Monthly Archives: March 2015

The Week Ahead…. And News from the Past Week

Sean Ruppert (standing) of Opal LLC, hosts meeting on development of E Street Residential Project

Sean Ruppert (standing) of Opal LLC, hosts meeting on development of E Street Residential Project

The Week Ahead…. And News from the Past Week

By Larry Janezich

Details Emerge on Development of 46 Units Near SE Safeway – Opal LLC Meets with Community

On Monday, March 23, developer Sean Ruppert, Opal LLC principal, held the first community meeting regarding the planned construction of 46 residential units at 1309-1323 E Street, SE, near the SE Safeway.

The purpose of the meeting was to get input from the community regarding community benefits and amenities Opal will provide to ameliorate the impact of the increased density for the site which will be sought through the Planned Unit Development (PUD) process.  The PUD process provides a way for a developer to change the zoning of a construction site to allow greater height and density for a project than would be allowed under the site’s current zoning.  The process provides that the developer gives something back to the community – in the form of “benefits and amenities.”

New details of the project emerged during the meeting.  The project anticipates 46 units – most will be three and four bedroom townhouses – which will be for sale, not rentals.  The developer said some of the units would be multi-family, two over two, and there could be 8 of those units.  Under inclusionary zoning, 10 percent of the units will have to be “affordable”– some at 80% of Average Median Income (AMI) and some at 50% AMI.  Since the plans have not been finalized, the developer could not give an exact number (for more on “affordable” see CHC posting here:  There will be 46 below grade parking spaces, one per unit.

Former councilmember Sharon Ambrose, who attended, voiced the sentiments of many in the crowd, saying she was “so happy to see a development of other that micro units – the trend is for housing for the most transient members of the community.”

Time line:  Ruppert said they could break ground six months to a year after the PUD application is filed.  It appears that the project will go up in stages, with a final completion date depending on how fast the units sell.  According to the developer, if three units are sold per month, the project will be built out in two years.

Opal LLC will file a PUD application in the next few weeks.  Ruppert asked those attending Monday’s meeting for suggestions as to what benefits and amenities might be suitable.  A number of suggestions – including those Opal had received from Watkins School – concerned items that properly falls under the city government and the DC school system.  Some of these included:  A crossing guard for the school, bike racks, upgrade street lighting, upgrade street scape, trees, upgrade Watkin’s gardens, street striping, year round bathrooms for Watkin’s field, upgrade park near Peter Bug’s Shoe Academy, and making units senior friendly.

Ambrose urged residents and the developer to avoid recommending benefits that city agencies are responsible for before checking to see if items have been provided for in the city’s budget process.  There is a lengthy period between filing the PUD and the Zoning Commission’s “Set Down” hearing, where the plans are finalized; there is no urgency to compile a list of benefits and amenities in the next few weeks.

Once a list of benefits is compiled as the process continues to unfold, ANC6B will conduct the negotiations with the developer on behalf of the community.

Construction of CAG HQ at 15th and Independence, SE, To Begin

Community Action Group (CAG)  planners held a community meeting on Thursday, March 26 to update residents on plans for construction of CAG HQ at 15th and Independence, SE.  Bureaucratic issues have stalled the project and neighbors have complained that the neglected construction site and the huge empty pit on 15th Street has been a nuisance.  The CAG flyer offering details on the construction plan and contact information, previously distributed by ANC Commissioner Denise Krepp is here: CAG+neighborhood+report+03272015-2

ANC6B Revamps Website with Useful Information for Residents of ANC6B

In 2010, a group of reformers challenged and took control of ANC6B which, to many observers, had become insular, secretive and opaque (ANC6D take note).  One of the campaign issues for reformers was increased transparency, and one of the remedies proposed was to make the ANC’s website a useful tool to bring information to the community.  That project, spearheaded by then-Commissioner Brian Pate and his Community Outreach Committee, and current Commissioner Brian Flahaven is becoming a reality.  Pate and his committee made the website functional.  Flahaven has undertaken the task of posting relevant information to the site.  For any resident

