Want to Know More About Who Built Our Capital? Check Out Sankofa For Additional Reading

Posted August 9, 2016 by Kent
Categories: History, Small Businesses

Tags: , , ,

During the Democratic National Convention, there was a lot of commentary on Michele Obama’s speech in which she said ““I wake up every morning in a house that was built by slaves. And I watch my daughters, two beautiful, intelligent black young women, playing with their dogs on the White House lawn…”

Sankofa, located at 2714 Georgia Avenue, carries many books about African American history in D.C., such at the title above.

Sankofa, located at 2714 Georgia Avenue, carries many books about African American history in D.C., such at the title above.

It’s a history that was largely unknown to many in the country, and one in which I’m sure people would like to know more. If you are one of those people, I noticed that Sankofa has among the many books it carries on African American history here in D.C. the book Slave Labor in the Capital by Bob Arnebeck. The book describes the use of slave labor to build the Capitol and White House during the most difficult phase of construction from 1792 to 1800.

The book is an easy read, about 150 pages, and priced at $20. I’m about a third the way through it already and don’t regret picking it up in the least.

Banning New Developments From Participating in Residential Parking Program Is Destined to Fail

Posted August 8, 2016 by Kent
Categories: parking

Tags: ,

700 block of QuebecA few readers have reached out to me regarding Urban Turf’s coverage of whether or not bans on residential parking permits (RPP) at select new residential developments is enforceable. On July 28th, Urban Turf received the following from DDOT confirming that there is no enforcement from DDOT or DMV when it comes to such properties.

“When residents apply for an RPP, DDOT and the Department of Motor Vehicles may not be aware of a contractual agreement between a landlord and tenant. There is no self-exemption process under current regulations, thus eligible residents applying for RPPs may receive them. The current exemption clauses being proffered during the zoning process are to be enforced between the developer, landlord, and any future tenants.”

While some found this surprising, I did not. I have long be of the opinion that buildings banning participation in the RPP program in exchange for providing the number of parking spaces required by zoning was a house of cards. During my time on ANC1A, we have reviewed several developments seeking relief from the amount of parking required by zoning. The Commission has supported some requests and opposed others. However, there has only been one instance where the developer proposed denying residents of the future building from participating in RPP parking. The project in question was considered by the ANC on October 8, 2014, and is destined for 3619 Georgia Avenue (southeast corner with Princeton).

The ANC opposed the requested parking relief even after the attorneys told us that the owner would voluntarily deny residents from RPP participation. While this seemed like a reasonable trade off to some, it did not sway my position precisely because I believed that 1) such an arrangement would be unenforceable, and 2) that denying residents access to the RPP parking would be illegal.

In addition to the latest news that neither DDOT nor DMV has a mechanism to enforce such exclusion from the parking program, I also believe that even if these agencies were able to track and enforce parking restrictions that such enforcement could be illegal — especially in Ward 1 where denying residents from participating in the RPP program is contrary to D.C. Law 18-240, which states that “Any resident owning a vehicle registered at an address on a Ward 1 residential block may be granted a Zone 1 residential parking sticker.”

In short, buildings that may agree to not participate in the RPP program in exchange for relieve from parking requirements are only kicking the can down the road. They may be able to prevent residents from obtaining parking permits in the short term, but eventually the house of cards will come tumbling down. There are good reasons to support parking relief, and there are good reasons to oppose parking relief, but in either case we should not fool ourselves that exempting a building from participating in the RPP program is a long-term solution that is sustainable.

 

Metro Mural Tells History of Georgia Avenue

Posted August 5, 2016 by Kent
Categories: History, Murals

Tags: , , ,
Commuters depicted in the mural at the Georgia Avenue Metro station.

Commuters depicted in the mural at the Georgia Avenue Metro station.

With Metro’s current focus on repairing and upgrading the Metrorail system — and the disruption it is causing for daily commuters — it might be easy to overlook some of the things Metro has done well. One example that I appreciate every day is the mural at the Georgia Avenue-Petworth Station titled Homage to a Community.

The following description of the mural is from WMATA’s Web site,

Homage to a Community, by Florida artists Andrew Reid and Carlos Alves, is located at Georgia Avenue-Petworth station on the Green Line in the District of Columbia. The artwork consists of two components. The 130-foot-long stylized painted mural by Andrew Reid illustrates the rich history of the Georgia Avenue-Petworth community. The bold design of the contoured mural is a flowing chronology of defining events in the George Avenue-Petworth community in the context of local and world histories. The high energy of the handmade clay and cracked tiles of the accompanying frieze by Carlos Alves captures the spirit and promise of the Georgia Avenue-Petworth community.

