Tag Archives: Hill Center

Hill Center to Open “Within Three Weeks” – Delay Caused by Sale of Tax Credits

Hill Center's South Entrance. This Was the Business Entrance When the Building Was The Naval Hospital, Since Most Traffic Came From 8th Street and the Navy Yard

Board Member Gary Peterson (white shirt) Explains the Operation of the Ground Floor Reception Area

One of the Medium Sized Rooms on the Second Floor. ANC6B Used to Meet in This One Before the Restoration.

The Teaching Kitchen for Cooking Classes on the Ground Floor.

The Center's Largest Room Can Seat 100, and Is Equipped for Multi Media.

Third Floor Conference Room for Community Organizations

Typical Low Clearance Third Floor Community Organization Office Space. This One Was Eyed by ANC6B.

One of Two Original Radiator Restored and Placed in the Third Floor Hallway

Hill Center to Open “Within Three Weeks” – Delay Caused by Sale of Tax Credits

by Larry Janezich

Nicky Cymrot, Chair of The Hill Center Foundation, said Thursday night that the long awaited opening of the Hill Center would be “within three weeks.”  The opening, originally scheduled for the summer, has been delayed by the sale of tax credits.  The Hill Center’s renovation qualifies for receipt of $2 million in tax credits which the Center cannot use since it is operated by a charitable organization.  The credits can be sold to investors, however, and according to Board Member Gary Peterson, the process has taken longer than anticipated.  He said closing on the sale could take place this coming week.  The tax credits must be sold prior to getting a certificate of occupancy, according to Peterson.  Since closing the deal will cost approximately half of the total credit, Hill Center anticipates receiving roughly $1 million as the result of the deal.  It has long been the opinion of the Board that the Center needed a reserve fund in excess of $1 million before opening.  It is not clear how close contributions have brought the Center to that goal.

A tour of the facility revealed that it is ready to receive tenants.  There are nine offices for community organizations on the facility’s third floor and of these six have been rented, according to Peterson. The Carriage House where a café/restaurant will be established has been put up for lease to the restaurateurs on 8th Street, SE, and H Street, NE, but has yet to find an investor/operator.

The Center’s annual operating budget is $750,000.  There are four revenue streams anticipated by the Hill Center:  rental of the Carriage House (about $50,000 annually) to a café vendor and rental of office space (about $62,000 annually) to non-profit organizations together will cover 15 percent ($112,500) of the operating costs.  Among the organizations which have contracted for office space in Hill Center are ANC6b and Capitol Hill Village.  One anticipated tenant, the Capitol Hill Restoration Society, voted in July to stay in its present location.

Third party program providers who will rent additional space to expand their programming will provide 60 percent of the funding ($450,000).  These will include organizations like CHAW and the Folger Library, as well as other independent operators offering classes in the arts and technology, or physical training classes such as yoga.  No contracts have been signed yet; that must wait for Hill Center to obtain a certificate of occupancy.

Rental of space for special events will account for the remaining 25 percent ($187,500), about $15,000 a month.  A conference room can be rented for half a weekday for $350, but the largest spaces, such as the entire second floor, will cost $1500 for half a weekday and $5000 for a full day and evening on weekends. The garden will rent for $500 for half a weekday and $1250 for a full day on weekends.

From the business plan sketched by Hill Center representatives, it seems clear that to the extent that the Hill Center is not successful in obtaining the desired number of tenants or programming, the organization will have to rely upon special events more, or charge more for its space.

The prospect of late hours, noise, and parking has generated concern among nearby neighbors.  Last summer, a group of neighborhood protestants filed a formal protest with the Alcohol Beverage Control Board (ABRA), opposing the Center’s application for a liquor license.

Last Wednesday, those protesting the Center’s application for a liquor license withdrew their protest.  According to one neighborhood representative, “The main reason for our withdrawal was that our motions were rejected by the board, making it impossible for us to proceed.  [other reasons were] that it became obvious at the mediation meeting that the board was extremely hostile to our protest and that the Hill Center was totally unwilling to budge.”  The group is exploring other options to lessen adverse effects of the Center’s operation on the neighborhood.


Filed under Uncategorized

Representatives of Neighbor’s Group Withdraw Protest of Hill Center Liquor License – Absence of ANC 6B Support Cited As Critical Factor

Representatives of Neighbor’s Group Withdraw Protest of Hill Center Liquor License – Absence of ANC 6B Support Cited As Critical Factor

Larry Janezich

Wednesday morning, the group of neighbors protesting the Hill Center Liquor license filed a motion to withdraw their liquor license protest before the Alcohol Beverage Control Administration (ABRA).  The action came after the group had failed to win any concessions from the Hill Center and after two procedural setbacks on September 14, when ABRA denied the petition of Frank Young for reinstatement as a formal protestant and denied the protestor’s motion to quash the submission into evidence of a private email between protestants which had been obtained by the Hill Center.  The first was denied on the matter of finding no cause, and the second was denied on the grounds of the lack of jurisdiction to enforce privacy laws and failure of the petitioners to submit the email in question to the Board in order to determine its relevance.

