Notes From March ANC 1C Meeting

Posted March 5, 2015 by Kent
Categories: Community Meetings

Tags: , , , , ,

ANC1C(ANC1C preparing to get started before a packed house.)

Last night’s meeting of Advisory Neighborhood Commission 1C was well attended, primarily due to the Commission’s consideration of the proposed development at Meridian International  (more below). In addition, the Commission also voted to approve a letter of support for the Rock ‘N’ Roll Marathon, unanimously supported a resolution calling for a Moratorium on Pop-Up Development (noting that ANC 1A passed an identical resolution in February), voted to join residents on a BZA Appeal for 2305-2307 Ontario Road, NW, and unanimously approved a resolution calling upon  DCRA to stop using the perimeter wall method when calculating Gross Floor Area/Floor Area Ratio and calling for an administrative review of DCRA operations.

Site plan of proposed development (from ANC 1C Web site).

Site plan of proposed development (from ANC 1C Website).

The agenda item of most interest to the community was the proposed development at Meridian International. Attendance was high at the meeting with attendees — many from Beekman Place and Crescent Place — overflowing into the hallway. The development  in question would face 16th Street between Belmont Street and Crescent Place, include approximately 130 units of residential housing, and include a conference center for Meridian International (connecting to the White Meyer House beneath a terrace). The development team gave a brief overview of the plans and spoke about how the building’s design is compatible with other apartment buildings on 16th Street.

After their presentation, members of the community spoke. There was acknowledgment that the development team has been responsive during the process and that Meridian International has been a good neighbor. But with regards to the proposal thus far, there was board consensus that the plan isn’t there yet. The chief concerns were:

  • The building is too high, especially in relationship to Beekman Place to the south, where the grade of 16th Street results in the building towering over the residential community;
  • The building’s massing;
  • How the development will impact traffic;
  • How the conference center will impact local parking, and what the impact will be due to catering and delivery services;
  • Architectural compatibility — a spokesperson from Crescent place described how each structure on that short street was an architectural “jewel”, with nearly all of them being on the National Register of Historic Places. When adding a new building to this “jewel box”, they argued that it should also be a “jewel” and a noteworthy architectural endeavor. Following up on this, another resident noted that the design for the addition to the former Italian Embassy successfully integrated with the historic character of its surroundings illustrating that a more compatible design at Meridian International was possible.

Added to the list of community concerns, Chairman Billy Simpson introduced an amendment to the resolution under consideration that the design relate better to 16th Street. It was noted that other large apartment buildings on 16th Street have central entrances but that the design for this building did not, disconnecting it from the thoroughfare.

After hearing from the community, the Commission voted in support of the recommendations of its Planning, Zoning, and Transportation Committee — the recommendations being that the Commission call on the Historic Preservation Review Board to:

  1. Require that the height of the building be reduced;
  2. Require that the scale and massing be reduced;
  3. Require that the materials be revised and enhanced; and,
  4. Require a central entrance on 16th Street.

Meridian International proposal 16th Street(Rendering showing current design’s relationship to 16th Street (from ANC 1C Website).)

Mapping Segregation in Washington DC, 1900-1950

Posted March 4, 2015 by Kent
Categories: Community, Demographics, History

Tags: ,

Here’s a program that’s a collaboration among historians Mara Cherkasky and Sarah Shoenfeld of Prologue DC, historian/GIS specialist Brian Kraft of JMT Technology Group, and others. That sounds fascinating. It is funded in part by the Humanities Council of Washington, DC.

From an email:

Mapping Segregation in Washington DC, 1900-1950

Focusing on historic housing segregation in the Northwest DC neighborhoods of Bloomingdale, Columbia Heights, Mount Pleasant, Park View, and Pleasant Plains

Thursday, March 5, 6:30 pm – Great Hall, Martin Luther King Jr. Library, 901 G Street, NW

Sunday, March 8, 3 pm – Mount Pleasant Library, 16th and Lamont Streets, NW

Mapping Segregation in Washington DC is a public history project whose goal is to create a set of layered, online maps illustrating the historic segregation of DC’s housing, schools, recreational facilities, and other public venues. Our first year has been focused on racially restrictive housing covenants mostly east of Rock Creek Park, and the legal challenges to them.

Come learn why many of DC’s “historically black” neighborhoods were once exclusively white, and how more recent shifts in the city’s racial identity have been shaped by this history.

Come see for yourself the maps we’ve created to show restricted neighborhoods, the legal battle lines, and who lived where over the years. Maps tell stories that words cannot.

1952 Washington population map(Map showing demographic change in Washington based on 1930, 1940, and 1950 census data.)

Renovated 1319 Park Road Adds 24 Units to Neighborhood

Posted March 3, 2015 by Kent
Categories: Architecture, Development, Housing

Tags: , ,
1319 Park Road, NW.

1319 Park Road, NW.

The renovation of 1319 Park Road, NW, is finally finished and potential residents have been checking it out. The building contains  24 one- and two-bedroom units, as well as a few efficiencies. Last Saturday the building was open for viewing and I took the opportunity to review the building.

Overall, I like the results of this renovation. While the thing I like the most is the addition of much needed housing to Columbia Heights, I also appreciate that the building isn’t going to be painted, the replacement windows fit the original apertures (whereas many projects reduce the size of the openings to fit stock window replacements), and the fit and finish inside was nice as well. In looking at Zillow, it appears that rent for a one-bedroom unit begins at around $1,700 per month.

The photos below are of one of the units and the entry foyer.




Area Filming Includes Park Place Locale

Posted March 2, 2015 by Kent
Categories: Movies

Tags: , ,
Notice of no parking for filming on Park Place.

Notice of no parking for filming on Park Place.

