Tuesday, November 30, 2010

DC Comprehensive Plan amendment recognizes Brightwood's growing age diversity

This Housing Complex post about amendments to the District's Comprehensive Plan contains the following interesting piece of information:

One amendment emphasizes mixed-use development in Brightwood for a diverse population, rather than just senior citizens, whom the Plan had previously emphasized.

Very forward-thinking for the District to recognize that young people do in fact live here, rather than just treating the neighborhood as a huge old folks' home.

The original section of the Comprehensive Plan read as follows:

“The large senior population in the Brightwood area creates the need for additional senior housing and assisted living facilities in this area. The revitalization of Kennedy Street provides an opportunity for such development, possibly combined with retail uses and senior services. A new Wellness Center on the street will provide a potential catalyst for new senior housing."

And the new amendment reads as follows:

"The diverse population in the Brightwood area provides an opportunity to bolster the tenant mix and attract new mixed use development. Because of existing services, such as the recently built Hattie B. Holmes Senior Wellness Center at the 300 block of Kennedy Street, new mixed use development, with street activated uses and mixed income housing above, will catalyze revitalization along the corridor.”

(Tip of the hat to Lydia DePillis for the full amendment.)

Monday, November 29, 2010

Man stabbed at Petworth Metro; armed street robbery at 14th & Madison

WTOP reports:

Metro says a man was stabbed while exiting the Georgia Avenue/Petworth station Sunday afternoon.
Metro spokeswoman Lisa Farbstein says the victim was approached by another man at about 4:15 p.m. after passing through the fare gate at the station in Northwest. The suspect then stabbed the man in the neck area.

The man was taken to an area hospital as a Priority 1 transport. D.C. Fire spokesman Pete Piringer said the victim's condition was unknown. Metro Transit Police were investigating the incident.

And from MPD, 6:06am 11/29/10:

Fourth District units are on the scene of an armed robbery at 14th and Madison Sts., NW. The weapon used was a metal pipe. Two suspects attacked the complainant from behind, striking him in the head with the pipe. The stole his wallet and cell phone. The two suspects are described as black males, one is 5’5” wearing a black jacket, the other is 5’7” to 5’8” wearing a blue jacket. The suspects were last seen running from the scene westbound on Madison St., NW. Anyone having information regarding this offense is asked to call the TIP Line at 1-888-919-CRIME.

Friday, November 26, 2010

ANC requests community concerns regarding Wal-Mart; Foulger-Pratt to present initial design plans on Dec. 2

Representatives from Foulger-Pratt, the developer of the Curtis Chevrolet site, will present a first look at the plans for the proposed Wal-Mart store at a meeting with 4B Advisory Neighborhood Commissioners and other community representatives on December 2.

Commissioner James Sydnor, who represents 4B04, the district in which the Curtis Chevrolet site is located, has asked for community members to send their concerns to him before the December 2 meeting.

(At last week's ANC 4B meeting, a neighbor stated that it was appalling that our commissioners learned about Wal-Mart's intentions the same way the majority of District residents did: on the evening news and on the Internet. I agree wholeheartedly. The news was particularly jarring having participated in the very intense community involvement process of the Walter Reed redevelopment team. Hearing that Wal-Mart plans to drop itself into our laps, without requesting community input first, felt invasive after all of the discourse at the Walter Reed planning meetings.)

Please post your concerns here, or e-mail them to thebrightwoodian at gmail.com, and I will forward them to Commissioner Sydnor before the December 2 meeting. Concerns can be anything from "I'd prefer to not have a Wal-Mart at the Curtis Chevrolet site" to questions about the aesthetics of the building's design to concerns about traffic issues that the project will cause in the neighborhood. Those of you who are unable to attend the larger meeting for the community on December 7 at 7pm at the Fourth District Police station, 6001 Georgia Avenue NW are especially encouraged to respond now.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

How well would Wal-Mart assuage the complications it will bring to the neighborhood?

Check out the Georgia Avenue Community Development Task Force website and read Faraji Whalen's concerns about Wal-Mart's nascent plans for Brightwood. He raises a lot of good points, particularly with regard to how roads and traffic patterns in the immediate area would have to change drastically in order to accommodate a store the size Wal-Mart is planning. What about the loading dock entrance? None of the abutting streets (Georgia, Missouri, 9th, or Peabody) are particularly 18-wheeler-friendly.

Incidentally, the Georgia Avenue Community Development Task Force is a great organization, composed of concerned citizens and stakeholders, that aims to ensure that the new development along the Georgia Avenue Corridor meets the needs of its residents. The group meets biweekly at different locations along the corridor; meetings are announced via a yahoogroup listserv that I encourage you to join.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Pawn bill wins final approval in city council

ANC4B's pawn bill has won final approval from the DC City Council in a unanimous consent vote.

