Monthly Archives: April 2013

The Week Ahead …… and a Look Back at CHRS and EMCAC

The Week Ahead …… and a Look Back at CHRS and EMCAC

by Larry Janezich

Tuesday, April 30

ANC6B Executive Committee meets at 8:30pm in Hill Center to set the agenda for the regular May meeting of ANC6B. 

Wednesday, May 1

EMCAC Marketing Committee meets at 6:30pm in Eastern Market North Hall to discuss a marketing plan for Eastern Market, focusing both on the next six months and a longer term strategy. 

Friday, May 3

Capitol Hill Village Symposium: Addressing the Future, Housing Options on Capitol Hill, 8:30am to 4:00pm, in Hill Center.

This event – free and open to all – will enable attendees to learn about how to stay in their own homes or in the neighborhood throughout life.  Topics covered will include: preparing multi-floor townhouses for ease of use, moving to one-level living, choosing co-housing or one-level living with communal space, financing changing needs, and moving to small neighborhood skilled nursing homes when 24 hour professional attention is the best solution.  Space is limited and those planning on attending must RSVP by 3:00pm on Wednesday, May 1.  Email or call CHV office at 202 543 1778.  Attendees need not attend all sessions.  For the agenda and more information, go to

EMCAC Miffed At Lack of Input on Vendor Licenses for Lower 7th Street

Last Wednesday, at the April meeting of the Eastern Market Community Advisory Committee meeting, Chair Donna Scheeder said that the limited opportunity for EMCAC input into the process for licensing flea market vendors to operate on 7th Street “left a lot to be desired.”  Grudgingly admitting relief that a licensing agreement has been worked out for flea market vendors to use 7th Street between C Street and Pennsylvania Avenue once they are displaced from the Hine parking lot, Scheeder told the other members of EMCAC that the way the process worked is “not the way I think we should be doing business.  If we’re supposed to be consulted, we should be.”

According to Saturday flea market vendor Carol Wright, the lower 7th Street contract was signed April 3 after six months of negotiation with DC’s Department of General Services, who will provide oversight of the vending operation through Eastern Market Manager Barry Margeson.  Wright says the two vendors will pay the same rent – $2000 per month each  – for the 17,000 square feet on 7th Street that they did for the 55,000 square foot lot they have now.  The contract is for two years, starting August 1.  The vendor’s current contract runs until July 12.   Stanton Development expects asbestos removal from the Hine building to begin in July and demolition to begin in this fall.  The vendors hope to negotiate a partial occupation of the parking lot for the bigger vendors on a temporary basis.  Wright said she was very happy that the license had been signed with DGS and the mayoral order issued for closing 7th Street on weekends for the two year period.   

CHRS Nominating Committee Announces Slate of Candidates for Upcoming CHRS Election

The slate of officers put forth by the nominating committee appointed by the President is as follows.  The election will be held in June, and the newly elected board will announced at the annual meeting in June.  The list was announced with the proviso that if any nominee proved to be unqualified under the Society’s bylaws, that slot would be filled by backup candidate Elizabeth Purcell.  It was unclear what the Board’s reason was for this proviso, since the discussion of the nominees took place in secret session.  

President                     Janet Quigley

1st VP                          Monte Edwards

2nd VP                         Lisa Dale Jones

Secretary                     Susan Burgerman

Treasurer                     Patrick Crowley

Delegate 2 year           Chuck Burger

Delegate 2 year           Drury Talent

Delegate 2 year           Ben Klay

Delegate one year       Undine Nash

Two delegate are finishing their first year

Maurice Walters

Lisa Wilson

In other business, current President Janet Quigley announced the appointment of Board member Maurice Walters as the new CHRS representative to the Eastern Market Community Advisor Committee, replacing Barbara Eck, who resigned last month. 

The CHRS Board also heard Historic Preservation Committee Shauna Holmes explain the committee’s reasoning in recommending a setback of at least five feet for the glass façade on the proposed addition to Frager’s Hardware which will front on 11th Street.  Holmes said that the committee felt the only way to make the starkly modern look of the building compatible with the neighborhood would be to set it back to subordinate the addition to the main building.


