Monthly Archives: June 2015

Local Superstar Chef Rob Weland Lands on Barracks Row

524 8th Street on Barrack's Row will be the home of Chef Rob Whalen's new restaurant

524 8th Street on Barrack’s Row will be the home of Chef Rob Weland’s new restaurant

Local Superstar Chef Rob Weland Lands on Barracks Row

Competition Coming for Rose’s Luxury

by Larry Janezich

CHC has learned that Chef Rob Weland, formerly of Cork on 14th Street, and Poste Moderne Brasserie in Penn Quarter’s Hotel Monaco prior to that, plans to open his own long-awaited restaurant in the space formerly occupied by TASH, at 524 8th Street, SE, on Barracks Row.

Weland left Cork – some thought suddenly – in April of 2013 on very short notice.  Both sides said the parting was mutual, and at the time, Washingtonian Magazine reported that the owners of Cork, Khalid Pitts and his wife Diane Gross, hoped to partner with Weland on his next venture.   http://bit.ly/1B8CrLk

Weland is renowned for creative American cuisine and his dedication to seasonal foods and sustainability, the latter evidenced by the organic garden he used to supply Poste’s kitchen.  Indeed, seasonal cooking and sustainability are reported to be the subject of the book he plans to write.

When Weland left Poste in September of 2011, the DC food blog Eater reported he departed to write a book and that a plan to open his own restaurant was in the works.  So it came as a surprise that he turned up as the executive chef a month later at Cork.

No word yet on the timing of his new venture on Barracks Row, nor does CHC have any details on the menu (other than a report from sources that it will be contemporary American) or concept.

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BZA Intervenes on Behalf of​ 11th Street Residents ​Obstructed​ by Developer’s Wall

11th Street residents' study showing the effect of 1015 E Street (in red) on their properties (yellow and pink)

11th Street residents’ study showing the current effect of 1015 E Street (in red) on their properties (yellow and pink)

11th Street resident's study showing how proposed extension of 1015 E Street (in red) would affect their sunlight at 4:00pm on March 21

11th Street residents’ study showing how 1015 E after the proposed extension (in red) would affect their sunlight and egress at 4:00pm on March 21

11th Street residents' study showing effect of the extension on sunlight at 6:00pm on March 21

11th Street residents’ study showing effect of the extension on sunlight at 6:00pm on March 21

BZA Intervenes on Behalf of​ 11th Street Residents ​Obstructed​ by Developer’s Wall

ANC6B Had Voted to Take “No Position”

by Larry Janezich

A dispute between the developer of a five unit apartment building at 1015 E Street, SE, and owners of adjacent properties on the 500 block of 11th Street has been resolved, after the intervention of the Board of Zoning Adjustment (BZA).  At a hearing on the case on May 5, the Board was on the verge of denying the developer’s request for a zoning adjustment to allow the construction of an addition which would result in a in a 24 foot high wall across the back of two residences on 11th Street which sit at right angles to the new construction.  See CHC posting here:  http://bit.ly/1DJYRQF  At the last moment, the BZA pulled back the denial to allow the parties a chance to work it out.

The parties did reach an agreement, and Tuesday night, ANC6B signed off on the compromise that would move the addition to the rear of the property at 1015 E Street where it would have lesser impact on the two 11th Street properties.  The proposal was similar to one which had been floated earlier by the developer in order to gain the acceptance of the 11th Street residents, but the latter, steadfast in their opposition to the development, declined to meet with the developer.

The 11th Street residents’​ case against the development was based on their claim​ that​ the 24 foot wall at the rear of their properties would block air and light and deny the rear egress that now exists, although that​ exit​ would​ be located on​ the developer’s  property.

When the developer sought the support of ANC6B for the project at the regular ANC6B meeting on April 20, the developer’s real estate attorney, Cary Kadlecek, of Goulston & Storrs, told ANC6B “The concerns of the neighbors are legitimate, but not germane to law code and the only matter before the ANC was the zoning adjustment on the site’s western side.  He added, “ [Our shadow] studies show there will be no impact [on the 11th Street neighbors],”

Asked by Commissioner Jayaraman, “If you lived in this [11th Street] house and your views went from [before the construction of the wall] to [after the construction], are you okay with that?”  Athey replied, “Yes,” a response that drew snickers from the audience.

