Tuesday, December 20, 2011

A brief history of efforts to recall Advisory Neighborhood Commissioners in the District of Columbia

The effort to recall ANC4B04 commissioner Doug Smith that is currently under way started me wondering how many commissioners have had similar efforts waged against them in the past, and how many commissioners have actually been successfully recalled due to those efforts.

Below is a spreadsheet provided to me by the DC Board of Elections and Ethics. It lists all ANC recall efforts that have been initiated since 1992 (why it only goes to 1992 I'm not exactly sure). Since that year, four Advisory Neighborhood Commissioners have been successfully recalled (their names are highlighted in yellow on the document).

According to the DCBOEE's recall process, residents of an SMD must gather the signatures of at least ten percent of the registered voters in the SMD (that means about 200 signatures, as each SMD has approximately 2,000 residents) before moving to the petition verification phase and, ultimately, the recall election itself.

ANC SMD Recall Efforts

WBJ: Wal-Mart applies for Georgia Avenue building permit in time to avert Green Building Act compliance

Wal-Mart and Foulger Pratt have submitted a building permit application, along with a check for $20,000, to the District, according to the Washington Business Journal:

Several agencies will get a look, including the Department of Consumer and Regulatory Affairs, the Department of Transportation, Office of Zoning, Water and Sewer Authority, fire department, Historic Preservation Review Board and the Department of the Environment. The reviews run the gamut from mechanical to electrical, structural fire systems, stormwater management, transportation, and plumbing.

The piece also includes this note on Wal-Mart's motives for moving the development along at this particular time:

Interesting side note: By submitting its building permit before the end of the year, Wal-Mart will not have to comply with the District's Green Building Act. The final phase of the 5-year-old law, which kicks in Jan. 1 , requires all nonresidential new construction larger than 50,000 square feet to meet Energy Star and Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) Standards.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Behind the effort to recall ANC4B04 commissioner Doug Smith

John Beverly, the president of Concerned Citizens of Brightwood East and the man who has spearheaded the effort to recall ANC4B04 commissioner Doug Smith, says that he initiated the effort due to Smith's "lack of communication with residents" and "lack of involvement" in community issues. Smith serves as treasurer of ANC4B; he also created and co-chaired the Large Tract Review committee which examined Walmart's development proposal for the Curtis Chevrolet site.

When asked for specifics, Beverly said that Smith left 4B04 residents in the dark about issues surrounding that development. I told Beverly that, as a 4B04 resident myself, I've attended quite a few meetings on that very topic. When asked if he had attended any of the meetings, he said he had not, because he didn't know about them. He blamed Smith for not informing his constituents that the meetings were being planned.

The strange thing is this: Doug Smith is a contributing member of Concerned Citizens of Brightwood East. Smith told me that he joined the group around the same time he began campaigning. Smith said that since he was elected, he's communicated with the group regularly, even bringing flyers announcing his special 4B04 meetings to their meetings.

I thought this might be a digital divide issue, as older residents often don't make use of email, and 4B04 has a sizable number of senior citizens. One of the biggest topics of discussion at the Large Tract Review committee meetings was how to reach out to those community members who don’t have access to email and therefore may not be aware of the development’s progress. But when I asked Beverly how past ANC4B04 commissioner James Sydnor used to disseminate information to constituents, he said that it was mostly by email, and that he was satisfied with Sydnor's level of communication. (One thing Smith hasn't done is establish a list of his constituents' email addresses in order to disseminate information through email blasts; Smith told me this is something he will work on.)

I told Mr. Beverly that there have been questions about the recall effort posted on the Brightwood listserv and asked if he had seen them. He said that he was not a member of the listserv. "Other ANCs want to support him, and that's fine," he said, "but this is a 4B04 issue."

The recall election will be held on February 28 at MPD's Fourth District Headquarters (6001 Georgia Avenue NW).

By the way, I had been wanting to track down Concerned Citizens of Brightwood East for quite a while, and was happy to have reached Mr. Beverly. He informed me the the organization formed a little under two years ago, and generally meets on the second Wednesday of each month, though they're now in recess until March. A website is under construction; til it goes live, if you're interested in being alerted about Concerned Citizens of Brightwood East meetings, drop me an email and I'll make sure you get onto Mr. Beverly's notification list.

Friday, December 9, 2011

Who will implement Walter Reed's redevelopment?

At the Walter Reed Local Redevelopment Authority meeting last week, the main topic of discussion was the key implementation phase of the redevelopment. The LRA had asked Victor Hoskins, the District’s deputy mayor for planning and economic development, to perform an analysis of the implementation procedure.

The report (below) details the pros and cons of three different types master developers – a group made up of DC government agencies; a for-profit developer; or an SPE, a non-profit development corporation with DC government Board representation and funded through private capital, federal and other grants.

Hoskins intends to submit the final reuse plan to HUD in March, and HUD's approval is expected by August. LRA director Eric Jenkins said the goal is to have a master developer selected between March and August (a period of time that is craftily referred to in a timeline within the presentation below as “The Sweet Spot”).

The LRA will be dissolved once the final reuse plan is completed; then the city will establish an new LRA to advise on implementation.

“The goal of the ILRA (Implentation LRA) for Walter Reed is to be prepared to sit down with the Army in July to negotiate how the land would be be paid for and work out the terms of conveyance,” said LRA committee member Alice Giancola. “Selection of a Master Developer as a consultant is only one step in the direction of preparing a case for the Army that the City is a reliable buyer.” Going the private developer route would slow down the process significantly because an RFQ and RFP would be required; the SPE option would be also be slow due to the organizational structure and vetting process it would involve. The redevelopment process would be fastest if the District served as the master developer, but that would require the District to produce the funds to purchase the land from the Army...funding that isn't readily available.

Walter Reed Redevelopment Implementation Report

Recall election for ANC4B04 commissioner Doug Smith will be held Feb. 28 at MPD 4D HQ

Did you know that there was a recall effort underway for 4B04 ANC commissioner Doug Smith?

Yeah, I really didn’t either. I first heard about it on November 23, when the DC Board of Elections and Ethics tweeted that recall petitions were being collected. I did a little more research and found that the effort has been underway since at least September (see the hearing transcript at the bottom of this post). The folks who have spearheaded the effort seem to be members of Concerned Citizens of Brightwood East.

This morning, the DCBOEE tweeted:

So there you go. Recall election on February 28.

Doug Smith is a good commissioner who got caught up in a storm, and that storm is called Walmart. I believe that the people who initiated the recall effort were upset that Smith hasn’t publicly come out in opposition of the development. The issue of will-Walmart-be-good-for-us-or-not has divided the neighborhood deeply, and it has put Smith in the difficult position of trying to represent all of his constituents fairly in the midst of the uproar.

But here's the thing: if the planned development at Georgia and Missouri doesn’t happen, it will be because Walmart decided to pull out. And that would be purely Walmart's decision, not based on community opposition, and definitely not on whether an ANC spoke out against it or not.

Smith has done nothing to deserve a recall. If you want to oust a politician, save your energy and work to oust one of the many in this city who actually have done things that warrant a recall.

UPDATE: Please read this newer post, Behind the effort to recall ANC 4B04 commissioner Doug Smith for more background on the issue.

Hearing on Approval of Petition to Recall Douglas Smith

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Photo: the long-awaited Bikeshare station at Georgia and Upshur is finally a reality

This has been a long time coming. The Georgia/Upshur Bikeshare station (which, if you want to get more precise about it, is actually located at 9th and Upshur) was supposed to be installed during the first rollout back in September of 2010. The installation was pushed back, presumably due to the construction that was going on at the intersection at the time. The station was finally installed on Tuesday.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Public meetings on development in Ward 4 tonight and tomorrow night

Four public meetings over the next two nights promise to keep us busy....