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Landmark Barracks Row Mural Nears Completion – Photo Essay

Artists Gaia and Nanook at Work on Barracks Row Mural

Artists Gaia and Nanook at Work on Barracks Row Mural

"Hey - what's your name?"  "I go by Gaia."

“Hey – what’s your name?” “I go by Gaia.”

Nanook Rolls

Nanook Rolls

Gaia and Nanook

Gaia and Nanook


Landmark Barracks Row Mural Nears Completion

Artists Gaia and Nanook Expect to Finish Tomorrow

by Larry Janezich

Internationally known street artist Gaia, whose work has received critical acclaim on its merits as well as for helping to revitalize blighted areas of the his adopted city, says he and his associate, NYC street artist Nanook, will complete the mural on the side of Tash and Nooshi restaurants on Saturday. 

The piece reflects Gaia’s interest in the use of animal imagery in urban settings as a commentary on what he has termed “looming environmental calamity.”   “Gaia” was the primordial earth goddess and mother of all the heavenly gods in Greek mythology.

Gaia moved to Baltimore after high school and studied for four years at the Maryland Institute of the College of Art.  Afterward, he decided to stay in Baltimore and use art to explore his interest in the evolution of neighborhoods.  He developed a reputation as a talented and imaginative artist whose works stand alone on their merit, aside from their context.  In 2012, Gaia curated Open Walls Baltimore, supported by the PNC Community Foundation and the National Endowment for the Arts, in which 22 muralists used art to help revitalize blighted areas of the city.   See the Huffington Post story here:   He was subsequently invited to create a piece for the Baltimore Museum of Art Contemporary Wing.

Immediately after completion of the Tash/Nooshi mural, Gaia and Nanook will take their spray paint to the condo building at 1815 Benning Road, the site of their next project. 

Tash and Nooshi co-owner Vanessa Lin commissioned the mural for the south side of the building at 524 8th Street, SE, earlier this year.  The project received a mostly positive reception from the community, with some residents voicing criticism about its appropriateness in a Historic District. 

The building, formerly occupied by Chateaux Animaux, currently houses Tash House of Kabob, run by Lin’s husband, Nariman Modanlou, on its first floor.  The second floor restaurant, Nooshi (noodles and sushi) will be run by Lin and is scheduled to open its doors for the first time and  participate in the Barracks Row Taste of 8th tomorrow when 22 restaurants will serve samples of their most popular or newest dishes from 1:00pm until 4:00pm.  Tickets are $5.00 each or five for $20.00.

The couple owns two other similar restaurants – the original Nooshi downtown, and Moby Dick House of Kabob in Ashburn.

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Barracks Row Group Resurrects Plan for Redesign of Eastern Market Metro Plaza and Park

Barracks Row Group Resurrects Plan for Redesign of Eastern Market Metro Plaza and Park

Board Considers $500,000 Contract with Architect Weinstein for Design Study

by Larry Janezich

Capitol Hill Corner has learned that the Barracks Row Main Street (BRMS) Board of Directors is considering a $500,000 contract with architect Amy Weinstein’s design group to commission a study for a new design concept for Eastern Market Metro Plaza and Park; also under consideration is a proposal by Minerva Marketing to manage public relations for the process.  Chairman of the BRMS Board Tip Tipton submitted the contract and proposal to board members on Monday for consideration, asking them to hold them as confidential until the Board had been canvassed.  He requested a response by 5:00pm on Thursday April 25, 2013, saying “we need to sign the agreements and expedite their implementation.”

Tipton told the Board in a memorandum that the study will be funded with federal monies appropriated by Congress several years ago for BRMS to undertake a study of a redesign of the Eastern Market Metro Plaza and its associated parcels.  Expiring authority for some of these funds require that they be spent this fall.  The Tipton letter says that that, in addition to these expiring funds, “BMRS has over a million dollars from other congressionally appropriated funds.”  Implicit in the remark is the earmarking of these funds for planning and development of this project.

 The study area is the large rectangle bounded by 7th and 9th Streets, SE, bisected diagonally by Pennsylvania Avenue, and made up primarily of two large spaces:  Metro Plaza on the south side of Pennsylvania Avenue and the park lying on the north side between 8th and 9th Streets, SE, (the “north parcel”).   Weinstein takes pains to say that plans under consideration do not include any changes to the Pennsylvania Avenue right of way, stating that “design improvements (will) retain the existing roadbed network with perhaps minor modifications to improve pedestrian safety.” 