Jayaraman went on, “The applicant’s attorney said we can’t consider what’s on the [11th Street] side.  Sure we can, we have to, that is what we’re elected to do; it’s our job.  To say it is not germane, you can say that, but we were elected to represent citizens of our community and take a stand where something does not make sense and this project does not make sense.”

​The question that came before the full ANC committee was ​whether to endorse​ the ANC’s Planning and Zoning Committee​’s​ vote to oppose the variance.  Commissioner Brian Flahaven moved to strike the motion to oppose and substitute a motion to support the variance, based on a strict interpretation of what was before the commission – the question of the variance.  Flahaven added that the question had nothing to do with the wall behind the 11th street properties.  The motion failed, 3 – 5 – 2, with Flahaven, Loots, Burger in favor and  Hoskins, Krepp, Hagedorn, Samolyk, Jayaraman opposed.  Chao and Oldenburg abstained.

Chair Oldenburg moved the Commission “take no position due to the impact of the two story wall.” That motion failed for a lack of second.

Commissioner Loots said, “I have great respect for neighbors and impact on property…We as a commission need to be very careful in recognizing our statutory charge.  We are asked to opine on [the variance affecting the west side of the property], not height, mass, light issues…I cannot in good conscience oppose this project on the basis of damage [the variance] is going to do upon the neighbors… I don’t think we have the authority to justifiably oppose it.”  Chair Oldenburg said she agreed and asked Loots if he was prepared to offer a motion.  Loots said, “No.”

Oldenburg said that the motion she made earlier reflected that the ANC could support the variance would take no position due to the impact of the two story wall, and again offered the motion.  Flahaven, who rewrote the bylaws last year, pointed out that the motion (which had previously failed) had to be made by someone else.

Loots then moved that the “Commission take no position, and end it at that.”

The motion passed, 6 – 3 – 1, with Loots, Flahaven, Hagedorn, Oldenburg, Burger, Hoskins in favor and  Samolyk, Jayaraman, and Krepp opposed.  Chao abstained.

The matter came before the BZA in a hearing on May 5th.  After presentation of shadow studies on how the building would affect the 11th Street residents, Kadlecek, reiterated the argument that the only matter before the BZA was the variance and that the impact of the construction on the 11th Street neighbors was of no concern to the Board.

BZA Chair Jordan replied, “I don’t find credible the shadow study presented by the applicant.  I find credible the shadow study provided by the [11th Street residents] in regards to this…even though we’ve been …  hammered by the appellant, that we just need to look on the west side of the building, because that’s where the (variance) is, the ultimate fact is that… it has effect upon all the property.”

BZA member and Chair of the Zoning Commission Anthony Hood, in agreeing with Jordan, saw things differently than the majority of ANC6B.  Hood stated, in response to Kadlecek’s claim the effect on the 11th Street neighbors wasn’t a zoning issue:​  “,,,zoning consists of protecting the safety and the health of the residents of the city.  So, I just want you to know, that’s part of zoning.”  He was speaking ​directly ​to Kadlecek, but ​the majority assembled for the ANC6B​ vote might have been the subject of his remarks as well​.

Chair Jordan moved to deny the developer’s request for a variance and Vice Chair Heath seconded the motion.  Just before the vote, Jordan offered the developer an opportunity to work out an agreement with the developer.  The developer accepted and asked for an extension of the case until June 16, which the Chair granted.  The vote to endorse that compromise came Tuesday night before ANC6B, which passed it 9-0.

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The Week Ahead…

Eastern Market Outside Vendor Stall, c. 5:00pm, Saturday, June 6

Eastern Market Outside Vendor Stall, c. 5:00pm, Saturday, June 6

The Week Ahead….

by Larry Janezich

Monday, June 8

  1. ANC6D meets at 7:00 pm, DCRA Meeting Room, 1100 4th St. SW, 2nd Floor

Among items on the Agenda:

Spy Museum L’Enfant Plaza – Building projects into Public Space

Randall Recreation Center-Field Update – Nats, UnderArmour, Cal Ripken Foundation

Nation’s Triathlon 09/04/15

Prevent Cancer 5k Walk/Run, Nats Park area, 10/04/15

  1. RFK Playground Project Planning Meeting, 6:30pm, RFK Administrative Offices, 4th   –

Events DC and United for DC are currently seeking active members of the community to participate on the Planning Committee.  The Planning Committee will be tasked with executing the build timeline and driving this project forward to ensure success.  RSVP by calling 202 608 1100.