Can Small Businesses Survive in Ward 4?
When: Wednesday, December 7, 6:00 – 7:30 pm
Where: Peoples Congregational UCC, 4704 13th Street NW
RSVP: kim@voteformax.com, (202) 695-3444
Sponsored by the Max Skolnik Campaign for Ward 4 Council.
"Given the economic challenges and the decision to locate two Wal-Marts in the Ward, this panel and community discussion will focus on developing a viable small business plan."

Panelists include:
Warren Brown, CakeLove Bakery
Veronica Davis, NSpireGreen DC
Andy Shallal, Busboys & Poets
Kim Weeks, Boundless Yoga
James Kerns, Corehaus
Max Skolnik, Ward 4 Candidate for the DC Council


Ward 4 Thrives monthly meeting
When: Wednesday, December 7, 6:30 pm
Where: Fort Stevens Recreation Center, 1327 Van Buren Street NW
"Deputy Mayor for Planning and Economic Development Victor Hoskins
has confirmed his attendance at this meeting. Our focus is how we can create
a 'win win' situation for the residents and business community in Ward 4."


Walter Reed Local Redevelopment Authority NOI Respondent Presentations
When: Thursday, December 8, 7:00 pm
Where: Tifereth Isreal Congregation, 7701 16th Street NW

"As required by the Base Closure Community Redevelopment and Homeless Assistance Act of 1994, as amended (the Redevelopment Act) and its implementing regulations, the Government of the District of Columbia, the Local Redevelopment Authority (LRA) for the Walter Reed Army Medical Center, requested notices of interest (NOIs) for consideration in obtaining buildings and/or property on a portion of the previously unscreened surplus property at the Walter Reed Army Medical Center.

"The seven (7) new NOI respondents have been invited to each present their vision of their NOI response. Each NOI Respondent will present a brief five-minute summary of its proposed program to the public followed by a general Questions and Answer session. The sole purpose of the NOI Respondent Community Presentations is to provide the opportunity for the community to learn about each NOI proposal. The participation request does not represent an indication of confirmed eligibility or qualification for selection.

"Both Homeless Assistance Providers (HAP) and Public Benefit Conveyance (PBC) organizations will be represented at the community presentation. An executive summary of the presentations can be found at www.dmped.dc.gov under the Walter Reed Icon. Below is the Schedule of Presentations:

  • Transitional Housing Corporation
  • National Capitol Veterans Coalition, Inc.
  • Global Schools Collaborative, Inc.
  • Washington Latin Public Charter School
  • Educational Services Overseas Limited FZ LLC
  • GA Ave Business Improvement District & Development Corporation and the Walter Reed Health Education and Research Foundation
  • CentroNia"


    Georgia Avenue Business Association meeting
    When: Thursday December 8, 7:00 pm.
    Where: Sweet Mango Café, 3701 New Hampshire Avenue NW
    "The Agenda:
    1). Introductions and Recap of our last meeting and minutes.
    Opportunity to highlight progress and insert additional ideas

    2). Discussion of organizational structure with guest speaker from Barracks Row Main Street

    3). Jump Start Committee Work
    Clean Streets and Safety Committee"
  • Tuesday, December 6, 2011

    Developer Jair Lynch purchases three apartment complexes in Ward 4

    Yesterday Jair Lynch announced that it has acquired three apartment complexes in Ward 4. They are Aspen Court, 105 homes at 6676 Georgia Ave., NW; Petworth Station, 78 homes at 930 Randolph St., NW; and Fort Stevens Hill, 59 homes at 1339 Ft. Stevens Dr. NW.

    Jair Lynch issued a press release saying the acquisition will allow for the preservation of "affordable homes in neighborhoods that are experiencing an uptick in market rate developments and increasing property values but have a dearth of new construction starts for affordable housing. The company plans to make significant quality of life improvements to enhance each of the communities as part of its program to acquire, stabilize and improve dated tax credit financed properties.

    "Throughout the acquisition process, JAIR LYNCH worked diligently with each of the five communities’ individual tenant associations and their respective attorneys as part of the District’s Tenant Opportunity to Purchase Act (“TOPA”).

    "JAIR LYNCH Development Partners is investing in this portfolio (“Regenesis Portfolio”) through a joint venture with MacFarlane Partners, a real estate investment management firm that specializes in properties that promote place making through smart growth, urban revitalization and sustainability."

    Monday, December 5, 2011

    Pierre's Attic vintage/thrift opens on Georgia Avenue

    Pierre's Attic opened last Thursday at 5320 Georgia Avenue NW. According to the website: "As a new addition to the Georgia Avenue shopping district, Pierre’s Attic brings a new edge to the neighborhood. Incorporating the changes in the city, a vintage boutique brings the green movement to Ward 4. Pierre’s Attic will feature apparel for all ages, furniture and everything in between."

    I stopped in over the weekend, and Pierre has set up a lot of items on his sales floor, and says he's still in the process of bringing more items in. Since his space is small, he plans to feature most of his larger furniture and appliances only on his website, so be sure to check in if you're looking for a new (used) couch or dresser.

    Sunday, December 4, 2011

    The Modern Mobler gets a new facade

    The Modern Mobler vintage furniture store at 7313 Georgia Avenue gave its storefront a facelift recently, and the result is pretty striking.

    Thursday, December 1, 2011

    The state of Brightwood real estate - December 2011

    Time for our monthly look at neighborhood home sales with realtor Eric Brooks...

    Active properties on the market in November:
    32 properties are for sale now (one less than in Oct. 2011)
    Ranging from $52,900 to $575,00
    3 of these are foreclosed homes and 7 are short sales

    November 2011 Active Properties

    Properties that went under contract in November:
    22 homes are currently under contract (the average property is the high $200K's)
    These homes should settle over the next 30 days
    Ranging from $129,000 to $785,000
    3 of these were foreclosed homes and 5 are short sales

    November 2011 Under Contract

    November sold numbers
    8 homes sold in the month of November
    Ranging from $150,000 to $499,000
    All eight sales from the past month were normal sales (no REO's or Short Sales), which is good news for homeowners.

    November 2011 Sold

    Info provided by Eric Brooks, a Long and Foster Real Estate agent who works to deliver exceptional results for his clients in Brightwood and beyond.
    Contact to set up an appointment at 301-986-6476 or

    Montgomery County plans 50 Bikeshare stations near Red Line

    From the Gazette: Fifty bikeshare stations planned for stations along the Red Line; Montgomery County officials still seek funding for project

    Montgomery County officials and residents discussed Tuesday adding bicycle stations that would connect to the bike network in Washington, D.C., and Arlington, Va.

    The county hopes to add 50 stations with 400 bikes along and around Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority’s Metrorail Red Line, focusing on places like Bethesda, Chevy Chase, Silver Spring, Takoma Park, Forest Glen and Wheaton.

    Many of the stations proposed by the county Department of Transportation were located at or around Metrorail stations, apartment complexes, parks, hospitals and community centers.

    The county is applying for a Maryland Bikeshare Program grant. The grant would fund 80 percent of the costs up to a certain point, Brecher said. The state grant application is due Dec. 15 and Brecher said she expected a response next year, since the grant would go toward fiscal year 2013.

