To reduce the liklihood that patrons will park on residential streets around the Howard Theatre, the theatre will sell prepaid private parking through Ticketmaster. The passes are for private lots owned by Howard University and other private owners.
In fact, we were looking on Ticketmaster at prices and availability for April’s Wanda Sykes show and spotted this prominent parking add-on at the bottom:
The lots described above are as follows:
- Valet shuttle Lot B – Howard University’s large parking lot at Georgia Avenue and W Street.
- Self-parking Lot A – Howard University’s HURB-I parking lot at 7th & T Streets.
- Premier Valet – private triangle lot at T Street and Florida Avenue, across from the theater.
When Progression Place, the office and apartment project at the Shaw Metro, finally opens, the theatre will lay claim to a significant number of the project’s underground parking spaces during nighttime hours, thus adding a another option.
Come meet Del. Eleanor Holmes Norton (D – DC) at Tuesday’s meeting of the LeDroit Park Civic Association. The meeting will be on Tuesday, March 27 at 7 pm at the Florida Avenue Baptist Church (enter at U and Bohrer Streets NW).
Ms. Norton is this month’s guest speaker. We’re inclined to ask her about National Park Service (NPS) stewardship of the many parks and reservations in DC. The NPS runs Logan Circle, Dupont Circle, Farragut Square, and other parks within the L’Enfant Plan, but does a poor job of programming and managing these parks.
We will also hav e representatives from Progression Place, the construction site at the Shaw Metro, update us on the progress of their project.
This is the second in a series on the Scurlock photo archive. Read the first entry.
During the Jazz Age of the 1920s and later into the 1930s, U Street was dubbed the “black Broadway” as it featured such venues as the Lincoln Colonnade (now the Lincoln Theater), the Howard Theatre, and other clubs and restaurants. In a segregated city in which blacks were excluded from most restaurants, theaters, and stores, U Street served as a refuge to catch a show and enjoy a meal.
[Toggling between now and then photos will not work in RSS readers. View the actual post]
We have referred to this area as the block of blight for its dilapidated buildings, copious litter, and frequent police arrests. It turns out that some things never change. Even when this photograph was taken, U Street was not uniform in character and the area around the Howard Theatre was considered downscale compared to the classier venues west on U Street. (For more on U Street’s evolution, see Blair Ruble’s recent book, Washington’s U Street: A Biography.)
Pictured here at the corner is National Grill, which, like Harrison’s Café in LeDroit Park, advertised itself as open all night. The lighted vertical sign attached to the façade appears to read “LUNCH” and the pediment at the cornice bears the building’s name, “Scott’s”. (View a larger version of the photo.)
Just to the right (south) of National Grill is the S.W. Keys Luncheonette, whose vertical sign advertises coffee and waffles. Just south of that is Harlem Cafe, located in a building that has since been replaced.
On T Street, just behind Scott’s Building and just before the Howard Theatre, you will see a sign that reads “BILLIARDS”. That marks Frank Holliday’s pool hall, a popular gathering spot for Howard scholars, jazz musicians, and city laborers alike. Duke Ellington captured the scene at the pool hall:
Guys from all walks of life seemed to converge there: school kids over and under sixteen; college students and graduates, some starting out in law and medicine and science; and lots of Pullman porters and dining-car waiters.
Just beyond the pool hall, you’ll see the Howard Theatre sporting its original Italianate façade. The theater was later covered with plaster, which was only recently removed for the restoration project.
Today the last two buildings on 7th Street are a Chinese take-out and a tiny market. One of the developers of Progression Place, the large development project underway on the block (rendering below), said that the late owner of these two buildings refused to sell to his development. Progression Place will incorporate every building on this block except for these two.
If anyone is looking for a two-building restoration project, here is your chance!
This email came through the neighborhood listserv.
On Saturday evening at 7pm en route to Shaw metro north entrance, I was jumped from behind and wrestled to the ground by a teenage thief trying to steal my iphone. Rather than risk being stabbed, I let go of the iphone. What is disturbing is that this is a busy road with many pedestrians walking by, yet not one person stopped to help, including the shopkeepers stood on the doorsteps. When I asked for assistance, I was told to use the payphone on the corner of 7th and T which is where the gang of teenagers preying on their victims hang out in the evening – including the evening I was attacked. There were 10 or 12 on the corner of 7th and T and all fled after I was robbed. A good Samaritan let me use his cellphone to call the police who arrived in under two minutes. They said they are aware of the gang on 7th and T and have been monitoring them, yet the brazen robberies and attacks in broad daylight continue unabated.
