Building Collapse Sets Back Ebenezer Methodist Church Residential Project on D Street, SE
by Larry Janezich
DC Fire and Emergency Services responded to a reported building collapse in the 400 block of D Street, SE, yesterday afternoon. The building is part of a residential construction project of Ebenezer Methodist Church located on the block.
DCRA Inspections Division personnel also responded to the site and reported that DC Fire Captain Kemp was in command. DCRA said that according to Kemp, the structure began to give way while workers were doing excavation at the site. As it slowly collapsed, the workers scattered and ran. DCFD secured utilities and evacuated nearby residents. MPD brought in K-9 search dogs to help determine if there were workers trapped during the cave in, but none were found after a 20 minutes search. There were no fatalities and no injuries associated with the collapse.
According to DCRA, the project was issued a stop work order last fall because of safety concerns related to the water-filled excavation pit. The problem was apparently corrected permitting work to resume, but a photo from today showed the pit filled with water.
The adjacent town house at 416 D Street is also undergoing underpinning and excavation. The adjacent town house on the other side at 420 D Street is occupied and did not suffer damage. DCRA deemed the 416 and 418 unstable and stop work orders have been imposed.
The project has been contentious in the neighborhood since it was proposed more than three years ago. After a long review process and a battle over the architect’s plan for a mechanized car storage structure (ultimately denied by the Historic Preservation Review Board) the project got the go ahead from the city.
Re-opening: Bowser said that as the city continues to increase vaccination rates, the following activities will reopen on May 1.
Seated live entertainment (traditional theater) indoors and outdoors at 25% capacity up to 500 people.
Movie theaters at 25% capacity.
Live music will be allowed near outdoor restaurant seating.
Weddings and special events will be allowed indoors and outdoors at 25% capacity with a waiver for attendance greater than 250.
School graduations and awards ceremonies will be allowed indoors and outdoors with capacity limits to be announced.
Regional business meetings and seated conventions will be allowed indoors and outdoors at 25% capacity with a waiver for attendance greater than 250.
Outdoor races will be allowed at 50% capacity.
Indoor and outdoor public pools will be allowed to open at 50% capacity.
Outdoor splash pads will be allowed to open at full capacity.
Recreation centers will be able to operate indoors at 50% capacity.
Libraries will be able to operate at 50% capacity.
Museums galleries and exhibits will be able to operate indoors and outdoors at 50% capacity.
Non-essential retail indoors and outdoors will be able to operate at 50% capacity.
As of now, Bowser is not increasing capacity for Nats games at Nationals Park. A decision on re-opening for Wizards and Caps at Capital One Arena will be coming soon.
Bowser said that DC residents can help DC reopen by getting vaccinated ASAP, help others get vaccinated, wear a mask, social distance, practice good hygiene and prioritizing outdoor activities. As of April 2, 12.3% of DC residents have been fully vaccinated and 23% have been either fully or partially vaccinated.
508 Seward Square SE – Historic Preservation Application for a Rear and Third Floor Addition.
232 5th Street, SE – Historic Preservation Application for new attic storage.
602 E Street, SE – Historic Preservation Application to enclose balcony to add to living space on rear of house.
420 11th Street, SE – Historic Preservation Application for rear addition and change in front facade from stucco to wood siding.
313 9th Street, SE – Historic Preservation Application for existing two-bay garage to be expanded with a second floor addition.
106 13th Street, SE – Zoning Adjustment Application for use variance to expand an existing, nonconforming, restaurant use to the cellar and second story of a semi-detached, two-story with cellar, commercial building.
Text Amendment to add Inclusionary Zoning Requirements to Lower Barracks Row Zone.
ABRA will hold a virtual discussion on Medical Marijuana availability at 10:00am.
ABRA will host a public information session to discuss the Medical Cannabis Amendment Act of 2021 to make the District’s medical cannabis program more equitable, inclusive and fair; provide patients and caregivers greater flexibility and options; and ensure facilities are able to meet patient demand and product preferences.” Register here: https://bit.ly/31L7gGm
Wednesday, April 7
ANC6B Transportation Committee will hold a virtual meeting at 7:00pm.
1173 3rd Street, NE – Zoning Adjustment Application for special exception relief to partially demolish the existing attached principal dwelling unit and to construct a third-story addition with roof deck, rear deck addition, cellar, and carport below the rear deck.