    A Capital Bikeshare station with 15 bike slots and eight bikes would cost $48,000 for equipment and installation and $21,000 in annual operating fees. If the county receives the grant, officials will order the stations and bikes and draft a station plan for each location. The county would also have to talk to any private parties who own land on a planned station site and make private agreements. The aim is to install stations in winter 2012, Brecher said.

    Here's a list of the proposed station locations:
    Silver Spring: Lyttonsville, the Summit Hills apartment complex, the future Silver Spring Library and the Silver Spring Metrorail station.
    Wheaton: Westfield Wheaton shopping center, Ana Mendez University and the Wheaton Metrorail station among others.
    Bethesda and Chevy Chase: 13 sites including Suburban Hospital, Chevy Chase Lake and the Bethesda and Medical Center Metrorail stations.
    Takoma Park: Parks, Montgomery College, the Takoma Park Community Center, Old Town and Takoma Junction.
    Forest Glen: Holy Cross Hospital and the Forest Glen Metrorail station among others.

    Tuesday, November 29, 2011

    Developer-sponsored Capital Bikeshare station rejected in Takoma

    Thanks to the Wash Cycle for pointing out this passage from The Atlantic Cities' piece on developers sponsoring Bikeshare stations:

    The builders of a planned apartment complex in D.C.’s Takoma neighborhood also say their offer to sponsor a station was rejected by officials who felt the location was too far off the beaten path.

    Since there are only so many apartment complexes in the planning stages in Takoma, I assume this passage refers to the developers of either Ecco Park or the proposed development on Spring Place NW.

    I understand why Bikeshare would be hesitant to slap a station in Takoma without building up other nearby sites as well, as Bikeshare needs several stations built relatively close to each other in order to be useable. But I'm sorry to hear that the developers' proposal was dismissed seemingly without considering that Bikeshare will soon be expanding to Montgomery County's Red Line stations. It will be in everyone's best interest for Bikeshare to set up in Takoma, Brightwood, and the rest of Ward 4 in order to provide connections between Montgomery County and the rest of the District. Taking the developers up on their offer seems like it would be good planning for the future.

    Update: ANC4B02 Commissioner Sara Green just confirmed that the article is referring to the Spring Place development. She went on to say, "You get to Spring Place by driving down Blair Road (toward the Takoma Metro Station) and making a left on Chestnut just after the light at Piney Branch. Spring Place is the first and only right." If you can follow that, you'll understand that the development is indeed slightly inconvenient to Takoma's main commercial area. I assume the location of that specific development is what turned Bikeshare off, but I've asked them to clarify.

    Update 2: Bruce Levin, one of the developers of the Spring Place building, confirms that DDOT is concerned about Spring Place's lack of visibility, at least at this time: "The location is less than ideal as compared to more visible locations at or around the (Metro) station. This could certainly change at a later date. The next and most important step will be to work with DDOT to complete the design of the trail between Spring Place and Cedar, secure funding and complete this section."

    Research your house's history with the DCPL's Washingtoniana Division, tonight @ Takoma Library

    Tonight at the Takoma Libary, the DC Public Library's Washingtoniana Division staff will be on hand to help you research the history of your DC home.

    When: Tuesday, November 29, 7pm
    Where: Takoma Park Neighborhood Library, 416 Cedar Street NW

    I already know a little bit about my home's history. From the 1930s through the 60s, it was occupied by a man who published Jelly Roll Morton's music; when Morton lived in the District, he would occasionally take the streetcar up from U Street to hang out at my house. Alan Lomax has set foot in my house as well, a fact that pretty much blew me away when I found out about it. Moral of the story: it's worth researching your house's history, because the information you find could surprise you.

    Saturday, November 26, 2011

    Shop local. Especially today.

    A message from CM Bowser:


    I trust you had an enjoyable Thanksgiving and many of you have kicked off your holiday shopping this weekend.

    I hope that you will consider doing some of your holiday shopping with a small business, and a majority of your shopping in the District of Columbia. The money you spend circulates locally and the taxes that you pay help pay for the services we count on in our City.

    Just a few thoughts on Ward 4 (or close by) businesses that would love to see you this weekend and other times throughout the year.


    If you need more incentive, Think Local First DC has initiated a Shop Outside the Big Box challenge, by which you may win a $2,000 shopping spree by supporting participating small retailers. Further info here.

    Tuesday, November 22, 2011

    Walmart strikes city-wide Community Benefits Agreement

    Read the report by Michael Niebauer in the Washington Business Journal. According to the WBJ's sources, the agreement includes:
    • Wal-Mart will work with the Department of Small and Local Business Development to identify certified business enterprises — small, local, minority owned contractors — who can take on jobs during store construction. The retailers will encourage, but not require, its general contractors to meet a 35 percent CBE goal.
    • Wal-Mart will create and fund a workforce development program with a focus on low-income residents, minorities, at-risk youth, released convicts and veterans.
    • Wal-Mart will open hiring centers in each ward where stores are planned — Wards 4, 5, 6 and 7 — with the expectation of filling a majority of available positions with D.C. residents. It will also hold job fairs and work with the District government to identify candidates.
    • The retailer will not sell guns or ammunition.
    • Wal-Mart will seek out local retailers to provide goods and services within their stores — coffee shops, for example.
    • While Wal-Mart has not agreed to pay a “living wage,” it will pay its employees competitive market salaries as compared to its D.C. competitors.
    • With regard to transportation, Wal-Mart has agreed to install Capital Bikeshare stations, bus shelters and bike racks near its stores, and work with Metro to assess existing bus routes.
    • Community advisory committees, comprised of residents, businesses and nonprofits within 1,000 feet of each store, will be formed and Wal-Mart will meet with them quarterly.
    Initital thoughts: Contractors will benefit; I'm certainly not going to complain about the Capital Bikeshare part; and this really seems like the bare minimum.

    Thursday, November 17, 2011

    Petition: let's build a dog park at the Takoma Rec Center

    This is a project that's been developing with the Department of Parks and Recreation for a while now. Though we have circulated paper petitions, we could use more signatures, so I'm taking the online route. DC residents, please sign this petition if you're interested in having a dog park built at the Takoma Recreation Center!

    Tuesday, November 15, 2011

    Wal-Mart takes Fort Totten

    Tonight The Washington Post's Nikita Stewart tweeted that Wal-Mart will announce that in addition to its four proposed stores (one of which is to be located at the Curtis Chevrolet site at Georgia and Missouri Avenues NW), it plans to open two more stores in the District: one at the Skyland Town Center in Ward 7, and another at the planned Fort Totten Square development. This brings the Wal-Mart count in Ward 4 up to two -- and they'll be within 1.5 miles of each other.

    More details will be available tomorrow morning when Wal-Mart and Mayor Gray make their official announcement.

    Rendering of the proposed Fort Totten Square Wal-Mart (JBG)

    WARL, Ward 4, and the pit bull dilemma

    I've become fond of Dr. Gary Weitzman's Huffington Post DC blog. Weitzman is the CEO of the Washington Animal Rescue League, which is a haven for homeless animals here in Ward 4 (one which you should really visit, if you've never done so). Yesterday's post hit close to home for me, as it focuses on a rescue effort of pit bulls from Baltimore's animal shelter, and my own girl happens to be a pit rescued from Baltimore by WARL.

    "Any pits?" I asked our shelter director, Maureen, when she got back from the Baltimore shelter with the transfer animals and was parking our rescue truck in front of the shelter.

    She smiled sheepishly at me.

    "Oh, no. A bunch of lab mixes and a mixed shepherd or two. And the cutest puppies you ever saw."

    I knew what that meant. She had a truck full of pit bulls.

