In 1998 LeDroit residents wrote an open letter to incoming Mayor Anthony Williams to complain about Prince and the House of Secrets (507 T Street).
Clean Up Street in LeDroit Park
We live amongst trash and filth in the 500 block of T Street NW, in the historic area of LeDroit Park. We are proud of our aged homes and the famous black Americans who lived in them. But when we turn the corner at Sixth and T streets, we are appalled at the piled garbage and trash. When we have special guests at our homes, we must hire a private company to remove the trash so that we will not be embarrassed. We also have a problem with the parties held in our neighborhood at an after-hours nightclub, the House of Secrets. It’s no secret that the last two times The Artist Formerly Known as Prince performed in the area, he had a party that went on from 1 a.m. until 5 a.m. on a Tuesday morning. The purple buses roared down our one-way street and unloaded noisy passengers. The limousines, cars and taxis pulled up, double parked and blocked our driveways. How is it that an after-hours establishment is allowed to exist in our neighborhood? We, law-abiding citizens, do not want this nightclub. We do not want to party. We want to sleep.
Lois Wiley and LilliAnn Williams, T Street NW
This letter appeared with other residents’ letters to Anthony Williams, who officially became mayor two days later. The House of Secrets has hosted parties for decades, but has been relatively quiet since 2013, when two people were stabbed outside the house during a party.
The Alcoholic Beverage Control Board investigated the incident to decide whether it should decline future temporary liquor license requests for the house. Although nightclubs and bars are not permitted in that location by zoning, the city does issue occasional temporary event licenses, usually for one specific day. Both the LeDroit Park Civic Association and ANC1B submitted letters protesting future licenses.
Marc Morgan, currently the President of the LeDroit Park Civic Association, is running for the ANC seat that covers most of LeDroit Park. Mr. Morgan’s campaign kicks off tomorrow, Wednesday, August 22, from 6 pm to 9 pm at Shaw’s Tavern (6th Street and Florida Avenue NW). Everyone is welcome to attend.
Local notables in attendance include our current commissioner, Myla Moss, who has chosen not to seek reelection, and Patrick Mara, who is the Ward 1 member of the State Board of Education. Come on out, meet your neighbors, and meet the candidate.
The event is open to the public.
Marc Morgan, President of the LeDroit Park Civic Association, is running unopposed for ANC 1B01, the seat that covers most of LeDroit Park. Myla Moss, our current ANC commissioner, has decided to retire from the seat she has held since January 2005.
Since I serve as Mr. Morgan’s campaign chair, I will share with you reasons you should vote for him in November.
For the past two years, Marc Morgan has served as President of the LeDroit Park Civic Association and has worked to bring the residents of the neighborhood together by hosting a mix of social activities and informational programs. Additionally, Mr. Morgan has been a strong advocate for the neighborhood by lobbying District agencies, including the DC Housing Authority, DC Water, and the District Department of Transportation, to better respond to problems facing residents in LeDroit Park.
For example, Mr. Morgan coordinated meetings between the residents of the Kelly Miller apartments and the DC Housing Authority to address crime, building deterioration, and youth engagement.
Last fall Mr. Morgan also coordinated the first annual LeDroit Park Oktoberfest, a neighborhood celebration that highlighted LeDroit Park’s diversity and offered activities for residents of all ages. Additionally, he has created a monthly neighborhood happy hour that provides neighbors an opportunity to meet and talk in a relaxed setting.
More recently, Mr. Morgan has work with the Metropolitan Police Department to address crime in LeDroit Park. Mr. Morgan continually pushes for increased police presence and responsiveness. Mr. Morgan also advocates measures to prevent crime and has consulted local residents and businesses to identify and report suspicious activity.
Within the next few weeks, he plans to roll out a new initiative that calls for increased police presence, identification of criminal hotspots, and crime prevention education in both LeDroit Park and Bloomingdale. The overall objective is to reassure residents that LeDroit Park and Bloomingdale are safe, thriving neighborhoods.
Outside of community activism, Mr. Morgan is the Director of Development for the American Council On Renewable Energy (ACORE), a non-profit dedicated to promoting the use of renewable energy.
Few things rile up neighbors like liquor licenses. Just outside LeDroit Park at 8th and T Streets, a proposal for a new restaurant, All Souls, has elicited the ire of several neighbors. The objectors, though small in number, are trying to stop a local restaurateur from turning a vacant storefront, pictured above, into a community asset. Much of this opposition is unwise and unwarranted and will hold back neighborhood improvement. We have heard the objections to All Souls for several months and would like to see this restaurant finally come to fruition.
