of 42611th Street has withdrawn his plan from consideration by CHRS after failing to satisfy its concerns and is taking his chances before HPRB without their input.  Reportedly, the developer of 820 C Street has abandoned the controversial “butterfly roof.”


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The Week Ahead….

The Week Ahead….

by Larry Janezich

Monday, February 18

President’s Day.  No trash/recycling pickup Monday.  Pickups will be on Tuesday and Friday. 

Tuesday, February 19

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

Wednesday, February 20

ANC6B Outreach & Constituent Services Task Force meets, 7:00pm – 8:00pm, Hill Center.

Thursday, February 21

DDOT Barney Circle-SE Blvd Planning Study Meeting, 6:30pm – 8:30pm, Payne Elementary School, 1445 C Street, SE.  This is the first in a series of public meetings to redesign Barney Circle and environs and to design the conversion of the SE Freeway into a boulevard.

Thursday, February 21

PSA 108 Meeting, 7:00pm – 8:00pm, Baptist Church, 527 Kentucky Avenue SE.

Saturday, February 23

Remembering the 1963 March on Washington, Lutheran Church of the Reformation, 1:30pm, 212 East Capitol, NE.

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The Week Ahead….

The Week Ahead….

by Larry Janezich

Tuesday, February 12

ANC6B meets for its regular monthly meeting at 7:00pm in Hill Center. 

On the agenda: 

Zoning adjustment request for converting 200 5th Street, SE, from a dentist office and four residential units to six residential units.  This is a development by Capitol Hill resident Jeff Levine, is scheduled to go to BZA in March.  The ANC Planning and Zoning Committee has sought assurances from Levine that he will attempt to minimize the impact on parking if the expansion is approved. 

830 C Street, SE

820 C Street, SE

Historic Preservation Application for construction of a new townhouse on the empty lot at 830 C Street, SE, where the demolition by neglect was interrupted by city demolition and subsequent tax sale.  Commissioners and neighbors of the project were critical of the lack of outreach and candidness by the architects – and indirectly, the developer.  When the project came before the Planning and Zoning Committee, both commissioners and neighbors also expressed concern about the view from public space of the rear of the house and the fact that architects had no drawings showing the perspective from that view.  At that meeting, neighbors also rose to express objections to the design, construction methods, the extension of the house six feet beyond the rear of the adjacent houses, the butterfly roof, and the likelihood that construction would likely damage the historic properties on either side.  Commissioners emphasized that since the construction is being done as a matter of right, their hands were tied regarding many of the issues raised by neighbors, since their only purview was whether the proposed structure fit into the historic district.  The neighbors were aware that they would have to pursue these issues on their own and were advised by one commissioner that they might have to hire an attorney.  The Committee voted 8 – 0 to take no position pending receipt of an additional perspective from the architect and evidence of further consultation by the architect and developer with the neighbors. 

ANC6B will also consider a letter to DC Department of Energy regarding their concerns about emission limits and health issues related to the Architect of the Capitol’s request to continue operating the Capitol Power Plant at higher emission levels. 

Thursday, February 14

ANC6B Zoning Regulation Task Force meets at 6:00pm in Hill Center.

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Wrapping up the Week…. Hine, Security Cameras, New Development, Parking, Etc.

Two new town houses are slated to replace this white brick building facing Stanton Park, at 513 C Street, NE

Two new town houses are slated to replace this white brick building facing Stanton Park, at 513 C Street, NE

Wrapping up the Week…. Hine, Security Cameras, New Development, Parking, Etc.

by Larry Janezich

Hine Project to Get Underway Mid-Summer

According to word from Stanton Development, neighbors of the Hine project are likely to see the beginning of demolition activity at the Hine site mid-summer as the building is boarded up for asbestos removal prior to demolition scheduled to begin in the fall.  Still to be hammered out with neighbors are the details of the construction management agreement.  Group representatives will meet with the ANC reps and Stanton soon to begin this process.   

Security Cameras for Eastern Market Metro Plaza and Nearby Streets?