According to representatives of the neighbor’s group, they have decided to pursue other options to curb the noise and late hours of nighttime parties at the Old Naval Hospital.  In an email to the members of the neighbors’ group, representatives acknowledged that, “[g]iven the intransigence of the Hill Center, the lack of support from the ANC6B Commission, the rejection by the ABCB of all of the motions submitted by neighbors, and the high probability of achieving nothing at the ABCB hearing, our judgment is that further opposition through the alcohol licensing process is futile. Other options may prove more fruitful. Therefore, we have decided to pursue those options instead.”

Those other options are still being discussed, but will probably involve individual neighbors taking action when and if late night/early morning noise and related disturbances reach high levels on specific occasions. Group representatives are seeking suggestions from all concerned neighbors as to what kinds of actions are appropriate and effective to reduce noise from late night events at the Center.

According to one protestant, a Hill Center representative indicated that had the ANC given more support to protesting neighbors, the Hill Center would have had to consider accommodating some of their demands.  The statement reinforces the apparent conviction of the protestors that ABRA is not a good venue for independent groups of neighbors without ANC backing.

In related news, the Capitol Hill Restoration Society Board of Directors narrowly defeated a motion to move its offices into the Hill Center, voting instead to renew their lease for a year at Kirby House, their current location.  The vote came at the Board’s July 19th meeting.  Both the vote and the discussion were held in a closed session of the Board, so additional details – including the reasons why the Restoration Society opted not to move into the Hill Center – were unavailable.

1 Comment

Filed under Uncategorized

Hill Center Signals Aggressive Strategy in Status Hearing Before ABRA – No Progress Made in Mediation

Hill Center, July 29, 2011

Hill Center Signals Aggressive Strategy in Status Hearing Before ABRA – No Progress Made in Mediation

by Larry Janezich

Yesterday, the Alcohol Beverage Review Administration (ABRA) met with Hill Center and protesting neighbors at a Status Hearing to assess progress in the mediation process regarding the operations of the Center.  The opposing sides informed ABRA that no agreement had been reached.  A full hearing is scheduled for October 5.

At the hearing, the protesting neighbors informed ABRA that the Hill Center attorney had obtained without their consent private emails of the protest group’s participants.  The lawyer, Paul Pascal, declared his intent to use these emails in support of Hill Center in the full hearing if the protest continues, declaring the emails no different than the “tweets” issued by Representative Anthony Weiner which ultimately led to the Congressman’s resignation.

According to Pope Barrow, one of the protestors’ negotiators, obtaining and using the private email of others without their consent is a violation of Federal email privacy laws.  Barrow challenged their use at the hearing; Pascal responded that ruling on the question of privacy law was beyond the scope of ABRA.  The neighbors’ group requested that the Board postpone the October 5 hearing until the matter of obtaining and using private emails by the Hill Center could be investigated by ABRA or other appropriate authorities.  The Hill Center opposed granting a stay, and ABRA resolved to take the matter under consideration.  ABRA also denied the protestors request for a two week postponement of the hearing in order to allow all protestors to be present.

Following Hill Center’s initial rejection of the neighbors’ requests on July 28th, protesting neighbors made a second, more limited request on Friday, August 4th; this was rejected by the Hill Center as well.  With no successful mediation in sight, the ABRA Status Hearing presented the distance between the two sides and, in addition, displayed a level of acrimony and contentiousness not yet seen in the efforts to produce agreement on the operations of the Hill Center affecting nearby neighbors.

Hill Center Foundation President Nicky Cymrot sent the following statement to emmcablog this afternoon; “Hill Center continues to try to address concerns raised by neighbors either through the protest process before ABRA or through our operational procedures. We feel confident that Hill Center will be an asset to our community and that any issues that may arise once Hill Center opens can be quickly and effectively resolved.”


Filed under Uncategorized

Dueling Letters to Neighbors Highlight Public Relations Battle Prior to ABRA Status Hearing on Hill Center

Hill Center

Dueling Letters to Neighbors Highlight Public Relations Battle Prior to ABRA Status Hearing on Hill Center

by Larry Janezich

In an effort to shore up community relations, Nicky Cymrot, President of the Hill Center Foundation, sent a letter to immediate neighbors of the newly refurbished Hill Center.  In it, Cymrot made note of the efforts on the part of the Center to establish good relations with surrounding residents and explained that the later hours on the Voluntary Agreement already approved by ANC 6B allowed the Center to clean-up after events.