While some objections, particularly regarding outdoor noise late into the night, are certainly reasonable, a few objectors have damaged their own credibility with an array of spurious objections.
The first of such complaints is that a restaurant serving alcohol across the street from an elementary school is unsavory. This is a red herring. Restaurants cannot serve alcohol to 10-year-olds and the main business of restaurants is at night, several hours after school has ended. The restaurateur has agreed to not serve alcohol before 5 pm.
The most ludicrous objection we heard is that patrons on the patio on 8th Street (along the blank wall in the photo above) will leer into a neighboring house. This is another red herring as drawing one’s window blinds or curtains can easily solve this problem.
Another objection is that a restaurant is inappropriate for what one objector alleged is a “residential street”. This is not entirely true. Most of the 1900 block of 8th Street is actually in a commercial zone C-2-B, which is intended for commercial uses, but also allows residential uses.
The restaurant site is surrounded by a residential zone (R-4) on three sides. Nonetheless, all zones have boundaries in which differing uses abut each other. It is the responsibility of residents to research and understand the zoning implications of where they live. It is also important for residents to understand their limitations in dictating how other people lawfully use their own property.
The restaurant building, as marked in the map below, is zoned for commercial uses (C-2-A), which permits restaurants as a matter of right. The law is very clear in this case that a restaurant is permitted in this location. The issuance of the alcohol license, which is necessary for any reastaurant to survive financially, is not by right, but must be requested. Thus, it is only in the alcohol license that the objectors have a viable case to block the business.
All Souls will improve the quality of life in several ways. It will provide a sit-down restaurant, something we consider a desirable neighborhood amenity. It will provide more eyes on the street to deter crime. Drug dealers and criminals at 7th & T Streets will feel less confident in their criminality when they see that there are numerous witnesses at sidewalk tables 100 feet away.
Most importantly, the conversion of a vacant property (pictured to the right) into a vibrant, occupied use improves the impression of the neighborhood. People rightly look upon vacant and abandoned space negatively. They look at active, lively restaurants positively. All Souls will improve the image of the neighborhood by improving the quality of life.
Let’s hope the unreasonable objections of a few don’t derail a potential community asset that we suspect the silent majority supports.
In preparation for redistricting Ward 1’s ANCs, the DC Office of Planning has released block-by-block demographic data for the District. We have combined the data for the blocks that comprise LeDroit Park to create a LeDroit Park census.
Analyzing U.S. Census data for LeDroit Park proves difficult because the of the way census tracts are drawn. Our census tract, 34, combines LeDroit Park and Howard University. Dorms on the northern end of the campus, far away from LeDroit Park, account for 717 of the tract’s 4,347 residents, thus skewing tract data. Furthermore, the tract also inclues several blocks bounded by Rhode Island Avenue NW, Florida Avenue NW, and 2nd Street NW.
Fortunately, the Census Bureau provides data for each block, allowing us to combine the statistics for those blocks in LeDroit Park, while excluding the Howard University campus. In the map below, we have outlined the tract in blue and shaded the blocks for LeDroit Park in red.
View LeDroit Park Census in a larger map
Though LeDroit Park started out as an exclusively white suburban neighborhood, by 1910 the neighborhood was almost entirely black. Today, 100 years later, the neighborhood is 70% black and is continuing to diversify.
However, when looking at the numbers on a block-by-block basis, you see that the neighborhood demography, must like that of the District itself, is unevenly distributed.
The block bounded by 5th Street, T Street, 6th Street, and U Street is 53% white, the highest in the neighborhood. Likewise, the block containing the Kelly Miller public housing is 91% black, the highest percentage in the neighborhood. The block containing the arch and the Florida Avenue Baptist Church comes closest to black-white equilibrium at 44% and 49% for each group respectively.
When looking at total population numbers for each block, you see that the two most populous blocks contain Howard University dorms. The block bounded by 2nd Street, T Street, 3rd Street, and Elm Street has 382 residents and contains Slowe Hall, which houses 299 students.
The second most populous block contains the new park. However, it also contains Carver Hall, which itself houses 173 students. Certainly these blocks are big, but the fact that their population numbers are off the chart has more to do with student dorms than with any inherent difference in housing density.
