Monday, February 28, 2011

Coming soon: Takoma's newest eatery, Soupergirl

When asked what's up with the former Blue Lotus space (next to Mayorga, under the Takoma Metro overpass), my trusty informant Roz Grigsby of the Old Takoma Business Association said that it's being built out to accommodate Soupergirl, "bringing the comfort and warmth of homemade soup directly to your door." No opening date has been set (and I'm also not sure if the space will include dine-in capability, but I sure hope it does).

UPDATE! Soupergirl proprietor Sara Polon says: "To answer your question, we will absolutely have dine-in options. Basically, this shop will be our 'hub.' We plan to greatly expand our delivery options, add more pick up locations, and also have a retail front for the neighborhood. Customers can come in and pick up cold soup to go. Or, we'll have hot soup ready to serve. Customers will be able to eat at the shop or take it to go - whatever they'd like! It will be a very relaxed atmosphere (self service - no wait staff!) - we hope people will come and visit!"

Free financial management workshop for small businesses this Thursday

The Beacon Brightwood Business Alliance has been taking measures to help our area's small businesses face the challenges that will be brought on should Wal-Mart's proposal to build on Square 2986 go through. All Brightwood area small businesses are invited to attend a free financial management workshop this Thursday evening.

What: "Managing Financial Growth of Your Business in the 21st Century"
When: Thursday, March 3, 6:30-8:30p
Where: Posse Construction Sevices, 5706 Georgia Ave. NW

The purpose of the workshop is to provide financial management tools for business owners. The workshop will cover an array of topics from building your business credit to tips on reading different types of financial statements. Additionally, Latino Economic Development Corporation (LEDC) and the Washington Area Community Investment Fund (WACIF) will provide information about micro loans.

Get your Respect DC yard sign!

Yard signs (and window signs for apartment-dwellers) that show support for the Respect DC campaign are available! If you'd like one contact thebrightwoodian @

About Respect DC and the Living Wages Healthy Communities Coalition: "We are working to educate community members about Walmart’s checkered track record of paying poverty-level wages, forcing competitors to close, causing a net loss of jobs, breaking its promises, and multiple lawsuits alleging that the company discriminates against female employees and engages in wage theft, including the the largest sex discrimination class action in U.S history.

"We want to ensure that no Walmart is built here unless the company shows that it respects DC by agreeing to an enforceable community benefits agreement guaranteeing that it will treat its workers with dignity, provide full-time living wage jobs with affordable health and retirement benefits, and help our neighborhoods improve their economic standing and quality of life."

This Friday: Kennedy St. community tree planting

Image: Casey Trees

When: Friday, March 4, 9a - noon
Where: Meet at Triangle Park at intersection of Kennedy St., 2nd St., and Missouri Ave. Planting will progress toward the 900 block of Kennedy Street

DDOT and Casey Trees are hosting a community tree-planting for the Kennedy St. NW business district this Friday. Head on over and help spruce up Kennedy and safety supplies will be provided, and bagels and coffee will be served.

Friday, February 25, 2011

Rundown of development on Georgia Avenue

Courtesy of DCmud. The majority of the sites are on Lower and Middle Georgia Ave, of course. Upper GA is awaiting its turn for the Great Streets treatment.

Petworth Library grand reopening Monday

The Petworth Neighborhood Library, having undergone a $12.4 million dollar renovation, will reopen to the public on Monday (ribbon cutting ceremony at 10:30 am).

Check out TBD's sneak preview slideshow.

Tregoning on how GSA's spurning of Walter Reed land is a game-changer

DC Office of Planning director Harriet Tregoning was on Kojo Nnamdi's show yesterday, and she had some interesting things to say about how the land that the General Services Administration rescinded could impact Walter Reed's future redevelopment. If the city manages to acquire all of the Georgia Avenue frontage, the plan could be significantly altered to include a "major employment center," said Tregoning.

Tregoning: Well, I wish I could be a lot more specific about Walter Reed. But the federal government has not yet told us exactly how they want to dispose of the sites, so we were well along in the planning process that kind of divided the site, I would say roughly east and west. But now, it looks like we might divide it more north and south, where we would get all of the Georgia Avenue frontage potentially. So we're still talking to the army about how that's gonna happen. GSA is apparently no longer interested in any part of the site, so it's really the state department, the army and us, talking about this.

Nnamdi: General Services Administration being GSA. So all of those discussions that my neighbors and I went to were in vain?

Tregoning: No. Because we're gonna still get most of the site that we did the planning around, but it does change the picture a bit, you know, if we're able to get the entire Georgia Avenue frontage. And we might put roads in different places. We -- and then we might even look at some other, perhaps more ambitious uses, if we have a large site that could potentially be a major employment center and the ability to accommodate the transportation that would be coming to and from.

