Tag Archives: Barracks Row

ANC Votes To Expand Performance Parking – And To Protest Ambar Liquor License

ANC Votes To Expand Performance Parking – And To Protest Ambar Liquor License

by Larry Janezich

On Tuesday night, ANC6B voted 10 – 0 to ask DDOT to expand the Performance Parking Program north of Pennsylvania Avenue.  The area encompassed is South Capitol to 11th Street, and Pennsylvania Avenue up to but not including East Capitol.

The ANC requested that one side of each block retain the existing Residential Permit Parking allowing two hour parking for non-residents of Ward 6.  The other side of the block would be designated Resident Parking Only, Monday through Saturday, from 7:00am until 8:30pm.  A special zone around Eastern Market bounded roughly by 5th Street, 8th Street (both sides), East Capitol, and Pennsylvania Avenue would extend the Resident Only restrictions to 7:00am – 8:30pm seven days a week

Randy Steer, candidate to succeed retiring commissioner Norm Metzger, asked if the seven day a week restriction could be extended to 7th and 9th Streets on either side of Barracks Row.  He noted the difficulty residents on those streets have finding parking on weekends.

Commissioners said that there was some urgency to press forward with the resolution immediately and assured that it provided latitude to seek those additional restrictions in the future.

In other ANC action, the commission voted to protest the liquor and entertainment license requested by Ambar, the new Balkan cuisine restaurant coming to Barracks Row.  Despite assurances from the owner that he would endeavor to complete a voluntary agreement regarding restaurant operations with the ANC prior to Tuesday night’s meeting, no discussions had occurred.  Attorney Andrew Klein, representing Ambar’s owner reiterated that he hoped a voluntary agreement could be signed in the near future, but implied that Ambar would pursue the license before the ABC whether there was a voluntary agreement or not.  The DC Alcohol Beverage Review Board will have the last word on the license, though it is charged with giving “great weight” to the recommendation of the ANCs in issuing liquor licenses.

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Miracle on 8th Street

ANC6B Approves Signage for National Capitol Church Theater on Barracks Row

Miracle on 8th Street

by Larry Janezich

The old Meader Theater which was opened in 1909 at 535 8th Street, SE, and went through several iterations before becoming the People’s Church in 1962 and the National Community Church (NCC) in 2011, is about to be resurrected and rechristened as the Miracle Theater.

Last Tuesday night, ANC6B signed off on the NCC’s Historic Preservation Application to install a 3 foot X 17 foot non-blinking and non-flashing sign for the front of the church.  The application now goes to the Historic Preservation Review Board with the ANC’s endorsement.

In May of 2011, Lead Pastor Mark Batterson of NCC announced that the church had purchased The People’s Church.  At that time, Batterson said NCC would turn the space back into the theater it once was from 1910 until 1960.  Services would be held Sundays, but at other times it would be an entertainment venue.

According to Batterson, the first movie was screened there on October 10, 1910.  He went on to say in May of last year, that “if we get to that point, it would be fun to show a film on the same date more than 101 years later.”   The genres of film the theater might screen include family, classic, and first run films.



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IMA Pizza Backs Away From Barracks Row

IMA Pizza Backs Away From Barracks Row

by Larry Janezich

IMA Pizza will not open its quick casual pizza restaurant at 415 8th Street, SE as planned.  In a letter to the many community entities involved in bringing the new business to Barracks Row, Streetsense – the building owner- says “the combination of the unusually lengthy Special Exception process and the multiple demands and constraints imposed” on the proposed business’ owner, Steve Salis, were responsible for the decision.  Salis is now said to be concentrating his efforts on another market within the city. 

The Special Exception process refers to an exception from the zoning regulations for Barracks Row which bans fast food restaurants.  Getting an exception requires any new fast food restaurant to meet more than a dozen criteria and it appeared that IMA Pizza was well on its way to achieving that, having already gotten the approval of the Capitol Hill Restoration Society.  The application for the exception was scheduled to come before ANC6B’s Planning and Zoning Committee on February 7.  In addition, there seemed to be wide spread support for the restaurant in the community. 

All this raises the issue of whether the special exception issue was the determining factor in the decision.  Salis, did not respond to a request for comment.   (Ed. note:  Salis subsequently did comment, as follows:   “It really came down to the timing of everything. I was hoping for a spring launch when this all started, but realizing this was not feasible due to a handful of things that have been out of my control I had to pursue other opportunities in order to meet my spring delivery goals. 

