Barracks Row’s Ambar Restaurant Continues Brawl with ANC on Indoor Trash Storage
by Larry Janezich
Last Tuesday night, ANC6B stepped back from what appeared to by unanimous support for Ambar’s proposal to add a third story to the restaurant after owner Ivan Iricanin said – according to Chander Jayaraman (ANC6B Chair as well as Chair of the alcohol beverage committee) – that he would “never” provide inside access to a new indoor trash storage room. A vote to oppose the expansion was 6 – 3 – 1.
Ambar came to the ANC last March with a proposal to add a third floor and a retractable roof to their existing building. That proposal would have added 53 seats to the restaurant. The ANC was unable to wrest an agreement for indoor trash storage at the time and voted to take “no position” on Ambar’s Historic Preservation Application. Subsequently, a group of neighbors fighting the area’s exploding rat population lobbied Iricanin and convinced him of the necessity of indoor trash storage. See here: http://bit.ly/2nxD3oQ
Going forward with negotiations, ANC 6B, backed by neighbors, offered to support an extension of Ambar to the rear property line, expand the second story to the rear, and add a third full story, on the condition that Iricanin create indoor trash storage space with access from inside the restaurant. The ANC’s plan would allow Ambar to increase its seating from the planned 53 to a total of 88 new seats.
According to Jayaraman, Ambar agreed to the ANC proposal with the exception of an interior door leading to the trash room. This was a deal breaker because in the long history of managing trash and fighting rats attracted to Barracks Row restaurants, it has been amply demonstrated (according to neighbors) hauling trash to an indoor trash storage through an exterior door simply does not work. ANC6B has fought hard to address Barracks Row’s rat problem by requiring new restaurants in the ANC’s commercial districts – and those undergoing renovation – to provide indoor trash storage.
Jayaraman met with the architect and the owner on the Friday before Tuesday’s ANC meeting expecting to work out an agreement on the inside door. Instead, the owner stated flatly that he cannot do an interior door. Jayaraman says he told the owner, “That’s not going to work. If you want the support of the ANC, revise your plan and provide for inside access to trash storage.” He invited the Ircanin to make his point before the full ANC Tuesday night. The owner failed to appear.
Although this stage of the permitting process is limited to the concept for a Historic Preservation Application, Jayaraman maintains that the additional elements regarding trash storage are a valid point to consider. Commissioner Nick Burger, Chair of the ANC’s Planning and Zoning Committee maintained that the issue would be better addressed when Ambar comes back before the ANC with a zoning adjustment request to extend the building to the rear lot line.
But a majority of the Commission agreed with Jayaraman, in effect firing a warning shot across Ambar’s bow. A vote against the issue as part of the Historic Preservation Application where it may be marginally relevant sets the stage for future votes if and when the matter comes back to the ANC as a zoning issue and again, if and when it comes back to the ANC for support for a substantial change in the liquor license.
Neighbors strongly support taking a tough position, noting that the new owner of the old Phase One building next door agreed to a much more difficult installation for indoor trash storage.