Among the information available on the site is the following:

Map of ANC6B, list of Commissioners and their contact info; ANC6B Bylaws, ANC6B Standing Rules, List of Committees and Taskforces, List of Resident Members of Committees and Taskforces, reports of committee meetings, details of settlement agreements with bars and restaurants, ANC6B letters and resolutions, financial statements, minutes of ANC6B meetings, and commissioner’s testimony before government agencies.  Also, one can find here the meeting materials for ANC6B meetings, which are posted prior to the monthly meeting.  The link to the website is here:

The Week Ahead…

ANC6B  Executive Committee Meets at 7:00pm in Hill Center to set the agenda for the April regular meeting of the ANC, on Monday, April 20 (note change in date).

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Pound The Hill Reopens

Pound The Hill Reopens

by Larry Janezich

Pound the Hill reopened just after noon today.  John Karl of Pound told CHC:   “There was confusion with DC over taxes and we quickly resolved it. Unfortunate that they closed us without notice but fortunately it was only for half a day that we were closed!”

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Pound The Hill Coffee Shop Is Closed by DC Tax Office of Tax and Revenue – Reopens Tomorrow

Pound Is Closed by DC Tax Office of Tax and Revenue

by Larry Janezich

Update:  Pound has posted a comment to this story, saying they will be open by mid day tomorrow.

An alert Hill resident forwarded the photo above and the information that Pound is closed.

DC Code provides that if a person is liable to DC for tax and doesn’t pay within 10 days after notice, the Mayor may collect the tax plus penalties by levy upon all property of the person who owes the tax.  If the person is a business entity, this supposedly would entail seizing the assets of the business.  Capitol Hill coffee shop patrons may recall that a similar fate befell Murky’s coffee shop – the last in the list of Peregrine predecessors.


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The Week Ahead – Community Meeting on 45 Mixed Unit Project Near SE Safeway

And so it begins.....

And so it begins…..

The Week Ahead – Community Meeting on 45 Mixed Unit Project Near SE Safeway

by Larry Janezich

Monday, March 23

Opal LLC hosts community outreach meeting on 45 unit mixed residential project comprised of townhouses, condos, flats and a carriage house for the site at 1309-1323 E Street, SE, currently occupied by an Jerry’s Custom Automotive Center and its associated warehouse.  The meeting will be at 7:00pm in Hill Center.  See CHC posting here:

Wednesday, March 25

Eastern Market Community Advisory Committee meets at 7:00pm in Eastern Market’s North Hall.  Among items on the agenda:  Update on Hine Construction Planns

Friday, March 27

Councilmember Charles Allen Community Office Hours, 8:00am – 9:30am, Curbside Café, 257 15th Street, SE


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ANC Committee Says No to Shipping Container Housing in Rosedale

Travis Price Architect's Shipping Container Residential Units

Travis Price Architect’s Shipping Container Residential Units

ANC Committee Says No to Shipping Container Housing in Rosedale

by Larry Janezich

Last night, ANC6A’s Zoning and Economic Development Committee said “no, thanks” to the Neighborhood Development Company and Architect Travis Price’s bid to construct 22 shipping container housing units in Rosedale.   The DC Housing Development Agency is making the site at 1600 Kramer Street available to developers who will construct mixed income residential units, 35% of which must be “affordable.”

Last night, three developers presented their ideas for the site to the Committee.

Price’s concept featured “high performance, low energy housing” – which was the subject of an article in the WaPo yesterday, see here:  His proposal, in association with The Neighborhood Development Company, would provide 12 affordable units, 8 at 50% Area Median Income (AMI) and 4 at 80% AMI.  (AMI in DC is $107,500 for a family of four) on the site in the Rosedale neighborhood adjacent to Miner Elementary School, just south of Hechinger Mall. The plan anticipates 8 parking spaces.

The Committee gave nods of approval to two other developers, Manna, Inc. and Mi Casa, both of whom put forth more traditional town house concepts.