    There are two reasons for this: One, we're an urban shelter north of the Mason-Dixon Line. And two, Maureen, like me, loves pit bulls and knows they need our help more than any other animal in this country. Because of the public's misperception of this often gentle, loyal, and intelligent breed -- and due to the absolutely unconscionable breeding for criminally inhumane uses that this breed has endured by the most irresponsible humans among us -- there are just so too many pit bulls for the system to absorb.

    Backyard breeding of pit bulls is such a deeply ingrained part of many peoples' lives in Brightwood (and in many other places, of course). A woman on my block told me that she was reluctant to get their family's pit neutered because her son wanted to breed him at least once. Another neighbor stared at me incredulously when I told him that my dog was spayed. "You mean you don't want her to have puppies? Why not?" he asked in all seriousness. I refrained from explaining that she was spayed because I didn't want to contribute to the pet overpopulation problem; it didn't seem as though he would have easily understood that point of view.

    Monday, November 14, 2011

    Walter Reed reuse planning meeting tomorrow night - register here if you haven't already

    If you haven't registered to participate in tomorrow night's Walter Reed reuse planning workshop, you can register here.

    When: Tuesday, November 15, 7-9 pm
    Where: Tifereth Israel Congregation, 7701 16th Street NW
    This is a important opportunity for residents to guide the redevelopment process. Community input will ensure that the reuse plan continues to reflect the needs of residents living in nearby neighborhoods and the city as a whole.

    Thursday, November 10, 2011

    Georgia Avenue's new art in vacant spaces project launches on Sunday

    I first wrote about the Georgia Avenue Window Walk project here, and I'm really excited that it's getting off the ground! The pilot project is starting in Pleasant Plains, and we're aiming to get enough owners of vacant spaces involved for the Window Walk to encompass all of the commercial nodes on Georgia Avenue, stretching all the way up to Eastern Avenue.

    From the Georgia Avenue Community Development Task Force:

    Please join us on Sunday November 13th from 3-6pm for a launch event for the Georgia Avenue Window Walk and a celebration of the first two window installations by artists, John Grunwell and Emily Sloat Shaw. Meet at Pleasant Plains Workshop at 2608 Georgia Avenue for refreshments and tunes courtesy of DJ Emma Woodhouse starting at 3pm. At 4pm there will be a walking tour with the artists, followed by more merriment at Pleasant Plains Workshop!

    The Georgia Avenue Window Walk is a temporary public art project that engages residents, businesses and visitors to the community by placing art installations in existing and vacant storefront spaces along the lower Georgia Avenue Corridor.

    Our Objectives:
    Improve the look of Georgia Avenue
    Connect residents and visitors to historical and cultural aspects of Georgia Avenue
    Provide local artists with an opportunity for exposure
    Engage community members in a process resulting in positive change
    Attract visitors to the area to dine and shop at the existing businesses
    Attract new retail to Georgia Avenue

    Wednesday, November 9, 2011

    Uptick in crime in the area surrounding Walter Reed

    From the Takoma listserv:

    Last night I walked along Dahlia chatting with neighbors. Turns out that there have been several muggings on Dahlia in which a gun was used in the last few weeks.

    That combined with the break ins of cars during the broad daylight. Plus the odd experience of catching some guys on my roof a few weeks ago suggests a crime spree in our area.

    Frightening, considering that there has been much less in the way of police presence in this area of late. And the closure of Walter Reed has made this area of Georgia strangely quiet day and night, very little foot traffic.

    Monday, November 7, 2011

    Be an advocate for small business development on Georgia Avenue

    Georgia Avenue needs advocates. Here are three upcoming opportunities to meet with community leaders, business owners, residents, and other stakeholders who are concerned with the state of Georgia Avenue:

    Small Business Talk with At-Large DC Councilmember Vincent Orange
    Monday November 7, 7-8:30PM
    Peoples Congregational Church, 4704 13th Street NW (near Decatur St.), Corbin Lounge

    Hosted by the Georgia Avenue Economic Development Steering Committee to consider a collaborative process to support and develop small businesses.

    Brightwood Community Association meeting
    Tuesday, November 8, 7 pm
    St. John's United Baptist Church
    6343 13 St. NW (intersection of 13th and Tuckerman)

    According to the Brightwood Community Association announcement: "As many of us have noticed, there are a number of vacant properties along Georgia Ave in Brightwood. After talking to people on both sides of the Walmart divide, I got the sense that those opposed to Walmart weren't opposed to development, just against Walmart specifically. Those in support of Walmart weren't particularly big fans of Walmart, but just wanted something there instead of nothing. There are other vacant lots and closed stores along Georgia Ave. Some, like the former Blockbuster Video store at 6428 Georgia Avenue, have been empty for quite some time. Before something else comes that forces us to react, we can take the initiative and go after what we want.

    "We, as the citizens living in Brightwood, want to play a major role in the development of our local commercial corridor. To that end, the next few meetings are going to be dedicated to bringing in information, gathering ideas from all of you, forming a plan and taking action.

    "We've invited the Executive Director of the Old Takoma Business Association, Roz Grigsby, to speak to us about OTBA's methods as a community and an association, what has worked and what hasn't.

    "We will also hear from Laine Cidlowski of the Sustainable DC Project, who will share info on the city's new Sustainable Plan launched by the Office of Planning and District Department of the Environment. Laine will discuss how we citizens can get engaged in the process and share some of the sustainable considerations in the Walter Reed redevelopment."

    Georgia Avenue Business Association meeting
    Thursday, November 17, 7:00 pm
    GII Restaurant & Lounge
    2632 Georgia Avenue NW

    This is the second meeting of this new organization, with the goal of bringing all of Georgia Avenue's business nodes together in order to advocate for creating a stronger business environment for the entire corridor. The first meeting went well, with about a dozen business owners and residents brainstorming ideas. All Georgia Avenue business owners and stakeholders are encouraged to attend, get involved, and help shape this advocacy organization.

    Friday, November 4, 2011

    The state of Brightwood real estate - November 2011

    Time for our monthly look at neighborhood home sales with realtor Eric Brooks...

    Active properties on the market in October:
    33 properties are for sale now
    Ranging from $89,999 to $799,00
    2 of these are foreclosed homes and 5 are short sales

    Nov 2011 Active

    Properties that went under contract in October:
    25 homes are currently under contract
    These homes should settle over the next 30 days
    Ranging from $58,000 to $499,000
    4 of these were foreclosed homes and 5 are short sales

    Nov 2011 Under Contract

    October sold numbers
    Only one home sold in the month of October (1363 Rittenhouse Street NW). The asking price was $355K and the seller got that minus a seller subsidy of $9,400.
    Note: It's highly unusual for just one home to be sold over the course of a month. I suspect that some of the foreclosures and short sales did not go to settlement due to issues that buyers may have had with these properties -- and that is why we have more houses under contract this month than normal. The market has been tough over the past six months, and rates seem to be staying in the low 4%. When the bulk of distressed properties are off the market, a true recovery will happen.

    Nov 2011 Sold

    Info provided by Eric Brooks, a Long and Foster Real Estate agent who works to deliver exceptional results for his clients in Brightwood and beyond.
    Contact to set up an appointment at 301-986-6476 or

    Monday, October 31, 2011

    Yet another reason to love Washington Deli...Alternative Baking Company cookies

    Washington Deli continues to impress me with the variety of foods they're bringing to the neighborhood. They're now carrying Alternative Baking Company vegan cookies, which are yummy...if you've never tried one, go do so!

