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

Arrow Cleaners space at 6233 Georgia Avenue to become sporting goods store

I noticed that the old Arrow Cleaners space at 6233 Georgia Avenue is being built out. The DCRA permit in the window says that the scope of the approved project involves "change from retail dry cleaning service to retail sporting goods sales."

Friday, September 9, 2011

Doggie Swim Day at Upshur Pool is on for tomorrow, rain or shine!

I was concerned that this year's Doggie Swim Day might get rained out, but DPR says that the event will go on rain or shine. So bring yourselves and your dogs over to Upshur Pool, 4300 Arkansas Avenue NW, on Saturday from 12 noon through 4 pm!

Thursday, September 8, 2011

DCRA issues stop-work order to Foulger-Pratt

Word from DCRA is that a stop-work order and citation have been issued to the developer Foulger-Pratt for beginning to demolish the Brightwood Car Barn without obtaining the appropriate permits.

UPDATE: DCRA has apparently done the research and discovered that Foulger-Pratt actually did apply for the necessary permits, but the address of the building was off by a few numbers (!), hence the confusion. The stop-work order has been lifted.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Message from DCRA director Nicholas Majett regarding the Brightwood Car Barn

The Department of Consumer and Regulatory Affairs (DCRA) sent its chief building inspector to the Curtis Chevrolet site last night after being alerted that the demolition of the car barn had begun, even though the owner did not have a permit to do so. DCRA director Nicholas Majett followed up today:

"The inspection revealed that a section of the roof was removed. While questionable it did not rise to the level of demolition or raze. The owner has not applied for a permit. We intend to question the owner and then make a decision on whether or not any enforcement action is warranted."

Environmental issues will slow down Ecco Park construction

Seth Grimes of Takoma Park sent this to the TakomaDC email list regarding the site of the Ecco Park development:

An update on the "Ecco Park" construction site on Carroll St. NW between
Maple and Cedar --

Workers excavating the site discovered 5 additional, unexpected
fuel-storage tanks beyond the one they were expecting. According to
on-site manager Ike Singh, there is soil contamination around the tanks.
They don't know whether any of the tanks still have fuel in them. The
tanks and contaminated soil will have to be removed.

Mark Sherman, a nearby resident, alerted ANC Commissioner Sara Green (and
me) and the crew alerted the District Department of the Environment.

Naturally, clean-up will introduce additional delays into the project.

ANC Sara Green follows up:

Ms. Fianna Dhil, of the DC Department of the Environment (DOE), tells me that DOE is monitoring the site. It's OK to smell gasoline, but the gasoline should not be running off into the street or out of the site.

If you see runoff, or any other environmental issue that concerns you, call DOE at 202 535-2600 or write to Ms. Dhil at

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Shooting on 4th Street between Buchanan and Crittenden early this morning

From Fourth District Commander Kimberly Chisley Missouri:

"Around 1am today, a complainant reported being robbed and subsequently shot by a light complexioned black male. The complainant was transported for medical treatment of a superficial wound. The complainant could not advise the location of the robbery however a canvass was conducted by officers in the area surrounding 4th and Buchanan St NW with negative results. Detectives are continuing their investigation into this matter. If anyone heard or observed anything, please call 1-888-919-CRIME."

Beware: new speed cameras on Military Road and Missouri Avenue

MPD installed 19 new speed cameras at various points in the city at the beginning of September. Four are in our area:

  • Military Road .2 miles west of the 16th Street ramp NW, southwest bound – speed limit 35 mph
  • Military Road .1 miles prior to 17th Street NW, northeast bound – speed limit 35 mph
  • 600 block of Missouri Avenue NW, northwest bound – speed limit 30 mph
  • 600 block of Missouri Avenue NW, southeast bound – speed limit 30 mph

Photos: Demolition of Brightwood Car Barn begins

Roof partially removed.

Interior of the Car Barn...look up, you can see sky where the roof used to be.

The Brightwood Car Barn, one of the few standing car barns from the era of DC's first streetcars, is now in the first stages of demolition, despite past efforts of the DC Preservation League and other preservationists to save it. Walmart and Foulger-Pratt have said that they intend to use the bricks from the car barn to construct part of the Walmart store that is planned to be built on the site.

UPDATE: I spoke with ANC Doug Smith and he confirmed what I suspected; the ANC was not informed that the demolition was moving ahead. This has taken everyone by surprise.

ANOTHER UPDATE: CM Bowser said that DCRA is sending an inspector over.

AND ANOTHER UPDATE: DCRA's chief building inspector visited the site last night (Tuesday, 9/6); here is what DCRA director Nicholas Majett had to say following the inspection.

UPDATE 09/08/11 12pm DCRA has issued a citation and a stop-work order to Foulger-Pratt.

Saturday, September 3, 2011

It will be a great day when the Georgia Avenue Julia’s Empanadas starts to keep consistent hours.

Photo taken at 6:30 pm on a Saturday evening. For the store to be dark at this hour is unacceptable.

Yes, I've complained about this before, and it still irks me. I would eat a ton more empanadas than I do if Julia's started keeping consistent hours and their food was available more often. I'm sure plenty of other people would as well.