In 2015, the Georgia Avenue station served about 6,300 daily riders. That’s a lot of people walking past the mural every day — yet I suspect  few pay much attention to the mural and possibly fewer still take time to appreciate some of the imagery and how it relates to the community. In looking at the images, the mural largely shows a history of Georgia Avenue south of the Metro station and reads from right to left.

Among the images are references to Native Americans; Abraham Lincoln, the civil war, & the emancipation proclamation; Schuetzen Park; Howard University; Griffith Stadium and the Senators & Grays; the Bakeries of lower Georgia Avenue, such as Corby and Bond Bread; Duke Ellington and U Street; World War II; Civil Rights; and modern commuters.

Below are a few images from the mural:

IMG_1295(Native Americans are depicted at the beginning of the mural as one enters the station from the west side. One of D.C.’s oldest continuous streets is Rock Creek Church Road, which likely started at a trail blazed by Native Americans.)

IMG_1294(Abraham Lincoln is prominently included in the mural. Lincoln summered at the nearby Soldiers’ Home and would  travel on Rock Creek Church Road and Georgia Avenue on his daily commute to the White House.)

IMG_1291(Germans drinking and shooting game refer to the old Schuetzen Park, located near Georgia Avenue and Irving Street.)

IMG_1292(Baseball at Griffith Stadium — located where Howard University Hospital now sits — is represented by this section of the mural.)

IMG_1287(The once active bakeries of southern Georgia Avenue are shown above. The section also includes a streetcar.)

IMG_1293(Duke Ellington and the vibrant U Street community are depicted above.)

Inaugural Evelyn Greenberg Preservation Awards Includes Recognition of Historic Hebrew Home Building

Posted August 4, 2016 by Kent
Categories: Architecture, Historic Landmarks, History, Preservation

Tags: , ,

On June 9, 2016, the Jewish Historical Society of Greater Washington (JHSGW) presented their inaugural Evelyn Greenberg Preservation Awards — a tribute for Evelyn Greenberg, who was instrumental in re-discovering and saving the historic 1876 Adas Israel synagogue from the wrecker’s ball in 1969. The building is destined to be moved again as a result of the Capitol Crossing project.

Two Greenberg Preservation Awards were presented this year. I received one for my work that resulted in the successful nomination of the buildings at 1125-1131 Spring Road, NW — the former home of the Hebrew Home of the Aged and the JSSA (Jewish Social Service Agency). Both properties are now on the D.C. Inventory of Historic Sites and listed on the National Register.

I thought you would enjoy watching the video of the event, and my presentation on the history of the Hebrew Home, which was released yesterday by the JHSGW and view-able below.

More Development Coming to Georgia Avenue.

Posted August 3, 2016 by Kent
Categories: Development

Tags: , ,

Yesterday, I received a question about the future of 3110 & 3112 Georgia Avenue as both are in an advanced state of demolition. In reviewing DCRA’s list of building permits, I found that a permit was issued on 5/12/2016 to remove the existing one story structures at 3110 and 3112 Georgia Ave., NW. The existing party walls are not to be disturbed. The permit also includes excavation for new cellar and construction of a five-story mixed use building.

I’ve seen no plans and the lots are deep so I suspect the entire project is a matter-of-right and complies with zoning.

3110 3112 Georgia

(Above and below: 3110-3112 Georgia Avenue (front and rear) the latest properties on Georgia Avenue headed for development.)

3110 3112 Georgia

 

Morton Street Mews Nearing Completion

Posted August 2, 2016 by Kent
Categories: Development, Housing

Tags: , ,

The Morton Street Mews project is nearing completion, with the final phase being the conversion of the old church building into housing. I took an opportunity to check in on the progress over the weekend, and continue to approve of the direction it is going. I particularly like how the three-story rear addition doesn’t overpower the 1905 church structure. You can read more about the project and the church here.

Morton Mews (The church in the foreground was designed by African American architect William Sidney Pittman in 1905.)

Below, views of the rear addition to the church building.

Morton Mews

Morton Mews

BP Station at Georgia and Park Road Replacing Underground Tanks

Posted August 1, 2016 by Kent
Categories: Random Observations

Tags: ,

If you have passed the BP gas station on the corner of Georgia Avenue and Park Road recently, you’ll have noticed that bays are fenced off and there has been some excavation at the site. In reviewing permit applications, I confirmed that the gas station is replacing its underground storage tanks.

IMG_1281

IMG_1280

While many corner properties on Georgia Avenue have been used as gas stations over the years, this corner is the oldest. The first gas station on this site was a Lord Baltimore Filling Station which opened in 1927. The drawing below shows what the station looked like at that time.

Lord Baltimore Filling Stations Georgia and Park


Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 175 other followers

%d bloggers like this: