Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Jack Evans calls for after hours security at clubs - is that going to be enough?

(image credit: City Paper)
The Washington Post reported today that Councilmember Jack Evans was calling for the voluntary off-duty police details at some clubs and bars in Adams Morgan, Georgetown and H Street to become mandatory for all establishments offering "after hours" entertainment, in response to the fatal weekend shootings / stabbings / beatings combo at Heritage India in Dupont. 


Evans is quoted as saying "People cannot leave these establishments at 3 a.m. and be loud and getting into fights. That’s not tolerable behavior". This is completely accurate, as many residents in Shaw can attest through experiences with the MOOD Lounge on 9th Street. In fact, it's likely from his extensive work with the Shaw community to resolve problems with that bar that he understands just how problematic these patrons can be. The question for the entire Council is, why wasn't something like this introduced before somebody died? The Washington Examiner reports five different violent crimes the bar has been cited for in the past year, including at least one with a gun and one with hospitalizations, on top of a number of administrative problems. 


Certainly having more security at these places is a brilliant idea. The only fault I can find with it is that it doesn't quite go far enough - even stronger restrictions are needed to be sure that those who are at establishments operating as nightclubs late at night are safe, that those who live nearby are safe, and that those who break the law are dealt with. But the bigger question isn't handled here - when the Heritage India space was given a liquor license, nobody wanted, or expected, that it would operate as a nightclub, ever. It was supposed to be a restaurant (and from what I've read, it was one during the daytime). Yet the owners utilized poorly-written ABRA legislation to open a dangerous nightclub in the same space, using the same license.

Beautiful in Shaw - 939 O Street, NW

This series of posts will focus on something beautiful in Shaw - a particularly striking house, a beautiful garden, architectural elements, people, pets - whatever and wherever I (or any of you) find something that makes you smile. Feel free to send ideas (and photos!) to me at shawdeservesbetter@gmail.com.



And now, the first post - 939 O Street, NW. I love the simplicity of the architecture, the beautiful paint scheme, the slight detail in the security bars on the first floor windows, and the overall top-notch restoration of this historic facade. What do you think?

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Heritage India issues a statement regarding weekend fatality from triple shooting & triple stabbing


From the restaurant earlier today, a fellow blogspot writer:
"Heritage India extends its deepest sympathies to the family of Jhonte Coleman. We wish a quick and healthful recovery for the others who were injured following a private party on Nov. 27.
Heritage India is proud to be among Washington’s world-class restaurants, offering guests from around the city, country and the world a memorable fine-dining experience. Heritage India often hosts wedding receptions, businesspeople, government officials, foreign diplomats and other dignitaries for large lunch and dinner banquets.
Located in one of Washington’s premier nightlife areas, Heritage India Dupont Circle is an attractive venue for private after-hours events on weekend nights. 
On Nov. 27, two patrons at a private party began to fight and security staff immediately escorted both men off the premises. 

Fair Fares for Urban Residents? DC Taxi Commission considering a rate increase

(awesome photo from living-in-washingtondc.com)
Both the Washington Post and the Washington Examiner are reporting that the DC Taxicab Commission could vote as early as today to nearly double the existing per-mile charge from $1.50 to $2.75. While many long-sought concessions are still on the table as to if they would be included as contingencies of this deal (think newer, cleaner cabs, on-board credit card processing, GPS, etc) and may still be thrown out with the bathwater, a few things, like the additional fees for extra passengers, luggage, and the like, would be eliminated as part of the discussion. There is no mention anywhere on if doubling the rates means the gasoline surcharge would also be eliminated.

The question is this: is doubling the rate a fair fare for urban dwellers?

A beautiful sight on a dreary, overcast day...


From the corner of 9th and O Streets this morning, looking northeast. The pile of rubble here is the old Giant grocery store, now demolished, to make way for the City Market at O complex (which will, of course, include a new Giant!). Watch the "construction cam" in the sky here.

Monday, November 28, 2011

Why do problematic bars not get closed *before* people die?

Very early yesterday morning, Jhonte Coleman of Suitland, Maryland died after being shot on the 1300 block of Connecticut Avenue. He was out on the street following an alteration inside Heritage India, a restaurant that morphs into what the Post describes as a nightclub late at night after dinner patrons have gone home, where he had been a patron that evening. Two other men were also shot, three others were stabbed, and apparently there were other lesser injuries in the melee among those spending the evening there, in this sudden outbreak of violence.

Heritage India is no stranger to problems with their ABRA License. At least three separate cases have been on the ABRA agenda this year on June 22nd (case 11-251-00188), July, 27th (case 11-251-00212), and November 2nd (case 11-CMP-00430). Each of these were "Fact Finding" hearings, which ABRA holds in closed sessions "to plan, discuss, or hear reports concerning ongoing or planned investigations of alleged criminal or civil misconduct or violations of law or regulations". So, in the last six months, ABRA has deemed alleged illegal activity there significant enough to add them to the agenda not once, not twice, but three times. This incident will surely lead to a fourth, which is roughly a new infraction every 38 days.

Update on 11/31: this is actually the sixth violation in a year, according to the Washington Examiner. Other violations have involved robbery at gunpoint, a beating that required hospitalizations, and two sex abuse cases. 

Anybody familiar with the "broken windows" theory of urban planning knows that, in summary, small, unenforced violations of the law lead to bigger violations. So, as these three previous violations did not (that I am aware) result in a fatality, using that theory, it becomes increasingly evident that there was some reasonable expectation that it might escalate to that level. 