Tuesday, June 9

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

Among Items on the Agenda:

Summer roof garden for Belga Café

New restaurant liquor license for &Pizza at 405 8th Street, SE

Historic Preservation Application to replace bell tower at 801 North Carolina Ave SE, Christ Our Shepherd Church

Public Space issues for multiunit residential project at 816 Potomac Avenue, SE

Request for zoning relief for multiunit residential project at 1325 D Street SE (Buchanan School)

Letter to Events DC on Need for Transportation Plan for July 4th RFK Stadium concert

Letter to DDOT responding to comments by DDOT official on SE Boulevard

  1. Police Service Area (PSA) 104 public meeting at 7:00pm, Ludlow Taylor Elementary School, 659 7th Street, NE

Wednesday, June 10

  1. ANC6C meets at 7:00pm at the Heritage Foundation, 214 Massachusetts Avenue, NE.

Among items on the Agenda:

Washington Project for the Arts in NoMa

Miscellaneous issues related to Reservation 84, Peace Corps memorial, NoMa parks, and M Street Underpass

318 (rear) Third Street, NE, – conversion of nonresidential building to 1-family dwelling

300 M Street, NE – PUD development, retail and residential

DC Streetcar update – Malia Salaam

Louisiana Avenue Cycle Track—Joe McCann

700 Constitution Avenue, NE, Public Space permit for new construction

Billboards

Thursday, June 11

  1. ANC6A meets at 7:00pm at Miner Elementary School, 601 15th Street, NE.

Among items on the Agenda:

Amazing Love Health Services, LLC, 702 15th Street, NE, seeking zoning relief for less than required parking for a medical facility

1300 H Street, NE, variance from parking requirements, overlay requirements, and design and special exception requirements to allow construction of a new four story, mixed use building with ground floor retail, on the following conditions:

The applicant records a covenant requiring that all leases or contracts for sale of the individual units prohibit the tenant or purchaser from obtaining a residential parking permit (RPP);  The applicant treat the building (and all units) as fronting on H Street and as having an H Street address; and The applicant investigate with DDOT the feasibility of supporting an expansion of access to Capital Bikeshare near the building.

  1. ANC6B Community Outreach and Constituent Services Task Force meets at 7:00pm, Hill Center.

Among items on the Agenda:

Crime and community policing.

  1. Capitol Hill Restoration Society Zoning Committee meets at 7:30pm at Kirby House, 420 10th Street, SE

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&Pizza – The Next Ruby Tuesday?

Steve Salis Opened the First &Pizza Outlet on H Street, NE, in 2012

Steve Salis Opened the First &Pizza Outlet on H Street, NE, in 2012

Barracks Row &Pizza Is Scheduled to Open in August at 405 8th Street, SE

Barracks Row &Pizza Is Scheduled to Open in August next to Starbucks at 405 8th Street, SE

& Pizza – The Next Ruby Tuesday?

Ruby Tuesday Founder Reportedly Chairs &Pizza Board of Directors

by Larry Janezich

Sandy Beall, founder of Ruby Tuesday and its CEO for 40 years, has reportedly become the Chair of the Board of the incipient fast-casual pizza chain, &Pizza.  &Pizza seems to be downplaying the relationship with this industry powerhouse in the wake of the departure of co-founder Steve Salis from his role as CEO of the company.

