December 01, 2010 - 9:29 pm

New Condos Coming to Shaw and 14th Street

Florida Avenue elevation for Douglas Development's proposal for 2221 Fourteenth Street 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:

Development/Public Space

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.

Alcohol Licenses

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)
5 Comments »
June 04, 2010 - 12:31 am

U Street Booze Moratorium

At last night’s monthly meeting of ANC1B, Councilmember Jim Graham (D – Ward 1) suggested that the neighborhood could “benefit from discussion” of a liquor license moratorium on U Street.  While the U Street corridor has experienced significant growth in the number of restaurants and bars over the past ten years, not everyone is happy with the revival.  The bar scene, in the midst of a dense neighborhood is bound to create conflict especially as the corridor becomes a regional destination for bar-goers.

In fact one of the attractive features of U Street is that its bars have not become as raucous and overcrowded as those in Adams-Morgan.  Part of the reason is that U Street attracts a different crowd (read: fewer college students) and includes more restaurants than actual bars.  Furthermore, U Street stretches 0.8 miles (from Ninth to Seventeenth Streets) compared to Adams-Morgan’s 0.4 mi (along Eighteenth Street from U Street to Columbia Road).  In reality the main bar strip of Adams-Morgan is packed into the 0.2 miles between Kalorama and Columbia Roads.  That’s only one-fourth the length of the U Street corridor.

We know Adams-Morgan and U Street is no Adams-Morgan.

A moratorium on U Street would freeze the supply of available bar and restaurant space without alleviating the demand.  In other words, a moratorium would eventually pack the existing venues.  Customers will be stuck with the same selection of venues and would suffer higher prices and larger crowds at each venue.

Furthermore, we argue that this issue is already being addressed through two other avenues.  First, the ANC is careful to review liquor licenses and doesn’t hesitate to strongarm restaurateurs and barkeeps into so-called “voluntary agreements” that stipulate a variety of restrictions.  These restrictions aim to maintain the livability triumvirate of “peace, order, and quiet” so that neighbors can sleep without a cacophony of throbbing music, boisterous drunks, and gun shots.  The process is not perfect, but neighbors are legally entitled to input and negotiation.

Second, the liquor issue is already being addressed by proxy of the zoning code.  As we reported before, no more than 25% (soon to be raised to 50%) of street frontage along Fourteenth Street and U Street within the Uptown Arts Overlay zone can be devoted to food establishments.  Since restaurants make much of their money by serving alcohol, the raising of the cap to 50%, an increase with significant, though not universal, community support, implies the acceptability of a commensurate increase in liquor licenses.

* * *

In other news, the ANC voted unanimously to approve the renewal of Class C restaurant liquor licenses for the following businesses:

  • Shashemene Ethiopian Restaurant – 1909 Ninth Street NW
  • Ambassador Restaurant – 1907 Ninth Street NW
  • Zula Restaurant – 1933 Ninth Street NW
  • Sala Thai – 1301 U Street NW
  • Vinoteca – 1940 Eleventh Street NW
  • Red Lounge – 2013 Fourteenth Street NW
  • Gori Café – 1119 V Street NW
  • La Carbonara – 1926 Ninth Street NW
  • El Sol de America – 1930 Ninth Street NW
  • Salina Restaurant – 1936 Ninth Street NW
  • Chix – 2019 Eleventh Street NW
  • Masa14 – 1825 Fourteenth Street NW (rooftop license modifications are a separate matter)
  • Source – 1835 Fourteenth Street NW
  • Prince Hall Freemason & Eastern Star Charitable Foundation – 1000 U Street NW
  • Islander Caribbean Restaurant & Lounge – 1201 U Street NW
  • The Saloon – 1205-1207 U Street NW
  • Ulah Bistro – 1214 U Street NW
  • Lincoln Theater – 1215 U Street NW
  • Café Nema-Momo’s – 1334 U Street NW
  • Dynasty Ethiopian Restaurant – 2210 Fourteenth Street NW

The ANC voted to withdraw its protest and enter into a voluntary agreement with Mesobe Restaurant (1853 Seventh Street NW).  The commissioners voted to protest the renewal of Expo Restaurant and Nightclub (1928 Ninth Street NW) on account of noise and trash.  They aim to draft a voluntary agreement with Expo.  The commission decided to take no action on the renewal of licenses for Yegna (1920 Ninth Street NW) and Eatonville (2121 Fourteenth Street NW).

5 Comments »
April 19, 2010 - 7:34 am

Culinary Abbreviation

Amendments to the zoning code usually proceed at a snail’s pace, but when DCRA recently announced that it would no longer permit any new restaurants along Fourteenth and U Streets, the MidCity Business Association, with the support of other neighborhood groups, demanded an immediate change.

The District government is listening.  The Office of Planning (OP) is poised to hold a hearing on Monday, April 26th to lift the maximum restaurant street frontage restriction from 25% to 50% of the total frontage along Fourteenth and U Streets within the overlay (shaded in red below).


View U-14th-Florida-9th Arts Overlay in a larger map

The proposed amendment will also adjust how the limit is calculated. Currently the limit applies to and is calculated from all properties fronting U and Fourteenth Streets within the zone. (These frontages are marked in red above.)

OP proposes not only to raise the limit to 50%, but also to calculate it per “block-face” rather than as the aggregate of all blocks together.  For instance, on the 1300 block of U Street, restaurants will be limited to 50% of frontage on the south side of the street and 50% of frontage on the north side of the street.

OP also proposes to “clarify” the existing regulation so that “[a]n eating and drinking establishments not located on the ground (street) level of a building shall not count towards the 50% limit.” The ground-level exemption will also apply above- and below-street entrances.

OP also proposes another clarification to stipulate that the limit only applies to lots fronting Fourteenth Street and U Street within the overlay; the existing wording is ambiguous as to whether the restriction applies only to these two streets or to all lots within the entire zone.

Once the 50% limit is reached on a block-face, OP proposes stricter requirements for exemptions.

Check out the full proposed amendment:

1 Comment »