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:

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

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 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.