On March 3, Nation’s Restaurant News listed Beall – who stepped down as Ruby Tuesday’s CEO in 2012 – as one of the board members of Ima Pizza, LLC, &Pizza’s parent company. (http://bit.ly/1dkrbAe)

This followed &Pizza’s February 18 announcement that it had received $10 million in additional investment funding.  Carriage Hill, a company that helps shareholders of “privately held middle market companies” recapitalize, possibly alluded to the source of the investment in a note regarding a growth capital transaction it handled for &Pizza which read, in part, as follows:  “The private investor is a high net-worth family office that invests in consumer brands and emerging fast casual restaurant concepts throughout the US.”  (http://bit.ly/1HT4oUp)

Months later, on May 19, Rick Aristotle Munarriz wrote on the financial planning website Daily Finance:  “Some of the [fast casual pizza] chains that don’t have affiliations with public companies are also well connected … &pizza has Ruby Tuesday’s (RT) founder as its chairman of the board.” (http://aol.it/1F0tKgP)

On Friday, May 29, Andrew Metcalf of Bethesda Magazine reported that &Pizza co-founder Steve Salis was stepping down as CEO.  In that piece, Salis said that the company plans to hire a new CEO, but that &Pizza’s co-founder Michael Lastoria would remain as the company’s president.

This sequence of events mirrors that of start-ups on the way to buyout, and suggests that &Pizza might be destined for far greater expansion as a franchise.

Metcalf quoted Salis using some of this terminology explicitly:  “I thought the business was at the right point for us to bring in a blue chip, top-notch CEO to run the company.”  However, five days later, on Tuesday, June 2, Metalf’s Friday post was updated with additional information from &Pizza’s public relations spokesperson Barbara Martin, who told Bethesda Magazine:  “Michael and Steve founded a company and Steve’s moved on.”  Metcalf continued, “Martin said Lastoria is currently also serving as the CEO. She countered what Salis said, saying that Lastoria is the CEO and the company is not currently looking for a new leader.”  (http://bit.ly/1LOz1Ou)

Martin is a principal at the high-powered DC public relations firm, BrandLinkDC, profiled in the NYT in 2010 here: ( http://nyti.ms/1KMl2Il)

In its official pronouncements, &Pizza seems to be emphasizing its local leadership.  Last Thursday, June 4, representatives of &Pizza appeared before the ANC6B alcohol licensing committee to support &Pizza’s application for a liquor license for the Barracks Row &Pizza location, at 405 8th Street, SE, scheduled to open in early August.   When an attendee asked, “Where’s Steve?,” &Pizza’s legal representative Debbie Kaplan told the room that Salis had stepped down as CEO and Lastoria was the new CEO but that any agreements with respect to the operation of &Pizza on Barracks Row would be endorsed by Lastoria.

Until now, Salis has been the public face of &Pizza.  Salis first appeared before ANC6B in September, 2011 (http://bit.ly/1cChfBt), as a New York City entrepreneur who wanted to bring his vision for joining the fast casual dining experience to Barracks Row.  He had hoped to open his flagship restaurant on 8th Street, but retreated to H Street, NE, when delays in getting an exemption from the ban on fast food restaurants on 8th Street took longer than expected.

After opening several restaurants in the area, Salis and returned to his goal of having an &Pizza outlet on 8th Street and has been persistent in pursuing that goal since last March of last year (http://bit.ly/1iT6UPB).  After twice rejecting Salis’ request for a fast food exception, ANC6B finally endorsed the application after an agreement on how the restaurant would be operated was reached with the neighbors (http://bit.ly/WJQiUA).   At last Thursday night’s meeting, the committee agreed to recommend approval of the license application to the full ANC, on the condition that the license include the language previously negotiated between Salis and the neighbors regarding trash disposal, rodent control, noise mitigation and odor mitigation.

CHC asked Kaplan about the restructuring.  She said it was done to “address the different needs of the company.”  Asked what role Salis had after the restructuring, Kaplan replied, “Steve remains a significant investor.”

According to the Nation’s Restaurant News article, a board of directors with decades of experience in national and international retail and franchising has been assembled.  In addition to Beall, members of the Board are listed and described at the end of this piece.

Salis had never made any secret about his desire to establish a restaurant chain.  Few expected him to be able to do so this quickly.  Now with the new infusion of capital and a board of directors with decades of experience in national and international retail and franchising, it appears that &Pizza is on the brink of becoming a national – if not international – chain.