ANC6B Commissioner Ivan Frishberg has asked Tommy Wells’ office and other city officials for information on costs of high tech security cameras in order to explore the feasibility of tapping into the Performance Parking Fund for this new crime fighting technology.  MPD Chief Lanier has embraced the use of cameras as a crime fighting tool, noting that while the new technology is very helpful it is expensive.  Software associated with the technology looks for certain movement such as the gathering of crowds and fast motion.

Regulations provide that a portion of the parking fees derived from the Performance Parking Pilot be funneled back to the community for non-automotive transportation projects.  Frishberg says he thinks the cameras would contribute to a walkable neighborhood.  The funding of such projects is limited to the area in which the parking restrictions are actually in force, which would include Eastern Market Metro Plaza, the area around Eastern Market, nearby Pennsylvania Avenue.  “The idea is exploratory at this stage,” Frishberg emphasized, “saying the ANC should see what the costs and options are.” 

New Development:  Two “Elegant” Townhouses to Face Stanton Park

Plans are in the works for development of two “elegant” town hours (read $1.5 million+) for the space now occupied by the building pictured above at 513 C Street, NE, on the south side of Stanton Park. 

Architect Carmel Greer of District Design brought the concept designs before the CHRS Historic Preservation Committee last Monday, which as usual, wanted to see some tweaking.  The concept drawings will go before HPRB in March. 

Delay in Extension of the Performance Parking Pilot Restrictions North of Pennsylvania Avenue

Extension of the Performance Parking Pilot parking restrictions north of Pennsylvania Avenue to East Capitol has been delayed by a bureaucratic snafu.  City attorneys have informed ANC 6B that city regulations will have to be amended before extension of the program owing to the unusual inclusion of different parking restrictions for Saturday and Sunday in some parts of the plan.  Faced with the decision of plunging ahead with a half measure of parking under the normal Performance Parking restrictions and going back to change signage after the regulation change, or wait out the regulation change before doing anything at all, the ANC Transportation Committee elected to wait for the city to change its rules.  Additional background can be found here:

Disgruntled ANC6B Unhappy with Dysfuntionality of DDOT

ANC6B Commissioners plan on testifying before the City Council at the March 4th DDOT Oversight hearing.  The consensus of the ANC’s Transportation Committee was that while DDOT deserves credit for some projects such as the 17th and 19th Streets Project, the 11th Street Bridge Project, and Capitol Bike Share, the list of grievances against DDOT is a long one.  Among the items the ANC is unhappy about are problems with DDOT’s administration of public space, unilateral decisions affecting traffic control infrastructure made without public notification and input, administration of the Performance Parking Fund,  lack of attention to the Barney Circle Project, lack of follow-through on ANC requests and a general lack of responsiveness to ANC concerns.   

ANC6B  Zoning Regulations Task Force

Zoning Regulation Task Force has had three meetings and continues, according to Chair Dave Garrision, to work through the process.  The Task Force hopes to have recommendations for the ANC’s Planning and Zoining Committee to consider by the Committee’s March 5 meeting.  Garrison noted that there will be two opportunities for ANC input:  first, when the recommendations of the ANC go to the Office of Planning, second, when the Office of Planning submits the final proposal to the Planning Commission later in the spring.   The Task Force has scheduled two meetings this month on Thursday, February 14, 2013, at 6:00 pn, and Thursday, February 28, 2013, at 6:30 pn.  Both meetings will be held in Hill Center.

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ANC6B Wants AOC to Justify Higher Power Plant Emissions Request

ANC6B Wants AOC to Justify Higher Power Plant Emissions Request

Will Sierra Club File Suit on Emissions Plan?

by Larry Janezich

ANC6B seems set to ask the DC Department of Energy (DDOE) to force the Architect of the Capitol (AOC) to justify the request to set baseline emission limits for future operation of the Capitol Power Plant – including the planned two new cogeneration burners – at the higher levels experienced during the cold winter years of 2007 – 2008 rather than lower levels of more recent years.  In addition, the ANC is likely to ask DDOE to test air quality near the plant to assess impact on the local health index since DDOE doesn’t currently monitor air quality in the power plant neighborhood. 

