Saturday, December 31, 2011

Embassy Protest Yields Results


I am pleased to report that the Republic of the Congo has responded to orders from the District Government and requests by the ANC and the Dupont Circle Citizens Association to remove the concrete covering of the public space in front of the former Toutorsky Mansion. The Embassy felled trees, uprooted shrubs and paved over the building’s front yard.

The Congo recently purchased the Toutorsky Mansion, a local landmark and contributing structure of the 16th Street Historic District, for use as its Embassy. The building is a graceful brick structure built in the 1890s for Justice Henry Brown of the Supreme Court. Later it was a music school and then a Bed and Breakfast. Under DC law, front lawns are city property, but Embassy properties are considered foreign soil and exempt from District law. Knowing this, neighborhood officials, including the ANC, had specifically requested that no changes be made to the historic greensward. The sale was approved by the Board of Zoning Adjustment’s Foreign Missions Department only after the Congo agreed.

DDOT has asked the Embassy to restore the landscaping after removing the concrete surfacing. When you walk past the property you will notice the removal of the concrete, so it is now ready for restoration of the landscaping.

I want to thank my fellow Commissioners, the Dupont Circle Conservancy, and the Dupont Circle Citizens Association for preserving our public space along 16th Street, otherwise known as the Avenue of the Presidents.

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Happy Holidays to One and All!


Just a quick note to wish all of my constituents a Happy Holiday season. Please be safe and I wish all of you a happy and healthy 2012!

I advise everyone to be on the lookout for crime. There is traditionally a spike in "crimes of opportunity" in the neighborhood during the holidays. The Police have told us at our recent ANC meetings that this is the time of year that they see an increase in the number of car breakins, package thefts, muggings, and burglaries. So enjoy the holidays but be aware of crime!

And remember to report any crimes that you witness along with accurate descriptions in order to help the Police catch the criminals!

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Postal Service Committed to Keeping Post Office



I am pleased to report that Postmaster Roane announced at tonight's community meeting that Temple Heights and Kalorama Post Offices will remain open. They have been taken off the study list. Over 3,000 surveys were returned by residents.

The 14th and T Street Post Office will continue to operate until the end of the lease (2/12). It was originally scheduled to close on Dec. 31. The Postmaster is committed to locating a new post office in the 14th and U neighborhood and is reviewing several proposals, including the Reeves Center.

I want to thank Councilmember Jim Graham who responded to our outcry and has worked with the Postmaster and the community to achieve this outcome.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Postal Service Meeting 12/15


The Postal Service will be discussing the closure of several local post offices at a meeting on Thursday, Dec. 15, at 5:30 p.m. at the Rita Bright Family and Youth Center located at 2500 14th Street. This is a follow up meeting to the one held in Cleveland Park on November 29. Councilmembers Graham and Evans plan to attend since their constituents are affected. Please join us to learn the USPS plans for our 14th and T Street Post Office.

Thursday, December 8, 2011

You're invited to attend the annual Holiday Party hosted by the U Street Neighborhood Association at Local 16. The festivities begin at 7 p.m. Bring a neighbor!

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Meeting to Discuss Closure of T St Post Office



I attended the meeting last night and learned that the post office is being closed because the owner of the property does not want to renew their expiring lease. As you may know, there is a new 8 story building proposed for that site.

I asked the Postmaster to consider extending the lease for another 6 months to give all of us a chance to figure out some options for another location in our neighborhood while the approvals for the new building are being reviewed by DC Government agencies. I also asked for another community meeting and he agreed.

We have not had adequate notice or opportunity to consider other options, I feel. These two actions would give us some more time. We need a post office on 14th or U St with all of the development that is scheduled to happen along 14th Street in the next several years.

Stay tuned...

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Happy Turkey Day and Thank You!


I would like to wish all of my constituents and visitors to our neighborhood a Wonderful and Happy Thanksgiving! I would also like to thank all of our residents, businesses, activists and volunteers for making our community a better place to live, work and play!