Given the proximity to the Howard Theater, I’m sure this kind of publicity will not be welcomed given the Theater’s planned reopening later this year. I have now been forced to avoid the Shaw metro and will take the U Street Cordoza location instead. Anyone walking in the vicinity of 7th and T should hide their cellphones. Ironically, I am a playwright, my most recent work being about race relations in DC. It is poignant I was attacked in the shadow of Howard Theater.
What a terrible incident, but we’re glad nobody was hurt.
The Block of Blight (600 block of T Street NW) is a perennial source of criminality, as confirmed by the MDP’s regular listing of arrests. The frequency of crime at the corner of Seventh and T Streets warrants a more frequent police presence that the area lacks.
We usually walk our friends to the Metro late at night lest they fall victim to this sort of incivility. Blight encourages crime and both are on display near the Shaw Metro Station. We gently, but consistently, remind visitors that the station and surrounding blight are actually in the Shaw neighborhood, not LeDroit Park, but hopefully we won’t have to reiterate that nuance forever.
Renovations on the Howard Theatre have already begun and the developer for the mixed-use UNCF project at the Metro assures us that the groundbreaking for that project is a month or two away.
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
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.
It’s confirmed. A 7-11 is coming to the corner of Georgia and Florida Avenues just outside the LeDroit Park Historic District. Douglas Development Corporation, the building’s owner and one of the city’s biggest developers, has confirmed to our ANC commissioner that 7-11 has signed a lease for part of the first floor space.
Pharmacare, which has not opened yet, occupies the Georgia Avenue front on the first floor (photo above, left side) and 7-11 will occupy the Florida Avenue front (center and right side). The choice of leasing the space to 7-11 has sparked a small controversy as many residents were hoping for something a tad more upscale than than discount drugs (you can buy the illegal kind a block away at the corner of Seventh & T) and a chain convenience store.
Some residents have expressed the desire to see a cafe, gym, or a full-fledged grocery store open up in or near LeDroit Park.
The LeDroit Park Market does indeed sell coffee, but residents looking for an espresso fix have to wander on over to the Starbucks at W Street and Georgia Avenue. There are rumors of a cafe coming to the old Pyramids Restaurant space in the building currently under renovation at Sixth Street and Florida Avenue, but we haven’t received details yet.
The siting of a grocery store is more difficult. The nature of grocery shopping tends to require parking more so than most other commercial uses do, so any grocer would probably only consider spaces with underground garages or outdoor lots. Few properties nearby meet this requirement, except for the United Planning Organization headquarters at Second Street and Rhode Island Avenue (pictured below). For decades it was a Safeway, but since UPO has no plans to move, we can rule out the building as a potential site.
Another potential site might be the Wonderbread Factory (pictured below) on S Street by the north entrance to the Shaw Metro. It’s currently owned by Douglas Development, but has been vacant for quite a while. At nearly 40,000 square feet over two floors, the building might be a good candidate for a grocery store. With the UNCF headquarters about to break ground this summer just across the alleyway, perhaps the two developers could come to an agreement to provide some underground spaces to patrons to a potential store next door.
The O Street Market project, supposed to bring a 57,000-square-foot Giant is still years away as is the proposed grocery store for the parking lots at W Street and Georgia Avenue. Any potential grocer might fear an over-saturation of competition.
What amenities would you like to see in or adjacent LeDroit Park?
Tomorrow (Tuesday) night is the monthly meeting of the LeDroit Park Civic Association. On the agenda:
- Park update
- 1922 Third Street presentation – Developer Grant Epstein will present his proposal for a third time.
- UNCF – UNCF’s CFO Early Reese and Four Points developer Steven Cassell will present the latest details on the development at the Shaw Metro station.
The meeting will run from 7 pm to 8:30 pm at the Florida Avenue Baptist Church.
When climbing the escalator out of the Shaw Metro’s north entrance, one emerges between Seventh Street on the left and a vacant field on the right. The vacant field has been set for renewal with a plan going back several years. In January, when we first started writing about the project, Radio One was still planning to move its headquarters to the site and the United Negro College Fund (UNCF) was considering space there, too.
At the February ANC1B meeting, the development team’s lawyer stated that the combination of UNCF and Radio One would require a reduction in the number of apartments from 180 to 133. With Radio One unceremoniously backing out, the number is now restored to 180. In January, the amount of retail space was reported to be 22,000 square feet. Now that UNCF plans to occupy 5,000 square feet on the ground floor for an outreach center, the retail component may have changed.