Presentation: Solar Programs for DC Residents – Katya Botwinick, Energy Program Specialist, DC
Letter to DDOT opposing the issuance of permits for the installation of the small cells in Rosedale until more information is received about the process for selecting locations and the safety of 5G small cell infrastructure; and that DDOT contact ANCs first before issuing permits.
Letter to DDOT in support of Public Space Permit for the replacement of a retaining wall at 424 11th Street, NE.
Resolution in support of extending the DC Streetcar to Benning Road, NE, and support for requisite funding in the FY 2022 budget.
Letter of conditional support to Zoning Commission for a requested modification of consequence (modify number of balconies on eastern façade) for 1701 H Street, NE, on condition that the additional units that are going to be proffered with the 7th floor addition be made 30% AMI, or substituted with the same number of units at 30% AMI.
Letter of conditional support to BZA for a special exception, to construct a new three-story with cellar and roof deck, rear addition to an existing, two-story with cellar, semi-detached, principal dwelling unit at 211 13th Street, NE.
Letter of conditional support to HPO for the renovation of an existing single family row home with a rear and third floor addition in the Capitol Hill Historic District relief at 17 9th Street, NE.
Letter of support to BZA for a special exception, to construct a third story addition and roof deck, to an existing two-story flat, and a second story addition to an accessory detached garage at 308 11th Street, NE.
Resolution regarding ANC 6A support for funding the DC Office for the Deaf, Deaf Blind, and Hard of Hearing in DC’s FY2022 budget.
Amendment of the ANC 6A FY21 budget to reallocate unused resources from the FedEx and DCPS security line items in the amount of $2,255.00 to grants ($1,870.00) and ZoomPro ($385.00).
ANC6B Alcoholic Beverage Control Committee will hold a virtual meeting at 7:00pm.
Select Whiskey, 700 Pennsylvania Avenue, SE, Suite #2109 – New Retailer’s Class “A” Internet License (internet only sales).
The Ugly Mug Dining Saloon/Valor Brew; 723 8th Street, SE – Substantial Change Application request to add Sports Wagering and Game of Skill endorsements to their operations. To offer Sports Wagering through mobile app and offer physical consoles for the electronic game of skill Dragon’s Ascent.
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Handle-19 Pulls Application for Liquor License for Gambling Spot on PA Avenue SE
by Larry Janezich
Thursday afternoon, DC’s Alcohol Beverage Control Administration notified ANC6B that Handle-19 has withdrawn its application for a liquor license for the space at 319 Pennsylvania Avenue, SE, where they had plans to open a sports book gambling venue.
Neighborhood opposition had been vehement and neighbors and ANC6B were both expected to participate in a protest hearing on the application scheduled by ABRA for next Thursday. That hearing will now be cancelled.
In February, DC Lottery denied Handle 19’s sports betting application for unspecified reasons. Owner Shane August subsequently withdrew the application which allowed him to reapply – which he was expected to do after restructuring the company and paying a new $100,000 application fee. To date he does not appear to have done so, but still could.
Technically, August could open a gambling place without a liquor license, but it can’t be stand-alone. It has to have another retail component, such as a restaurant.
However, another factor in the withdrawal of the application for a liquor license may have been reports that Kodiak Properties – the owner of the building at 319 Pennsylvania Avenue – had terminated Handle 19’s lease for the property. Capitol Hill Corner reached out to Kodiak Properties but no one was available who could confirm the termination. Not having a confirmed space to operate would torpedo a liquor license application.
UPDATE: CHC reached out to Shane August for comment. August replied after the article was posted and that response is below.*
Asked for reaction, ANC6B Chair Brian Ready said, “This is what many neighbors wanted – they believed this was not an appropriate place for a gambling establishment. I would call this a win in the short run but maybe not in the long run, given the way the city council and DC Lottery has set this up.” During ANC6B discussions, the point was made repeatedly that there is neither city guidance nor restrictions on locales where gambling establishments may operate.
The ANC6B ABC Committee will hear a presentation from a DC Lottery representative at their regularly scheduled virtual meeting next Thursday. Ready urged members of the community with questions to attend.