Manna, Inc. proposes ten units – five 2 bedroom and five 3 bedroom.  One 2 bedroom and one 3 bedroom would be marketed at 60% AMI, and one 2 bedroom and one three bedroom would be marketed at 50% AMI.  Six units would be sold at market rate.  The proposal includes six parking spaces.

Mi Casa proposes 12 townhouses – eleven 3 bedroom units and one fully accessible 2 bedroom unit.  Five would be marketed at below 80%, five below 50 percent and two at market rate.  They propose 12 parking spaces.

Both of the latter proposals would be financed by a combination of private equity and city subsidy.  Both would be subsidized by DCHD providing the land at no cost.  Manna would be further subsidized by a city write down – essentially a city held second mortgage which is passed on to subsequent owners and ultimately returned to the city.

At the end, Committee Chair Dan Golden summed up the consensus of the Committee and the community:  Manna is the best architectural fit, Mi Casa the best commitment to affordability, and Neighborhood Development Company was “really cool but in terms of aesthetics and density” not the best fit for the neighborhood.

The committee voted 6 – 0 to send a letter in support of Manna, Inc. and Mi Casa to the full ANC which meets next Thursday at Miner Elementary School.  The full ANC is expected to endorse the committee recommendation and forward that to DCHD.


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The Week Ahead….And Photos of the Leaders at Lincoln Park in the R&R Marathon

Circa 8:35am, Saturday morning, the leader in the Rock and Roll Marathon rounds Lincoln Park

Circa 8:35am, Saturday morning, the leader in the Rock and Roll Marathon rounds Lincoln Park

At circa 8:55am, the first woman rounded the park

At circa 8:55am, the first woman rounded the park

Spiderman was about midway between them

Spiderman was about midway between them

The Week Ahead….

by Larry Janezich

Monday, March 16

ANC 6A Transportation & Public Space Committee Meets at 7:00pm, Capitol Hill Towers (900 G Street, NE)

Among items on the agenda:

Request for conversion of 2-way stop to 4-way stop at 15th Street NE and A Street, NE

Request from residents for Residential Parking Protection on south side of 1200 block of Florida Avenue, NE

Monday, March 16

ANC 6A Community Outreach Committee, meets at 7:00pm, Maury Elementary School, Multi-Purpose Room, 1250 Constitution Avenue, NE (Enter from 13th Street)

Among items on the agenda:

Grant Application Update

ANC 6A Website Update

Tuesday, March 17

ANC 6A Alcoholic Beverage Licensing Committee meets at 7:00pm, at Sherwood Recreation Center (10th and G Streets, NE)

Among items on the agenda:

Report on status of Halftime Sports Bar.

License renewal for Naomi’s Ladder, LLC t/a Touche at 1123 H Street NE

Tuesday, March 17

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

Wednesday, March 18

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

Among items on the agenda:

Resolution of previously heard BZA/HPRB cases

1204 H Street, NE:  Informational presentation regarding planned by-right redevelopment of this property.

1600 Block of Kramer Street, NE: DHCD has received offers for the development of multiple adjoining vacant lots located on this block, including with mixed-income housing.  Three organizations that have submitted offers to develop the property will be providing separate informational presentations regarding their proposals and seeking ANC support:  Mi Casa, Inc.

Manna, Inc., Neighborhood Development Co.

Wednesday, March 18

Preservation Café, presented by the Capitol Hill Restoration Society, 7:00pm at the Kaiser Permanente building, at 700 2nd St. NE. “How to Spot a Cheap Flip” with Capitol Hill craftsman and contractor, Gary Barnhart.

Thursday, March 19

PSA 108 meets at 7:00pm at Liberty Baptist Church, 527 Kentucky Avenue, SE, with MPD Lt. JB Dykes.

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ANC6B Asks DGS For Longer Lease on Boys and Girls Club to Permit Mixed Income Housing

The City Pushes For 100% Affordable Housing in the Former Boys and Girls Club Over ANC and Neighborhood Objections...

