Friday, January 27, 2012

Walter Reed reuse plan approved by LRA, will be presented at public meeting next week

The final reuse plan for the Walter Reed site was approved by the Local Redevelopment Authority (LRA) at its meeting on Wednesday evening. The plan will be sent to the City Council as a bill for approval before being sent to the Department of Housing and Urban Development.

The LRA voted unanimously to include language in the final plan that will prohibit a bus storage or bus maintenance facility on the site. However, when it was suggested that language prohibiting a streetcar maintenance or storage facility should be included as well, the LRA decided against it, as not enough is known about how the streetcar infrastructure on Georgia Avenue will work. Including language prohibiting streetcar facilities could potentially hurt the system in the future.

As for a timeline for the development, the southeast corner of the site, at Georgia and Aspen, will be first, with construction projected to begin in 2014. The northeast corner of the site, at Georgia and Fern, which is slated for commercial development, is projected to begin in 2018. Planners stressed that these timelines could change according to market conditions. Estimated cost of the entire redevelopment is between $625 and $640 million. More details are available at Housing Complex's report.

The plan will be presented to the public at a special presentation next week:
When: Thursday, February 2, 7:00 - 9:00 PM
Where: Tifereth Israel Congregation, 7701 16th St NW
Childcare will be provided during meeting hours

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

DC could really use small business incubators for culinary entrepreneurs. Til then, we have the Grey Market.

Lately I've been hearing quite a bit about the District's need for shared kitchen spaces that would help independent food businesses get started. Cake Love owner Warren Brown mentioned this need at a Ward 4 small business panel convened by Max Skolnik last month. And the Office of Planning, in the recently released draft revitalization strategy for upper 14th Street, mentions food incubators as one of several possible uses for the vacant storefronts within the commercial nodes on 14th (the plan even includes a photo of Boston's Crop Circle Kitchen culinary incubator as an illustration of what could be).

Shared kitchen spaces aren't a reality in upper 14th Street's commercial buildings yet, but this Saturday we will be graced with the next best thing: for the second time, the DC Grey Market, a pop-up culinary incubator, will be setting up at 1365 Kennedy Street NW (located on the northwesteast corner of Kennedy Street and Colorado Avenue). Despite some problems during the last Grey Market at this location (most notably a power outage), organizer Maya Robinson told me that her experience there was extremely positive (thanks to host Amanda Huron) and that she was looking forward to returning.

The last Grey Market was very well-attended. I hope this week's event is an even bigger success, and draws further attention to upper 14th Street as a good location for food incubators.

The DC Grey Market, Saturday, January 28, 1-4 pm, 1365 Kennedy Street NW (entrance at northwesteast corner of Kennedy and Colorado). Admission $2 (ticket can be purchased in advance here).

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Link roundup; Walter Reed LRA meeting this Wednesday

The Walter Reed Local Redevelopment Authority (LRA) will hold its penultimate meeting on Wednesday, January 25 at 7:00 pm at Fort Stevens Recreation Center (1327 Van Buren Street, NW). The public is invited to observe the meeting. The LRA Team will present the proposed final Re-use Plan and NOIs for a recommendation vote by the LRA Committee. The Final Re-use Plan will be presented on Thursday, Feb. 2, 7:00 pm (location will be announced at a later date).


Monday, January 23, 2012

More information on Takoma Central (formerly Ecco Park)

Via DCMud, further thoughts on the effect Takoma Central, the development formerly known as Ecco Park, will have on our area's growth:

The development may fill in a key gap between the bustle and activity of the Metro station and the quarter-mile walk to Carroll Avenue along Takoma Park's main street with well-kept sidewalks and quaint Victorian-era street lighting.


The construction of Takoma Central will go a long way to renovating a corridor on both sides of the Metro line that the District and Maryland have been seeking to make ripe for transit-oriented development projects.

On the West side of the Metro line, the District Office of Planning has (been) looking at possible enhancements to the neighborhood near the dormant Takoma Theater and its surrounds since Anthony Williams' tenure as Washington D.C.'s Mayor.

The Office of Planning's 2002 report shared the puzzlement over why TOD near Takoma Metro wasn't forthcoming. "Neither Carroll nor 4th Street have developed the critical mass of retail, commercial and housing that their Maryland neighbor enjoys, despite being anchored by the most heavily used pedestrian Metro transit station in the District of Columbia."

Saturday, January 21, 2012

What happens when politicians delay their snow shoveling duties

This morning, Ward 4 Council candidate Max Skolnik and a team of volunteers set out to do the good civic duty of clearing snow and ice off of our sidewalks. Around 11:30 am, they came across the unshoveled sidewalk on the west side of the 4300 block of Georgia Avenue...which happens to be right in front of incumbent Muriel Bowser's campaign office. A golden political photo opportunity ensued. These are the photos sent by Skolnik and his campaign manager Johnny Mathias via Twitter, along with a few other astute comments:

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Dog shot by MPD officer at 14th and Tuckerman

From the Post:

The dog was shot near 14th and Tuckerman streets NW, about a half mile south of the old Walter Reed Army Medical Center, about 5:45 p.m., police said. The dog, a German shepherd, got loose from a yard and bit a man and woman. The dog then attacked a man in a wheelchair, but did not bite him, a police source said.