Organizers of the 156 individuals who signed the petition protesting the liquor license to ABRA cited that the ANC agreement made additional allowances for clean-up beyond the closing hours cited by Cymrot in her letter.  They continued to insist that the Hill Center sign a license that conformed to the liquor-service hours described on the Hill Center’s website.

Both letters are copied below.  A comparison of ending hours for Hill Center as stated in the Center’s alcohol license application, ANC Voluntary Agreement, Hill Center Website, and the neighbors request was published previously by emmcablog, on July 29.

Neighborhood protestors have also recently called on residents to not patronize or volunteer for the Hill Center and ask friends and neighbors not to patronize it until the Hill Center negotiates a new voluntary agreement with its neighbors.  At least one resident has asked for her donation to the Center to be returned.  Both parties are scheduled to meet for a status hearing on August 10; if the dispute has not been successfully mediated, then a protest hearing is scheduled for October 5th.  Without a resolution, no liquor license can be issued in the interim.

August 3, 2011

Dear Neighbors:

As you know, Hill Center is scheduled to open this fall. This is an exciting time. Years of hard work and dedication by many neighborhood volunteers has turned a derelict and neglected old building into a beautifully restored asset for the entire community.

Some of you have expressed concern about the operation of Hill Center and the impact it might have on your neighborhood. From the very first proposal to the city outlining the idea of Hill

Center some nine years ago, we have kept the interests of our immediate neighbors in mind. Like you, we are residents of Capitol Hill and value, just as you do, the quality of life we enjoy in our neighborhoods. With construction nearly completed, we are looking forward to opening Hill Center and remain fully committed to being good neighbors and conducting our operations accordingly.

We are listening to the concerns of neighbors and take them seriously. Please know that we are addressing these concerns whenever possible, and that we pledge to maintain an ongoing dialogue and an open-door policy to deal with matters as they arise:

• When our application to the Alcohol Beverage Regulation Administration (ABRA) for a license came before the Advisory Neighborhood Commission (ANC), we addressed concerns you raised about operating hours, shortened them, considerably in some instances, and crafted a Voluntary Agreement (VA) that was approved unanimously by the ANC.

• We convened the first of a series of ‘community listening sessions’ with Diana Ingraham, Hill Center’s Executive Director, who has pledged to be available to neighbors. We will continue those sessions.

• After a group of neighbors filed a protest against Hill Center’s liquor license, we joined their representatives at the mediation table to discuss changes they wanted to the VA. The mediator told the neighborhood group that most of the items they were requesting were not issues that could be included in the agreement—that ABRA had no jurisdiction over them.

We at Hill Center, however, will do our best to take into consideration those concerns as we develop our operational procedures.

There remains a point of confusion about Hill Center’s hours of operation. Our intention is to limit the hours of programs and gatherings inside the building to 11 p.m. on Sunday through Thursday, and midnight on Friday and Saturday. Since these hours do not include time for clean up, the hours on the ANC Voluntary Agreement extend the operating hours to allow us to do so. The use of the garden for scheduled gatherings will be limited to 9 p.m. on Sunday through Thursday and 10 p.m. on Friday and Saturday. We will also thoroughly screen all caterers and use only those who maintain the sensitivity to our neighbors that we will demand. Hill Center staff will be on hand at all times to enforce these requirements.

At this point, Hill Center has almost completed the full rehabilitation of the historic Old Naval Hospital, and we hope you will agree that the result is very beautiful. We want our neighbors to be among the first to take advantage of the exciting educational, cultural, and civic programs that Hill Center has to offer. We ask that you give us the benefit of the doubt and extend your good will as we all begin this new time. We will continue to do all we can to make sure that Hill Center remains an asset to the neighborhood and to the community.

Please don’t hesitate to contact us at info@hillcenterdc.org.

Thank you,

Nicky Cymrot, President

Old Naval Hospital Foundation

August 3, 2011

Response from Representatives of the Group of 156 Near Neighbors to the Letter from Ms. Cymrot on behalf of the Hill Center

The Hill Center’s letter from Ms Cymrot to neighbors dated August 3, 2011, states that there is “confusion about Hill Center’s hours of operation” and that their “intention is to limit the hours of programs and gatherings inside the building to 11 p.m. on Sunday through Thursday, and midnight on Friday and Saturday”.

If this statement is true, then why does the Hill Center (continue to) insist on continuing to hold to the ANC6B official licensing agreement showing alcohol service inside the building as late as 1 am Sunday through Thursday and 2 AM Friday and Saturday?  The ANC6B Voluntary Agreement also has Hours of Operation (clean up, etc.) listed as going on until 2 AM on weekdays and 3 AM on weekends.