Finally, when we look at housing vacancy, we see that the block bounded by 5th Street, T Street, 6th Street and U Street has 38% of its housing units vacant. We’re not sure what’s causing this number, but we suspect that the apartment building at 5th and U Streets NW boosted the vacancy rate. The building has since been finished and is fully rented.
The block with the second-highest rate of vacancy contains the now-renovated Ledroit Place condo building at 1907 3rd Street NW.
It would be interesting too look at other data, including household income, car ownership, and age distribution for the neighborhood. However, the Office of Planning’s spreadsheet only covered population numbers, racial distribution, and housing unit numbers, so those are the metrics we graphed.
It’s that time again. The monthly meeting of ANC 1B will be on Thursday at 7 pm on the second floor of the Reeves Center at 14th and U Streets NW.
On this month’s agenda:
Mama Chuy DC – 2620 Georgia Avenue NW – Class C restaurant license – Full-service Mexican restaurant with carry-out and delivery service. No live entertainment. Summer Garden with 16. Seating capacity is 16. Total occupancy 32. Hours inside and outside: Sun-Thurs 9 am-2 am, Fri & Sat 9 am-3 am. Hours for sales and consumption of alcohol: Sun-Thurs 9 am-2 am, Fri & Sat 10 am-3 am.
Happy Hour – 1201 U Street NW (above the Islander) – Class C tavern license – Neighborhood bar with light food, games including Skiball, Wii Stations, and other electronic video games. Entertainment includes live bands. Hours (including alcohol): Sun-Thurs 11 am-2 am, Fri & Sat 11 am-3 am. Live entertainment: Sun-Thurs 6 pm-2 am, Fri & Sat 6pm-3 am.
Land use and transportation
- Proposal for a new apartment building at 1905-1919 14th Street NW (pictured above).
- Presentation from Howard University on its proposed new dormitories on 4th Street just north of LeDroit Park.
The ANC is starting a transportation committee to address parking policy, streetscape proposals, Metro service, and other transportation topics.
Representatives of two large projects of local interest will appear at Thursday’s monthly meeting of ANC1B.
First, Howard University will give a short presentation of its draft campus plan (right). The university is finishing up the draft that it intends to submit for public review and Zoning Commission approval in the coming months. The draft we’ve seen shows positive steps for development along lower Georgia Avenue. We will post more details later this week.
Second, the city and its architects will present the concept design for the renovation of Cardozo Senior High School. The historic school building opened at a time when girls and boys were separated within schools. As a consequence, the building has two small gyms, rather than one adequate gym. The architecture team proposes appending a new gym to the west side of the building and partly burying it into the hillside. Burying the structure into the hillside allays residents’ previous objections to any additions that would obstruct the spectacular views from Clifton Street NW. The roof of the gym will serve as a parking lot and may provide a fireworks view (not launching!) platform for future Independence Days.
Two liquor licenses are on the agenda, too:
- Sankofa Café, 2714 Georgia Avenue NW – New tavern. “Live entertainment and a Summer Garden. Total seating is 86. Total occupancy load is 136. Summer garden 40 seats. Hours of operation: Sunday-Thursday 7 am-2 am, Friday & Saturday 7 am-3 am. Hours of sales/service/consumption of alcoholic beverages: Sunday-Thursday 5 pm-2 am, Friday & Saturday 12 am-3 am. Hours of live entertainment: Sunday 6:00 pm-2 am, Thursday through Saturday 6 pm-1 am. Summer Garden hours of alcoholic beverage sales/service/consumption: Sunday 12 pm-12 a,. Monday through Thursday 3 pm-12 am,Friday & Saturday 12 pm-12 am. Summer Garden hourse lf live entertainment: Sunday 6 pm-9 pm, Thursday through Saturday 6 pm-9 pm.”
- H2 LLC Voluntary Agreement
The monthly meeting of ANC1B will be Thursday at 7 pm at the Reeves Center at 14th & U Streets NW.
The monthly meeting of ANC1B will be on Thursday, December 2 at 7pm in the Reeves Building at Fourteenth and U Streets NW. Here are some of the highlights from the agenda:
The commission will likely support the zoning relief application for 2221 14th Street NW (image above). In a rare residential foray, Douglas Development seeks to build a condo building at the southeast corner of Fourteenth Street and Florida Avenue. The company is seeking support for several variances and special exceptions, mostly regarding the roof structure, rear setback, and parking requirements. View the designs and zoning application.