A previous 2007 – 2010 effort to develop a $30 million “Town Square Project” in the study area foundered, both for lack of funding and because of opposition from the residents who would have been negatively affected by the plan to change the existing right of way.  The documents circulated by BRMS do not mention the issue of funding, but reference “minority” opposition from neighbors as the primary reason for the failure of that proposal.

As justification for moving this project forward now, the Weinstein proposal cites community development momentum, including the following: the newly developed Hill Center; redevelopment of The Maples (Friendship House) and loss of its children’s play area; Capital BikeShare; the 11th Street Bridge project; the proposed Southeast Boulevard and redesign of Barney Circle; CSX Rail Tunnel; Marine Barracks expansion south of the Freeway; and the Hine School Redevelopment (Weinstein is also the architect for the Hine project.)

Under the terms of the proposed contract, Weinstein would develop a design concept leading to a “visual and functional improvement of the study area,” directed at establishing the long sought link between Barracks Row/Lower 8th Street retail and 7th Street retail including Eastern Market.  In addition, she would develop a portion of the “north parcel” for a “tot lot” partly funded by Stanton Development.  Stanton committed $50,000 to development of a playground in the park as part of the negotiated benefits and amenities for the community during the Hine Development PUD process. 

The accompanying public relations contract describes a tightly managed public input process designed to produce an outcome in support of the plan.  In fact, if it develops that what is being proposed is a general beautification of the area, the extent and nature of any opposition seems doubtful.

On the other hand, it seems clear that the study is being driven, in part, by the necessity to spend funds which will otherwise be lost.  And given both the uncertainty regarding funding yet another project in an era of tight budgets and the lack of obvious city impetus for the plan, it seems likely that an additional motive for putting the proposal back in play is meant to take advantage of what backers hope will be the election of Councilmember Tommy Wells as mayor, and anticipation of his support.  The study will take 7 – 9 months and could begin as early as May 1, 2013.


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Wrapping Up The Week: ANC6B….Orange and the Bus Terminal/Questions on Southeast Boulevard/Details on 8th Street Summer Beer Garden

Wrapping Up The Week: ANC6B….Orange and the Bus Terminal/Questions on Southeast Boulevard/Details on 8th Street Summer Beer Garden

by Larry Janezich

ANC Tells Orange to Back Off Support of Bus Terminal Under Proposed Southeast Boulevard

At its regular April meeting last Tuesday night, ANC6B voted 8 – 0 to send a veiled rebuke to CM at Large Vincent Orange for issuing a February 23 news release supporting the idea put forward by DDOT for a tour bus terminal under the proposed Southeast Boulevard.  The letter, attached as a cover to a copy of the letter to DDOT on the larger Southeast Boulevard/Barney Circle project (see below), said “You will find the Commission’s sentiments regarding the bus facility concept included on page 2 of the letter.  ANC6B would be pleased to meet with you and your staff to discuss this issue further.”

The letter was a step back from tougher talk at Commissioner Kirsten Oldenberg’s Transportation Committee earlier this month when Oldenburg broached the possibility of a letter to Orange, saying “thanks but no thanks….back off.”  Strategies alert Orange to the community’s concern were discussed; Commissioner Flahaven noted that “having ten people go down to his office is a very effective way to get his attention.” 

Orange is looking for a solution to the problem of what to do with tour buses bringing people to DC for tourism or other events.  Crummell School in Ward Five’s Ivy City, once put forward by DC as a site for bus staging, is no longer an option, after opponents sued the city for reneging on a promise to make the site a community facility.  Ivy City, in central Northeast DC east of Gallaudet University, is between West Virginia Avenue and New York Avenue.  Orange represented Ward 5 on City Council from 1999 to 2007. 

ANC6B Wants DDOT to Justify Creation of Southeast Boulevard

ANC6B sent a letter to DDOT requesting an expansion of the Barney Circle and Southeast Boulevard Transportation Planning Study, saying it has not been able to determine the needs for the proposed boulevard or find any discussion of the impact on the affected neighborhoods.  The letter said that the ANC is not opposed to any Boulevard concept at this stage, but does not have enough info to decide if the project is warranted. 