If the Hill Center is not going to serve alcohol after 11 PM, why refuse to agree to do exactly that and to make the public commitment to place these restrictions on their license? Instead, neighbors are asked to “trust” them and told that “they are our neighbors too”.  (None of the board members, however, live in the nearby neighborhood.) Meanwhile, the Hill Center’s attorney, Paul Pascal, is telling the neighbors that the Hill Center will under no circumstances enter into an agreement with anyone (other than the ANC) about anything.

If there is any “confusion” about the hours of operation, that confusion is attributable to the Hill Center’s refusal to even discuss the numbers of visitors and closing hours with designated representatives for a group of 156 neighbors who signed petitions protesting the license. Those neighbors’ representatives are not confused about what is meant by closing at 1 AM and 2 AM. Those hours are not the same as 11 PM. The Hill Center rejected making the 11 PM closing official without allowing for any discussion or negotiation.  Those are the facts.

The concerned neighbors are almost 100 percent supportive of the Hill Center and its mission. However, the Hill Center’s initial demand that they stay open for alcohol service until 3 AM came as a shock and disappointment to many neighbors, and especially to those who had been supportive in the past. The change negotiated by ANC 6B to reduce alcohol service closing time by one hour to 1 AM Sunday through Thursday and 2 AM Friday and Saturday was considered, by the 156 neighborhood petitioners directly affected by a late night operation, to be inadequate. An agreement with those neighbors that specifies 11 PM closing hours would dispel any “confusion” that exists and restore some level of the good will toward the Hill Center.

Pope Barrow

Barbara Eck

Jill I. Lawrence


Filed under Uncategorized

Hill Center and Neighbors to Begin Mediation on Voluntary Agreement for Alcohol License

Hill Center and Neighbors to Begin Mediation on Voluntary Agreement for Alcohol License

by Barbara Riehle

This morning, about twenty neighbors of the soon-to-open Hill Center met at the Alcoholic Beverage Regulatory Administration (ABRA) on 14th  and U Streets, NW, to begin the formal protest and mediation process triggered by the Hill Center’s application for a liquor license.

Last month, ANC6B, by a vote of 8-0, approved a modified version of the Hill Center’s liquor license application over the objections of neighbors, several of whom noted that they only learned about the Hill Center’s application through EMMCAblog.  The action resulted in an organized protest of the license application with the purpose of strengthening the ANC-approved voluntary operating agreement which the neighbors considered inadequate.

In today’s action by ABRA, twenty five of the more than 150 residents who signed a related protest petition, were designated as official parties to the protest.  Pope Barrow, Kenneth Cooper, and Jill Lawrence were designated as official representatives of the protestants.  Nicky Cymrot, President of the Old Naval Hospital Foundation, and Paul Pascal, attorney for the Hill Center, were present on behalf of the applicant.  On Thursday, July 28, at 10 a.m. LaVerne Fletcher, the mediator, will begin mediation between Protest Representatives Barrow, Cooper, and Lawrence and Hill Center Representatives Pascal and Cymrot.  The purpose of the mediation is to hammer out a voluntary agreement on hours of operation, number of patrons, entertainment, parking, and the like. The Hill Center’s application seeks operating house from 7a.m. to 2 a.m. on weekdays and until 3 a.m. on weekends, with up to 500 patrons and amplified music inside and in the summer garden.  Partly in response to neighborhood concerns, Hill Center has posted alcohol service and entertainment policies on its website which are considerably scaled back from what the extremes of the application would permit.

Neighbors want these additional restrictions – as well as a few more – agreed to in writing as part of a new voluntary agreement.  A Status Hearing is tentatively scheduled for August 17, although attorney Pascal requested an earlier date due to vacation plans.  When the meeting does occur, ABRA will be informed about whether the two parties to the mediation process have reached agreement.  If the applicant and the protestants cannot reach agreement, a Protest Hearing is set for October 5.


Filed under Uncategorized

Hill Center Neighbors Detail Goals of Liquor License Protest

Hill Center Neighbors Detail Goals of Liquor License Protest

by Larry Janezich

A core group of protesting neighbors met on Friday, June 8, and agreed on which of the operational details governing the rental of space for social events currently listed by Hill Center on its website should be formalized in an enforceable voluntary agreement (VA).  In addition, the group agreed on a number of new restrictions that should be part of a new VA.

The list of items is as follows:

Hill Center policies on Website to be written into a VA

1)  Alcohol service in the Garden will end at 8:00 p.m., Sunday through Thursday, and 9:00 p.m. on Friday and Saturday.  Inside the building, alcohol sales will end at 11:00 p.m.  The hours for entertainment are the same as those for alcohol service.

2)  All equipment must be delivered after 7:00 a.m. and removed by 12:00 midnight.