CHC reached out to former ANC6B Chair Chander Jayaraman who has been active in the community on this issue on behalf of protesting neighbors. He said “I’m torn with what has transpired. On one hand I’m pleased to see that when neighbors and the ANC work together they can get a result the neighbors wanted. But the withdrawal provided little clarity for gambling establishments city wide. One of the goals of the case was to set a precedent regarding the appropriate location for gambling, and as the result of the withdrawal, we have no resolution.”
Liz Morin-Burns, spokesperson for a group of opposing neighbors, said she was happy but not sure the fight is over. She said, “For me, this leaves a lot of unanswered questions. Are we going to have to fight this again in six months or a year? Are they truly leaving Capitol Hill or is that unknown? I had hoped we’d get to a trial and an official saying ‘no’. This leaves the door open…we hope to work with CM Charles Allen to make sure there is some review of gambling licenses where residents have a say.”
*Today, Handle 19 made the difficult decision to withdraw its application for a liquor license at 319 Pennsylvania Avenue SE. Handle 19 was looking forward to being a responsible and engaged part of the Capitol Hill community and to revitalizing a space that has sat vacant on Pennsylvania Avenue for several years. The project would have created at least 25 hospitality jobs in the midst of a pandemic that has hit that industry, and its workers, the hardest. It is particularly disappointing that the local neighbors and ANC 6B fought so hard to undermine a small and minority-owned business, and spent thousands of tax payer dollars to achieve such a goal; money that could have gone to much more productive causes, including grants for small businesses on Capitol Hill. While the project has suffered an unfortunate setback, Handle 19 still plans to move forward at another location and is in the process of exploring new opportunities. This is not the end, it is simply the end of the beginning.
Discussion of two redevelopment projects, Greenleaf Gardens & Westminster Church in SW DC.
Wednesday, March 31
RESCHEDULED FROM WEDNESDAY, MARCH 34. The Department of General Services holds a virtual meeting at 1:30pm.
The meeting is open to the public and a link to join the meeting is distributed the day of.
Update the Eastern Market Metro Park Advisory Taskforce on the renovation of Eastern Market Metro Plaza, at 1:30pm.
Saturday April 3
Call for volunteers.
Help needed with the Potomac Avenue Pocket Parks. Meet at 10:00am at the park along K (the one with the splash pad). We will be mulching and planting hostas along the back fence, and clearing up at the point to create a space for colorful flowers. Same rules apply: Volunteers should bring water, gloves, and hand tools if they have them. Folks can register to volunteer at https://guerrillagardenersdc.org/volunteer
Volunteers turned out on Saturday March 27 for Phase 1 work of the fist Potomac Triangle Park. Next Saturday, Phase II. Photos courtesy of Guerrilla Gardeners.
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Friday morning, members of St. Mark’s Episcopal Church choir found a noose on a tree in the church’s courtyard. The progressive church is at 301 A Street, across from the Library of Congress Adam’s Building and two blocks from the East Front of the US Capitol. Over the past few months, two “Black Lives Matter” signs have been stolen from the church. In addition, two nearby protest sculptures in fire boxes featuring Thomas Jefferson and Sally – at 3rd and Independence, SE, and at 3rd and C Street, NE Hemings – have been damaged or destroyed. These sculptures were part of a series on installations across the city by “Fearless Girls 2020”.
Councilmember Charles Allen tweeted a photo of the noose and condemned the act:
“A noose was found today at St Mark’s Episcopal Church on the Hill, a despicable symbol and act of hate. MPD has been on scene and is working with church leadership. Denounce it out loud and clear –hate has no home here.”
MPD is investigating the incident at a possible hate crime.
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As of today, Thursday, March 25, 177,229 have pre-registered and are awaiting appointments.
Friday, March 26, will be the last day of testing at the Geico Garage at Nationals Park because of the opening of baseball season. Go here to find other testing locations: https://coronavirus.dc.gov/testing
In celebration of the Cherry Blossom Festival, organizers have commissioned 26 giant sculptures, painted by 25 talented local and national artists and installed in various locations across Washington, DC, and in Maryland’s National Harbor and in Virginia’s Aurora Highlands and National Landing neighborhoods. This one – near the playground at Pennsylvania Avenue and 9th Street – is “Flower Kuties” by 17 year old Kaila Garcia, a senior at Duke Ellington School of the Arts. To see all 26 sculptures and for more information, go here: https://bit.ly/317KSXa
The Week Ahead – and Some Photos from the Past Week
By Larry Janezich
Posted March 21, 2021
Call for Volunteers: Former ANC6B Commissioner Kelly Waud, continuing community involvement after retiring from the ANC in January, is appealing for volunteers to continue the upgrading of the Potomac Avenue Parks. See Saturday entry below.