Watch NBC4's report here.

Friday, January 13, 2012

Ecco Park sold to Federal Capital Partners, plans for "Takoma Central" announced

Federal Capital Partners announced today that they have acquired the project that we've known as Ecco Park. Apparently the name of the development has been changed to Takoma Central. Read the press release after the jump.

Public meeting on planned modernizations of Coolidge and Roosevelt High Schools, Jan. 18, 6-8pm

Councilmember Muriel Bowser, Council Chairman Kwame Brown and Ward 4 State Board of Education representative D. Kamili Anderson are holding a special community meeting next week to discuss the planned modernizations of both Coolidge High School and Roosevelt High School.

From an email:

WHEN: Wednesday, January 18, 6-8pm
WHERE: Calvin Coolidge High School, 6315 5th Street NW

Are these plans in jeopardy? COME FIND OUT!

Will Roosevelt be renovated as scheduled in 2012, and Coolidge in 2013? COME FIND OUT!

Are closure discussions in the works for either school?

And most importantly, come and let us know where YOU stand on the education of our high school youth in Ward 4!

We ask that all alumni, neighbors, and parents of Roosevelt and Coolidge High School come out to attend. Also, anyone concerned about education and educational equity in the District of Columbia -- please join us!

For additional information, please Ebonee Price in Councilmember Bowser's office, 202-724-8052

You ask, Golden Heart Yoga listens: prenatal yoga classes begin January 22

In my previous post introducing Golden Heart Yoga, I mentioned that they've received lots of requests for prenatal yoga classes and were working on getting those started. Well, it turns out that Golden Heart works awfully fast: per their Facebook page, prenatal classes will begin on January 22.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

A look inside Georgia Avenue's new Golden Heart Yoga studio


Golden Heart Yoga opened at the beginning of January at 4804 Georgia Avenue NW (right across the street from Restaurant Row, which includes Fusion, Moroni & Bros, and Ras, as well as Art Under Pressure). Owners Elizabeth Lloyd and Julie Eisenberg live in Petworth and are already proving their dedication to serving their own community. They employ five teachers, and most live in the neighborhood. Their clientele so far has included mostly residents of Brightwood, Petworth, and 16th Street Heights.

The space, a former funeral home, came with perfect wood floors for yoga (when I saw the floors I assumed Julie and Elizabeth had them installed specially, but Julie assured me that they were already there). There are three separate spaces which can be used for classes and other client services (Julie noted that one of the rooms would be perfect for offering child care while mothers are taking classes; that service isn't offered yet, but it's part of Golden Heart's future plans).

Perhaps surprisingly, the majority of clients so far have been beginners, so Golden Heart has added more beginner level classes to its schedule. They also provide training in Kundalini, a form that very few DC studios offer. Another yoga style that has been requested by several clients so far: prenatal, which Golden Heart will begin offering next month.

Golden Heart is running a grand opening special throughout the month of January: you can get an 8-class pass for $40 (cash only, please). All classes have to be used by January 31, but purchasers are eligible to roll it over into a $75 unlimited monthly pass. Not a bad deal.



Wednesday, January 11, 2012

New residents and arts spaces could spark Ward 4's 14th Street

Can 14th Street north of Columbia Heights become a lively and successful commercial area once again? A new plan suggests finding spots to catalyze development, possibly including the WMATA bus barn or surrounding properties, and making a piece of the corridor into a place for artists to live and work more cheaply.

This part of DC boomed in the mid-20th century, spurred by population growth and easy access to transit via the 14th Street streetcar line. The corridor began to decline after 1970, as the District's population decreased. As a result, the commercial nodes of central 14th Street have struggled for several decades.

Now, as the city's population begins to grow once again, DC's Office of Planning studied ways to make the area more attractive for residents and businesses, both old and new. After a series of community workshops in 2010 and 2011 with residents and stakeholders of the central 14th Street corridor, OP has released its draft plan and is looking for public comment until February 3.

New bar at 441 Kennedy Street looks close to opening, albeit with a most unfortunate name

I've been keeping my eye on 441 Kennedy Street for the past couple of months, as the buildout of what one of the contractors told me would be a sports bar progressed. The interior is looking pretty nice (sorry I have no interior photos to share). When I passed by yesterday I saw that exterior signage had been installed, which is great, although I have to admit that the name of the establishment makes my heart, um, ache just a does the misspelling of the word "restaurant".