The City Pushes For 100% Affordable Housing in the Former Boys and Girls Club Over ANC and Neighborhood Objections…

While the Building Continues to Deteriorate Owing to the City's Neglect

While the Building Continues to Deteriorate Owing to the City’s Neglect

ANC6B Asks DGS For Longer Lease on Boys and Girls Club to Permit Mixed Income Housing

by Larry Janezich

ANC6B voted 10 – 0 last Tuesday night to send a strongly worded letter to the Department of General Services (DGS) expressing its unhappiness with a Request for Proposals (RFP) process which left the community with a choice of only one redevelopment option for the Hill East Boys and Girls Club Building.  That option, unnamed in the letter, is the proposal for 49 units of

Low Income Housing Tax Credits (LIHTC) housing for seniors put forward by Dantes Partners/Menkiti Group.  The only other proposal DGS received appears to be disqualified for not meeting the terms of the RFP – even though that proposal has much more support from the surrounding residents.

Most residents would like to see a mix of larger affordable and market rate units in the building and oppose the proposed additional two stories and many more tiny units proposed by the Dantes/Menkiti plan.

The letter also cites the ANC’s frustration by DGS’ decision to withhold significant information from the commission and the public.  Commissioners Flahaven and Krepp requested information on the project regarding eligibility for tax abatement, financing structure, how advertised services would be paid for, protection for residents in case of economic failure, and loan programs the developers’ are proposing to use. The ANC found DGS to be lacking in its response to the commission.

In addition, DGS ignored an ANC6B request to lengthen 25 year lease for the site when it asked developers for their best and final offers.  The final insult was a letter from Melissa Millar, DGS Management Analyst, which chided the ANC, telling them to limit its concerns to areas under its purview and asserting DGS’ right to make the most informed decisions that are in the District’s best interests.

Further, to date the community has received no explanation as to why the assertion by Michelle Chin of DGS to the community on January 20th that its RFP had met with “considerable interest” from developers had resulted in only two proposals.

The letter to DGS, largely drafted by Commissioner Denise Krepp, concludes:

“DGS should have recognized that the RFP was flawed when it received only two responses to redevelop the building.  The Boys and Girls Club sold the Eastern Branch Building to the District because of financial difficulties.  Since that time, the building has remained vacant and continues to deteriorate.  While ANC6B and our constituents appreciate and support the city’s efforts to quickly redevelop the building, it must be done in a proper manner.  Moving forward with one proposal based on an unnecessarily restrictive RFP is not in the best interests of the neighborhood and the city.”

Commissioner Flahaven stated previously that the decision on the Boys and Girls Club would be a “political” one.  Mayor Bowser has made a commitment to provide more affordable housing in the city and DGS is looking for ways to carry out the Mayor’s wishes.  The terms of the RFP virtually require the developer to use LIHTC funding – a process that accomplishes the Mayor’s goal and simultaneously provides a low risk high-return for the developer.

For more on the city’s push for 100% affordable housing at the Boys and Girls Club, see here:

For more on how LIHLTC works, see here:

For more on the city’s push for 100% affordable housing at the Boys and Girls Club, see here:

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Details Emerge on CAS Riegler Plan for NY Pizza Site on Pennsylvania Ave SE

Schematic showing massing of proposed mixed use project for 1401 Pennsylvania Avenue, SE

Schematic showing massing of proposed mixed use project for 1401 Pennsylvania Avenue, SE

Details Emerge on CAS Riegler Plan for NY Pizza Site on Pennsylvania Ave SE

by Larry Janezich

The developers of the NY Pizza Site at 1401 Pennsylvania Avenue, SE, met with some 20 nearby residents Thursday night to discuss plans for development of the site and to get initial feedback from the community.

The developer is CAS Riegler, a DC focused development company with some 18 developments under its belt, many in DC Historic Districts.  CAS Riegler principal Kevin Riegler told attendees that the company wants to build a quality project that they will “own forever.”

Although the building is not yet in the design stage, Riegler said they are committed to respecting the character of the neighborhood, even though the site lies outside the Historic District.