Two weeks ago we reported that Radio One had snubbed Shaw and decided to stay put in Lanham, possibly putting the project in jeopardy. Luckily, UNCF, in offering to purchase half of the 100,000 square feet of office space, provides a sufficient commitment to get the project further financing.
The following table illustrates the changes in the project since the beginning of the year and reflects numbers gleaned from various sources.
|Radio One||Radio One + UNCF||UNCF|
|Office Space (sq ft)||96,000||160,000||100,000|
On Friday, the WBJ reported that UNCF’s chief had formally testified before the D.C. Council seeking a $3.8-million property tax break and a $710,000 grant to move to Shaw. LeDroit Park’s ANC commissioner Myla Moss (ANC1B01) testified in support of the legislation, which will be taken up by the full council in April. If approved, the development team promises (yet again) to break ground in August.
One casualty of the proposed move is the Howard Theater, already delayed and crumbling under the elements. The $710,000 relocation grant would come from money set aside for the theater’s revival.
We reported a few days ago that the developer for Media Center One (a.k.a. Broadcast Center One), a mixed-use project slated for the area around the Shaw Metro, had inked a lease with the United Negro College Fund (UNCF). Good news for the long-delayed project.
Now the Washington Business Journal reports that the main tenant, Radio One, has inexplicably decided to stay put in the glitzy media town of Lanham, Maryland.
Though the development team says the project will go forward, we have trouble believing they can secure additional financing until they sign a replacement tenant.
At the previous ANC1B meeting, a lawyer representing the development group announced the group’s intention to convert 50,000 square feet of apartment space into office space. With Radio One out of the picture, perhaps they can revert the 50,000 square feet to apartments.
What’s most upsetting is that in January 2008, the District offered $23 million in subsidies to lure Radio One to the city. Two years and two months later, the land still sits vacant while Radio One just wasted two years of the taxpayers’ time.
We hope the developer finds a replacement soon, but unless the city is able to transfer the subsidy to another commercial enterprise, any struggling firm may balk at the District’s ridiculously high 9.975% corporate income tax rate— especially when Maryland and Virginia only charge 8.25% and 6.0%, respectively.
Snowpocalypse 2: Electric Boogaloo and other matters kept us too busy to follow up on the February meeting of ANC1B, so here is the belated report of the highlights.
The owner of 1916 Ninth Street requested a variance to allow him to use the house as an art gallery. His description of the renovation included achieving LEED Platinum certification for the old rowhouse.
The owner of 321 T Street sought and received ANC support for his conceptual design of his proposed renovations to the rowhouse on T Street here in LeDroit Park. The owner had presented the plan at the previous LeDroit Park Civic Association meeting and didn’t receive any opposition.
Finally, a lawyer representing Media Center One (a.k.a. Broadcast Center One) (pictured above) requested and received approval for a two-year extension for the planned unit development (PUD) application for the project. The developer’s representative blamed the financial markets (of course), sympathized with the community’s “development fatigue” and said that the project was moving forward thanks to the successful leasing of office space to the United Negro College Fund in addition to Radio One.
The reconfigured project will remain largely the same, except 50,000 square feet of apartment space will become office space. That means the project will include 133 apartments instead of 180 and will include 160,000 square feet of offices instead of 110,000 square feet.
Groundbreaking is now set for June or July 2010.
On the liquor front, Ulah Bistro received the ANC’s assent to host DJs and jazz bands Sunday through Thursday nights 9 pm to 1:30 am and Friday and Saturday nights 9 pm to 2:30 am. Ulah is one of the few licensees in the U Street area without a voluntary agreement.
The proprietors for Bella (900 Florida Avenue NW) did not show up and the ANC protested their request for a license.
Finally, the proprietor of Masa 14 (1825 Fourteenth Street) presented the most contentious proposal of the night, requesting that their liquor license extend to their proposed roof deck (see the drawings) permitting them to sell alcohol Sunday through Thursday 8 am to 2 am and Friday and Saturday 8 am to 3 am. Some neighbors voiced concern that the roof deck would create too much noise and doubted that a place described as restaurant would need to serve alcohol so late into the night. The ANC voted to protest the application until the owner and the ANC could come to a voluntary agreement. [Clarification: the ANC typically protests all new liquor licenses as a tactical move to goad applicants to reach what is called a “voluntary agreement” (VA) with the ANC. These voluntary agreements are less permissive than the District’s standing liquor laws.]
The next meeting is set for Thursday, March 4, 2010, at 7 pm on the second floor of the Reeves Building at Fourteenth and U Streets.