    Sunday, October 30, 2011

    The Brightwoodian is now on Facebook

    Those of you who prefer to connect via Facebook can now do so: http://www.facebook.com/brightwoodian.

    If you use Twitter, you can follow along @thbrightwoodian. The Twitter feed often contains neighborhood news tidbits that don't make it into a blog post, so even if you don't use Twitter habitually, you might want to check in on the feed now and then. The most recent Twitter posts also show up on the blog's homepage, in the right hand column under, appropriately enough, "Twitter".

    Friday, October 28, 2011

    Interior of new City Gear store on Georgia Avenue looking good

    The owner of City Gear at 6233 Georgia Avenue (the old Arrow Cleaners space, right next to Julia's Empanadas) is busy setting up his second shop (his first one has been open since 1990 and is located at 1538 North Capitol Street). I think the interior looks pretty nice (I wish I had a "before" photo to show).

    Nice to have more clothing retailers opening up on Georgia Avenue.

    Thursday, October 27, 2011

    Historic Preservation Review Board votes against historic designation for Brightwood Car Barn

    So, there's that. The outcome of the hearing is very unsurprising, considering the Board released a staff report earlier this week which stated, in short, that the building lacked the integrity to be seriously considered for historic designation.

    So, since Foulger-Pratt signed the lease on the property a couple of weeks ago, I suppose we can expect the construction of a Walmart to begin, oh, any day now.

    Wednesday, October 26, 2011

    Greg Gaten Taylor's boutique womens' clothing store opening Saturday at 7610 Georgia Avenue

    Image from walishgooshe.com

    Greg Gaten Taylor, creator of the Walish Gooshe clothing brand (and winner of the TLC Network's Who Are You Wearing) is opening his flagship store this Saturday, and the location is the ultra-fashionable Upper Georgia Avenue.

    The store is at 7610 Georgia Avenue NW. The ribbon cutting and grand opening ceremonies will be held on Saturday, October 29, from 4 to 9 pm.

    Ward 4 sixth grader exerts business acumen, delves into cupcake scene

    This is one Ward 4 youngster with an insatiable entrepreneurial spirit. Kayla Kimble, an 11-year-old sixth grader at LaSalle-Backus Education Campus, loves to bake and has been doing it since she was eight. With the help of her savvy mom, Lynn, Kayla started up her own mobile cupcake shop, KK Cupcakes, last August. Her cupcakes are gaining quite a following, judging by the steady stream of customers I saw visiting her stand yesterday at the corner of Kennedy and Madison Streets NE.

    Kayla does her baking in the morning before she leaves for school, comes home in the afternoon and does her homework, and then goes out to set up her shop. She has a wide range of flavors in her baking repertoire, but focuses on two each day in the interest of keeping her business sustainable. Yesterday I had a Red Velvet and a Vanilla Apple Crisp, and they were delicious. I might even go so far as to say that Kayla's creations are yummier than many from the storefront cupcake shops around town.

    I asked Kayla if she wants to be a baker when she grows up, and she said, "Very much!" So this is great experience for her. And Lynn is instilling good business practices in her daughter early on. (Kayla: leans on the table during a rare moment of down time; Lynn: "Kayla, don't lean on the table!"; Kayla: stands up straight!)

    Kayla will be set up at the corner of Kennedy and Madison Streets NE for the rest of this week from 4-6:30 pm, and plans to take her cupcakes to Dupont Circle this Saturday afternoon. The best way to keep up with Kayla and her mobile cupcakery is to follow KK Cupcakes on Twitter.

    Monday, October 24, 2011

    New Capital Bikeshare crowdsourcing map allows you to vote for your preferred future station locations

    Capital Bikeshare has issued a new crowdsourcing map, which you can access here. I'm happy to say that when I looked at it for the first time, all of the locations that I would have chosen (14th and Colorado, Georgia and Missouri, Georgia and Piney Branch, the Takoma Metro, the Takoma Rec Center, etc) had already been added by other users, which tells me that demand for Bikeshare in Ward 4 is growing. Go to the map and vote for your favorite locations; the more voices Bikeshare hears, the more likely we are to get the stations we need!

    Sunday, October 23, 2011

    Photos: the DC Grey Market, Ward 4 edition

    Maya Robinson, the organizer of the DC Grey Market, a showcase for local food start-up businesses, told me that she was a bit concerned about holding her fourth Grey Market at such an off-the-beaten-path location as 1365 Kennedy Street NW. But Saturday's event was by all counts a huge success, as attendance reached 730 (that's a higher attendance rate than the last DC Grey Market, which was held in the not-so-off-the-beaten-path Mount Vernon Square neighborhood but attracted a mere 615 attendees).

    I was there in the late afternoon, and the room was definitely packed, between the clientele and the 23 vendors. I recognized many of the customers as Ward 4 residents, but there were lots of folks from beyond our borders in attendance as well. And though the DCist roundup claims that due to the location the foodies that were best served were "those with cars," I have to say that I observed a lot of the attendees arriving by bike (there were many, many more bikes than usual parked along Colorado Avenue and Kennedy Street). Also: see the comment on the DCist piece by the astute Dan Reed, who gives a nice rundown of the many transit options that can be used to easily access the site: "Last I checked, the 52/54 and the E buses stop at 14th & Kennedy (right around the corner!), though the more exercise-minded could walk all the way from 16th & Kennedy (S2/S4) or Georgia & Kennedy (70s). This is pretty far from being have-to-have-a-car territory. Just saying."

    Maya also told me that Amanda was a fantastic host, and that she'd be happy to have the market return to 1365 Kennedy Street NW. So look for more cool events in this space in the future.

    More photos after the jump.

    Friday, October 21, 2011

    Atlantic Cities on Georgia Avenue; yoga in Petworth; DC Grey Market on Kennedy Street

    Catching up after a busy week at the Railvolution conference and wanted to pass along a few news items of interest:

    -- An Atlantic Cities piece (which originally appeared on the National Resources Defense Council's staff blog) poses the staggering question "Is Gentrification Always Bad for Revitalizing Neighborhoods?" A significant chunk of the post is devoted to Georgia Avenue issues. Here's a taste:

    The Georgia Avenue Walmart, one of four likely to be built in D.C., could unfortunately pose a threat to just the kinds of businesses that the city and residents are hoping to attract and support. An economic impact analysis prepared by Public and Environmental Finance Associates and filed with the city found that “there is every reason to anticipate” that the store “will cause substantial diversion of sales from existing businesses in . . . immediate and nearby neighborhoods, and from elsewhere in the District,” particularly increasing the probability that existing supermarkets could close as a result of lost business. (The report does not appear to be online, but I was furnished with a copy.) Nonetheless, the city’s planning office has found the proposal “not inconsistent” with the city’s comprehensive plan, and is allowing the massive store to go forward, apparently concluding that economic impact is not an issue the office was allowed to consider in the review process.

    In other words, if citizens really want a community-oriented process for revitalization, they need the city to fix the planning and zoning process pronto.

    More hopeful for Georgia Avenue, perhaps, is a report that the city is considering building the corridor’s new streetcar line, which had been put on the back burner, sooner rather than later. In the meantime, the community development task force has created a history trail and is sprucing up blank walls with murals and empty storefronts with art projects. The idea is to bring a sense of pride and progress that will make the neighborhood more pleasant while helping to attract the right kind of investment. “We do want new people along Georgia Avenue,” one of the task force leaders told Borden, “but we want to make sure that the people who want to stay can stay and shape Georgia Avenue in the way we want.” I'm hoping that the task force will be a strong, responsible, and influential voice as new businesses and people come to the corridor.

