Friday, March 30, 2007

Spring is Sprung

Blooming Pear tree in Eckington

Everyone is all Gaa Gaa about the cherry blossoms this time of year, which are beautiful. However, other blooming trees add to the spring beauty; Magnolia, Pear, Forsythia. Do your best to get outside and enjoy the weather and the budding foliage. DC is great in spring.

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

New Development for 1901 Lincoln Rd

The eyesore that is 1901 Lincoln Avenue NE, has been sitting for years. The boarded-up apartment building in Eckington at Lincoln Road NE and T Street NE was sold for $4,000,000; one million lower than the asking price.

Recently, there have been workers gutting the place, and obvious signs of interior work. Thanks to Kris Hammond, who has found that the "Lincoln Road" Condos are being developed by KL Properties . This is the same group who is creating a development at 300 L St NE.

I hope to report on more on this in the coming days.

Move Over Fur, Ibeza is Coming

Note this press release highlighted in the Bloomingdale listserv.


For Immediate Release

March 27, 2007 Media Contact:
Marquis Perkins
Marketing Director
1222 First Street, NE
Washington, DC
Business: (202) 234-9225


Washington, D.C. – Through the vision of entrepreneurs Jon Han, Eric Clay, Adam Needham, Allah Tung, and Aldo Vuong, Washington, D.C., will soon be embarking upon a taste of nightlife that will exceed any other nightclub experience ever imagined in the nation's capital --- Ibiza.

Ibiza, with over $6 million dollars of interior renovations, is a lavish 30,000 square foot oasis, located at 1222 First Street, NE (formerly the Sodibar Systems Warehouse). The stunning interior includes two mezzanine VIP terraces, waterfalls, a state of the art $1million dollar sound system (the only one of it's kind in the U.S.), seven bars, gourmet buffet, a 50,000 LED light wall on the dance floor, stainless steel and glass d├ęcor, and high definition cameras that will broadcast events live from Ibiza on the internet. Ibiza will open to the public in May 2007, five days a week, featuring a 6PM Happy Hour, and closing at 3AM.

Ibiza, home to some of the hottest promoters in the city, will also feature world-class DJs and celebrity hosts using Ibiza as their venue, not merely for revelry, but for endless, lavish, state of the art entertainment.

Friday, March 23, 2007

More Development on Its Way

Please check out this post by DCMUD on planned development on the WMATA grounds next to the Brentwood shopping center. This sounds like a great concept, only time will tell if the execution will match the concept.

Hopefully there will be a great mix of restaurants and stores that will turn Eckington and Brentwood into a destination.

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

White Collar Litter

Many of you are aware that we had an election back in November, 2006. Many people ran for various and asundry positions. Prestigious positions like; Mayor, ANC, City Council etc. One way to advertise candidacy, and to allow supporters to show their allegiance, many candidates print and distribute lawn or lightpole signage. These signs are full of hope, pride and promise. The signs are bright and glossy, shiny and new. Now four months later, many of these signs remain.

I find it infuriating that the people who have asked for the trust and support of the community, are also the ones who are adding to the litter and shabby appearance of our neighborhoods. Those who support beautification projects of our streets have shirked their responsibilities to clean up their trash. Take some time (or pay some of the many unemployed in the city) to go around and tear down your old campaign signs. Show the residents that you really do care how our streets look, rather than leaving a memento of your own narcissism. To me, your trash is no different than a broken Old English bottle or the remains of a Popeye's three piece box on the sidewalk.

Do your civic duty.

(PS, for all of you that still have old political bumper stickers on your cars, they arent impressing anyone. John Kerry lost 3 years ago, and Al Gore 7. Get over it.)

Friday, March 16, 2007

Nehi and Inca.

No, these are not kinds of soft drinks. There has been a rash of tagging by two people in the truxton circle area; Inca and Nehi. My guess is that they are part of 5th and O, or another hood gang. Their tags are everywhere in the Truxton Circle area. Any ideas on who these people are, and how we can stop their tagging?

From Bloomingdale resident Sara:

Mayor Fenty and a "Clean DC" team / Graffiti Busters were in Bloomingdale / North Capitol Main Street Wednesday afternoon at the corner of North Capitol and R street removing graffiti on the almost end row house of the on the south side of the North Cap and R NW corner. This is the 3 story house that abuts the one store vacant "business" - where the "artists" can stand on the roof of the one story building to paint the 2nd/3rd story side of the row house.

