Thursday, April 29, 2010

A Lower Georgia Avenue development that *isn't* stalling???

Amazingly enough, DC Mud has given a bright outlook for a new residential building that's to be developed at Georgia Avenue and Harvard Streets NW.

When asked about plans for ground-floor retail, the developer said: "You need to put heads in beds before you start building any retail...doesn't do any good to put in a Trader Joes... or a Starbucks if there aren't any people to drink the coffee."

I can't imagine that either of the mentioned establishments would be unsuccessful at that site, right in the midst of Columbia Heights/Park View/Pleasant Plains and the Howard University campus. Aren't there enough "heads in beds" there as it is, with many more on the way in the future?

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Electric Maid grand reopening this weekend

The Electric Maid art space (aka "community living room", aka third place) has received a makeover, which includes the restoration of the cool art deco neon sign that adorns the front of the building.

Here's info about the grand reopening ceremony on Saturday, 05/01/10:

The Electric Maid Community Living Room at 268 Carroll St, NW, Washington, DC 20012 (202-545-3980)(one block from Takoma Park Metro Station, across from the 7-11 between Seekers Church and Torchinsky's Funeral Home) has scheduled its Grand Reopening this coming Saturday, May 1st from Noon to 11 PM to highlight its role as Takoma's "Community Living Room", a coffeehouse style art space and community hangout in the vein of the old Takoma Cafe. The day's events will be followed with the unveiling and of the fully restored landmark neon sign that had graced the building since the 1940's, but had not been functional in recent years. It has now been restored to its full art deco style artistic glory.

The "Friedrich's Dry Cleaners" and "Electric Maid" sign restoration was funded by Friends of Old Takoma, Inc. (FOOT), which sponsors the Electric Maid project, with additional funding by Main Street's Facade Improvement Program. Special thanks will also be given to community leaders who have invested their diligent efforts in the restoration of the sign and interior.

During the all-day reception, a brand new mural by local artist Meghan Taylor will also be unveiled inside the space at 5 PM. The sign will be lit, for the first time in decades, during a ceremony at 8 PM.

Other events during the course of the all day open house event highlight some of the community, social, and educational uses planned for the space (We welcome YOUR suggestions and input as the community!) including free talks, an exhibition of hanging art by local artist Tuesday Winslow, and workshops from Noon to 3 PM followed by a community party from 3 to 8 PM with live music, food, and non-alcoholic beverages available. Please come on by and join us!

A bicycle beltway in the District:Building the Fort Circle greenway

I've been reading up on an interesting bit of history. If the plans fall into place, they could influence how we get around in Brightwood, and the development of the city in general.

Back in the 1930s, a road called Fort Drive was being planned, which would link all of the Fort Parks throughout the city. By the 1960s, small fractions of Fort Drive had been constructed, but it was decided that the project was too impractical to complete, and the plans were dashed in favor of building a walkable, bikeable greenway that would link the Fort Circle Park system. That was in 1965, and the project hasn't exactly come to fruition since then, but the National Capital Park Commission wants to get it going. TheWashCycle gave a rundown of the plans several months back.

DCMud will host a web dialogue with the NCPC on Thursday 4/29/10 at 1 pm, and linking the Fort Circle Parks is on the agenda for discussion.

Among other things, I would happily welcome a bike route from Fort Stevens to Fort Reno that doesn't involve coming into contact with the decidedly bike-unfriendly Military Road!

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Lower GA Ave. Development Slows to a Halt

DC Mud gives a rundown of development projects on Lower Georgia Avenue that have stalled in the past few years. The forecast is brighter for Upper Georgia Ave.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

An Empanada Dilemma

As Julia's Empanadas is one of my favorite places to eat, you can imagine that I'm very happy to have one within easy walking distance of where I live. I want them to be successful here (I'm not sure how long their Brightwood shop has been open...anyone know?), so I patronize them often. But that's hard to do when they keep such odd hours. According to their website, they close at 7pm, but I've gone there earlier than that only to find their lovely neon "open" sign had gone dark. Tonight was one of those nights, and I admit that I was craving Julia's so much that I made a special trip to Columbia Heights after my unsuccessful attempt to do business at the Brightwood store.

I understand that closing at 7pm (or earlier) would make sense for them, since foot traffic on that stretch of Georgia Avenue at night is hardly at Columbia Heights-like proportions. Here's hoping the development that will maybe possibly eventually come to Georgia/Missouri will bring about enough evening foot traffic for Julia's to stay open a little later.

Oh the trials and tribulations of living in a food desert.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Two men stabbed outside Petworth Metro

From the Washington Post:

Two men were stabbed Monday night near the Petworth Metro station in Northwest Washington, authorities said.