3)  All events that expect more than 30 cars must contract with our approved valet parking vendor.  Hosts will encourage their guests to use public transportation and taxis.

In addition:  For events with 100 or more guests, jitney service will be provided between the parking site and the Hill Center in order to reduce the noise that results from patrons waiting for their cars to be brought to them,

4)  Clean up requirements of caterers regarding removal of trash from the site and restoring the building and/or the garden to its pre-event condition.

In addition, there should be a commitment to contract with the BID to insure that the area surrounding the site is cleaned up.

Additional items to be written into a VA

1)  Occupancy for special events would be limited to 250 people (outdoor and indoor combined).

2)  No amplification of sound at garden area events.  Windows will be closed for any indoor event.

3)  Security personnel for events serving alcohol will provide a visual presence on the site and the surrounding street will be monitored by security for at least one hour after closing time for the event.

4)  The Hill Center will facilitate access to personnel on site during events (cell phone numbers, e-mail addresses, pagers or whatever will expedite resolution of problems.

5)  The Hill Center will keep a log of complaints and resolutions of problems that will be accessible to the neighborhood upon request.

6)  The staff and/or board will convene a meeting with Hill Center neighbors 6 months after the VA is signed by both parties and approved by ABRA.  This meeting will provide an opportunity for discussion as to whether the VA has met the expectations of both sides.  Mutually agreeable changes will be made after a free and open discussion.

7)  Any transfer of this alcohol beverage license will be limited to transfer to another 501C3 organization.

8)  The Old Naval Hospital Foundation shall amend the Alcohol Beverage license application to include the changes in this Voluntary Agreement and file this with the Alcohol Beverage Review Board.

Protest group leaders Jill Lawrence and Barbara Eck have released specific items they hope to see included in a new voluntary operational agreement (VA) with Hill Center.  Lawrence has been the point person in organizing neighborhood meetings and gathering signatures on the protest letter and petitions of support.  Erepresentatives.ck has led the efforts in navigating ABRA regulations and liaising with Hill Center.


Filed under Uncategorized

Neighborhood Group Files Formal Protest On Hill Center Liquor License Application – Wants New, Tougher Voluntary Operating Agreement

Neighborhood Group Files Formal Protest On Hill Center Liquor License Application – Wants New, Tougher Voluntary Operating Agreement

by Larry Janezich

On Tuesday, July 5, a protest letter signed by 27 nearby neighbors of The Hill Center was filed with the Alcohol Beverage Review Administration (ABRA).  Backing up the letter was a petition of support signed by some 150 neighbors who live around The Hill Center who will be affected by the Center’s business plan.  That plan includes raising a major portion of the Center’s operating funds by renting out space for receptions and weddings.  Well known Hill residents Jill Lawrence and Barbara Eck have been spearheading the protest effort and working to keep the community informed.  The full text of the protest letter is on emmcablog in a separate posting below..

The protest letter outlines the concerns the neighbors have to the licensing stipulations written on the Hill Center’s posted liquor license application.  (See emmcablog posting on June 1).

ANC6B lent its approval to the liquor license June 15, on an 8-0 vote after working out a voluntary agreement (VA).  (See emmcablog posting on June 15) . The protesters feel this VA inadequate.  The group is not working with the ANC now because they feel the Commission did not reach out to the neighbors prior to the ANC vote and because it endorsed the liquor license application with minor changes after hearing only objections to the license from the crowd of neighbors who spoke at the meeting.

Following the formal filing of the letter on Tuesday, protest group representatives contacted Old Naval Hospital Foundation President Nicky Cymrot and told her the protest had been filed to make possible the negation of a new VA that each side could live with.  Group representatives said Cymrot pledged to see what the Hill Center’s Board of Directors wanted to do and would let the group know.  As of posting time, no word had come from Cymrot.  The protestors hope to reach an agreement and get a VA signed and registered with ABRA even before the ABRA’s “Roll Call hearing” on July 18th.  If that is not accomplished, group leaders say that many more than the required five protesters will appear at the meeting to validate the protest.

In that case, the process for forging a new VA passes to the oversight of a mediator assigned by ABRA to work with both sides to craft an agreement.  Negotiations could begin immediately after the meeting, or the sides may agree to meet at a later date and time.  The two sides can agree to meet prior to a mediation to begin working on details, and the process continues for as long as it takes.

According to Barbara Eck, “ABRA often has multiple protests of a license that sometimes results in more than one VA with differing terms.  They strongly encourage the groups to combine terms into one VA to facilitate enforcement.  No applicant wants to be governed by more than one voluntary agreement.”

On Friday, the protest group met to consider what specifics the VA should cover.  They identified the items in the Hill Center operation plan posted on the website that the group wants written into the VA.  They also identified other items they want included in the agreement.