Should that come to pass, &Pizza will be the fifth chain food outlet in the 400 block of 8th –  a block that already supports Starbucks, Popeye’s, Chipotle, 7-11, Subway, and Baskin Robbins.  Potbelly is reportedly interested in opening a venue on the block and DC development company Streetsense is looking for a tenant for the former location of Craze Burger.

While the operating agreement attached to the liquor license provides some reassurance to neighbors, they are justifiably concerned about the general rule that chain restaurant outlets do not make good neighbors.  If and when problems arise, it is nearly impossible to bring pressure to bear against a distant corporate office that has little concern for quality of life in a community.

& Pizza’s Board of Directors, according to Nation’s Restaurant News:

Joe Farina, former partner at Fireman Capital Partners (private equity firm that invests in the consumer sector), former president of Genuity (a $2 Billion internet infrastructure company), former president of Lynch Interactive (a telecom holding company) and former corporation officer and president of various divisions of Verizon (lead Verizon expansion into Europe and Asia).

Edward Albertian, CEO of City Sports, Inc. (sporting goods retailer operating 27 stores over seven east coast states), former CEO of TNT Vacations (an vacation operator serving the New England market), former CEO of C&S Wholesale Grocers (largest wholesale grocery supply company in the US), former CEO at Star Markets (online food shopping), and current Board member of Streamline.com Inc., (international payment processing).

John Barton, operating partner with the investment firm LNK Partners (private equity investing in consumer/retail), former Executive Vice President of Real Estate for Staples (most recently managed Staples’ emerging markets of South America, China, Taiwan and India), and current member of the Board of Fitness Connection and an advisor to Au Bon Pain, current “Doman Expert” for Highland Consumer Partners (investment in growth-oriented consumer-facing businesses – including City Sports see Edward Albertian above) focusing on international operations, profit and loan management, franchising, and retail real estate development.

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HPRB Votes to Expand Capitol Hill Historic District Northward

HPRB Votes to Expand Capitol Hill Historic District Northward

by Larry Janezich

According to Mark Eckenwiler, Chair of ANC6C’s Planning, Zoning, and Environment Committee, last Thursday, the Historic Preservation Review Board (HPRB) voted unanimously to expand the Capitol Hill Historic District to the north.  The expansion includes a portion of a Capitol Hill community known in the late 19th Century as “Swampoodle” – which later became the home of Union Station and NoMa. The newly designated part of the Historic District lies within Eckenwiler’s single member district (SMD).

According to Wikipedia, the area received its name from a description in a newspaper report about the 1857 ground-breaking for St. Aloysius Church.  The reporter covering the event referred to the swampy character of the land and the puddles left when Tiber Creek overflowed.  An Irish community developed in the area in the late 1800s comprised of those fleeing the Irish potato famine.

The Capitol Hill Restoration Society has been actively supporting this expansion as part of its “Beyond the Boundaries” initiative.  (For a previous post on this initiative, see CHC posting here:  http://bit.ly/1JoEJHh)   In March of this year, CHRS joined ANC6C and Councilmember Allen in petitioning HPRB in support of the Swampoodle addition to the Capitol Hill Historic District.  CHRS has provided a map of the expansion, see here:  http://bit.ly/1HJF6b2

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Violent Crime the Focus of Special Hill East Meeting

Residents turn out for community crime meeting last night

Residents turn out for community crime meeting last night

MPD 1st District Commander Jeff Brown and Lt. James Dykes take residents' questions on crime

MPD 1st District Commander Jeff Brown and Lt. James Dykes take residents’ questions on crime.

Violent Crime the Focus of Special Hill East Meeting

Neighbors Turn Out to Discuss Crime Wave with Police Command

by Larry Janezich

Despite last night’s downpour, more than 50 Hill East residents showed up at St. Coletta’s for a community crime meeting with MPD 1st District Commander Jeff Brown and PSA 108’s Lt. James Dykes.

Also in attendance were most ANC6B Commissioners, and representatives of Mayor Bowser and Councilmember Allen.

The large turnout was motivated by concern over the recent spike in violent crime plaguing Hill East, from 9th to 19th Streets, SE, including Lincoln Park.  Generally, the focus of the meeting was a hot spot at 17th and Independence Avenue, and the rash of sneak assaults on pedestrians, sometimes with no intent to rob the victim.