At Tuesday night’s ANC6B Planning and Zoning Committee meeting, chaired by Francis Campbell, commissioners agreed that their purview is emission limits and health concerns.  The corollary issue of whether the plant should eliminate the use of coal – a position supported by neighbors of the plant and environmental activist groups including the Sierra Club – is evidently not within the authority of the DDOE and hence, not a question which can be considered by the ANC.  To that end, Councilmember Tommy Wells has introduced legislation to limit or end the use of coal as a fuel in DC. 

The application of the AOC for the higher limits on emissions translates – for opponents – into permission for the AOC to continue burning coal at the plant.  The AOC has indicated that this would only be in emergency circumstances, but this stipulation would not be enforceable. 

The Planning and Zoning Committee agreed by a vote of 8-0 to forward a letter to DDOE on the issue to the full ANC for consideration at the February 12 meeting.  The purpose of the letter, according to one commissioner, is to make sure the AOC doesn’t get more emission authority than it needs and to urge that emissions in the nearby neighborhood are measured and given consideration regarding the impact of the plant on the health of the neighbors and schools in close proximity to the plant. 

Approval of the letter at next Tuesday’s meeting is likely, if not assured.  While DDOE apparently cannot require the plant to eliminate the use of coal, it can require the use of a lower baseline for emissions.  One knowledgeable source familiar with the issue speculated that if the application goes forward as is, the AOC will face a Sierra Club lawsuit.  For additional background see postings on this blog on January 25 and December 18.

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When Rats Win: What Recourse Do Residents Have When Restaurants Make Bad Neighbors?

Neighbors At Odds With These Food Service Venues

Neighbors At Odds With These Food Service Venues

Rat Holes In Yard of Resident Behind Restaurant

When Rats Win:  What Recourse Do Residents Have When Restaurants Make Bad Neighbors?

City Is Unable or Unwilling to Regulate Health Concerns Effectively

by Larry Janezich

Pizza-Iole Pizza by the Slice, the B Spot and “il Capo di Capitol Hill” (the re-named Mi Vecindad) all contribute to an ongoing trash, rat, and noise issue distressing residential neighbors near 12th and Pennsylvania Avenue, SE. 

Neighbors have a long and well-documented history of efforts to resolve issues concerning properties owned by Mahmoud Abd-alla at the above location, including 14 calls to the city between October 2011 to August 2012 concerning the trash issue and six calls since March 2012 complaining about noise or late night construction work.  Neighbors have also reached out to ANC 6B and Councilmember Tommy Wells.

The city has responded by dispatching inspectors on a regular basis to address the neighbor’s concerns about food trash which contribute to an infestation of rats in nearby yards.  Baiting with poison has ameliorated but not eliminated the problem. 

But despite the strenuous efforts of residents, problems continue.  Recently the trash dumpsters that are the likely culprits for attracting rats were moved – not to mitigate the rat problem, but to place them out of view from neighbors’ windows so they could no longer take pictures of them.  In fact, the dumpsters were moved closer to residents’ homes. 

Most frustrating, according to one neighbor, is the failure to get city officials to say what the city has required the venues to do and how the city is following up to ensure compliance.  The answer to what the consequences will be for failure to comply appears to be that there are none.  Because of off and on temporary compliance, and casual monitoring by Department of Health Code Enforcement, neighbors will bring the issue to ANC6B next Tuesday. 

Capitol Hill restaurateur Henri Mendoza has leased former Pacific Café Vietnamese restaurant from Abd-allah – reportedly, a 15 year lease.  Initially opened as a Cuban restaurant, the place has recently converted to an Italian menu.  The liquor license for the establishment comes up for renewal this spring and will be on the ANC agenda in April or March, which may provide neighbors with some leverage with respect to a voluntary agreement. 

Meanwhile, the former proprietor of Pacific Café has re-emerged as a manager Pizza-Iole adjacent to the restaurant.  Above the fast food is The B Spot described on their website as “a multi-purpose Art Gallery, Juice Bar and Tea Room located in the cultural corridor of Eastern Market.”  The event space is available for catered events, and noise from that space has spilled out onto a rear deck, contributing to the neighbors’ unhappiness with the commercial strip.  As readers of local city news know, spaces that are catered do not operate under the same regulatory burden as spaces that are established bars or restaurants serving liquor.