Comments Off on Neighborhood Group Files Formal Protest On Hill Center Liquor License Application – Wants New, Tougher Voluntary Operating Agreement

Filed under Uncategorized

Text of Neighbors’ Formal Protest to Hill Center’s Liquor License Application

Text of Neighbors’ Formal Protest to Hill Center’s Liquor License Application

TO:                  Alcohol Beverage Control Board

FROM:            Near Neighbors of Hill Center Protest Group

RE:                  Protest of issuance of the following new license as described on the placard

DATE:            July 1, 2011

ABRA License # 086926

Old Naval Hospital Foundation

t/a The Hill Center

921 Pennsylvania Avenue, SE

C – Multipurpose

We, the undersigned residents of the neighborhood surrounding the Hill Center at 921 Pennsylvania Avenue S.E, protest the issuance of a Class “C’ alcohol beverage license with entertainment endorsement, and the operation of events in the gardens with 500 person occupancy. The issuance of such a license with its listed hours of operation (7a.m. to 2 a.m. and 3 a.m.) for dancing, occasional DJ and live music for special events, will impact adversely on the peace, order and quiet of the neighborhood. Moreover, it will have a significant adverse impact on residential parking needs, vehicular and pedestrian safety, and real property values.


The openness of the Hill Center building and grounds is inappropriate for large, late parties with amplified music and dancing. This use will harm peace, order, and quiet; and real property values.

The applicant’s request for occupancy of 500 people with alcohol service from 7 am to as late as 3 a.m., with amplified entertainment outdoors, is not compatible with this 90% residential neighborhood, which in much of the surrounding area is fairly quiet.

To the north the unbuffered, 8-lane-wide Pennsylvania Avenue corridor allows sound from the Hill Center to travel to the Butterfield House condos 1020 Pa Ave, 400 block of 10th, 300 block of 9th, and 800 block of D.

Directly to the south (E Street, South Side) are the front windows of row houses that are so close (approximately 60′), an average boisterous conversation on the back stairs of the Hill Center can be heard inside these homes.


The surrounding blocks are over 85% Residential. Petitions signed by large numbers of homeowners and renters living in the neighboring 25 residential blocks between 8th and 12th and C and G, SE reveal the widespread concern of neighbors, many of whom currently enjoy peace, quiet, safety and reliable parking.

The nighttime activity in the area around the Hill Center is completely different to the east than it is directly south and west.  The northeast and southeast are currently calm and quiet with good parking. Also, to the east side, only 4 blocks are commercial and that type of commercial is small stores and offices that close at 7 pm. – no bars and no liquor stores.  This area will suffer extreme adverse effects of parking, noise and public safety from late, loud Hill Center activities.

In marked contrast is the situation currently faced by residents living to the south and west of the Hill Center.  They are already dramatically impacted by the number of bars and restaurants on 8th Street Barracks Row.  They have ongoing multiple issues with noise and parking currently.  With the addition of late night activities at the Hill Center, they will be surrounded on all sides  which will cause adverse effects for them as well.


Residents in the neighborhood expect the following four categories of adverse effects to result from issuing this liquor license with its current stipulations:


Neighborhood homes are known for quiet sidewalks and back yards, with birds, squirrels, outdoor patio tables and chairs, and auxiliary rooms where people work in home-based businesses.

Noise, parking, and safety problems due to loud, late parties with large numbers of people will adversely affect selling prices and rents and could increase the time on the market, causing monetary loss.  The reputation of the neighborhood would suffer as the word spreads about nighttime outdoor announcements and wedding bands. Many of us are nearing retirement or retired and rely on our homes retaining value or growing in value for potential sale in the future.


The requested alcohol service beginning at 7 am and extending to 2 am on weekdays and 3 am on week nights will result in disruption of the peace, order and quiet of the neighborhood and disrupted sleep for nearby residents. There are four issues:

A. Noise – Outdoor Amplification in the Summer Garden

With amplified music and dancing outdoors with up to 500 people, it is highly unlikely that amplified voices and music will not exceed the legal limits of 60 db at the fence line of the property, which is the sound level of a microwave oven.

The Summer Garden grounds are higher than surrounding sidewalks and roads, with no buffers of evergreens, hedges or abutting buildings to control or contain this sound. Because there is no other nightlife in the immediate vicinity, there is little ambient sound of traffic or hum of voices to mask sound from the Hill Center’s DJ’s, live bands or dancing.

B. Noise – Indoor Amplification with Bands, DJs and Dancing

The largest room available for events is in the middle of the back (south side) of the Hill Center along the 900 block of E Street, SE. The windows directly face neighbors’ bedroom windows.