Residents say much of the activity at 17th and Independence centers around a “nuisance residence,” which neighbors allege is a drug house and a magnet for rowdy teenagers.  Nearby, at 18th and Bay, there was a recent shooting of a teenager which police say involved another teenager from outside the community.  Police investigation has been hampered by the victim’s refusal cooperate regarding the identity of his assailant.  The police disavowed knowledge of any gang activity in the area.

The same general area was the scene of two violent muggings recently.  The wife of one of the victims of a mid-day mugging became emotional as she told police she was trying to make sense of the crime; another resident recounted how he was recently mugged at 8:00a.m.  Residents shared numerous stories and conveyed their growing anxiety and frustration over the rash of attacks.

Commander Brown told the victim’s wife she shouldn’t try to make sense of it because “there is no rhyme or reason” behind the crimes.  “There is no gang initiation” he said, citing a series of 7 different robberies and 9 assaults and adding that perpetrators set out specifically with the “intention of robbing or punching people with no reason behind it.”

Residents near 17th and Independence noted that, regardless of affiliation, they have seen the same “roving band of teenagers” around 17th and Independence that “we see all the time.”

Regarding the muggings and assaults – which Brown described and “hit and run” – Brown said that two different groups were responsible – one is comprised of juveniles, and the other an “older crowd in their mid-20s to early 30s.”

Asked what the strategy is for addressing the issues, Dykes said that part of the plan is targeted enforcement – “putting more officers in the area to focus on these guys.”  He said, “I believe it will cause this to stop.”

With respect to the nuisance residence, Brown said that if there is no criminal activity, there is not much police can do.  Dykes said, “We do what we can within the letter of the law, and admitted, after neighbors expressed disgust over police failing to search nearby bushes for illicit drugs stashed as soon as law enforcement appears,  “we could be doing a little more. We’ll do a little more.”  A longer term solution to the problem, Brown said, was demonstrating criminal activity at the residence and building a case to take to the Attorney General’s Office.  He said that this is a long process.  ANC6B Commissioner Denise Krepp, “What does the case look like now?”  Brown replied that the police don’t have any kind of case at present.

Neighbors also expressed their frustration that, after being encouraged to call 911, police in uniform knock on their door to discuss their report – in full view of other neighbors, including suspected wrongdoers.  Dykes said, “That shouldn’t happen,” and promised to discuss this kind of unintentional endangerment as his next roll call meeting.

An on-line petition urging the Mayor and Chief Lanier to devote more resources to fighting “this dramatic wave of crime” and concluding “we don’t want to be forced to leave the neighborhood and the city as a consequence” and signed by 319 residents was presented to a representative of the Mayor who attended the meeting.

ANC6B Commissioner Brian Flahaven who chairs the ANC’s Constituent Services and Community Outreach Task Force told those attending that the Task Force would discuss what the ANC can do regarding ways the ANC can weigh in with the city.  The next meeting of the Task Force will be on Thursday, June 11, at 7:00pm in Hill Center.

The community crime meeting was requested and organized by ANC6B10 Commissioner Denise Krepp.

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Demolition of Hine School Begins – Photo Essay

Demolition of Hine School Begins

by Larry Janezich

Just before 8:00am this morning, Clark Construction began razing the former Hine Jr. High School.  The construction schedule anticipates the completion of demolition by late June.  Excavation of the site will begin in July, with vertical construction beginning in November of this year.  Completion of the first phase – the South building residential units and retail space is expected in June 2017.

View of the razing of Hine Jr. High School, looking south.  June 2, 2015, circa 8:00am

View of the razing of Hine Jr. High School, looking south. June 2, 2015, circa 8:00am

.View of Hine Jr. High facing south.

.View of Hine Jr. High School facing south.

View of Hine Jr. High demolition, facing east.

View of Hine Jr. High School demolition, facing east.

View of demolition of Hine Jr. High School, facing east.

View of demolition of Hine Jr. High School, facing east.

View of demolition of Hine Jr. High School, facing east.

View of demolition of Hine Jr. High School, facing east.

View of demolition of Hine Jr. High School, facing southeast.

View of demolition of Hine Jr. High School, facing southeast.

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