Says Commissioner Sara Green: "During today’s session, Famous Pawn lobbied hard to weaken the 'great weight' provision of the bill. But Council Member Muriel Bowser held firm and prevailed. No amendment was introduced. We also had great support from Council Member Michael Brown, among others...Thank you for your many letters and phone calls. They worked!"

Famous Pawn's application for a pawnbroker license at 7301 Georgia Avenue is still under review by DCRA.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

"This is not your father's Wal-Mart": GGW talks to Foulger-Pratt

Dan Malouff has further info on Wal-Mart's plans for Brightwood over at Greater Greater Washington.

He points out that the Curtis Chevy site is fewer than four acres, significantly smaller than the suburban plots of land that Wal-Mart typically occupies, which are 20 acres on average. The store itself will be 102,000 square feet, and it will be vertically built. (For comparison, the bilevel Target store in Columbia Heights is 173,000 square feet.)

The store's entrance will be set back 20-30 feet from the curb, and parking will be below-ground.

Also, he notes:

Unfortunately, the development won't be mixed-use. If Foulger-Pratt would stick a few floors of apartments above the retail uses, that would add new customers for the surrounding businesses and help revitalize central Brightwood as a place to live, not only to shop. It's regrettable that the plan misses such an opportunity.

I personally agree that the lack of mixed-use is indeed regrettable, but that's partially the fault of Brightwoodians themselves, who so strongly opposed the residential aspect of Foulger-Pratt's original plans for the site, that the plans were scrapped. (This was before my time in the neighborhood, so I wasn't around for that whole fiasco, but from what I've heard things got pretty heated.)

Foulger-Pratt will meet with the community on December 7 at 7pm in the Community Room of MPD's Fourth District headquarters, 6001 Georgia Avenue NW, to discuss the building plans.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Even more news regarding Wal-Mart's impending domination of the District

Apparently, the Wal-Mart planned for Georgia and Missouri isn't a small-scale version of the megastore, as the initial report led me to believe. No, the first four stores, including the one bound for the Curtis Chevrolet site, are going to be pretty typical of your average Wal-Mart's size. But wait, there's more! Wal-Mart intends to expand even further into the District by opening the aforementioned small-scale stores, in addition to the four mega-emporiums. Wal-Mart is about to become as ubiquitous as CVS. More here.

"Hawk signal" DDOT pilot program at Georgia Avenue & Hemlock Street

In her excellent piece on the challenges of encouraging walkability and bikability in the District's farther reaches, Lydia DePillis mentions a transportation innovation that's going on in our area that I wasn't even aware of:

Something as simple as letting pedestrians walk before the light turns green for cars can cut pedestrian accidents dramatically, since drivers see people in the crosswalk before turning right. DDOT has installed some 50 of these “leading pedestrian intervals." They’re also piloting what’s called a “hawk signal," for intersections that don’t have a full stoplight, at Georgia Avenue and Hemlock Street NW. A pedestrian pushes the button, and one bulb flashes yellow before another bulb starts flashing red, which means cars stop briefly and it’s safe to cross. For the least busy streets, there’s a simple flashing LED light that pedestrians can activate to notify cars at night.

This isn't an intersection that I use regularly, so I haven't seen it personally. But I'll be taking a walk up there to check it out.

More thoughts on Wal-Mart plans

First, Councilmember Muriel Bowser has released a statement:

Today, Councilmember Bowser responded to news that Walmart intends to locate a retail outlet along an important Ward 4 corridor. “I am very interested to learn more from Walmart executives about their interest in Ward 4,” said Bowser. “The intersection at Georgia and Missouri Avenues represents a huge piece of the Georgia Avenue revitalization puzzle. Any redevelopment at this highly visible, dynamic location must be done thoughtfully and with community outreach.” A previous plan to build a mixed use —housing and retail—project at the former Curtis Chevrolet site was endorsed by Bowser contingent on concessions to the community and to the site’s significance. But, a sluggish economy and a varied neighborhood reaction slowed progress. With the plan aborted, Bowser consistently urged the property owner to keep all options on the table and to move as quickly as possible to develop the property to its most productive, best use. “ It’s important that this vacant lot be put to use, sooner rather than later,” she said. “But more importantly, we have to ensure that Ward 4 residents understand and are comfortable with the effect the store will have on their neighborhoods and local businesses; that residents are informed about traffic flow and parking details, and that they are given the opportunity to learn more about the company’s labor practices,” Bowser said. “And most importantly, the company must make clear its commitment to improving the Brightwood community and all of Ward 4. We look forward to starting that conversation with the company, Ward 4 residents, and our local leaders.”/

It makes me feel a bit better to know that the Wal-Martians will be subject to community input. The news came yesterday in such a hurry that I had envisioned a big box just being plunked down on the site.