The neighborhood and the community has been fantastic and I have really enjoyed interacting with everybody. If this location or another location becomes a viable opportunity for me to pursue in the future, I would do so in open arms. I will keep you posted with the details behind my store opening early this spring.”)

Obviously unhappy at the turn of events, the Streetsense letter goes on to say their goal is to lease the space to a user that will activate and enhance the 400 block of 8th Street, SE, but notes that  the “process to do so has been extremely challenging.”  The letter closes with an expression of concern that financial pressure on the project – which will be ready to lease by the end of March – “may require us to depart from the original goal.”


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NY Entrepreneur Looks to Open Upscale Pizza Outlet on Barracks Row – Seeks Exception To Ban on Fast Food Restaurants

NY Entrepreneur Looks to Open Upscale Pizza Outlet on Barracks Row – Seeks Exception To Ban on Fast Food Restaurants

by Larry Janezich

Steve Salis, a New York-based entrepreneur with four years of experience in hospitality management, consulting, and event production, announced at last night’s ANC6B meeting that he has begun the process of seeking an exception to the establishment of a fast food restaurant on Barracks Row.  He termed the restaurant – which would be at 415 8th Street in the space formerly occupied by China Wall – “a quick-casual pizza concept featuring made to order personal pizzas.”  The concept is similar to that of Chipotle Mexican Grill, which would be next door.  This is the first restaurant in what Salis hopes will be a fast-casual pizza chain.

Subsequently, Salis said, “[w]e are a fast-casual pizza concept; focused on creating customizable made to order personal gourmet pizzas, using top quality fresh ingredients. We are not in the slice game or in the take-out/delivery business. Our goal is to bring a high quality product to the customer in a timely manner.”  He estimates that ten percent of the business will be carryout.

Salis won’t reveal the name of the new establishment since it is undergoing the trademarking process.  He said he would like to serve beer and wine but understands the sensitivities in the neighborhood, “so there are some things what would have to be worked out.”  If everything goes according to plan, the restaurant could open in spring of 2012.

Mr. Salis worked for top hospitality clients before starting his own hospitality and marketing company in 2006, serving as a consultant to such organizations as China Grill Management, Riese Restaurant Corporation, and Food Scope.  He is currently a managing partner in a successful West Village boutique bar called Su Casa, where he personally handles the operations, marketing, and promotion of the business. He is also a partner and executive producer of This Is Burlesque, a riotous and racy supper club show, proclaimed “The best of Burlesque” (AM NY).


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ANC 6B Approves Chipotle Application; Vows No Alcohol Moratorium for Barracks Row For Now; Accepts Finding of Fact on Bylaw Violations

ANC 6B Approves Chipotle Application; Vows No Alcohol Moratorium for Barracks Row For Now; Accepts Finding of Fact on Bylaw Violations

by Larry Janezich

In a varied and lengthy meeting Tuesday night, ANC 6B unanimously approved the application for a special exception in order to allow Chipotle Mexican Grill to open a restaurant on Barracks Row.  In other business-related news:  Pitango Gelato, now open on 7th Street, obtained ANC 6B’s blessing to provide outdoor seating on benches outside their storefront; and Pound on The Hill was also approved for outdoor tables and chairs.  Most significant, the Commission voted unanimously to accept the recommendation of the ANC’s Retail Mix Taskforce that the ANC forgo discussion of an alcohol moratorium on Barracks Row for the time being.  Commissioners concerned with the removal of this “tool” from the ANC “toolbox” accepted the resolution once language was added clarifying that the Commission reserves the right to revisit the question of a moratorium should conditions or constituent sentiment seem to warrant it.

The Commission also voted unanimously to accept the guiding principles set forward by the Retail Mix Taskforce outlining what should be under discussion when considering a liquor license application.  These principles stressed alleviating undesirable neighborhood effects, including encouraging staff to park their cars on non-residential blocks or to take public transportation.

In other business, the Commission voted to accept the findings of fact approved at Monday night’s Executive Committee meeting that stipulated the violations of the bylaws that occurred when Commissioner Garrison testified before the Historic Preservation Review Board (HPRB) regarding the Hine project.  The findings extended to Commissioners Metzger and Oldenburg, on whose behalf Garrison also spoke.  The vote to approve the findings was 7 – 0 with three abstentions (Garrison, Metzger, and Oldenburg).  The Commission then voted to send a letter detailing the violations for the benefit of the HPRB and clarifying the position of ANC 6B on Hine for their record (abstaining on this vote were Campbell, Garrison, Metzger, and Oldenburg).  Taking a tack Garrison had refused in Monday night’s emergency Executive Meeting on the matter, Commissioner Oldenburg read a statement on behalf of herself, Metzger and Garrison.  Included in the statement was an acknowledgment of the infractions as well as an expression of “regret,” followed by an apology, and then a promise to “fully comply” with the bylaws in the future.  This statement seemed to mollify the Commissioners who seemed the most upset at the absence of “contrition” at the Executive Committee meeting last night; it also seemed to obviate the need for a lengthy and contentious discussion.