Amplified sounds from behind the windows will be difficult to contain, especially live bands or DJs which tend to have thumping, rhythmic vibrations. Having entertainment continue past 10 pm on weekdays or past 11 pm on weekends would cause great hardship to the E Street neighbors, especially elderly and those with young children.

C. Noise – Loading of Equipment from and to Commercial Vehicles

With alcohol service closing times of 2 am or 3 am, the neighbors anticipate 2 subsequent hours of noise from trucks loading tables, chairs, heating and serving platters, alcohol, glasses, stages, structures and tent plus trash. Loading these trucks is very noisy (metal on metal – wood on wood) with loud clunking, banging and rolling as well as idling and beeping as they back up. These are inappropriate sounds after 11 on a weeknight or after midnight on a weekend.

The 7 am start time for a breakfast with alcohol would mean that the trucks would unload equipment as early as 5 am, potentially violating the DC noise ordinance.

D. Noise – Patrons exiting and roaming our residential side streets to their cars.

Any event with large numbers of guests loudly and energetically celebrating with amplified music and dancing until late hours under the influence of free liquor will result in disturbance of the quiet neighborhood in the middle of the night. Their voices will be boisterous – calling out, laughing, beeping car alarms, flirting, possibly fighting, crying, peeing, and throwing up—all taking place under the windows of sleeping neighbors.

Families, including children, retirees and hardworking adults live across the streets to the north, south, and west—the streets where guests of the Hill Center will seek free parking and return to their cars late at night, many of them drunk.


The neighborhood near the Hill Center is in the Capitol Hill Historic District.  Few of the 1800s buildings have parking, and there are very few parking lots nearby – even of minimal size. Residents rely on the small amount of on-street parking that exists. Residents pay for use of this public space with our taxes. The Hill Center has not planned parking for the large numbers of guests listed on the application, except for a few handicapped parking spaces on the property. These are the major issues:

  1. Current Parking Congestion

To the southwest of the Hill Center, parking is very congested already due to the 8th Street Barracks Row restaurants and bars. Parking is already eliminated from the west side of 9th in the 700 block for weekly Marine events leaving residents with nowhere to park.

To the northeast, the ratio of cars to street parking spaces is comfortably full. Residents are currently able to safely and reliably park near our homes; however, there are no extra spaces left over once everyone is home.

  1. No Parking Lots

There are no nearby parking lots (within 3 blocks) of a size sufficient to accommodate a large, sudden influx of cars for an event. There is one small lot for an elementary school 2 blocks away, but it holds a limited number of cars and is already contracted for Friday evenings from mid-May to Labor Day for guests of the Marine event. These are the same months of high operation for the Hill Center garden and already traffic jams are common.

  1. Few Open Metered Spaces

On weekdays, the metered spaces in front of the Hill Center on Pennsylvania Avenue are already mostly full as used by the row house offices. On weekends, they are filled by visitors to Eastern Market, Barracks Row, Frager’s Hardware, CVS, and other commercial establishments. Additional spaces will be taken by teachers and students coming for classes.

  1. Residential Side Streets Used by Wider Ward 6 Visitors

The residential side streets of 9th, 10th, 11th G, E, D, South Carolina and C are legally open to any and all of the 75,000 residents of Ward 6 who have a Zone 6 residential parking sticker. The neighbors already suffer from the wide use of these spaces by people who live 10-20 blocks away who come to take Metro or visit Eastern Market businesses.


If the Hill Center becomes known as a rentable, late-night party establishment, it could become a magnet for one-time hosts who have no reason to care about safety of the neighborhood.

A. Vehicular Safety

Drunk Driving

The later the party lasts, the more alcohol is consumed, the greater the drunk driving risk.

Traffic Jams

The Hill Center plans to use its side entrance on 9th Street, SE for everyone – all handicapped visitors, caterers, non-profit employees, event goers, teachers, classroom students, and staff. This will create a vehicular traffic safety issue. Use of the side entrance will bring increased traffic around on E Street to turn right to let passengers out at the gate.

Because 9th Street is very narrow and cars approach from both directions, and are likely to let off passengers on both sides, blocking access for disabled patrons to use parking spots on the grounds. Across the street a gas station has two driveways and an alley that need to be accessible for customers and fuel truck deliveries. Congestion on both E and 9th streets will lead to bumper-to-bumper blocked roadways with predictable honking and possibly road rage.

B. Pedestrian (and Guest) Safety with Large, Late-night Crowds

Crowd Control on Neighborhood Side Streets

Extreme overcrowding of the neighborhood roadways and sidewalks would occur if 500 people came to one event and most of them left simultaneously in the early morning hours.