Monday, November 21, 2011

Revised Project at 15th and V Approved by HPRB



The HPRB has approved the Jair Lynch Project located at 15th and V Streets after the architect's plans were modified to integrate the building's scale into the historic neighbhorhood as requested by the Board at its September hearing. In order to do so, the architect increased the percentage of masonry (to glass) on the facade, reduced the height of the corner tower (by one foot on V Street and 4 feet on 15th), decreased the size of all windows, created slimmer bay projections (by a foot-and-a-half), and added more masonry between the ground-floor glass and the tower. Two kinds of glass will now be used in the bays, clear and "fritted" (i.e. enameled).

Included in the development will be two levels of underground parking, 95 apartments - 87 market rate units and 8 subsidized (at 50 to 80% of AMI) - a fitness room, club room, shared interior courtyard, and roof deck.

The property, located at 2005 15th Street, will overtake an existing parking lot that serves the adjacent Paul Laurence Dunbar Apartments (formerly Campbell Heights) at 2001 15th Street, a 10-story, 171-unit apartment designated as affordable senior housing, which is property owned in large part by Jair Lynch. The corner of 15th and U Streets was formerly the location of the historic Dunbar Hotel which was razed in 1974. The hotel was Washington's leading elite black hotel. The Campbell Heights apartments were built in 1978.

Lynch acquired majority ownership of the Dunbar apartments building last year - as the website states - after having "structured a complex package of debt and equity totaling $43.3 million to facilitate the rehabilitation of the property." According to the U Street Neighborhood Association, "The [15th and V Street] project subsidizes a portion of the renovation work being performed on the ... Paul Laurence Dunbar Apartments."

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Leaf Collection Schedule




The District has scheduled our neighborhood for leaf collection from November 21 to December 3. Please rake your leaves into the tree boxes by Sunday, November 20. Leaves ONLY! Tree limbs, bricks, dirt, rocks, etc. will damage the equipment and delay collections.


Bagged leaves, placed in your alley trash collection site, will be collected along with the regular trash.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Old Post Office Construction to Begin Soon


The owner of the Old Post Office, Ron Eichner of New Legacy Partners, has confirmed that renovation/construction will begin in a few weeks and last for nine months. The plan is to add a second story to the Post Office building with a 15 foot setback. The old postal truck driveway will become a two story brick building. The space may be subdivided into several businesses depending on the tenants' wishes for space. Pictured here is the approved concept plan and a photo of the properties at 1407 and 1409 T Street NW. We look forward to the changes to these properties which served as storage/display space for Rough and Ready Furniture for many years.

Graphic and photo courtesy of New Legacy Partners website

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Street Sweeping Ends for the Season


Street sweeping ended on Halloween for the season. So for those of you who have vehicles on the street, you can rest easier about having to move them for street sweeping until March. Thanks to everyone who cooperated during this season to make street sweeping so effective in light of the changes in the days of the week and the hours of street sweeping operations.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Artists Display their work this weekend


Please join us this weekend, October 21 and 22, as we tour the Artist Open Studios in our neighborhood. This has been happening for 10 years now and it is very enjoyable to check out their work. The event is sponsored by many businesses in the 'hood. Some will be displaying works by the artists in their respective locations like Room and Board. Swann Street resident and artist Charlie Gaynor will be showing some of his work at Room and Board until Sunday. So get out there and enjoy our Fall weather and buy some artwork for holiday gifts or for your homes!

For a more complete listing and map visit www.MidCityArtists.com.

Saturday, October 8, 2011

Arts@1830 Opens


A new gallery and framing shop has opened at 1830 14th Street two doors down from the Room and Board store. When Bar Pilar decided to expand its operation into the second floor, a spokesperson for the management told neighbors that they would open a gallery across the street to support the Arts District since they were taking the second floor of Raven Arts. We wish the new gallery and artists "good luck!"

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Lincoln Theatre Facing Funding Shortfall May Close




Yesterday evening it was reported in the news that the Lincoln Theatre may have to close because the Council cannot find funds to support it as it has in the past. Last night an emergency board meeting was held to discuss options going forward. The board is appealing to Mayor Vincent Gray to provide funding from the city's surplus tax revenue. They are also asking donors to help the theater stay open. Please contact your Council member (Jack Evans for SMD 2B09) and ask that funds be set aside to continue supporting the Lincoln Theatre, one of the anchors of our ARTS Overlay District.