Near the meeting’s end, the Commission voted to send a letter – the exact content of which was to be determined – objecting to the abrupt removal of Councilmember Wells from his duties as Chair of the DC Council’s Transportation Committee today.  Seven Commissioners voted to approve the effort, while Commissioners Green and Critchfield opposed it and Commission Chair Neil Glick abstained.

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ANC Planning and Zoning Committee Clears Way for Chipotle Mexican Grill on Barracks Row – Vote by Full ANC Scheduled for July 12

The Ayes Have It As All Ten ANC6B Commissioners Vote for Chipotle

ANC Planning and Zoning Committee Clears Way for Chipotle Mexican Grill on Barracks Row – Vote by Full ANC Scheduled for July 12

by Larry Janezich

Tuesday night, ANC6B’s Planning and Zoning Committee, chaired by Commissioner Francis Campbell, voted 10 – 0 for a special exception to the ban on fast food restaurants on Barracks Row for Chipotle Mexican Grill.  Chipotle will open an outlet at 413 8th Street, SE, in the space currently occupied by Dollar + Continental.  The building’s owner, StreetSense Development, has given Chipotle a 20 year lease on the building.  The development company’s representative announced that China Wall, which occupies adjoining space, also part of the StreetSense property, is not expected to stay.  As part of the deal, StreetSense pledged – should they seek to place a fast food restaurant in the China Wall space – to apply for a separate special exception for that location rather that utilize the fast food license that transferred with the property.

The Committee vote came on the motion to approve the special exception, but with a request that the Bureau of Zoning Adjustment limit the exception specifically to Chipotle.  This restriction is apparently unprecedented, but not prohibited by the regulations.  The ANC made clear that their support was not contingent on the proposed BZA limitation.  .

In ANC6B, all commissioners are members of the standing committees, taskforces, and the executive committee.  Tonight, all ten commissioners were present for a show of hands in support of Chipotle.  The vote forwards the issue to the full ANC meeting for a vote on July 12.  It is likely that the vote by the full commission will be the same as tonight’s vote.


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Barracks Row Blockbuster to Close in August

Barracks Row Blockbuster to Close

Barracks Row Blockbuster to Close in August

Opening for National Retail?

by Larry Janezich

The Barracks Row Blockbuster will close in August, according to Martin Smith, Executive Director, Barracks Row Main Street.  The move will open up a 4,100 square foot retail space – slightly over the standard 4,000 square foot minimum for a national retail outlet.  The space has an additional 650 square feet on the second floor.   According to Smith, the typical retail space on Barracks Row is 1200 – 1800 square feet because many of the buildings are former row houses.

Smith said that it’s not certain that a national retailer will become the next tenant.  It would be easy to cut the larger space into smaller ones, and a lot of independent businesses, reluctant to take on the overhead of a large space, can be accommodated in the smaller ones.

Still, the opening up of one of the only spaces on Barracks Row large enough for a corporate tenant makes it likely that such an outlet would be among the first choices for the property owner.


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Chipotle Stumbles on First Hurdle – ANC6B Planning and Zoning Committee – Vote to Oppose Application Sends Issue to Full ANC

Proposed Chipotle and Adjacent Restaurant Space on Barracks Row

Chipotle Stumbles on First Hurdle – ANC6B Planning and Zoning Committee

Vote to Oppose Application Sends Issue to Full ANC

by Larry Janezich

ANC6B’s Planning and Zoning Committee voted to oppose a Chipotle Mexican Grill on Barracks Row Tuesday night, but left the door open for further consideration by the full ANC6B next week.

The architect of record appeared before the Committee prepared to discuss architectural plans and historic preservation.  But the Committee wanted to hear a rational from corporate officials for their request for a special exception to zoning regulations prohibiting businesses from opening fast food restaurants in the commercial corridor as “a matter of right.”

Since corporate representatives who could speak to the question were not present, the Committee voted 4 – 3 to oppose the request pending receipt of information supporting the rational for granting the exception.  Chipotle representatives will have the opportunity to make their case before the full ANC6B at its regular meeting on Tuesday, June 14.