The company will seek a Planned Unit Development (PUD) for the project, meaning they will seek a change in zoning to increase the density and height beyond what would otherwise be permitted in exchange for community amenities.  The amenities will be negotiated by ANC6B after consultation with and on behalf of the community.  Currently, 50 feet is the maximum building height for the site.

Other details of the project revealed Thursday night are as follows:

70 feet high

180,000 square feet

6 floors of 150 – 180 apartments – the mix of 1 and 2 or more bedrooms has not been determined

3 – 5 first floor retail spaces designed to appeal to local retailers – “hopefully food and beverage”

50 parking spaces

It will be 15 – 24 months before ground is broken

Construction will take 18 – 24 months.

The developers say they are “acutely aware” of what happened in the Hine PUD, and want to avoid that.  To that end, they have offered to meet residents “in a coffee shop or at your kitchen table” to address their concerns.

According to the developer, Thursday night’s power point presentation will be available shortly on the firm’s website, here:  Those who cannot attend may comment on the project at the firm’s website, here:

Interested parties may also comment on the project at this site.


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ANC6B Takes WMATA To Task – Urges More City Oversight

ANC6B Takes WMATA To Task – Urges More City Oversight

Says Failure to Conduct Security Exercises Puts Riders at Risk

by Larry Janezich

Last Tuesday night, ANC6B approved testimony critical of WMATA written by Commissioner Denise Krepp and subsequently delivered by Krepp before the City Council Committee on Finance and Revenue.  The thrust of the testimony was that WMATA had put and continues to put Capitol Hill Metro riders at risk by its failure to conduct regularly scheduled exercises with the participation of law enforcement personnel and emergency response providers.  Krepp’s testimony also urged the Mayor and the committee to take a greater oversight role in the day to day operations of the agency, saying, “On January 12th, one individual died and over 80 more were injured as a result of the electrical arcing incident at L’Enfant metro stop.  WMATA personnel were not properly prepared to respond to this incident and I am not confident they are prepared to do so today.”

The message seemed reasonable enough, but it was not an easy sell to some of the commissioners.  ANC Chair Kirsten Oldenburg said she objected “in several ways” to the testimony as representing the position of the ANC.  She said she had no problem if Krepp wanted to deliver the testimony as an individual commissioner representing her own single member district.  Commissioner Nick Burger echoed Oldenburg’s concerns, saying he didn’t think the testimony reflected the kind of feedback the ANC should be giving and that the remarks would better serve as being Krepp’s own view.

Krepp responded that she knew where of she speaks, since she had written the language requiring security exercises when she had served as Senior Counsel on the House of Representatives Homeland Security Committee.  “Are you telling me not to be concerned that WMATA has not done appropriate oversight?” she asked Oldenburg and Burger.

Tension in the room was broken when Commissioner Brian Flahaven, former ANC Chair and current Vice Chair stepped in to endorse the testimony, saying he didn’t see why it hurts to speak out on this issue and that he felt it was important to weigh in on the serious problems in WMATA which had resulted in the January 12 tragedy at L’Enfant Plaza.  “There’s no down side, he said, and “I am perfectly willing to support the testimony.”

Krepp accepted the suggestions of several Commissioners including Oldenburg to tone down the testimony which was then approved by a vote of 8 – 0 – 2, with Commissioners Flahaven, Krepp, Samolyk, Hoskins, Loots, Hagedorn, Chao and Jayaraman voting in support.  Commissioners Oldenburg and Burger abstained.

Krepp delivered the testimony – which concludes as follows – to Committee on Finance and Revenue yesterday.

“Everyday, thousands of DC residents, Congressmembers, and other high level officials enter the WMATA system via Capital South, Eastern Market, Potomac Avenue, and Stadium Armory metro stops.  The WMATA personnel demonstrated on January 12th that they were not prepared to respond to an incident at these stations and they are not prepared to do so now.

I strongly encourage the Committee and the Mayor to conduct more oversight over WMATA to make sure they are prepared.  Proper preparedness prevents death and injury – surely a goal WMATA can accomplish.”

She delivered the same testimony today, before DC Homeland Security and Emergency Management Agency.