D.C. police said the stabbings occurred around 10 p.m. at Georgia and New Hampshire Avenues NW.

The men were taken to a hospital in what appeared to be serious condition, said a spokesman for the D.C. fire and emergency services department.

There was no immediate indication of what led to the stabbings.

Monday, April 12, 2010

Is our neighborhood Clybourne Park?

I caught Clybourne Park at the Woolly Mammoth the other day (I made use of the special discount rate that Woolly has graciously given to neighborhood bloggers and readers of neighborhood blogs; the show is in its final days and I don't know if the discount code still works but give it a shot: the code is 789 for $15 tickets).

A brief synopsis: the playwright was inspired by A Raisin in the Sun, and the first act of the play, set in 1959, is told from the point of view of the white family that sells their house to the Youngers (or the Hansberrys). The sale of the house in the all-white Clybourne Park section of Chicago incites white flight, and in the next few decades the neighborhood's demographics change dramatically.

The second act takes place in 2009, in the same house. It's been purchased by a well-off and way neurotic white couple. They're building a koi pond in the backyard, fighting the zoning codes in order to build additions onto the house and McMansionize it, and are thrilled to be moving so close to Clybourne Park's newly-opened Whole Foods.

To answer the question that Woolly has been posing, "Is your neighborhood Clybourne Park?", well, yes, Clybourne Park is a lot like Brightwood, and many other neighborhoods throughout DC (as well as many other major cities all over the United States). The houses on my block were built in the early 1920s and housed a white (mostly Jewish, from what I understand) majority at the time. Further investigation of exactly how much Brightwood's history reflects the story of Clybourne Park will require a few trips to the Washintoniana room at MLK. I'll write more about that in the future, but wanted to post this now in order to give the excellent show a plug before it closes on April 17.

Foster orphaned kittens; what's up with stray dogs?

An e-mail sent out today by the Washington Humane Society:

Kitten Season has already started and the Washington Humane Society is quickly filling up with orphaned kittens, pregnant females, and nursing moms with kittens. If you have ever considered fostering, NOW is the time to open up your home to a cat, litter of kittens, or mom and nursing kittens. We could REALLY use your assistance to find these cats homes and keep our shelter open for more cats.

If you would like to foster, please contact Alyson by email: I'll email you an application and talk to you about getting started.

Foster Cat Training for Nursing Mom and Kittens and Orphaned Kittens is this Wednesday, April 14th at 6:30 pm. If you have never fostered kittens or nursing moms and kittens, we will train you and provide all the information you need to get started. Email Alyson to RSVP and for training location; Email:

Remember, a short time in your home for fosters, Saves Lives!

If you've got room, and if you think kittens are adorable, sign on. I've fostered in the past and it's rewarding and fun.

Also, I saw a small white male dog (he might be a Westie) without a collar running around the neighborhood yesterday, and a male French bulldog (also with no collar) running around the neighborhood today. Neither would let me approach them.

Bike shops and road rage

I admit that I was nervous about moving to a neighborhood with no bike shops. In the past, I had very easy access to five of them within a one-mile radius from my home. So I was thrilled to learn that not one but two new bike shops are opening up in Takoma Park this spring.

We also have the good folks at The Bike House, a volunteer-run collective that (for now) operates out of the back yard of Qualia Coffee at 3917 Georgia Avenue. The Bike House people are interested in sharing their knowledge of bike mechanics and empowering those whose mechanical skills might be rusty or even non-existent. They're having a fundraising party this Friday, April 16. Pertinent info:

What: Music, Goldsprints, Good Beer, Bike House!
When: April 16th 2010 9pm-1am
Where: 4104 New Hampshire Ave NW (Taylor and NH)
Who: You & your friends (18+ to get in, 21+ for drinks)
How: $10 for a cup - then all you can drink.

Come join us to celebrate the second season of the Bike House! We'll have music, biking competitions, good beer, and good cheer.

Free rent from Qualia Coffee (thank you thank you thank you!) and an 100% volunteer workforce is awesome, but it still takes some cash to make sure your bikes leave the co-op clean, lubed, and fixed-up!
Because of that (and to cover the costs of the party) we will be asking a $10 donation at the door.

Don't have $10? Don't sweat it, we'd love to have your presence, energy, and enthusiasm just the same!

Via The WashCycle: a City Paper writer is looking for stories of motorist-cyclist road rage (I assume the writer's interest in this topic was spurred by last week's horrifying story about the cyclist who was intentionally hit by a motorist in Bloomingdale). Send your own horror stories to Rend Smith,

Friday, April 9, 2010

DCRA announced they "will no longer grant Building Permits or Certificate of Occupancies for restaurants, bars, diners, coffees shops and carry-outs along 14th and U streets (plus adjacent commercial side streets) because of zoning regulations restricting the availability of space to eating and drinking establishments to 25% of the linear frontage of the greater 14th and U Street area."