Much of the problem seems to be unwillingness on the part of these establishments to be good neighbors – a problem that is by no means restricted to this particular strip.  Recently, neighbors brought the issue of non-compliance with a voluntary agreement by Chipotle on Barracks Row before the ANC.  Similarly, residents of 8th Street, SE, point to the differences in food trash existing among three restaurants on 7th Street opposite Eastern Market:  Tunnicliff’s being among the worst, and BoxCar and Acqua al Due among the best.  As the photos below illustrate, there is a wide disparity between what the city will tolerate and what a good restaurant-neighbor will voluntarily provide, and it is unrealistic to place the entire burden on residents to become de facto regulators, willing to cite each and every infraction, in order to bridge the gap.

Rats continue to be a problem for residents bordering the 12th and Pennsylvania Avenue strip.  Neither the ANC nor Councilmember Wells’ office has as of yet stepped in to demand, devise, or mediate a satisfactory and long-term solution.   

Alley View of Boxcar

Alley View of Boxcar

Alley View of Acqua al 2

Alley View of Acqua al 2

Alley View of Tunnicliff's

Alley View of Tunnicliff’s


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The Week Ahead….

The Week Ahead….

by Larry Janezich

February 4, Monday

CHRS Historic Preservation Committee meets at 6:30pm in Kirby House, 420 10th Street, SE.

February 5, Tuesday

ANC6B Planning and Zoning Committee meets at 7:00pm at St. Coletta of Greater Washington, 1901 Independence Avenue SE.

Agenda includes:

Variance for conversion of 200 5th Street, SE, from four residential apartments and a dental office to six residential units

New construction for the empty lot (razed by the city) at 820 C Street, SE

February 6, Wednesday

ANC6B Transportation Committee meets at 6:30pm in Hill Center, 921 Pennsylvania Avenue, SE

Agenda includes:

Discussion of DDOT’s Pennsylvania-Potomac Avenues intersection pedestrian safety study

Update on expansion of Performance Based Parking north of Pennsylvania Avenue, SE

February 7, Thursday

PSA 107 meets at 7:00pm meets downstairs at Southeast Library, 403 7th Street, SE, with Lt. Eddie Fowler

Friends of Southeast Library meets at 5:30pm downstairs at Southeast Library, 403 7th Street SE

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Tommy Wells: New Police Contract “the highest priority for me”

Tommy Wells:  New Police Contract “the highest priority for me”

by Larry Janezich

Friday afternoon, Councilmember, DC Council Public Safety Chair, and prospective mayoral candidate TommyWells told listeners of NPR’s Kojo Nnamdi program that “every day there’s not a new contract with police officers, I think it’s a day we’re less safe.” 

When asked if he is pushing for a new contract to be signed, Wells replied, “Absolutely, that’s the highest priority for me.”  Wells took over as chair of the City Council’s Judiciary and Public Safety Committee with oversight of the MPD in January. 

Wells’ comments came amid a spike in crime on Capitol Hill and a deep morale problem on a police force which has not had a raise in 7 years.  Wells did not address the question put to him by NBC Tom Sherwood as to whether the failure to sign a contract was the result of a personal dispute between Chief Lanier and Kris Baumann, Chair of the Executive Committee of the Fraternal Order of Police.  The Executive Committee is empowered to act on behalf of the police union’s Labor Committee.  Council Chair Mendelson stated on January 10 that a contract had not yet been agreed upon because “management and the FOP don’t get along.”

Wells also announced on the program that he will launch an exploratory committee and listening tour to determine whether he should run for mayor, saying that he will make a decision in mid-spring.  Tom Sherwood observed on the program that it has been obvious that Wells has been looking to run for mayor for some time.  The official kick-off of Wells’ forthcoming listening tour is Monday (tomorrow) night in Ward 8, at the Big Chair Coffee and Grill in Anacostia.  The primary purpose of the exploratory committee is to hire people to organize a campaign. 

Wells has told several sources that it is “likely” he’ll run.

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