There are so many issues to take into consideration. What will be done about that horribly awkward intersection at Georgia/Missouri/Military to facilitate traffic flow? What about the car barn on the site; it's been designated as a historic structure and Foulger-Pratt's plan for its mixed-use development incorporated the car barn's facade; how will Wal-Mart deal with the car barn issue? Is the company amenable to designing a building that won't be a total eyesore?

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Wal-Mart has its eye on the Curtis Chevrolet site

...for one of its "urban format" stores, according to Mike DeBonis.

The good side to this is that the "urban format" stores sell groceries, which would help to alleviate Ward 4's food desert problem, as Aaron Morrissey points out.

The bad side is that...the site would be taken up by Wal-Mart. Certainly not what I was hoping for (actually, just about the furthest thing I was hoping for).

Fighting off a Wal-Mart was certainly not an issue I was expecting to face when I moved to DC! And we all know that communities that have tried to fight Wal-Mart have been largely unsuccessful. I'll be keeping a close watch on how this plan progresses.

***UPDATE 8:40 pm***
At this point it looks like it's all but confirmed.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

20 new Bikeshare stations coming this spring; send in your location recommendations!

Via WashCycle, I found Smartplanet.com's
interview with Capital Bikeshare project manager Chris Holben.
In it Holben reveals that 20 more CaBi stations will be added this spring:

There are 100 stations now. What’s the plan for expansion?

We’re looking to add about 20 more this spring and then it’s really more an issue of political will and how the budget looks. I know we’re interested in expanding. I’ve worked for D.C. government for close to 10 years and usually things work very slow here, which is typical for big projects like roads and bridges, so being able to install this many of anything in a month is remarkable. The system is so elegant that you can put down one [station] in an hour, and you flip the switch and it’s online. You bring by a truck an hour later and deliver the bikes.

I asked Holben if DDOT is taking suggestions from citizens for locations for those 20 new stations, and he said indeed they are!

My ideas for expansion into Ward 4:
  • 14th & Colorado
  • Georgia & Missouri
  • Georgia & Piney Branch
  • Takoma Metro station

What's your CaBi station location wish list? Post it here, or send it directly to chris dot holben at dc got gov

Monday, November 15, 2010

Second meeting on Upper 14th Street revitalization to be held Wednesday, 11/17

I attended the first meeting, which was held last month. These are good opportunities to communicate with the Office of Planning and discuss how you'd like to see Upper 14th Street develop in the future.

Where: Kingsbury Day School, 5000 14th St. NW
When: Wednesday, November 14, 7pm

Info from the Office of Planning:

The District of Columbia's Office of Planning is initiating a community planning process with area stakeholders (including residents, ANC4C and ANC4A, neighborhood organizations, Council staff, businesses, property owners, institutions and government agencies) to develop a strategic revitalization strategy for the 14th Street corridor.

The study area includes 14th Street from Spring Road to Longfellow Street with particular focus on the retail nodes of Spring Road to Shepherd Street, Webster Street to Decatur Street and Jefferson Street to Longfellow Street.

The objective of this revitalization plan is to create a more vibrant commercial corridor by strengthening the corridor’s economic environment, creating a sense of place that can be enjoyed by all nearby residents, and to help determine development opportunities for potentially underutilized sites.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Mysteries of Rock Creek Park

This rough-hewn little monument was spotted today along the Western Ridge Trail, north of Bingham Drive, near Oregon Avenue NW.

Um. Who is Wilson, and why is he lying in Rock Creek Park?!

My too-vivid imagination is coming up with all sorts of possibilities, but the pragmatic part of my brain wants to know the real deal.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Ace Hardware plans are brewing for Georgia Avenue

Park View DC reports that locations are being scouted for an Ace Hardware store on Georgia Avenue.

(Which makes me want to turn cartwheels and do back-handsprings.)

Monday, November 8, 2010

Visiting Chez Aunty Libe

Brightwood is often perceived to have a lack of food options. This is not the case at all. What is lacking is clusters of nouveau/trendy/hype-y restaurants, the types of places that tend to get noticed by your average young DC dweller. But if you take the time to open your eyes and your mind (I don't mean to sound preachy when I say that, even though I know that's exactly how it sounds), you'll find some really interesting places under the radar.

Made my first visit to Chez Aunty Libe the other day. Although it's about a three minute walk from my house, I'd put off going there because I imagined they'd have few choices for someone like me (seeing as I've been eschewing animal flesh for well over half my life). On the strength of the Yelp reviews, one of which is written by a vegetarian, I went. My meal was a plate of red rice with vegetables sauteed with I'm-not-sure-what, and it was delicious. The portion was huge and when I could only finish half of it, the hostess (Aunty Libe?) chided me. "You're not a good eater," she said. I assured her that the meal would be eagerly finished the next day, and it was.