After reading many, many blog posts and speaking with a handful of residents of the 14th & U area in person, from what I've gathered the majority of residents aren't happy about this regulation at all.

I wonder why that is, because my personal feeling is that the neighborhood surrounding 14th & U is quite unlivable. One of the things I love about Brightwood is the lack of tourists. And when I say "tourists" I'm not referring to people who come to the District to look at the monuments, I'm referring to what some call the "bridge and tunnel crowd", i.e., people who come to your neighborhood from other neighborhoods or the suburbs to patronize the restaurants/bars, and making a mess (taking up street parking, being drunkenly noisy, etc) while they're there.

As Dan M. says on GGW:

One of the most basic tenets of urbanism is to encourage a healthy mix of uses. While people normally think of "mixed use" as meaning the residential/commercial mix, it also applies to the type of commercial. Healthy city neighborhoods need a mix of commercial types just as much as they need a mix of land use types. If a neighborhood becomes overrun with too many of one type of storefront, that means there is less room for every other type.

If a commercial district leans too heavily on restaurants and bars, that means it probably doesn't have enough hardware stores, clothing stores, book stores, barber shops, or home goods stores to meet the day-to-day needs of neighborhood residents. And neighborhood commercial districts that force neighborhood residents to travel elsewhere for their basic needs aren't doing their job as neighborhood commercial districts.

My hope is that new development that comes to Brightwood will include a more diverse mix of retail and eating establishments that will serve the immediate neighborhood without necessarily turning the neighborhood into a "destination". Let 14th & U be the "destination" (especially since it seems that the majority of residents of that neighborhood seem to like it that way) that generates revenue for the rest of the city, and let the commercial corridors in Brightwood focus on serving residents. Perhaps this is a naive desire and not economically viable; that remains to be seen.

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Foulger-Pratt artistic rendering of Curtis Chevy site project

DC Metrocentric posted the above artistic rendering of the proposed structure at Georgia and Missouri, on the site of the old Curtis Chevrolet dealership. Still no word on whether plans are actually moving forward.

New Bike Ambassador; Phoenix Bike Show

The DC Bicycle Transportation Examiner interviewed Daniel Hoagland, WABA's new Bicycle Ambassador. Includes lots of audio clips in which Hoagland (who recently moved to the District from Boston) discusses his views on DC as a bike town.

And while I'm talking about bikes, I want to plug the Phoenix Bike Show tonight. OK, Phoenix is in south Arlington, a long haul from Brightwood, but it's the most established of all the bike co-ops in our area, it's a great cause, and the bike show is always a lot of fun.

From PHoenix

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

What do you want to see on Georgia Avenue?

The Georgia Avenue Community Development Task Force (a group I'm not personally familiar with) is holding a survey of residents to find out what services/retail/housing they'd like to see and what they feel is lacking along the commercial corridor at this time. It's geared mainly toward residents of Park View and Pleasant Plains, but since the developments in those neighborhoods will affect Brightwoodians as well, it couldn't hurt us to fill out the (rather long) survey. Anyone who's familiar with the organization, please school me.

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

CM Bowser wants your wish lists

ANC 4A rep Marian Bennett sent an e-mail out telling Brightwood residents that Muriel Bowser "would like to know what projects the residents of Ward 4 would like to have included for consideration for budget expenditures".

I sent in a (sort of) lengthy wish list; you should do the same. Send to MarianCBennett @ aol dot com.

Sunday, April 4, 2010

Metropolitan Branch Trail NY-RI Ave. section grand opening

The Metropolitan Branch Trail will celebrate the grand opening of its New York Ave - Rhode Island Ave segment on June 5, 2010.

The trail runs from Silver Spring station to Union Station and runs along Third Street NW in the Manor Park neighborhood. The trail is well situated for getting residents of Brightwood and its surroundings to Union Station and various neighborhoods of the District that might otherwise be difficult to reach via bicycle.

View MBT: Metropolitan Branch Trail in a larger map

The opening of the New York Ave - Rhode Island Ave segment has been eagerly awaited because it will provide a straight shot for cyclists between the RI Ave and New York Ave Metro stations. Currently, getting between those two points requires winding through the residential streets of Eckington (which isn't necessarily a bad thing), or biking up RI to Brentwood Rd. NE and then hitting NY Ave (not the most pleasant riding conditions on those streets).

Biking though NE DC is about to get a whole lot easier.