In addition to justifying the Boulevard project, ANC6B wants to broaden the scope of the study to redesign Barney Circle to include consideration of options minimizing the impact of the resulting traffic for local residents. 

The ANC’s letter also targeted the idea of putting a “municipal or bus parking facility” underneath a portion of the Boulevard.  The Commission requested a full study of the purpose of the facility and the impact on nearby residential areas south of Pennsylvania Avenue.  In addition, the Commission requested that DDOT clarify the status of land ownership and other possible uses for the area underneath the elevated Boulevard.

ANC6B Single Member Districts 6, 7, and 9 will feel the greatest impact of the proposed Southeast Boulevard/Barney Circle project.  The representative commissioners are Nicole Opkins, ANC6B Parliamentarian; Sara Loveland, Chair of ANC6B ABC Committee; and Brian Flahaven, ANC6B Chair, respectively.

New details on Redesign for Bavarian Beer Garden on Lower 8th Street

The owner of the Bavarian Beer Garden were granted a liquor license which incorporated a Voluntary Agreement on January 26, 2011.  To date, no building has been constructed on the site at 8th and L Streets, SE.  On March 29, 2013, site owner Mark Brody submitted a new concept to HPRB for approval.  He explained to the ANC that he had been unable to build the original design as the concept became larger and more expensive.  The new concept anticipates no inside premises for patrons.  The establishment will consist solely of a fenced summer garden with a small building housing restrooms and a bar, open on two sides, but partially covered by a roof.  A food truck parked in a driveway will provide food service.  The plans show tables and chairs to accommodate 156 patrons plus 20 stools at the bar for a total occupancy of 176. 

Last Tuesday, Brody took umbrage at the resistance he was meeting from ANC6B saying he didn’t understand why the ANC was making it difficult for someone who wants to put some money into lower 8th Street.  ANC6B punted the issue of the redesign of the beer garden and whether a new Voluntary Agreement (which now has a new name – “Settlement Agreement”) will be required, to the Executive Committee which will meet April 30 in Hill Center.  

Parking Relief for 81 Unit Complex on Pennsylvania Avenue, SE

After Commissioner Brian Flahaven facilitated the negotiation of a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) between NOVO Development and some of the nearby neighbors of the project at 1550 Pennsylvania Avenue, SE, ANC6B approved the requests for relief on parking, roof height, and loading zone by a vote of 9-0. 

Under the MOU, NOVO Development commits to develop a transportation management plan, pursue locating car share on site, and press DDOT for additional parking on the Pennsylvania Avenue side of the development. 

Some neighbors are still unhappy with the potential impact of the project on their neighborhood.  Among the issues cited were that the developer had not demonstrated adequately the validity of  assertions that providing the parking required by the city would be cost prohibitive and an undue hardship because of site and construction limitations.  For a more thorough examination of the overall merits of removing or reducing the minimum onsite parking requirement for developers, please note the comment thread on the preceding posting on this blog (April 8).

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Developer Asks for Relief from Parking Requirement on 81 Unit Pennsylvania Ave Building

Developer Asks for Relief from Parking Requirement on 81 Unit Pennsylvania Ave Building

Seeks to Provide 30 Spaces Instead of the City-Required 41

by Larry Janezich

NOVO Development, headquartered on Capitol Hill, is asking ANC6B and the Zoning Commission to allow them to provide 30 parking spaces instead of the required 41 in the proposed 81 unit apartment complex at 1550 Pennsylvania Avenue, SE.  In addition, the developer will “unbundle” the parking spaces provided from the units, meaning that residents will not be required to purchase or rent spaces along with the unit.  Some residents and commissioners are in favor, but some are reluctant to require the neighbors to shoulder the burden of competing for street parking. 

The developer says that in order to provide the 41 required spaces, the company would have to reduce the number of units in the building by 22, given the proposed height and mass of the building.  NOVO also cited the problematical shape of the lot, and higher ground water on the lot’s east end as being factors contributing to the request for relief. 

As ameliorating factors, the developer will provide 28 plus bike spaces and pursue locating Zip Cars on site as well as continue efforts to work with DDOT to create additional parking spaces in the neighborhood. In addition, the developer claims that the units – mostly efficiencies and one bedrooms – are meant to appeal to young professionals between the ages of 25 and 34 who are not heavy car users.