Chez Aunty Libe is at 6115 Georgia Avenue NW.

Cute house (for sale) alert: 704 Underwood St. NW

I have to admit I've walked by this house several times and never taken particular notice of it, but I really like the photo above (as well as the other photos in the listing).

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Terrifying animal, Brightwood rooftop: scary combination

I apologize for the shaky camera work here, but my hands were trembling in fear (I'm sure this beast would have been scarier before Halloween; good thing I only discovered him after the fact). He's on Rittenhouse Street NW.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Crown Bakery celebrates its newly purchased storefront

After ten years of renting a storefront at 5329 Georgia Avenue, Crown Bakery has purchased its own space just up the street, in the 5400 block, and it's quite beautiful. I'd never been before and am mostly unfamiliar with Trinidadian food; I ordered a vegetable roti and a cashew nectar, and the owner kindly treated me to a spinach patty as well. All were absolutely scrumptious.

Crown Bakery is now located at 5409 Georgia Avenue NW.

Don't let the cold stop you from cycling

The good people at the Bike House are holding a workshop/discussion/get-together on Winter Biking Survival Skills.

When: Monday, Nov. 8, at 8pm.
Where: Looking Glass Lounge, 3634 Georgia Avenue NW

Says the Bike House:

On Monday, Nov. 8, at 8pm, The Bike House will be having a meet-up,drink-up, warm-and-toasty autumn turns-to-winter get-together at the Looking Glass Lounge to discuss bicycling through the colder months. Colin, clinic-frequenter, will provide some some structure, visual aides, and take-aways, but overall it will be an opportunity for us toget together socially and share our collective wisdom earned from braving bad weather. All are encouraged to come and participate, but especially those who might have questions about how best to mix bicycles with ice, water, and the dark. If this sounds like your cup of tea, you should email Colin at colin.bortner at gmail dot com right now, before you forget, and he will harangue you to show up. Also, any suggestions, ideas, or criticisms are welcome, and in exchange for nothing more than emailing him your good ideas, you'll receive a better event, and that's value!

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Do Ward 4 ANC candidates need to better communicate with their potenial constituents...

...or am I just way more hopelessly out of touch than I thought?

Prior to this election day, I searched for information on who was running to represent my Single Member District, but I found astoundingly little information online. Neither did Greater Greater Washington (see the sixth comment down), which amounted to Ward 4 being left out of its otherwise exhaustively extensive coverage of the ANC races in all of the other wards.

So imagine my surprise when I stood at the voting booth earlier today and saw that there were four people running to represent my SMD. One was the incumbent, the rest were people I had not heard of. None of them had campaigned at my door (that I know of...I admit I'm often not home during the hours I suspect people campaign), nor did they stuff flyers through my mail slot, nor did they post on the Brightwood listserv. So I'd love to know how these people got the word out about themselves (if they did anything at all).

This is my first election cycle as a Ward 4 resident, so perhaps I missed something. Please school me if that's the case, because I definitely don't want that to happen again; I don't think any concerned citizen appreciates surprises at the voting booth!

Construction of the Beacon Center at Georgia Avenue and Quackenbos ready to move forward

Emory Beacon of Light was granted its raze permit last week, and construction of its mixed-use project will begin "shortly". DCMud has the story:

The $30 million development, designed by PGN Architects, will offer 180,000 s.f. of multipurpose housing and various congregational and community facilities. The Beacon Center will supply transitional spaces (24 units) in an effort to aid the homeless work toward permanent residency. Also in the works are 34 units for seniors citizens, 17 units reserved for veterans, and 16 affordable rentals. A college-sized indoor multi-sport gymnasium (basketball and soccer) and rec center will be available to the surrounding community. The aggressive expansion will also feature a full service banquet facility, office space for the church and for lease, senior citizens services (such as optometrist, podiatrist, etc.) and ground-floor retail. Additionally the current sanctuary (doubling as a community theater) will be renovated and expanded to 500 seats. Patrons will have access to roughly 100 underground parking spaces and several rows of bike spaces.


Neighborhood Development Company announces plans for The Vue at 3333 Georgia Ave.

From WBJ, a piece about the Neighborhood Development Company and the Georgia Avenue corridor being DC's "next redevelopment hotspot".

Houses and condos for sale in Brightwood, 02/11/10

Here's a map and list of properties currently for sale in Brightwood. I noticed when I was walking and biking around the neighborhood over the weekend that there's quite a bit to choose from right now.