Summer Garden Small Size Creates Overcrowding Dangers

Overcrowding the grounds is a problem for pedestrian safety in case of an emergency exit needed for fire, fight, or other incident.  People inside the required tent in the Summer Garden have no fence opening or gate on the eastern side of the property through which to exit in a hurry. There is potential for injuries during an emergency due to the tall ornamental iron fence with few openings. If hundreds of people spill into the streets, there is significant risk of injury from traffic.

Insufficient Room Inside the Building

The largest inside room has occupancy of slightly over 100 people.  Even the entire 2nd floor can’t hold 500 people if severe weather forces people inside.

Minors’ Access to Alcohol

Overcrowding can also lead to underage drinking even if minors are not being served, because people leave drinks unattended, and managers simply cannot monitor a dense crowd.


The Hill Center’s nearest neighbors applaud the renovation of the Old Naval Hospital to become an educational and cultural non-profit. We want to help them raise needed funds without shouldering an unfair burden from seeing, hearing, feeling and cleaning up after its parties.

To reduce the adverse effects on the near neighbors, we request that the license for the Hill Center specify no amplification outdoors in the garden at all and we request that the license restrict the number of visitors and restrict event hours to end before Metro closes, so that Eastern Market Metro is a viable transportation option.


Name (Print)                           Address (Print)                                   Signature

1 Comment

Filed under Uncategorized

ANC Alcohol Licensing Committee Refuses Carte Blanche to Hill Center

ANC6B ABC Committee Hearing on Hill Center Liquor License - l-r Commissioners Oldenburg, Frishberg, Glick, Chair Green, Commissioners Flahaven, Metzger, Pate

ANC Alcohol Licensing Committee Refuses Carte Blanche to Hill Center

by Larry Janezich

At Thursday night’s ANC6B ABC hearing on the Hill Center’s application for a liquor license, the Committee deferred a decision on the application, effectively bucking the issue to the full ANC6B meeting next Tuesday.

In the meantime, Committee Chair Carol Green will meet with Hill Center representatives to work out the conditions under which a liquor license may be granted.  The Hill Center was presented with two options, suggested by Commissioner Ivan Frishberg.  The first would limit the hours of the summer garden operations to 10:00pm during the week and 12:00 midnight Friday through Sunday.  The second option would limit summer garden operations to midnight 7 days a week, with a revaluation after six months.  In addition, a reduction in the number of people permitted to occupy the summer garden will also be negotiated downward from the 500 maximum specified in the original application.

Former Ward Six Councilmember Sharon Ambrose was present as the spokesperson for Hill Center.  She supported the application and asked the Committee to grant Hill Center maximum flexibility regarding operating hours and occupancy.  To further that effort, and in an effort to respond to concerns of nearby neighbors, Hill Center had, today, faxed a modification of their intended operating hours for outside events, cutting them back to a closing time of midnight, 7 days a week.  Operating hours for inside would remain the same.

Originally, the application provided that 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.

Several neighbors and community members rose to express concerns related to the hours or operation and the potential for noise.  These included nearby residents Barbara Eck, Yoonmee Chang, Helene Quick, Joe Shay, Frank Young, and Pope Barrow.  Barbara Eck has been and continues to be a strong supporter of and advocate for the Center, but warned against operating hours that would have an adverse effect on the community.

Some Committee members were concerned that Hill Center could not give an estimate of how often events such as weddings, receptions, bar mitzvahs, etc., would be held.  Ambrose said there was “no way to predict the number of events,” that at best, it would be a “guestimate that would not serve your purposes now, or ours in planning.”

Ambrose stressed the Hill Center’s desire not to have a negative impact, saying the primary function of the Center was to be a learning center available to the entire community.  At the same time, her implication that The Hill Center was only trying to raise “enough money to keep the property from going back to the city” was greeted with skepticism on the part of some commissioners.

Regarding concerns about parking, the Hill Center website says “events that expect more than 30 cars must contract with our approved valet parking vendor.”  Nicky Cymrot, President of the Old Naval Hospital Foundation, said that in conversations with a parking valet vendor, the company said they would “guarantee” that there would be no parking on residential streets.  It was not clear where these cars would be parked, however.  Nor was it clear what impact 30 cars would have on the surrounding streets, should that occur with regularity.  New parking restrictions will go into effect in some nearby areas – perhaps before Hill Center opens – but it is not clear exactly which areas will be affected, or whether that will push parking into areas north of Pennsylvania Avenue, but still within walking distance of Hill Center.

Commissioner Brian Pate raised the issue of a potential conflict of interest for the Commission, since ANC6B has announced its intention of renting office space within the Hill Center but has not yet negotiated the amount of rent.  It seemed to be the consensus of the Committee to sidestep this issue by asking a disinterested third party to negotiate terms of a lease and to make that recommendation to the ANC.

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


Filed under Uncategorized

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).


Filed under Uncategorized