Committee members stressed that they want to hear the same presentation that Chipotle representatives will make to the Board of Zoning Adjustment to justify the exception, and expressed a preference to hear from the franchise operator.   It emerged during the discussion that Chipotle’s plan is to establish the restaurant and later place an operator.  In lieu of the operator, Committee members said they wanted to hear from corporate representatives and from the building owner, Streetsense.

A secondary but related issue was the question of how good a corporate neighbor Chipotle would be.  Commissioner Ivan Frishberg noted his efforts to effect redress regarding community concerns about corporate retailers in the community were too often frustrated by a distant corporate bureaucracy with no understanding or appreciation of neighborhood or community problems.

He said he was not comfortable in hearing from corporate representatives about what the policy of future franchise holders toward participation in community civic efforts would be.   He stated flatly, “the track record of corporate chains is abysmal” in this area and “I’m not sure we can trust a corporate regional representative to be a good neighbor.”

Neighborhood activist Yoonmee Chang agreed with Frishberg, and addressed the adverse effects that a fast food restaurant would have on the immediate neighbors of Barrack’s Row, including litter, traffic, contribution to a transient atmosphere, and setting of precedent.  Chang asked, “Why not Burger King next year?”  Asked if she preferred the current tenant over Chipotle, Chang replied that it was comparing apples and oranges, and she preferred not to think of it as a tradeoff.

Frishberg made the motion to oppose the application for zoning adjustment pending receipt of information supporting the rational for granting an exception.  The motion was agreed to by a vote of four to three.  Commissioners voting for the motion:  Frishberg, Oldenburg, Metzger, and Green.  Those opposed:  Flahaven, Pate, and Glick.

The building owner, Streetsense, is a brokerage, design and development company specializing in retail and real estate.  Their clients include Chipotle, Starbucks, Matchbox, and Le Pain Quotidian.  Chipotle has been a client since 2007 when they engaged Streetsense to handle architecture, interior design, brokerage and market analysis.  Chipotle has more than 65 restaurants open in the DC metropolitan market.

Streetsense announced their acquisition of the Barracks Row property on May 11, 2011.  The two-level, 8,700 square foot building is actually two separate spaces, currently occupied by China Wall and Dollar + Continental.

According to the Streetsense website, Streetsense Architecture has been engaged to reconstruct the two street-front retail spaces (1,399sf and 1,544sf respectively) into ADA compliant, clean shells, with all utilities required by restaurants stubbed to the premises. Streetsense Retail Advisors brokered a deal with Chipotle to occupy the 1,544sf space; the restaurant plans to open in early 2012. The remaining 1,399 square feet will soon be made available for lease.

The full ANC6B will meet at Church of Jesus Christ of LDS, 522 7th Street, SE, Tuesday, June 14, 2011 – 7:00pm.


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City to Reduce Cost of Parking at Barracks Row Lot under Freeway to 75 Cents per Hour – Transportation Issues Move to Front Burner for Community Organizations

City to Reduce Cost of Parking at Barracks Row Lot under Freeway to 75 Cents per Hour

Transportation Issues Move to Front Burner for Community Organizations

by Larry Janezich

Two prominent community organizations are gearing up to focus on transportation issues.  Last night, new the ANC6B Transportation Committee held its first meeting.

The news coming out of the meeting of immediate interest to the community is that DDOT has agreed to reduce the parking rate to 75 cents an hour in the 8th Street lot under the freeway.  This idea came out of the recommendations of the work last year of the ANC’s Retail Mix Taskforce and was facilitated by subsequent discussions with DDOT by Commissioners Garrison, Oldenburg, and Metzger.  Garrison said that the new parking rates would become effective once DDOT had reprogrammed the parking meters and could begin in several weeks, though the timing is uncertain.  The Retail Mix Taskforce made the recommendation in an effort to encourage use of the lot to relieve parking pressure in residential areas around Barracks Row.

The new ANC6B Committee is chaired by Commissioner Oldenburg.  Commissioner Garrison is Vice Chair.  All ANC6B Commissioners are also members of the committee, which will include resident members from several Single Member Districts.  (Commission by-laws permit one resident member per single member district to serve on committees.)

One of the first acts of the new committee was to select itself to lead the effort to find ways to spend the monies accruing from the Performance Parking Fund.  Commissioner Garrison characterized the fund as being akin to the Federal Reserve’s ability to print money.  20% of the funds from the additional parking created by the impact of the new ballpark go to a fund which can be tapped for non-automotive improvements to the area most affected by the stadium parking.  So far, the funds have been or will be spent on the new biking program, digital signs for real time announcements of bus schedules, solar powered trash compactors, the soon-to-become-real information kiosk at Eastern Market Metro Plaza, and landscaping for the Plaza.