Late last week I was notified that Pictureshow Productions, a D.C.-based production company, was scheduled to film a project in various locations, including areas of Park View and Petworth. These locations included:

  • Ingraham St NW between 2nd and 3rd Streets;
  • New Hampshire Ave NW between Quincy and Randolph Streets;
  • Park Pl NW between Otis and Manor Places; and,
  • Otis St NE between 18th and 20th Streets (Dwight A. Moseley Field)

The scheduled filming dates were on Friday through Sunday, but it is unknown if the weather resulted in any need for rescheduling.

In following up with the DC Office of Motion Picture and TV Development, I learned that the project lists the Producer/Director as George Pelecanos and the Production Manager as Kyle Crosby. The project they’re working on is tentatively entitled Confidential Informant with the logline: “ A lifelong CI makes one last effort to earn his father’s love and respect.” “Confidential Informant” was the title of a short story by Pelecanos that was published in the 2006 book D.C. Noir, and takes place in the Park View neighborhood. I recall that Park Place features prominently in the story, as do other locations in the community. The story is also included as the lead story in Pelecanos’ new book The Martini Shot.

Whether destined for TV or the big screen, I’m looking forward to seeing the outcome of this project.

Below is the block where the filming was scheduled to take place.

Park Place(Park Place between Newton and Manor Places, view north from Manor Place)

Notes from Ward 1 Town Hall Meeting and Its Focus on DCRA

Posted February 27, 2015 by Kent
Categories: ABRA, Community Meetings, DCRA

Tags: , ,

Orange Nadeau Town Hall(Councilmembers Orange and Nadeau conferring before the meeting began)

On Thursday, February 26, Councilmembers Brianne Nadeau and Vincent Orange hosted a Ward 1 town hall meeting for community members to ask questions related to their oversight role on the Committee on Business, Consumer and Regulatory Affairs. The agencies present at the town hall were Employment Services, the Department of Consumer & Regulatory Affairs (DCRA), the Public Service Commission, The Alcoholic Beverage Regulation Administration (ABRA), and the Department of Small and Local Business Development (DSLBD). There were roughly 60 people in attendance at the start of the meeting, including Councilmember staff and ANC commissioners.

After opening remarks, Councilmember Nadeau brought the meeting to order. Questions had to be submitted in writing, allowing like questions to be grouped together. No questions were submitted for Employment Services, the Public Service Committee, or the Department of Small and Local Business Development. Residents were primarily interested in DCRA and ABRA.

The questions for DCRA were first — and none of them were positive. Repeatedly residents and ANC Commissioners spoke about DCRA’s unresponsiveness and failure to address issues. ANC 1A06 Commissioner Patrick Flynn stated that he had never had a positive experience with DCRA, whether dealing with them as a resident, small business owner, or Commissioner. He continued by sharing an experience with a problem property in his community which had squatters living in it and frequent calls for service — a situation that in the end resulted in MPD taking charge after the property was set on fire. ANC 1C05 Commissioner Alan Gambrell asked for clarification on how building permits were issued for additions larger than allowed based on square footage requirements, and more importantly for justification on how the square footage was measured and formerly measured areas became areas not measured when calculating additions.

In every instance, DCRA’s response to the community was wanting. Whether responding to the resident who’s house was damaged by the development next door, or the gentlemen wanting to know what protections and assistance exist for residents when their building contractors don’t deliver on the project they’ve been hired to do, DCRA was unable to satisfactorily respond to a single question without redirecting to a phone number or asking the person to stay after the meeting for a personal conversation.

After questions were finished for DCRA, easily half of those in attendance left the meeting. Much less time was devoted to ABRA, and the questions that were asked were more of the type of residents seeking to know more about a process. Unlike the experience with DCRA, ABRA Director Fred Moosally answered questions well and was clearly knowledgeable of his agency and its operations. One of the more interesting questions that was asked of ABRA was why citizens returning to the community after serving a sentence were banned  from applying for a liquor license for 10 years. The concern was that 10 years was excessive, which Director Moosally stated could be revisited to see if the duration was still deemed appropriate to the original concern. Another interesting question was asked by Denis James of the Kalorama Citizens’ Association. James questioned the appropriateness of MPD officers serving on Business Improvement Districts (BIDs), and how that association may bias the ABRA Board  during a hearing.

Overall, the general impression from the meeting is that DCRA has lost the community’s confidence. I also doubt that there will be any concrete improvements that come out of the meeting … but then again, only time will tell.

Photo Showing Memorial Exercises for Centenary of the Birth of James Cardinal Gibbons

Posted February 26, 2015 by Kent
Categories: Historic Landmarks, History, National Monuments and Memorials

Tags: ,

scan0004The photo above was taken on July 22, 1934, at the statue of James Cardinal Gibbons located at 16th Street and Park Road (in front of Sacred Heart Church). The event commemorated the 100th anniversary of James Cardinal Gibbons’ birth. Reportedly, two thousand person packed the small triangular park where the statue is located, the church steps and lawns and the verandas of nearby houses to hear Maj. General Paul B. Malone’s address at the occasion and view laying of wreaths. At the conclusion of the ceremony, which lasted less than an hour, the base of the memorial was a mass of flowers.

The James Cardinal Gibbons Memorial Statue was authorized by Congress and President Calvin Coolidge on April 23, 1928. The piece was commissioned by the Knights of Columbus and cost, at no expense to the United States, $35,998. The piece was unveiled on August 14, 1932.


Map Showing Federal Land in D.C.

Posted February 26, 2015 by Kent
Categories: Random Observations


In case you missed it, yesterday the Washington Post published a map showing where all the federal land was located in Washington. While the purpose of the map was to show where “[f]ederal law enforcement officers may still arrest people possessing marijuana,” it was interesting to see where the federal land was in the neighborhood.  You can explore the complete map here.
Federal land in Park View


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