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

New residential building, The Irwin, proposed for 1328 14th Street, NW

Torti Gallas and Partners, Inc is the architect of a new proposed building, The Irwin, at 1328 14th Street NW.  This project, presented late this summer to nearby neighbors and in September to the ANC, has been constantly undergoing changes and modifications as the project evolves. As of early November, the drawings here are the most recent. Sarah Alexander, an Associate with Torti Gallas, says they "have been continuously revising the design to respond to comments from the neighbors and HPO. Most recently we have increased the setbacks at the upper level of the building, reduced the size of the residential roof terrace, changed the skin of the building to red brick masonry, and added parking to reach 20 spaces (.38 ratio)".

The Irwin will have around 50(ish) units and 4,000+ sqft of ground floor retail. What do you think of the project? More photos after the jump.

How many bus stops does the city really need?


Earlier today, Prince of Petworth posted an article about a bus stop that has been removed from 14th Street, NW, in front of a Columbia Heights Dominos. Here in Shaw, we've lost bus stops (hell, even entire blocks of sidewalk) to development projects - the Marriot, City Market at O, and the nearby City Center projects all come to mind on 9th Street alone. With so many major throuroughfares running through Shaw (11th, 9th, 7th, Rhode Island.... the list goes on) we have a lot of bus lines here as well.

I agree that for this particular circumstance that moving (or eliminating) the stop is probably wise. It did completely block the storefront, and there are too many here in the city. Several commenters on his article pointed out the high number of elderly and/or handicapped individuals who use this particular bus line. Several others commented that having bus stops barely a block apart in many neighborhoods makes the lines run very slow, as merging in and out of traffic once a block means hitting more red lights, more delays, and in the end, longer trips.

I agree that moving or eliminating the stop can be a real inconvenience for handicapped / elderly people who live in *that* particular building. And for them, I do really feel bad. That being said, if I didn't or couldn't drive and relied on public transportation to get around to everything, I'd have to question why I'd choose to stay in the city at that point. As a young, able-bodied person, I can live blocks from the Metro with no trouble. I love urban living, and I'm going to stay until I'm a wrinkled old person who looks like a Sharpei, but at some point, I'll have to recognize that city living is something that can't be done by the very elderly, frail, or handicapped without some level of help (which, obviously, varies considerably). I think the day I couldn't walk / wheel / hobble two blocks away on my own would be the day I realized that.

Friday, November 18, 2011

Own a piece of Shaw: 1505 8th Street, NW #1

This series will focus on properties for sale in the Shaw / MVT / Logan areas. Want to see your house on here? Email shawdeservesbetter@gmail.com with a link to the listing and let us know.


1505 8th Street, NW Unit 1 has been on the market for 133 days. The building has curb appeal galore, and the renovation is pretty impressive. Why do you think it's still on the market? Tell us in the comments.

Bedrooms: 2
Bathroom: 2.5
Levels: 2
Price: $425,000
Listing: http://www.redfin.com/DC/Washington/1505-8th-St-NW-20001/unit-1/home/10192914

City Market at O actually breaks walls, not just "ground" for PR purposes, today

(all images in this post courtesy of Roadside Development)

City Market at O, a Roadside Development project, has been through years of starts and stalls with financing, "groundbreakings", and slow, but stead, progress. At 10am this morning, heavy equipment actually took the first steps of tearing a chunk out of the wall at the existing Giant Foods building that must be demolished to make way for the new project. From the Roadside Development press release:

“Roadside Development , the community-focused Washington, D.C.-based real estate development firm, along with Mayor Vincent Gray, Acting Assistant HUD secretary and Federal Housing Administration (FHA) Commissioner Carol Galante, and District of Columbia Congresswoman Eleanor Holmes Norton, will officially commemorate the commencement of work on CityMarket at O, a one-million square-foot mixed-use development in the historic Shaw neighborhood at 7 th and O streets NW on Friday, November 18 th at 10 am.
The development project, a landmark project for Housing Urban Development (HUD), is the only mixed-use development (and non-infrastructure project) to be fast-tracked for funding by the Obama administration. A key component in the revitalization of the Shaw neighborhood, CityMarket at O will boast 635 residential units, 84 of which are set aside for seniors which will also be affordable, 401 market-rate apartments, and 150 high-end condominiums.
The event will include a dramatic start of construction: the demolition of one of the walls of the former Giant grocery store. This project will include the restoration of the historic 1881 O Street Market Building. Like Eastern Market in Capitol Hill, the building was one of the five original brick market buildings in Washington. 1881 O Street will be restored to house a flagship 72,000-square-foot Giant Food supermarket. The development will also include retail and restaurants, a 182-room Cambria Suites hotel, over 500 vehicle parking spaces, 300+ indoor bike parking stalls, and a 270-linear-foot rooftop dog park.
CityMarket at O is estimated to bring 1,000 new residents to the Shaw neighborhood. Over 2400 jobs will be created, from construction jobs to factory jobs and permanent jobs on site. This does not include jobs that will be generated by the local economic activity brought to the Shaw community by CityMarket at O.
Construction on the Giant Food supermarket is slated to be complete Summer 2013. The 182-room hotel and 401 units of market rate rental housing will open in early fall 2013. Completing the project, the 84-unit affordable senior housing building and 150-unit condominium will be delivered in fall 2014.”
While the residents of Shaw are (mostly) thrilled to see this project coming in to the neighborhood, we also recognize that a project of this magnitude will certainly have impacts on those of us who were already here. We are all hopeful that Roadside will work with us closely on this project, as many elements impact those of us even a few blocks away. Liquor licenses have become especially controversial and discussions about them contentious - so especially those parts (like proposed restaurants) that will need one should be thoroughly discussed so the end result benefits everyone.



What do you think?