    -- Prince of Petworth reports that the former funeral home at 4815 Georgia Avenue (next door to the Jones Haywood School of Dance) is being converted to a yoga studio, Golden Heart Yoga DC.

    -- DCist reports that the DC Grey Market will hold its fourth event tomorrow, Saturday October 22 from 3-7 pm at 1365 Kennedy Street NW. That's a residential building, which I believe has a common space in its basement, which I believe is where the market will be held.

    Thursday, October 20, 2011

    Photos: Ruff N Ready's new space on Upper 14th Street

    Ruff N Ready owner Bill Troy is busy filling up his new space at 4722 14th Street NW (between Crittenden and Decatur). He told me that he's really loving the neighborhood so far, and that he was surprised to find that a lot of his regular customers from his old location actually live in Ward 4; he had assumed they were residents of the Logan Circle-U Street area. He said that a lot of business owners aren't even aware of the underutilized commercial strips in Ward 4, and that these strips have serious growth potential. He also gave me some tips on more owners of cool business that may be looking for spaces in our neighborhoods (I promised him I wouldn't name names, but it sure is difficult to hold my tongue).

    Take a look at the new space. Fans of the old Ruff N Ready will definitely notice a different vibe at this brighter, cleaner location, but Bill says not to worry, he'll clutter it up in no time at all!

    Friday, October 14, 2011

    Georgia Avenue, it's time to start talking about streetcars

    One main takeaway from last night's meeting of the Walter Reed Local Redevelopment Authority (LRA) committee meeting was that the city is considering moving the Georgia Avenue streetcar project along more quickly than we expected. This is due to developer interest in the site, and the fact that the 25 or so developers that have met with planners Perkins + Will have all mentioned that the streetcar will be an essential economic development catalyst. LRA director Eric Jenkins said that this could result the Georgia Avenue streetcar being moved from Phase 2 to Phase 1 in the streetcar rollout. Read Housing Complex's report for more information.

    Councilmember Bowser pointed out that since residents in the area surrounding Upper Georgia Avenue have thought that the streetcar was such a long way from happening, there's been little public dialogue about them, as there has been in Ward 8. Though I've never been to any of the Ward 8 streetcar meetings, from what I've heard some have been quite heated. Time to start discussing streetcars, Ward 4 residents.

    The other subject that came under much discussion was concern for how long the site will be vacant before we see the major redevelopment projects begin, particularly since the LRA will cease to exist once the planning phase ends. The LRA made a motion that will require the city to provide an analysis of how the development phase will be implemented; the analysis will be due in one month, in time for the next meeting of the LRA. Victor Hoskins has his work cut out for him.

    Thursday, October 13, 2011

    Three Little Pigs' website goes live; get ready for our very own charcuterie

    Three Little Pigs is a charcuterie that will be opening soon at 5111 Georgia Avenue NW. I've been perusing their site and there's a lot of interesting stuff going on that I think will make a lot of neighbors very happy. Some samples:

    From the Who We Are page:

    Carolina grew up right here in Washington D.C. While attending St. John’s College High School, she cooked at Restaurant Nora in DuPont Circle. The restaurant developed her interest in local organic food. After several months spent working at the restaurant, Carolina enrolled in The Culinary Institute of America. The school gave her the opportunity to be trained by many of the school's great chefs. Returning to DC and dedicating her professional skills to the community was always Carolina's objective. In 2009, she interned at Mie n Yu in Georgetown, where she focused on farm to table programs. She learned the importance of sourcing from local farms and producers.

    From the What We Do page:

    Everything at TLP is wholesome and hand crafted. We butcher from locally sourced whole animals to make all of our charcuterie & salumi. In fact, everything we source is local, all the way down to the salt. We don’t use unnecessary chemicals to prolong shelf life or to make up for a lack of craftsmanship and patience. All of our pickles, condiments, and crackers are made and packaged right here in our shop. Our lunch menu changes daily so our guests can taste the variety of flavors the season has to offer. The house-made sodas are made fresh and contain half the sugar of commercial brands and no artificial ingredients.

    This will no doubt be an interesting addition to Georgia Avenue. Stay tuned for grand opening information.

    Walter Reed Local Redevelopment Authority (LRA) meeting tonight @ Fort Stevens Rec

    The Walter Reed Local Redevelopment Authority Committee will meet tonight. This is the first LRA meeting since the finalization of the District's new boundaries; a report on last week's community meeting will be included. LRA meetings are open to the public under the Sunshine Act, however there will be no Q&A period and the public will not have the opportunity to speak; if you have a concern that you wish to be addressed, the LRA representative for Brightwood is Arlene Davis, who can be reached via email.

    Thursday 10/13, 7:00pm until 9:00pm.

    Fort Stevens Rec Center, 1327 Van Buren St. NW (between 13th & 14th Streets)

    Walmart signs lease on Curtis Chevrolet land; community benefits advocates spurred to further action

    Report from the Washington Post's Jonathan O'Connell:

    Of the four sites in the District where Wal-Mart announced that it would like to open its first stores in the city, the one on Georgia Avenue has generated more controversy than the other three combined.

    Opponents of the store have held rallies, gathered petition signatures, put up yard signs, made T-shirts, written letters to elected officials and filed a request for part of the site to be declared historic.

    Which is why some Wal-Mart watchers were surprised to learn that the chain has signed its first lease in the city for the Georgia Avenue store, where it plans to open in a former Chevrolet dealership at the corner of Georgia and Missouri Avenues in Northwest.

    Local opposition to Wal-Mart, generally led by organized labor and anti-poverty advocates, has centered around the Georgia Avenue store for good reason. Of the four sites it is the only one in the midst of a deeply rooted residential neighborhood. The location is also adjacent to many small businesses — prompting concerns that some local shops could suffer — and it is at an intersection that is already wracked by traffic.

    But as a development, the Ward 4 store is easiest. There is no public land involved and no apartments or other stores being built above or below it. It’s really just a Wal-Mart.

    Where is the city government on all this? District officials and Wal-Mart representatives have been discussing a “community benefits agreement,” but no announcement has been made.

    “We haven’t heard anything from the mayor about how the negotiations are going,” said Mackenzie Baris, lead organizer for DC Jobs With Justice.

    She said with the Georgia Avenue lease in place, she was done waiting and had begun asking members of the D.C. Council to hold hearings on legislation that would make the chain’s entrance into the city much more difficult.

    “The mayor is clearly not moving quickly enough to make sure that community benefits are in place before these stores are finalized,” she said.

    Wednesday, October 12, 2011

    Upper GA Avenue businesses keeping erratic hours; a result of the Walter Reed Effect?

    Image from Google Street View

    A reader wrote in to say that the past few times he's walked by the Cork 'n Bottle during its posted business hours (11:30am - 8:30pm Monday-Thursday and 10am - 10pm Friday and Saturday, according to the Cork 'n Bottle's website), the store has been shuttered, complete with the security doors pulled down. He wondered if the store had closed. I haven't heard anything about the store shutting down, but I have to wonder if they've reduced their hours recently (and if that's the case, how much is it the result of less foot traffic due to Walter Reed's closure)?

    I called and emailed the Cork 'n Bottle (during their posted business hours), and will update this post when I hear back.

    4A03 ANC Steve Whatley recently asked Councilmember Bowser if assistance could be provided to the businesses on Upper Georgia Avenue that have been adversely impacted by the closure of Walter Reed. Specifically he asked about business tax relief, low or no interest loans, asistance grants, and federal BRAC support.