Major Fenty mentioned this - and a short news/video clip was shown - on his weekly "ask the Mayor" segment on NBC Channel 4 local morning news. (on Thursday mornings)

They were using a a pressure washer to blast off the paint vs just covering it up again. It was reported this house had been hit several times.

Noticed also was that Graffiti Busters were very prompt in removing huge graffiti off the historic Fire House
at Quincy Place NW. Other smaller graffiti in the area remains, but the graffiti on the Fire House was hugely obvious on the commuter route.

See graffiti? Call 727-1000 and ask for the Graffiti removal. The graffiti around the Bloomingdale Business district has been called in.

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Sunset in NE

This photo was taken this fall in Eckington. Even with all of the bad things that happen in the hood that I report on, I still love it here. I live in a beautiful neighborhood with great neighbors and occasionally, a view like this will change your perspective on things all together.

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

The Verdict is In......

As mentioned in yesterday's post, the Zoning Board reviewed the CCS St. Martin's affordable housing variance request last night. The board approved the variance 5-0 with no abstentions.

This verdict is not very surprising, but saddening at the same time. I along with the other Eckington residents who have voiced their opinions against this variance. Not because we are NIMBYists, or against affordable housing, but because the density of the project is not in line with the neighboring streets. However, it is obvious that the political power of Catholic Charities, their partners (Fanny Mae and GE), and the St. Martin's congregation was too much for the zoning board to bear.

Political third rail topics like affordable housing, race, gentrification and class warfare were all included. If one picks the wrong side, their political lives are over. Its not surprising really. Just kinda depressing. I feel like many people here that believe in the small voices of the neighborhood over the big wallets of corporations and large interests who will forever change the landscape of Eckington. Silly me and my idealism.

Anyway, here are the notes from last nights meeting as reported on by Bloomindale's pride and joy, Scott Roberts:

[ 1 ] DC Zoning Commission Votes to Grant the Archdiocese of Washington Its Zoning Variance for the St. Martin's Apartments

I and few other neighborhood residents attended last night's Zoning Commission meeting. A number of decisions were announced last night, including Case No. 05-39 -- the request by the Archdiocese of Washington to have 116 T Street NE in Eckington rezoned from R-4 to R-5-B to accommodate a new construction rental apartment building that would not be allowed as a matter-of-right under R-4.

The Zoning Commissioners who were present and who voted were: Chair Carol Mitten (who will be leaving the Commission shortly because her term has expired), Vice Chair and Ward 5 resident Anthony Hood, Commissioner Gregory Jeffries, Commissioner John Parsons and Commissioner Michael Turnbull.

Carol Mitten briefly reviewed the issues of the case:
- the design of the new construction apartment building is too dense and too tall
- the facade of the building is complex
- the use of inferior materials (vinyl siding)
- too inwardly focused. The two courtyards serve the apt. residents only and not the community
- the loading berth is too short
- traffic concerns with Hyde, City Lights and McKinley schools
- historic preservation of the convent building on the site
- excavation concerns, which are not a zoning issue

Comments from the Zoning Commissioners:

Anthony Hood:

The affordable St. Martin's Apartments are what the city is trying to accomplish. Something about being inline with IZ (inclusionary zoning).
He commented about the $45 per parking space, but it wasn't clear to me if he opposed it or what...?

Carol Mitten:

There is a struggle with IZ -- can't go as deep as the need is. Willing to grant density in order to achieve the affordable housing amenity. *Not* proferring high-quality design as an amenity. Generally in support of the project.

She commented on the elements that the opponents raised. The Applicant needs to do a better job of the parking needs. The letter from the school that indicates that the school only needs 16 parking space... well, she commented that the operations of the school needs to be looked at. A traffic expert needs to evaluate the traffice from the school. Ms. Mitten also said that the Applicant needs to revisit the assumption that the formerly homeless men *don't* drive cars. These issues can be dealt with before the final action.

Michael Turnbull:

Generally in support.
Too much vinyl in the interior.
Monotonous feeling in the courtyard.
Short of architectural elements.

Gregory Jeffries

After taking a 2nd look at the level of affordability -- the need for affordable housing outweighs the concerns that Eckington made. At the end of the day, the development program is absolutely needed.
The supportive services drove the site plan design.
"I am willing to go forward on this."
He had concerns about the vinyl until the Applicant showed them other projects with vinyl.
"I am supportive."

