August 03, 2010 - 5:53 pm

The Jazz Man

The Jazz Man

The renovation of the Howard Theatre is set to start this month and from our recent conversation with Howard Theatre Restoration president Chip Ellis, everything is set to go.  One final element to be decided is the statue that will adorn the top of the new theater.  When the theater opened 100 years ago this month, a statue of Apollo playing the lyre stood at the apex of the Beaux-Arts Italian Renaissance façade, accompanying the other classical references in the building.

The theater renovation will restore the original look of the façade, but the statue of Apollo, now long gone, will be replaced with a statue, The Jazz Man, pictured above.

The statue will be constructed of metal and lit internally with LEDs. The Apollo statue referred to an ancient era and the new statue will refer to the Jazz Age. We can’t move forward without looking back.

What do you think of the statue design?

July 06, 2010 - 7:54 am

Howard Theatre Renovation Begins in August

At Thursday’s ANC1B meeting, Chip Ellis, head of the Howard Theatre’s restoration, announced that the much-delayed renovations will start in the last week of August.  The theater, when it opens, will host R&B acts, jazz, and Sunday gospel brunches in a venue that Ellis describes as “cabaret style”.

Careful observers of the restoration sketch (above) will notice the statue at the top of the façade.  Originally the theater featured a statue of Apollo playing the lyre; the new statue, fabricated in metal and lit with LEDs will be themed “the Jazz Man”.  Mr. Ellis will return in a few months with design drawings.

When asked about parking, Mr. Ellis stated that the restoration project plans to partner with Howard University to offer parking in one of its lots a few blocks away on Georgia Avenue.  He also proposed the idea of building a garage on the southern portion of the parking lot of Howard University Hospital.

We appreciate Mr. Ellis’s efforts restoring the Howard Theatre, but we would not welcome a parking garage on Georgia Avenue.  A garage would contradict the Office of Planning’s DUKE Plan, which specifically calls for ground-floor retail and offices on that site.  A street-fronting garage would deprive Georgia Avenue of the streetlife that retail uses generate.

Furthermore, since parking is a necessary component of driving; providing more parking will induce more driving, something the area suffers from already.

July 01, 2010 - 9:39 am

Douglas, Catania, and Howard, Oh My!

Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of HappinesWe know we’re a tad late in posting this, but the monthly meeting of ANC1B takes place tonight at 7pm on the second floor of the Reeves Building at Fourteenth and U Streets NW.

Here are some of the highlights planned for tonight:

  • Councilmember David Catania (I – at large)
  • Howard Theatre Restoration, Inc., presumably will discuss the much-delayed restoration of the Howard Theatre
  • Douglas Development, one of the city’s largest developers
  • American Ice Company (917 V Street), new liquor license application
  • Bella (900 Florida Avenue), new liquor license

The commission will also discuss two zoning variance making their way through the system, eventually to the Board of Zoning Adjustments, which is obliged to consider, but not necessary follow, the opinion of the relevant ANC.

The two variances, both of which we have researched, are modest changes for two existing properties.

The applicant for 928 Euclid Street NW bought a parking lot that used to be the site of a rowhouse many decades ago.  Though the lot is shaped like a house lot and though what the applicant proposes to build is similar in massing and lot coverage to all the neighboring row houses, our zoning code currently— and wrongheadedly, in our opinion— declares such a new structure illegal.

Thus to build what what was there before and what will match the adjacent structures in massing and use will require a zoning adjustment.*  The ANC’s Design Review Committee, a committee for which your author is a member, will recommend that the ANC support the application.

* * *

The applicant for 1201 S Street NW seeks a variance solely on account of use, not physical form.  The building used to be a small corner store, but the applicant proposes turning it into a deli with seating for twelve patrons.  The deli will be managed by a non-profit that will train students, presumably in food preparation.

This application will be a bit more controversial since the applicant, Mr. Charles Emor, has already earned a conspiracy conviction in his other “educational” endeavors and some neighbors doubt his sincerity in keeping the property as a proper deli.

Neighbors are welcome to question the commission and applicant, if he appears, at tonight’s meeting.

* Much of DC, including some of the city’s most charming and desired neighborhoods, including much of LeDroit Park, would be illegal to build under today’s zoning.  This is an issue we hope the current zoning re-write will resolve.

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June 16, 2010 - 10:41 pm

Several Groundbreakings in August

Developers of several large projects in Shaw adhere to the Macbeth method when promising groundbreakings: tomorrow, and tomorrow, and tomorrow.

But this summer is shaping up— keep your fingers crossed— to be a constructive one for Shaw. After decades of disinvestment, decay, and neglect, much of Shaw’s physical environment has already healed.  Some star-crossed exceptions include the area around the Shaw Metro station’s north entrance, which emerges from the ground to a large empty lot, a row of boarded-up shops, a vacant Hostess factory, and a vacant theater.  A terrible first impression of Shaw.

If action is eloquence, then the poetry begins in August.

August 22, 2010 – Howard Theatre

After false starts and a tumbled marquee, the Howard Theatre’s renovation is expected to commence on August 22, 2010, the centennial of the theater’s opening.

August 2010 – UNCF Headquarters

It seems like only yesterday Radio One unceremoniously withdrew from the Broadcast Center One project to be built at the Shaw Metro’s north entrance.  Lo and behold, the United Negro College Fund (UNCF) swooped in to fill the void.  The District cemented the deal by offering UNCF $5.1 million in tax abatement and relocation subsidies.  The project will include 50,000 square feet for UNCF’s offices, a college information center, as well as 180 (or 133?) housing units.  Work on the project will also commence in August 2010 and finish sometime in 2012.

September 2, 2010 – O Street Market

Just down Seventh Street between O and P Streets is the shell of a Victorian-era market designed by German-born Washington architect Adolf Cluss.  The project includes condos, apartments, senior housing, a hotel, parking, retail, and a new Giant to be built behind the extant walls of the old market (rendering above).  The project will also re-establish Eighth Street NW between O and P Streets NW.  Construction will begin on September 2 and the current Giant will close and be demolished early next year.