Some 18 nearby residents showed up at the ANC’s Planning and Zoning Committee meeting last Wednesday, all but two of them to express concern about the impact of the building on the neighborhood.  Most welcomed the development, which would replace a used car lot currently occupying the site, and agree with the developer that the building would contribute to a safer community and encourage additional retail.  But many are concerned about increased demands for street parking which they see coming with the new building.  One neighbor said the project would make the neighborhood less safe by providing more targets for crimes of opportunity.

When questioned by Commissioner Ivan Frishberg, the developer said that they had not considered the possibility of restricting new residents from eligibility for Resident Parking Permits.  Commissioners Frishberg and Pate urged the developer to consider this option.  Commissioner Oldenburg said that she “fully disagreed” and opposed creating the resulting two classes of residents.  Commissioner Peisch said he tended to agree with Oldenburg.  

At the end of the discussion at the meeting last week, Commissioner Brian Flahaven, in whose Single Member District the proposed development lies, moved that the ANC Planning and Zoning Committee take no position on the requested parking variance pending receipt of additional information on parking before the April 9 meeting of the full ANC which will consider and vote on the issue.  He pledged to work with residents and the developer to reach an accommodation.  That motion was adopted 8 – 0.

Currently, the DC Office of Planning is considering zoning regulation changes to eliminate the requirement that developers provide any parking in those areas of the city in close proximity to public transportation.  ANC6B voted to send a letter to the Office of Planning endorsing that change – and others – at its regular March meeting.  However, in that letter, ANC6B suggested the way to increase housing and reduce traffic on Capitol Hill is to increase the cost of street parking for households with more than one vehicle.  ANC6b bluntly told the Office of Planning (OP) that liberal parking policies by DDOT undercuts OP’s goals of providing more housing in the city and as well as the “desired effect” of reducing the number of cars on the street.  The ANC suggested one remedy might be to increase the cost of a Residential Parking Permit for more than one vehicle per household.  It seems likely that the cost would have to be significant in order to be effective

One question that could be asked of the developer at the ANC meeting is, if the 81 unit building is delayed or if the proposed zoning regulations change becomes effective before the plans for the building are complete, how would that fact affect the plan for providing onsite parking, and would the developer be inclined to eliminate the parking spaces in favor of more units in that event. 

The full ANC will meet Tuesday, April 9, at 7:00pm in Hill Center.


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The Week Ahead……. and ……Changes Coming to Barracks Row: Banana Café, Miracle Theater, Beer Garden

Preliminary Sketch of What Banana Cafe May Look Like in the Near Future

Preliminary Sketch of What Banana Cafe May Look Like in the Near Future

The Week Ahead……. and ……

Changes Coming to Barracks Row:  Banana Café, Miracle Theater, Beer Garden

by Larry Janezich

Monday, April 8

ANC6B Transportation Committee meets at 6:30pm in Hill Center. 

Among items on the agenda:

Letter to DDOT on Barney Circle and Southeast Boulevard Transportation Planning Study.

Tuesday, April 9

ANC6B meets at 7:00pm in Hill Center

Some items on the agenda: 

Historic Preservation Applications for:

Frager’s Infill on 11th Street (see images posted last week on CHC)

Storefront alterations for Banana Café.  As depicted in the architect’s rendering above, the design will emphasize the restaurant’s Cuban cuisine.  No design changes to the interior are anticipated.   The rendering could be further tweaked as the application works its way through the bureaucratic process.  The project is being designed by Design Republica Architecture of 1909 19th Street, NW, whose past clients have included the Lebanese Taverna Restaurants and Nooshi. 

Site alterations for beer garden use at 720 L Street.  Investor Mark Brody has radically scaled back the beer garden concept, and currently envisions a seasonal summer garden which would operate from April to November.  Brody told the Planning and Zoning Committee that the original concept for the beer garden had grown so large that he couldn’t afford to build it.  He hopes to operate the scaled down version until proceeding with the original plan becomes feasible.  The commissioners had many concerns and questions, some about the appropriateness of the undertaking for that location and noted that these questions would be revisited when the application for a liquor license came before them.