Back to Carol Mitten:

The Commission has a strong sense to support affordable housing. Struggle for the community.
This project has *not* crossed the line of excessive regarding building height, etc. Affordabilitly can be assured bia a Planned Unit Development (PUD).

Two questions from Carol:
1. How will the affordability be administered? She wants an additional submission on the plans for the ongoing operation.
2. The parking on the site needs to be revisited.

Gregory Jeffries said that he wanted to make it clear to the development community and their attorneys that the zoning plan would not be compromised in order to achieve affordable housing. Carol Mitten also chimed in with something like "this decision is not a green light to developers that affordable housing
trumps all."

The five Zoning Commissioners voted to approve the zoning request. Zero nays, zero abstentions.
The case will be re-opened to accept the requested items from the Applicant. The due date for the additional items is 3/26/2007. Comments from the Applicants, ANC and the DC Office of Planning are due by April 2, 2007.

Monday, March 12, 2007

Neighborhood Notes

-I installed new lattice work under my porch this weekend. it is amazing how much different the front of my house looks with it.

-New neighbors have moved into the house across the street. it seems they are renting, and they have a lot of kids. I will have to introduce myself this week.

-R St residents are extremely upset by the amount of large truck traffic on R St NE. Dump trucks and other large machines are using this residential street as a pass through from Eckinton St to North Cap, while avoiding Florida Ave. Many neighbors believe this traffic has caused structural damage to their homes. A traffic study has been completed, and the city is hoping to come up with answers. Kris Hammond is spearheading the effort. More later

-The Office of Planning will release their verdict on the zoning ordinance tonight. I will be unable to attend the meeting, but will post the results first thing tomorrow. Hopefully the efforts of the 200 footers, the ERCD and other concerned citizens have shown the zoners the impacts of this large project.

The Who Recap

Thursday's The Who concert absolutely kicked ass. The show, the seats, the company, and the band all rocked. Despite the fact that these men are in their 60's, they were able to jam out some classics and new tunes, while belting out tunes for about 2 hours. Pete Townsend is a guitar god, who takes advantage of his few opportunities to be the lead singer. There is really no one like him.

Here is the set list.

I Can't Explain
The Seeker
Anyway, Anyhow, Anywhere
Who Are You
Behind Blue Eyes
Real Good Looking Boy
Six selections from the mini-opera Wire and Glass:
1) Sound Round;
2) Pick Up the Peace;
3) Endless Wire;
4) We Got a Hit;
5) They Made My Dream Come True;
6) Mirror Door

Baba O'Riley
Eminence Front
Man in a Purple Dress
Black Widow's Eyes
You Better You Bet
My Generation/Cry If You Want
Won't Get Fooled Again

Naked Eye
Pinball Wizard
Amazing Journey
Sparks (with a snatch of the lyrics about Captain Walker from the Overture)
See Me Feel Me/Listening to You
Tea and Theatre

Thursday, March 08, 2007

Mama's Got a Squeeze Box

Hope to have some fun, non neighborhood news for you tomorrow. I will be attending THE WHO concert in a scant 8 hours! It should be a great show, even if they are in their 60s. check out this youtube link of Pete Townsend's kick ass version of my generation from Chicago.

Monday, March 05, 2007

Piranhas and Sharks and Gators Oh My!

One of the beautiful things about having friends with children is that they do things on weekends that one would never think of doing. This weekend was just such an opportunity. My good friend HH called me on Sunday morning to inform me that i was going to the National Aquarium, and that my arse had better be ready in 10 minutes. I am not one to argue with her, as she could kick my butt and she is great fun to hang out with.

We decended upon the oldest National Aquarium, which was founded in the late 1800's in MA. The current location is in the Commerce Building on 14th St. And what a location it is. Unlike the National Aquarium in Baltimore, this location is dark, small, and unimpressive. There are many varieties of salt and freshwater species all in small tanks. The fish looked to be very bored, and for the most part hoped to hide from any of the visitors. The some of the sharks and turtles were hiding in the corner and covering their faces, perhaps as if to say "why am I here?" and "How did Gary the Grouper get to go to Baltimore, and what does a brotha have to do to get to the Boston Aquarium."

The ambiance is that of an elementary school after dark. You expect to see Groundskeeper Willy mopping the floor. There are lots of negative things that can be said of the place. However, the kids that were there seemed to be happy with this diversion, and the opportunity to see fish and mollusks etc. So, for that alone, it is a good place to take your kids for a short visit.

Bonus points if you can find a blue tag in the gift shop.