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Ugly Mug Retractable Roof Issue Settled as ANC Withdraws Protest

Ugly Mug Retractable Roof Issue Settled as ANC Withdraws Protest

Tensions Still Simmer Between Restaurants and Nearby Neighbors

by Larry Janezich

Last night, ANC6B voted to withdraw its complaint against the Ugly Mug expansion with retractable roof, contingent upon owner Gaynor Jablonski signing an agreement the ANC had negotiated between him and nearby neighbors.  A last minute snafu – attributed by ANC6B Commissioner James Loots to his own carelessness – animated Commissioner Diane Hoskins to attempt to coax Jablonski to commit to an earlier closing of his glass roof on Friday night.

Loots had distributed the draft agreement to residential neighbors which lead some of them to believe that the Ugly Mug had agreed to close its roof at 10:30 pm on Friday nights.  That version was presented at the ANC meeting on Tuesday and Loots characterized the 10:30 pm reference as a typo, saying that it had always been the intent to treat Friday and Saturday the same with a 12 midnight closing time for the roof .

Commissioner Diane Hoskins from the adjoining single member district on Barracks Row seized the moment to ask Jablonski if he would close his roof at the earlier hour.

Jablonski said, “I can’t do that,” and explained the extra time on Friday night accounted for a lot of revenue and given the other concessions he’d made, including closing the roof during any live entertainment or karaoke, the later closing time on Friday was fair and reasonable.

Barbara Charles, one of the 20 nearby residents on Barracks Row itself, expressed her concerns to the ANC in a letter, which she read aloud to the Commission.  She stated what she believed to be the sentiment of the other neighbors that adding the retractable roof and the expanded seating would add considerable noise, as well as refuse to the alley.  She also expressed her disappointment to find that – despite Jablonski’s earlier agreement that all of the nearby second story residents on 8th Street would receive the noise protection accorded to nearby residents on 7th, I, and G Streets, the final draft Settlement Agreement excluded the residences with addresses on 8th Street.  She also told the ANC, that the Settlement Agreement allows the Ugly Mug to begin operations a half hour earlier than the opening time specified on its alcohol beverage license.

The second story of the Ugly Mug used to house residents, as did the second floor of an adjacent building at 725 8th Street, SE.  Intolerable quality of life issues forced both of those residential occupants to move, opening up space over the Ugly Mug for expansion, and opening up commercial space on the second floor next door for the offices of Capitol Hill Village.  The latter has expressed concern about the impact of the bar’s expansion on their ability to conduct business in their rented space.

7th Street resident Linda Elliot asked the ANC to explain to residents why they would double the size of a (bar/restaurant) which had had numerous violations of the health code and a violation of the fire code.  DC law calls these transgressions “primary violations.”

Charles also pointed to recent changes in DC law which she said should concern the ANC (and all residents who unite to protest a liquor license to the Alcohol Beverage Regulatory Agency – ABRA).  That change provides that if an ANC withdraws its protest before ABRA regarding a liquor license, then any other protest lodged against a liquor license (except those of an adjacent neighbor) falls with it.  The dis-empowerment of residents by empowering the ANC works against the interests of residents since ANC’s – which are weak to begin with – are seldom willing to expose that weakness by going toe to toe with government agencies to back community concerns.

Charles commended Commissioner Brian Flahaven for addressing the Council Committee on Business, Consumer and Regulatory Affairs about the unequal status that ABRA has created for the ANCs.  She noted that the group protest currently pending against the Ugly Mug would fall if the ANC signed off on the proposed settlement agreement and said ANC6B may be the first ANC to use this power and in doing so, set a precedent for other ANC’s.

The final vote was 6 – 1 – 3, with Commissioners Samolyk, Jayaraman, Burger, Oldernburg, Chao, and Flahaven voting to approve.  Commissioner Hoskins voted to oppose, and Commissioners Krepp, Loots, and Hagedorn abstained.

Jablonski comes back before ANC6B next month to try to satisfy resident’s concerns about trash and rodent issues.

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