Public Space Application for National Community Church, 535 8th Street SE.  As the Church moves forward to return it’s building to its original purpose as a theater (aptly named The Miracle Theater), they are applying for a public space permit to allow an addition to building façade of ticket/information booth.  National Capital Church representatives told the ANC Planning and Zoning Committee last week that plans are underway to develop a concessions area on the lower level of the church which will feature an accessible lift to that level.  In addition the plans include development of a smaller concession area in the theater’s lobby for soft drinks and packaged concessions.  Also envisioned is the installation of additional doors with more glass to show off the interior.  The Planning and Zoning Committee asked representatives of the Church to be prepared to demonstrate a strategy for managing crowds in front of the theater in order to prevent forcing sidewalk traffic into the street as they pass in front of the theater.

Letter to DDOT on Barney Circle and Southeast Boulevard Transportation Planning Study.

Also on the agenda are routine liquor license renewals for Good Stuff Eatery; We, The Pizza; Aatish On The Hill, Mr. Henry’s, Capitol Hill Club, Sizzling Express, Trattoria Alberto. Montmartre/7th Hill, Szechuan House, Lavagna, Café 8, Acqua al 2/Suna/Harold Black Bar, Sanphan, Tortilla Coast, Young Chow Restaurant, Sonoma, Belga Café, Hunan Dynasty, Kenneth H. Nash American Legion, The Silver Spork, Tash Restaurant, Nooshi,


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Piece of the Story – Featuring the Work of Rosina Teri Memolo

"Hot Country Style" by Rosina Teri Memolo at the Contemporary Wing on H Street, NE thru April 21

“Hot Country Style” by Rosina Teri Memolo at the Contemporary Wing on H Street, NE thru April 21

Piece of the Story – Featuring the Work of Rosina Teri Memolo

Editor:  Larry Janezich

“Hot Country Style”, which is part of the Mumbo Sauce show at Contemporary Wing at 906 H Street, NE.  The show runs through April 21. 

Rosina Teri Memolo:  I came of age here in DC and have an intense love of the unique buildings that house corner stores, carryouts and other neighborhood staples. Along the way, I decided to never turn down another person who asked me to shoot them. Both loves combined with my need to explore the city makes for an interesting series of series that I hope to edit into a book. In this image, I see a sliver of life in DC. A woman has just thrown the dice in a street game of craps and men look on while milling about on Minnesota Avenue NE. Maybe they are waiting for their food, but maybe they aren’t.

Featured in Mumbo Sauce are selections from her two series, “Corner Stores and Carry Outs” and “Just Shoot Me,” which document the disappearing landmarks, and changing diaspora of the city.  Her images are intuitive, sometimes even happy accidents.  Her work is also being shown in the Pump Me Up exhibition on display at the museum.

More on the Contemporary Wing show can be found here:

Rosina Teri Memolo is a fine artist and commercial photographer who lives and works in the SE quadrant of Washington, D.C.  Known for her urban inspired images, Rosina serves as a visual archaeologist by digging into our human culture to document what she finds.  Her images are intuitive, sometimes even happy accidents.  Rosina invests her time outside of her personal work, art shows and clients, in the community teaching young people to make a difference by harnessing and training their creativity and critical thinking.

Rosina can be found:

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Acqua al 2 Responds to Neighbor Allegations – New Light Shed on Closing of Suna

Acqua al 2 Responds to Neighbor Allegations  – New Light Shed on Closing of Suna

by Larry Janezich

Ari Gejdenson, co-owner of Acqua al 2, (AA2) addressed ANC6B’s Alcohol Beverage Control Committee Thursday night to respond to allegations and concerns brought before the commission by neighbors of the restaurant regarding two recent additions in service provided by the establishment on its second floor.  Neighbors had raised these concerns – which were posted on Capitol Hill Corner – to the ANC in connection with the AA2’s application for renewal of its liquor license. 