The committee will solicit ideas for using the funds from other commissioners and other community organizations.  Garrison singled out CHAMP’s Chuck Burger for his work in promoting the information kiosk, saying it was valuable infrastructure and a significant addition to the community.  Garrison emphasized that it is essential to bring forth a structured process for effecting the completion of a project, and not just having an idea.

Looking forward, the Committee intends to concentrate on changes associated with the 11th Street Bridge Project and the CSX tunnel reconstruction.  To that end, the committee began laying the ground work for a meeting in July where commissioners would be briefed by representatives of DDOT, the 11th Street Bridge Project Contractors and CSX regarding how the community will be affected while transitioning to new traffic patterns during the construction of these two projects.

Meanwhile, the Capitol Restoration Society is reconstituting its Transportation Committee under the Chairmanship of Board Member Monte Edwards.  Membership of the committee, which has been defunct for almost two years, has not yet been established.  The primary purpose of the committee will be to engage on the issue of streetcars, but it will also concern itself with pedestrian and bicycle problems and supplement the work of mayoral taskforces on these issues.

Edwards will moderate a film presentation showing Washington’s streetcars in operation during the 1950s at the June 7 CHRS Membership Forum at Maury Elementary School.  Laura Trieschmann, from EHT Traceries, will talk about the history of Washington’s streetcars, including its car barns.

Maury Elementary School is on the corner of Constitution Avenue and 13th Street, NE.  The entrance is on 13th Street and doors will open at 6:45 pm. This event is free and open to the public.  No reservations are necessary.  For more information, e-mail CapHRS@aol.com or call 543-0425.

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Old Naval Hospital seeks Liquor License – and a Summer Garden with 500 Seats – Also: Chipotle for Barracks Row?

Old Naval Hospital Foundation Applies for Liquor License

Mirage? Owners See a Chipotle Mexican Grill Here

Old Naval Hospital seeks Liquor License – and a Summer Garden with 500 Seats

Also:  Chipotle for Barracks Row?

by Larry Janezich

Nearby residents might want to pay close attention to a couple of items on the agenda for the next ANC6B meeting on Tuesday, June 14.

The first is a request by the Old Naval Hospital Foundation for a liquor license for the new Hill Center.  It’s a little hard to assess the overall impact on the community from the limited description of the ensuing use of the Center, but the application for the license states, “Educational, cultural and community programs to include concerts, meetings, receptions and events.  Entertainment will include dancing, occasional DJ and live music for special events.  A planned summer garden with 500 seats.  Total occupancy load of 500.”

The application goes on to state the hours of operation for the inside premises and the summer garden as 7:00am – 2:00am Sunday through Thursday, and 7:00am – 3:00am Friday and Saturday.  Hours of operation for the Sale/Service/Consumption of alcoholic beverages for the inside premises and the summer garden are listed as 10:00am – 2:00am on Sunday, 8:00am – 2:00am Monday through Thursday, and 8:00am – 3:00am Friday and Saturday.  Often the applicant will reduce the operating hours and make other concessions in a voluntary agreement in order to smooth the way for license approval.

Details of the Center’s business plan have been sketchy, but at a fund raiser in March, Diana Ingraham, the Center’s Executive Director, mentioned that they already had two weddings scheduled for September.

The ANC6B Alcohol Beverage Control Committee will hear The Old Naval Hospital Foundation present its case for a liquor license and make a recommendation to the full ANC.  The ABC Committee will meet at 7:00pm on June 9, at the Southeast Library.  After consideration by the full ANC, the petition is scheduled for a hearing before the Alcohol Beverage Regulation Administration on July 18.  Petitions and requests to appear before the Board must be filed on or before July 3.

The second item is a request for a special exception to allow a fast food restaurant – Chipotle Mexican Grill – to occupy 413-415 8th Street, SE, currently occupied by The Dollar Store and a space formerly occupied by China Wall.  A special exception will be required because regulations do not permit fast food restaurants in this commercial district.

Similarly, the ANC6B Planning and Zoning Committee will hear the applicants present their case before it goes to the full ANC.  The Committee meeting will be held at 7:00pm in the cafeteria at St. Coletta School, located at 1901 Independence Avenue, SE.

The next ANC6B meeting will be Tuesday, June 14, at 7:00pm at the Church of Jesus Christ of LDS, 522 7th Street, SE (the old Safeway Building).


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