Monday, March 22
CANCELLED ANC 6A Community Outreach Committee (COC)
Tuesday, March 23
ANC6A Alcoholic Beverage Licensing Committee holds a virtual meeting at 7:00pm.
Call for volunteers to help with the Potomac Avenue Pocket Parks. Meet at 10:00am at the park along I Street, SE (with the playground equipment). The plan is to mix in more mulch/ soil conditioner, weed around the hedge in the back and add some plantings. Volunteers should bring water, gloves, and hand tools if they have them. Folks can register to volunteer at https://guerrillagardenersdc.org/volunteer
On Saturday April 3
Call for volunteers to help with the Potomac Avenue Pocket Parks. Meet at 10:00am at the park along K (with the splash pad). We will be mulching and planting hostas along the back fence, and clearing up at the point to create a space for colorful flowers. Same rules apply: Volunteers should bring water, gloves, and hand tools if they have them. Folks can register to volunteer at https://guerrillagardenersdc.org/volunteer
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Citywide Caucus of ANC Commissioners Pushes for More Funding, a Louder Voice, and Maybe a Paycheck
By Larry Janezich
The City-wide ANC Caucus held a virtual meeting last Monday night agreed to push for better funding for the ANCs, a louder voice in addressing city-wide issues, better organization, and maybe paychecks for commissioners. The Caucus also discussed police reform and the Mayor’s amendments to the Comprehensive Plan’s Future Land Use Maps.
The meetings typically draw 10% or so of the city’s 300 commissioners, but it was the consensus of those who attended Monday’s meeting that the city is missing an opportunity to directly enlist the assistance of commissioners in addressing city issues.
Commissioner Chuck Elkins (ANC3D01) said that what’s missing from the Commissions is money and that limits the ANCs’ ability to look at issues. He said the ANC’s are a “boot-strap” organization and he was not sure if that was intentional or the result of benign neglect…. “If commissioners were paid, it would make a difference as well, but as of now, we have been relegated to a minor role in the city. Maybe we deserve it, but I don’t think so.” He added, “We want more support for what we do, not just as ANCs but on city wide issues. [The Office of ANCs] doesn’t’ believe that’s our job but [they] have a narrow view of what our job is.”
Commissioner Fredrica Kramer (ANC6D05) agreed that the “crux of the problem is that there are no resources for what we do”, and urged the city to provide funding for people to do studies and research.
Commissioner Andy Litsky (ANC6D04) said he has always opposed paychecks because he feels serving is a civic duty. But, he said, Elkins and Kramer “are spot on – I’d rather have funding which would make the ANCs self-sufficient – to do things beyond just our community…. We need funds to allow us to challenge things put before us by agencies and the city council.”
Commissioners Brown (ANC7B02) and Patel (ANC2A03) supported paychecks as compensation for the full-time demands of the job. Commissioner Ready (ANC6B03) supported the pay issue as a way to broaden the appeal of serving as a commissioner.
Commissioner Lucio (ANC5A03) said she could take or leave the paycheck but added the ANCs need better organization from the top down including more support and a larger staff.
Commissioner Brannum (ANC5E08) agreed with Lucio and was mildly critical of the Office of ANCs which is headed up by Gottlieb Simon. He continued, “The OANC thinks the ANCs report to it instead of being a legislative council…. We report to our constituents and the people of DC…. I think we have to demand respect as an institution. Many ANCs focus locally, but our outreach and impact are beyond that.” He appealed to the city to give the ANCs support “so we can do what we do.”
Lucio suggested drafting a letter to city officials and four commissioners and Caucus coordinator Chander Jayaraman volunteered to write a draft which the Caucus will consider at its next meeting on Monday, March 29.
The City Wide Caucus – which is currently an informal organization – was organized by Jayraman in 2020 while he was Chair of ANC6B after virtual meetings offered a way for commissioners across the city to meet and discuss areas of common interest. After losing his bid for an At-Large City Council seat, the Caucus asked him to stay on as coordinator. The caucus usually holds a virtual meeting every other Monday night.