Gejdenson brought a photograph to show the existing entrance from Acqua al 2’s dining room to its upstairs to refute the allegation that AA2 was in violation of DC Code requiring that connection.  Gejdenson further asserted that AA2 was in compliance with the Voluntary Agreement with neighbors saying that there was a 12 foot non-customer space between the recently installed bathrooms and the rear of the restaurant.  He asserted that claims of a fan and vent in one of the rear windows were in fact the back of a freezer on wheels.  He explained that one of the rear windows had been covered with plywood pending replacement after having been broken.  He further asserted that he had gotten permits for all work done on the premises, including the fence on top of the building which, he said, had been mentioned by neighbors as a feature they would like to see to hide rooftop mechanicals and deflect noise away from residents. 

With respect to addition of the trade names Suna and Harold Black Bar to the liquor license, Gejdenson said that rather than confirming that they are different operations from AA2, he is required by the city to add the names to the license given they are separate operations within AA2.  He assured the Committee that it is not a significant change and comes down to paying a $500 fee.   Still, the broader point remains whether neighbors should have a voice in the expansion of a bar/restaurant before it happens and not after the fact. 

Commissioner Brian Pate, who represents the Single Member District adjacent to where the neighbors raising complaints live, recalled visiting the second floor of the restaurant when he was considering holding an event there and thinking that “this is not what we voted for when we voted to support expansion of extra upstairs seating” at AA2.  He went on to say that AA2 was in compliance with the letter of the agreement with the ANC but perhaps not the spirit.  Commissioner Ivan Frishberg, who represents the Single Member District where both AA2 and the neighbors are  located, said that “what’s striking is that Acqua al 2 is still in compliance with the law,” and the “concerns (raised by neighbors) are process concerns, not that there has been any harm.”

In responding to questions raised by nearby neighbors, Gejdenson shed new light on the sudden closing of Suna and lent credence to neighbor concerns that the restaurant had gone beyond neighbor’s understanding of what AA2 would be.  Alluding to a possible disagreement with Suna chef Johnny Spero, Gejdenson said that Suna was supposed to be a “tasting room” within AA2, but the chef wanted to establish a separate operation and compete with AA2, “that’s part of the reason it ended quickly.”  Citing the blogosphere reaction when Suna closed and Harold Black Bar stayed open, Gejdenson said “it seemed like a separate operation.”  Although Gejdenson cited other examples of “tasting rooms” it is in reality unclear how these differ from a restaurant in a factual sense, and indeed, if Chef Spero was attempting to compete with AA2, it’s not clear that they do. 

Regarding the space which was formerly Suna, Gejdenson said, “all we’re doing is private dining and cocktail events.”  He went on to say that he would think that the neighbors would be happy (with Harold Black Bar) which prohibits standing at the bar and loud conversation, and limits seating to 28.  Frishberg backed up the claim, noting that the bar’s rules of decorum are printed on the menu.

The Committee voted to recommend extension of the liquor license, subject to receipt of a signed Voluntary Agreement.


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Frager’s Hardware To Add Upscale Glass Atrium Infill on 11th Street – Concept Drawings at Capitol Hill Corner

View From 11th Street of Frager's Planned Glass Atrium

View From 11th Street of Frager’s Planned Glass Atrium


Ariel View of Frager's Proposed 11th Street Infill

Ariel View of Frager’s Proposed 11th Street Infill

Head On View from 11th Street of Proposed Frager's Addition

Head On View from 11th Street of Proposed Frager’s Addition


Frager’s Hardware To Add Upscale Glass Atrium Infill on 11th Street – Concept Drawings at Capitol Hill Corner

by Larry Janezich

Frager’s Hardware, much beloved for its funky interior, eclectic product selection, and helpful staff is about to add an upscale addition fronting on 11th Street.  The ground floor of the proposed glass atrium will be in the words of one architect, a “curated showroom” to display high end products including light fixtures, cabinets, and plumbing fixtures.  In addition, design consultancy may be offered in the new space.

The concept is up for Historic Peservation Review, and on Wednesday night, Francis Campbell’s ANC Planning and Zoning Committee recommended concept approval to the full ANC by a vote of 5 – 0 – 1.  Commissioner Ivan Frishberg abstained wanting more time to consider the design.  Commissioner Kirsten Oldenburg recused herself from consideration since she is employed by Frager’s.

The project is being designed by the international firm Demian/Wilbur Architects, headquartered  on Capitol Hill.  Some of the firms other DC projects include Station 4 in Southwest, The Hill Pre-School, and Latham Hotel in NW. 