    Tuesday, October 11, 2011

    Everything you need to know about DC's new rules for displaying campaign signs

    This post was written by 4A06 resident Kenny Peskin, who works with sign code issues nationwide for the International Sign Association. Neither Mr. Peskin nor ISA had involvement in the development of DC’s political sign regulations.

    A neighbor recently asked about the rules for political signs that have been appearing at roadsides around the area. As we are a long time out from any upcoming political elections, he was wondering if those signs are allowed to be up now in their current location.

    As of October 6, signs advertising candidates for the April 2012 primary election may be placed in the right-of-way. That’s not to say that the rules changed on October 6, but that the new rules took effect.

    What are the rules?
    In August (and again on September 30), DDOT published a notice of emergency and proposed rulemaking that changed the previous rules for placement of non-commercial signs on structures in the public space. Signs now can be displayed for a total period of 180 days and must be removed within 30 days following the event to which it is related. (October 6, 2011 is 180 days before the April 3, 2012 primary election.)

    The previous rules allowed noncommercial signs related to a specific event to be placed anytime before the event (and removed within 30 days after the event). Signs not related to a specific event could be placed for up to 60 days.

    Why did the rules change?
    Litigation – or the threat of litigation. (This is DC after all…) One of the basic principles of municipal sign regulation is that signs contain speech protected by the Constitution. Groups of speakers must be treated fairly and equally. DC was the subject of a preliminary judicial finding that certain types of non-commercial speech in the public space were treated unequally by the existing regulations. Therefore, DC government could either change their regulations or face a situation where a court could invalidate the current rules.

    Saturday, October 8, 2011

    Attention owners of photogenic pit bulls: the Big Bad Woof wants to take your pet's photo for charity!

    That's my girl.

    When I went into Takoma's The Big Bad Woof the other day with my beautiful pit mix in tow, an employee of the store, who is also a pit owner as well as a professional photographer, told me that she was creating a 2012 pit bull calendar, the proceeds from which will benefit a local pit rescue organization.

    A photography session will take place at the store (117 Carroll Street NW) on Sunday, October 16. To sign your dog up, visit the store or call them at 202-291-2404 to reserve a time slot. A $25 participation donation will be required, with the proceeds going to the rescue organization. After your photography session, you'll receive a framed photo of your pet. The photo will then go before a panel of discerning judges, who will pick the photos that will illustrate the 2012 calendar.

    Sounds like a fun event, a good opportunity to get a nice portrait of your dog, and a great possibility for your pet to raise funds to help his/her pit brethren in need!

    Thursday, October 6, 2011

    The state of Brightwood real estate - October 2011

    Time for our monthly update from realtor Eric Brooks!

    September Active properties on the market:
    40 homes are currently for sale
    Ranging from $58,000 to $769,900
    5 of these are foreclosed homes (up from 3 last month) and 5 are short sales

    Active - Oct 2011

    September Under-Contract properties
    16 homes are currently under contract
    These homes should settle over the next 30 days
    Ranging from $150,000 to $499,000
    5 are short sales (no foreclosures)

    Under Contract - Oct 2011

    September Sold numbers
    8 homes sold in the month of September
    Ranging from $69,500 to $519,900
    1 was a foreclosed home and 1 was a short sale

    Sold - Oct 2011

    Info provided by Eric Brooks, a Long and Foster Real Estate agent who works to deliver exceptional results for his clients in Brightwood and beyond.
    Contact to set up an appointment at 301-986-6476 or

    Wednesday, October 5, 2011

    On litter (Or, why I often walk my dogs in neighborhoods other than Brightwood)

    I often walk my dogs in neighborhoods other than Brightwood. Mainly for a change of scenery, but (depending on which neighborhood we visit) with the added benefit of having less litter to deal with on the streets. It’s awfully hard to have a peaceful dog walk when the creatures want to stop every few feet to sniff and/or munch on discarded chicken bones, candy wrappers, yogurt cups, half-eaten bags of potato chips...you name it, I’ve encountered it on the streets of Brightwood, and constantly having to deter my dogs from swallowing these items isn’t fun.

    We walked through Shepherd Park last night. The yards and streets are visibly cleaner than (many of) the yards and streets in nearby Brightwood. But the absence of litter only made what was there more glaringly conspicuous: specifically, dog poop. I lost count of how many piles of it we came across on our mile-and-a-half-long walk.

    The Alice Ferguson Foundation conducted a study of why people litter. The main takeaway was that people who chronically litter do it for convenience’s sake; an item’s usefulness has passed, so the person tosses it away as soon as possible instead of waiting to find a trash receptacle. But the study also found that people generally refrain from littering in their personal spaces; they won’t toss litter in front of their own yards, for example. Often, chronic litterers don’t see the greater community (i.e. their neighborhoods) as part of their “personal spaces”, therefore they see littering on the next block as excusable.

    I was thinking about that study as I walked through Shepherd Park’s nearly-immaculate-except-for-the-dog-poop streets. It made me wonder why it seems to be unacceptable to litter in Shepherd Park, yet it looks like it’s acceptable to not pick up after your dog. I would think that people who show they care about their communities by not littering would also be inclined to pick up after their dogs. Leaving dog poop behind is very much a form of littering, after all.

    At least Shepherd Park is on the right track; I hope that since its residents already seem to be concerned with keeping their neighborhood clean, it might not be as hard to get people into the habit of picking up after their dogs. Brightwood, unfortunately, has a much further way to go.

    Tuesday, October 4, 2011

    First of new series of Walter Reed redevelopment planning sessions: Wed., 10/5/11, 7pm, Ohev Shalom

    (If, like me, you've received not one but two phone calls from America Speaks representatives reminding you of the importance of attending these sessions, you can probably skip this post.)

    The first in the new series of Walter Reed redevelopment planning sessions is tomorrow evening. All residents and stakeholders in the neighborhoods surrounding Walter Reed's campus are encouraged to attend.

    Wednesday, October 5, 7-9 pm
    Ohev Sholom - The National Synagogue.
    1600 Jonquil Street NW, Washington, DC

    RSVP here.

    For those of you who didn't attend the planning sessions that were held last spring, or who have never attended a session conducted by America Speaks, they're very inclusive and interactive, with a facilitator present at each table to ensure everyone gets heard (and also to ensure smooth, neighborly communication). Mary Lauran passed on this video that will give you an idea of how an America Speaks town hall meeting works.

    Friday, September 30, 2011

    News roundup: Walter Reed and local businesses

    A location has been confirmed for the first of the new series of community forums on the redevelopment of the Walter Reed campus. The forum will take place on Wednesday, October 5 from 7-9 pm at Ohev Shalom, 1600 Jonquil Street NW.

    Speaking of Walter Reed, as I've mentioned before, and as WTOP and Fox 5 report, its closure has already had a major detrimental effect on Georgia Avenue businesses. These businesses depended largely on Walter Reed's employees as patrons, and without them the businesses lack a customer base. Richard Layman notes that there's a long history of local economies suffering when military bases close. I encourage you to support Ward 4 businesses (and yes, I'm going to work on updating that list...lots more businesses have opened up since I first created it).

    Park View DC reports that the former Lion's Liquor space at 3614 Georgia Avenue is being renovated and will reopen this fall as a more upscale liquor store, which will include a wine bar and possibly food as well.

    DCist has an interview with Sara Polon, proprietor of Takoma's Soupergirl.

    Thursday, September 29, 2011

    Wednesday, September 28, 2011

    Yet another hole appears in the Brightwood Car Barn wall

    I took the above photo this morning. Work is clearly continuing, despite the fact that the building is pending historic landmark status and no raze work is supposed to be done before the October 27 hearing with the Historic Preservation Review Board.