Wal-Mart was also discussed at another point during the show. Tregoning answered a question about why Wal-Mart is being "forced" on Ward 4: "Well, that's also a good question in terms of forcing it on places. I mean, basically, I wish I could say that we dictate exactly what and where things get located. We zone, and if it's a permissible use by the zoning, it really depends on whether there's a market for it." Unfortunately she didn't touch on the traffic issues that a development of its stature will bring to the Georgia/Missouri Avenue NW node; a discussion that will come up once the Large Tract Review is released.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

MPD identifies people most likely "to be shot or shoot" -- and 39 of them are members of Ward 4 gangs

The Metropolitan Police Department has created a list of MVPs (that's Most Violent People) who are most likely "to be shot or shoot". Topping the list of MVPs are 39 members of two gangs in Ward 4, according to the Examiner.

Takoma listserv, never failing to entertain

Thread topic: "Strange canine type creature in my backyard."

Tk resident 1: "I just saw a mottled grey and brown, very skinny, short haired animal in my yard...It had a long bare tail with white hair at the very end. Looked like a cross between a chihuahua and a whippet. Was very skittish and ran away as soon as I came out the door. About 18" tall and longer."

Tk resident 2: "Could it be a possum?"

Tk resident 3: "Sounds like a skinny fox or a coyote?"

Tk resident 4: "I saw it the other day!"

Tk resident 5: "A chupacabras, perhaps?"

I'm voting for the chupacabras. Since it's obviously too small to be a Yeti or Sasquatch.

Beware the Takoma Chupacabra!

UPDATE! Latest (and most plausible) explanation is that it's a fox with mange. Animal control has been alerted. As much as I was hoping that it was indeed an odd, cryptozoological creature, I'm afraid that theory's been debunked.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

DC Bicycle Advisory Council is seeking a Ward 4 advisor

From an e-mail:

The DC Bicycle Advisory Council currently has 4 vacancies. Councilmembers Bowser (Ward 4), Alexander (Ward 7), Barry (Ward 8), and Biddle (At-large interim) each have vacancies.

Those interested shall send letters of interest and resumes to the councilmember by which they wish to be appointed. For more information, please attend the our next meeting on Wednesday, March 2nd at 6pm at 441 4th St NW 11th floor South. If you cannot attend the meeting, contact Meredith Begin for more information.

The District of Columbia Bicycle Advisory Council (BAC) is a body established by law (DC Code sec. 50-1604) to advise the Mayor and District agencies on matters pertaining to bicycling in the District, and to make recommendations to the District’s Bicycle Coordinator on the budget and focus and implementation of the District’s Comprehensive Bicycle Transportation and Safety Program.

We are particularly looking for individuals that can and will attend meetings on the first Wednesday of odd numbered months from 6pm until 8pm and also be able to actively participate in at least one of three committees which meet during even numbered months. Those committees are Safety, Education and Enforcement; Legislative; and Facilities.

If you have further questions, please contact Meredith Begin, 202-449-0401.

Friday, February 18, 2011

Free screening of Wal-Mart: The High Cost of Low Price tonight

FREE Screening!
Wal-Mart: The High Cost of Low Price
When: Friday, February 18, 7:00 pm to 9:00 pm
Where: Plymouth Congregational Church, 5301 North Capitol St. NE

At a community meeting in Ward 4 last week, Wal-Mart spokesperson Keith Morris received a verbal invitation to this screening by a resident. Morris responded by saying that the movie was "a few years old," seeming to imply that the deeply personal stories of Wal-Mart's impact on individuals, families, and communities that are portrayed in the documentary aren't relevant nowadays. Though Morris is correct that the doc is a few years old (it was released in 2005), the the company is not without its issues today.

So it's unlikely that Morris will attend the event (he's based in Bentonville anyway, and though he's been traveling to DC very frequently lately, I'm not sure if he's here tonight), but you should!

It's free and open to the public. Light refreshments will be provided and a discussion of Wal-Mart's potential impact on the District of Columbia will follow the screening.

(If you're unable to come to the screening, you can watch the doc online at your convenience.)

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Update on construction of Petworth Safeway: don't hold your breath

Plans are still moving forward, but the final product will be a long time coming. That's what representatives from Duball LLC, the developers of the mixed-use project that will replace Petworth's Sketchy Safeway, said at ANC 4C's monthly meeting last night. They're looking at a projected opening date in (at least) 2014, if not later. And in the time between demolition of the current building and construction of the new one, Petworth will be Safeway-less (though the company hopes to find a temporary space in which to locate their pharmacy during that time). Park View DC has more details from the meeting.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Healthy Bites organic carryout opens in old Crown Bakery space

As I gazed out the window of the 79 bus earlier, I was surprised to see the above sign gazing right back at me. Healthy Bites, an organic meal preparation service formerly headquartered in Alexandria, has moved into Crown Bakery's old storefront at 5329 Georgia Avenue NW.