The Historic Preservation Application will come before the full ANC6B which meets next Tuesday at 7:00pm in Hill Center.




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Neighbors Say Acqua Al 2’s Pop Up Restaurant and Speakeasy Violate DC Code

The unmarked door at left is the unassuming entrance to Harold Black Speakeasy and the now-closed Suna

The unmarked door at left is the unassuming entrance to Harold Black Speakeasy and the now-closed Suna

Acqua al 2's Liqour License Application Shows Addition of New Trade Names

 Neighbors Say Acqua Al 2’s Pop Up Restaurant and Speakeasy Violate DC Code;

Al 2 Liquor License Up for Renewal Before ANC Committee Tonight

by Larry Janezich

Nearby neighbors of Acqua al 2 (AA2) at 212 7th Street, SE, charge that its two recently opened adjuncts, “Suna” (which closed March 10 after four months) and the speakeasy, “Harold Black Bar” operated without a liquor license. 

Neighbors have taken their complaints to ANC6B and to DC’s Alcohol Beverage Review Administration (ABRA).  Chief among their concerns is that the AA2 operated and may still be operating in violation not only of its voluntary agreement with the neighbors, but also with DC Code.  The restaurant’s liquor license is currently up for renewal before both bodies. 

At issue are two new establishments on the second floor of the restaurant – the recently closed Suna and (according to co-owner Johnny Spero quoted in the food blog EATER at the still-operating speakeasy “Harold Black Bar.” 

Neighbors contend in their written complaint that in March 2012, when AA2 requested modification of their license to extend their hours of operation and expand the restaurant, the restaurant owner said that this expansion would only be used occasionally for private parties.  A Voluntary Agreement (VA) was written and signed to accommodate these requests.

Subsequently, a separate restaurant named “Suna” with its own kitchen, and a third operation, “Harold Black Bar” were also established on the second floor, neither of which can be accessed from the restaurant downstairs.  Instead the entrance to these two operations is through an unmarked door at a separate address, 214 7th Street, SE.   AA2 is at 212 7th Street, SE.

In addition, neighbors say that during the voluntary agreement discussions, there was no mention or consideration of another restaurant, kitchen, or separate bar on the second floor.

AA2 has applied for a liquor license renewal and added the following trade names to the same license: Suna/Harold Black Bar, apparently an ex poste facto admission of the need to obtain specific licensing for those establishments.

Neighbors point to DC Code, which states in section 600.3:  “An additional trade name shall not be used to identify a location separate and apart from the licensed premises. When a licensed establishment uses an additional trade name, its patrons must be able to access the area of the licensed premises identified by the additional trade name from the area of the licensed premises identified by the original trade name.”

In addition, neighbors say AA2 is not currently in compliance with the voluntary agreement where it is written that:  “No patrons will be allowed in the garden, nor will the area (approximately 312 square feet total, currently used for storage) to the rear of the 2nd floor be open to patrons.”  Their letter to ABRA says, “In fact their new restroom, which is accessible to patrons, is located in the rear of the 2nd floor facing our windows.” 

Suna was closed in early March after only four months, a week before a savage half-star review by Tom Sietsema was published in the Washington Post, but the review apparently had nothing to do with the closing which was never explained by owners.  Neighbors worry that, if a new license is granted, they do not know what kind of operation will replace it.  As has been reported elsewhere, both Suna and the speakeasy Harold Black Bar fostered the mystique of in-crowd exclusivity; neither had signage, and Harold Black—a bar—nonetheless required reservations.  The bar’s phone number was unpublished and the procedure for making a reservation was ritualistic, as detailed in City Paper, which also published the bar’s reservation phone line number. 

See Young and Hungry at:

 Subsequently, Harold Black cut a deal with CityEats to take reservations through their website.  However much the business seeks to mimic the underground or “pop up” feel of the latest fashionable eating trends, the reality is that they appear to have been operating in a brick and mortar fashion and serving alcohol on premises.  Other than preventing or punishing violence in and around the premises, it is difficult to think of a better example of the kinds of behavior that alcohol liquor licensing was established in order to address.

 ANC 6B’s will meet tonight to discuss this issue (and other licenses) tonight at 7:00 in the Hill Center.


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