The commission is also likely to lend its support to the Arts District Branding Project, which is developing graphic banners (sample at right) to hang from lights posts along Fourteenth Street and U Street. The banner is part of a $200,000 city-funded branding project to enhance the marketing and identity of the arts district that stretches along Fourteenth Street from Rhode Island Avenue to Florida Avenue and along U Street from Seventeenth Street to Seventh Street.
DDOT prefers that private groups obtain ANC support before the agency permits groups to hang banners on poles for 90 – 180 days. After the 180-day term, the banners remain up until another group wishes to use the poles or until the group removes them.
Also on the agenda is the District-owned Parcel 39 at the southwest corner of Eighth and T Streets in Shaw. The site is currently a parking lot, but Mayor Fenty, in the waning days of his mayoralty, is seeking to sell the lot to a development team with plans to construct a four-unit condo building. The sale price, or proposed sales price, has not yet been disclosed.
Two licensees are looking to modify their licenses:
Alero Restaurant & Lounge (1301 U Street) looks to amend its Class C license to include a 44-seat sidewalk café serving alcohol from 11:30 am to 1 am Sunday through Saturday.
Nearby, the Islander Caribbean Restaurant & Lounge (1201 U Street) wants to extend its hours and expand to the second floor. Currently their hours are Sunday 10 am- 2 am and Thursday-Saturday 10 am-2 am. They propose these new hours: Sunday through Saturday, 6 am-4 am with alcohol served Sunday 10 am-2 am, Monday-Thursday 8 am-2 am, and Friday – Saturday 8 am-3 am.
The commission will likely renew the following licenses as a formality:
- Duffy’s Irish Restaurant (2106 Vermont Avenue)
- Hominy/Bohemian Caverns (2001 11th Street)
- Dickson Wine (903 U Street)
- Velvet Lounge (915 U Street)
- Indulj (1208 U Street)
- Desperados Pizza (1342 U Street)
- Patty Boom Boom (1359 U Street)
- Marvin (2007 14th Street)
- The Gibson (2009 14th Street)
- Café Collage (1346 T Street)
- Jin (2017 14th Street)
The most contentious issue at Thursday’s meeting of ANC1B was the proposal to grant $4,000 to subsidize the groundbreaking celebration of the Howard Theater on August 22 and the proposal to spend $1,000 to purchase an advertisement in the celebration’s commemorative brochure. Commissioners Brianne Nadeau (1B05 – Meridian Hill) and Sedrick Muhammad (1B03 – Cardozo) were particularly opposed. Ms. Nadeau was displeased with the idea of a general subsidy for the event without knowing exactly for what items and services the money would be spent. Mr. Muhammad didn’t think a one-time event warranted so much public money.
The ANC narrowly approved the $5,000 grant 4 to 3 (vote tally below) and then took up a grant application for the Banneker City Little League, which sought $3,000 to subsidize a little league for neighborhood children. The commission approved the grant request without much ado.
As for $5,000 grant for the groundbreaking ceremony and the brochures, the votes were as follows:
- Ms. Myla Moss (1B01 – LeDroit Park)
- Mr. Peter Raia (1B02 – U Street)
- Mr. Eddie Ferrer (1B10 – North of Howard)
- Ms. E. Gail Anderson Holness (1B11 – Southern Howard University & Southern Pleasant Plains)
- Mr. Sedrick Muhammad (1B03 – Cardozo)
- Ms. Brianne Nadeau (1B05 – Meridian Hill)
- Ms. Rosemary Akinmboni (1B08 – Southern Columbia Heights)
Mayor Adrian Fenty (D) will address the monthly meeting of ANC 1B on Thursday at 7 pm at the Reeves Center at Fourteenth and U Streets NW. Following the mayor will be Councilmember Kwame Brown (D – at large), who is running for chair of the DC Council.
In other news, a new Mexican restaurant at 1819 Fourteenth Street, next to the Black Cat, is applying for a liquor license. They plan to host 99 seats in the summer garden, 14 seats on the sidewalk, and 161 seats inside. Though the property appears to be a modest 20 feet wide, it’s very deep and the “summer garden” is probably liquor license-speak for “roof deck”.
Closer to LeDroit Park, Howard Theatre Restoration Inc., the non-profit about to break ground on the Howard Theatre renovations this month, will request a $5,000 grant for the Jazz Man statue we wrote about earlier.
Update: We received word yesterday that the mayor has canceled his appearance.