    Walmart assured me via Twitter that work had, in fact, stopped. I replied that that's not the case. The rep has yet to respond:

    Tuesday, September 27, 2011

    Work seems to be continuing on Brightwood Car Barn, despite pending landmark status

    I noticed late last week that a garage door and part of a wall have been removed from the Brightwood Car Barn, despite the fact that the structure is pending historic landmark status and therefore is not supposed to be razed prior to the Historic Preservation Review Board's hearing on October 27. For comparison, this is what the wall looked like before last week:

    Walter Reed has closed. Now is the time for residents to patronize Georgia Avenue businesses.

    The following note was posted to the Shepherd Park listserv yesterday; it expresses much of what I've been feeling lately. There are a lot of cool businesses in Ward 4 that are well worth your patronage.

    Since the decomissioning of Walter Reed Sept. 15, business at many of
    the retail and restaurant establishments on Geogia Avenue going north
    to the Maryland-D.C. line has dropped 20 percent, and more in some
    cases. I have been told of layoffs, curtailed hours, and lack of
    customer traffic in the past week and a half -- and this is down from
    the reduced level of business activity as Walter Reed started winding
    down earlier this year.
    This, I believe, is the time for us as citizens, residents and
    neighbors to make a conscious effort to redirect our dollars toward our
    businesses along Georgia Avenue. This could challenge our
    long-established spending habits. Would you otherwise think about
    switching beauty or nail salons? Or where you get your medicines? Where
    you go out to dinner or get some takeout or delivery? What about where
    you buy gasoline? (For me, megaspills in Alaska and the Gulf of Mexico
    ordinarily deter me from going to Exxon or BP, although my head tells
    me the guy at the cash register had nothing to do with it.)
    But to look at it differently, reduced revenues at the Georgia Avenue
    businesses give our own money more relative clout. This is our chance
    to make the kind of Georgia Avenue that we want to see. And I would
    rather see business succeedeing (even if it requires struggle) than
    businesses collapsing. Let's be friends of, and friends to, Georgia
    Avenue; it will benefit them, and us, both short term and long term.

    Rhode Island Avenue NE faces a lot of the same issues as Georgia Avenue. See this post from the Rhode Island Avenue Insider blog: The key to redevelopment is supporting our local businesses:

    A local developer/property owner recently told me that the communities around RIA have a reputation among the small business/developer community as not supporting the local businesses on RIA. Whether or not this is true, perception is reality. Small businesses like to take chances with other small businesses, so if the ones that are among the first to come to RIA to take a chance are not supported and fail, we can nearly guarantee that others will see this area as not worth their investment. We, as a community, need to change this perception.

    Support Ward 4 businesses.

    Monday, September 26, 2011

    City Gear banner goes up at 6233 Georgia Avenue

    A follow-up to my report on the old Arrow Cleaners space becoming a sporting goods store: with the recent display of the pictured banner, the store revealed itself to be a City Gear. This will be City Gear's second location; their first store is located at 1538 North Capitol Street NW, just south of the Florida Avenue intersection. Their wares consist mainly of sneakers and athletic apparel.

    Tuesday, September 20, 2011

    New series of public forums on Walter Reed redevelopment begins October 5

    From an email:

    The historic closing of the Walter Reed Army Medical Center in August signaled new changes not only for the 120 year old medical campus but also for the city and Ward 4 residents. Last year, several hundred people who live near Walter Reed came to community forums and gave their views about what should be done with the campus. Community input provided a strong foundation for the reuse plan and continues to influence the process.

    The District of Columbia’s Local Redevelopment Authority (“LRA”) completed the Draft Reuse Plan in October of 2010. However, due to changes in the assignment of Federal property, the LRA, the Army and the Department of State have redrawn the boundaries of the WRAMC campus.

    RSVP Today!
    Much of what was decided last year will still be included in the plan that goes forward. The LRA needs additional input from the community and is hosting three forums to discuss the revised reuse plan. The meetings will be held 7:00pm – 9:00pm at a convenient location in Ward 4 that will be announced later.

    Wednesday, October 5, 2011 – Community Meeting

    Thursday, November 17, 2011 – Community Meeting

    Thursday, February 2, 2012 – Final Reuse Plan Presentation

    Visit America Speaks' website for updated information

    Saturday, September 17, 2011

    Ruff N Ready to relocate to 4722 14th Street NW

    The beloved Ruff N Ready Furnishings closed shop at its location at 14th and T Streets over the summer, and word is that the owner has leased the space at 4722 14th Street, between Crittenden and Decatur, which is absolutely outstanding news for the Upper 14th Street business corridor!

    UPDATE: Owner Bill Troy tells me that his projected opening date is October 1, barring any unforeseen complications (fingers crossed!).

    Thursday, September 15, 2011

    Proposed redistricting of ANC4B

    These are the recommendations that ANC4B will send to the Ward 4 Redistricting Task Force, which will meet on Wednesday, September 21. The redistricting would alter the boundaries of five Single Member Districts (4B01, 4B02, 4B03, 4B04, and 4B07) and would go into effect after the 2012 election.


    Tuesday, September 13, 2011

    Historic Preservation Review Board files application to designate Brightwood Car Barn as historic landmark

    From an email from Tim Dennee of the Historic Preservation Office:

    This is to inform you that today the Historic Preservation Review Board has received and filed an application to designate the following property
    as a historic landmark pursuant to the Historic Landmark and Historic
    District Protection Act of 1978 (D.C. Official Code § 6-1101 et seq.):

    Brightwood Street Railroad Company Car Barn
    5917-5929 Georgia Avenue, NW
    Square 2986, Lot 38

    Pursuant to D.C. Official Code § 6-1102(6)(B), the properties are
    considered historic landmarks temporarily, effective the date of filing
    (i.e., immediately).

    Permit applications related to these properties cannot be issued without
    historic preservation review pursuant to D.C. Official Code § 6-1104
    through 6-1108. ...

    We are aware there is a pending application to raze this property. It
    cannot be issued without the necessary review and clearances as stated
    above. Please notify your staff of this matter.

    We are scheduling a hearing on the matter for Thursday, October 27, 2011.

    Thanks to Richard for the tip.

    Brightwood Car Barn HPRB app

    Monday, September 12, 2011

    The state of Brightwood real estate - September 2011

    Realtor Eric Brooks, who wrote up an overview of Brightwood real estate for us back in May, is going to provide us with monthly snapshots of active, sold, and under-contract properties in the neighborhood. Here's the first installment, covering August 2011. I'll post them during the first week of each month (I'm a little late this first time around, due to the fact that I was out of town at the beginning of September). I hope this feature will be useful for current and future Brightwoodians!

    August Active properties on the market:
    39 homes were for sale as of September 1, 2011
    Ranging from $62,000 to $619,900
    3 of these are foreclosed homes and 4 are short sales

    August Active Properties

    August Under-Contract properties:
    18 homes were under contract as of September 1
    These homes should settle by the end of this month
    Ranging from $150,000 to $519,900
    3 of these were foreclosed homes and 6 are short sales

    August 2011 Under Contract

    August Sold numbers:
    13 homes were sold in the month of August
    Ranging from $160,000 to $610,000
    Zero of these were foreclosed homes and 3 were short sales

    August 2011 Sold

    Info provided by Eric Brooks, a Long and Foster Real Estate agent who works to deliver exceptional results for his clients in Brightwood and beyond.
    Contact to set up an appointment at 301-986-6476 or