Sunday, January 8, 2012

Senbeb Natural Food gets a new facade, as well as an interior renovation

Senbeb Natural Food and Cafe, at 6224 3rd Street NW, has a newly-painted facade.


As you can see, they're also busy renovating the interior. They'll be working on it all night tonight, and plan to open for business tomorrow. Here's what the exterior looked like before:

senbeb old

Senbeb is a neighborhood treasure that often gets overlooked due to its somewhat off the beaten path location. If you've never sampled it, give Senbeb a try. I particularly like their black bean burger.


Saturday, January 7, 2012

New CrossFit gym, Second Wind Training, opens at 14th and Longfellow


Second Wind Training opened at the end of last week at 5509 14th Street NW (a storefront at the street level of the Longfellow Flats). The CrossFit facility offers boot camps, personal training, and endurance coaching.

The space was built out pretty quickly. Owner Steve Dolge signed his lease in October, and since then work progressed steadily in order to open in early January (high season in the gym business).

Second Wind began in the spring of 2009, after Dolge was laid off from his job of 15 years at WTOP. His venue was Lafayette Elementary School in Chevy Chase DC. When he started looking to expand into his own space, his main goal was to locate within a reasonable distance of his Chevy Chase client base. He sees Brightwood as a perfect location, as it's convenient for his Chevy Chase clients while having potential to gain new members from Brightwood, 16th Street Heights, and other surrounding neighborhoods that have been sorely lacking gym facilities.

He also noted the advantage of being within easy running distance of Rock Creek Park, where he intends to hold training sessions in the spring.

Dolge hopes to eventually buy the space and "continue to be a part of the improvement of the neighborhood," he said.

The interior looks very good. I was particularly impressed by the shower facilities:


Friday, January 6, 2012

Vida Senior Residences opens at 1333 Missouri Avenue NW

A ribbon cutting was held yesterday at the new Vida Senior Residences in Brightwood. The building, located at 1333 Missouri Avenue NW, contains 36 units of affordable housing, with rents ranging from $286 to $851 a month, based on income. With the opening of its Brightwood location, Vida hopes to alleviate overcrowding at its original location at 1842 Calvert Street NW in Adams Morgan.

According to The Washington Post, 300 people have already applied for the 36 apartments. The building will be fully occupied within six months.

The state of Brightwood real estate - January 2012

Time to check in on the past month's home sales, properties under contract, and active properties on the market. Thanks to realtor Eric Brooks for compiling this information.

December Active properties on the market:
21 properties are for sale now (down from 32 in November)
Ranging from $84,999 to $549,900
Two of these are foreclosed homes and three are short sales

December Active

Properties that went under contract in December:
20 homes are currently under contract (the average property is the high $200K's)
These homes should settle over the next 30 days
Ranging from $52,000 to $785,000
Two of these were foreclosed homes and nine are short sales (up from five last month)

December Under Contract

Properties that were sold in December:
11 homes sold in the month of December
Ranging from $212,000 to $679,900
Nine sales from the past month were normal sales (two were REO's).

December 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

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Muriel Bowser calls for Harry Thomas Jr.'s resignation

Ward 4 Councilmember Muriel Bowser has released the following statement in response to the felony charges that have been filed against Ward 5 Councilmember Harry Thomas Jr.:

“With sadness for what this means for our City and the people of Ward 5, I call on Councilmember Harry Thomas, Jr. to resign. The Council must return its focus to the business of governing our City: creating jobs, accelerating education reform, and delivering high quality services to our residents."

HTJ Resignation

Fire in Curtis Chevrolet building early this morning

At about 3:30 this morning, the above messages were sent from the Twitter account of the Washington DC Fire Fighters Association Local 36.

I stopped by at about 8:30. There was minimal noticeable fire damage from the front of the building.

This is the second time this week that a vacant building on Upper Georgia Avenue has caught fire. Early yesterday morning, fire fighters quelled a blaze at 7203 Georgia Avenue. That building is a two-story carport in the rear of the lot. No injuries were reported.

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Robbery last night, 900 block of Longfellow St. NW

From MPD:

At approximately 10:45 pm in the 900 block of Longfellow St., NW, a suspect brandished a handgun and demanded money from the complainant. Two other suspects participated in robbing the complainant. The suspects fled in an unknown direction. There were no injuries to any parties.

Anyone with information regarding this or any other crime is asked to call 1-888-919-CRIM[E].

Lookouts: (All suspects were wearing ski masks)
S-1: 18-21yr, BM, 5’7-5’9”, 160lb, Black coat blue jeans – ARMED with handgun
S-2: 18-21yr, BM, 5’7-5’9”, 160lb, Black coat blue jeans
S-3: 18-21yr, BM, 5’7-5’9”, 160lb, Black coat blue jeans

- Lieutenant Mike Whiteside