As far as I'm concerned, the arrival of any food-related business that has the word "healthy" in its name on Georgia Avenue is cause for celebration, so I had to go in right away. I talked to the owner, Bonnie Coberly, who lives nearby, and we discussed the abundance of not-very-good carryouts in the neighborhood. However, she said that she sees a lot of potential for change here, so when the old Crown Bakery space (and its already-installed kitchen) became available, she jumped at the opportunity to add a carryout element to her business, while maintaining her prepared meals service at the same location (and leaving behind the shared kitchen space in Alexandria that Healthy Bites previously occupied).

She's serving an impressive array of salads, sandwiches, wraps, quesadillas, dinner platters, and juices/smoothies. They're even open for breakfast!

Healthy Bites will have its grand opening celebration this Saturday, February 19, from 9am to 6pm. Stop in and sample what they have to offer, welcome them to the neighborhood, and rejoice that we have a new carryout that serves food which doesn't leave you feeling like a disgusting blob after consuming it!

Monday, February 14, 2011

ANC 4A meets tomorrow; plus links of interest

ANC 4A meets tomorrow night (Tuesday 2/15) at 7:15 pm at the Fort Stevens Recreation Center, 1327 Van Buren Street NW. Meeting topic: Wal-Mart. As far as I know, this is the first meeting that 4A has devoted to that topic.

Speaking of which, Rebuilding Place in the Urban Space shows us an anonymous flyer that's been distributed to Ward 4 homes.

PoP says that Mother Virginia Flowers, currently at Georgia and Allison Streets, is moving south to 3903 Georgia Ave. NW.

And today Councilmember Bowser used her new Twitter account to call Marion Barry out on his most recent act of ridiculousness. "CM Barry insists that new DOES director hire a man as part of her executive team. Excuse me? I dont remember any fuss w/ all male leadrship." Alan Suderman delves deeper, and comes up with a few priceless Barry quotes in the process.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Update on Office of Planning's plan for Upper 14th Street

The Office of Planning held another in a series of public meetings to discuss its revitalization strategy for Upper 14th Street on January 19 at the Kingsbury School.

I was unable to attend it, but I want to point you toward Stephen Miller's How Can 14th Street Thrive Between Target and Wal-Mart? piece on Greater Greater Washington, which contains a summary of the event.

The Office of Planning's last meeting regarding Upper 14th Street was held on November 17, which was the day after we first learned about Wal-Mart's intentions for Square 2986. So though the Wal-Mart topic didn't come up at the November meeting (many meeting attendees hadn't even heard the news yet), I was curious to hear how that news might alter OP's Upper 14th Street plan. According to the GGW piece:

Analysis for the northernmost node, centered on Colorado Avenue, had to be reset after the plans for Walmart were announced. Because proximity to Walmart would significantly impact what kind of retail could be successful at this end of the corridor, Arnold recommended that the area build upon the relocation of renowned artist Sam Gilliam to the neighborhood and build an arts cluster, creating a destination for unique products that have no overlap with Walmart's offerings. This concept for this type of arts cluster is consistent with Office of Planning's own Creative Action Agenda, which seeks to foster artistic and creative industries within the District.

It's good to see that OP is already thinking about how to brace the nearby retail nodes for Wal-Mart's proposed arrival, and about ways to mitigate its impact on the smaller neighborhood-oriented commercial corridors. And developing the commercial node around the 14th and Colorado intersection as an arts district cluster would be lovely. Here's hoping the plan stays on track.

OP's final public meeting on the Upper 14th Street plan will be held on Thursday, February 24 at 7 pm at the Kingsbury School, 5000 14th Street NW.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Cool new tea/spice shop, Si Tea, in Takoma

Si Tea opened a few weeks ago at 6902 Fourth Street NW, just north of Butternut Street. I was made aware of it thanks to a reader tip; though I've biked down Fourth Street several times since they opened, their signage is so subdued I might not have noticed them for quite a while.

Upon entering I was offered a sample of their Chai of the day:

And I checked out their impressive collection of black, green, and herbal teas...

As well as their cozy seating areas (apologies for the slanty camera work here!):

I was told they serve a soup of the day as well, and that today's was a spinach dal (which I would love to have tried, but my time was too limited...looking forward to trying another soup on another day).

Overall, it looks like a fantastic addition to the Fourth Street commercial strip.

Building a Better Brightwood meeting tomorrow night

From the Beacon Brightwood Business Alliance:

Building a Better Brightwood Town Hall
Lets Talk About our Business and Walmart
Thursday, February 10th 2011
Emery United Methodist Church
Fellowship Hall
6100 Georgia Ave NW
Meeting begins at 6:30pm

The Building a Better Brightwood Town Hall meeting is a community planning forum that informs the Brightwood community of business, workforce and real estate development plans, initiatives, and opportunities from DC government and local organizations.

At the Town Hall meeting Brightwood community members will learn how to influence and benefit from initiatives and services provided by government agencies and community organizations. Come and be apart of Building a Brightwood, that provides business-owners and residents with much needed resources, jobs, safety, and prosperity.

RSVP here.