The theatre opened in 1922 to serve Washington's black residents during segregation. It was restored and reopened in 1994 and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. The theater has a storied past on the strip once known as America's "Black Broadway."

Saturday, September 24, 2011

17th Street Festival Brings Community Together


Once again the 17th Street Festival brought our community together to celebrate the diversity in our neighborhood. It was great to see everyone out today enjoying the cool and comfortable weather. The art booths were fun to see and the music was wonderful. The sidewalk cafes were bustling with customers and visitors to our neighborhood...and a good time was had by all! It was my pleasure as ANC Commissioner to support this community event again this year!

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Taylor Gourmet to open on 14th

You may have noticed the dumpster on 14th Street...our neighborhood will soon have a Taylor Gourmet sandwich shop in the location formerly occupied by Rough and Ready Furniture. The space is being readied for the new occupant. Taylor is also located on H Street and K Street so click here to see what's coming to our 'hood.

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Remembering A Friend and Neighbor on 9/11


As we get ready to remember the 10th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks, I want to take a moment to acknowledge our own neighbor and friend who died that day when the terrorists attacked the Pentagon. David M. Charlebois was a first officer with American Airlines and was aboard Flight 77 that fateful day. He was a neighbor who lived on the 1400 block of T Street with his partner of 14 years, Tom Hay. We remember him as a very gentle soul who walked his dog and smiled and spoke to everyone he passed. He had a wonderful sense of humor and loved living in our neighborhood and enjoyed his home on T Street. We miss you David and we are thinking of you!

Local 16 adds sidewalk cafe


Recently Local 16 added an outdoor cafe to its New Hampshire Avenue facade. Now you can dine outside facing the small triangular park at the point where 16th Street and New Hampshire Avenue come together at U Street. Owner Aman Ayoubi told the ANC that he wanted to beautify the corner where Starbucks is located and we approved his request. Please enjoy the results!

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

1425 T Street Cooperative Celebrates 15th Anniversary with Block Party







On Saturday the cooperative at 1425 T Street celebrated its 15th anniversary. The directors of the coop board hosted a block party that was attended by residents of the building and the 1400 block. CM Jack Evans and I kicked off the party noting the building's contribution to the neighborhood. Pictured above with us are the coop board President, Clara Balbuena, and Past Presidents Tanya Barbour and Dominga Cruz. The banquet of food was terrific with plenty to go around (including an anniversay cake); the moonbouncers were very popular with the kids; and the music was enjoyed by all who attended. The weather cooperated and everyone had a GREAT time at the party!

Also pictured above is the original invitation to the GRAND OPENING ceremonies held on August 3, 1996. I was a speaker on the agenda representing the T Street Block Association. Best wishes for the next 15 years!

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Design Revised for 14th and Wallach Place

Level 2 Development has revised its design for the new residential building at 1905-1917 14th Street where the U.S. Post Office is located based on community meetings and the HPRB review of their initial design. They have reduced overall massing, increased more setbacks to reduce impacts on Wallach Place, and have incorporated characteristics of the neighborhood. They met with Wallach Place residents last week to review the design.

The new design is still 7 stories tall, however the massing has been shifted to the southern end, where the entrance was repositioned, and the overall density has been decreased, allowing for a more significant stepback at the back of the building (to an adjacent commercial rowhouse and Wallach Place residents across an alley).

Level 2's plan for 154 units has been shaved down to 144, with a loss of approximately 4,000 s.f. overall - a net loss of ten, cozy 400-s.f. studio units - the same floor plan that makes up the majority (approximately 85%) of the building. Most of the units will be efficiencies, although there will be some one bedroom units.

A decorative cornice has been added around the 4-story (northern) section of the building and the two 4-story projecting bays on 14th Street. The new design has an exterior that is less glassy (i.e. windows have been broken down into smaller sizes), in an attempt to make the building look "less commercial."

The building's footprint remains unchanged, at nearly 16,000 s.f., and includes ground floor retail. The developers have stated that 50% of commercial tenants will have to meet criteria of the Arts District Overlay.

They will appear before ANC 1B and HPRB in September to obtain approval of this revised design.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Working Group Proposes New SMD Boundaries

At last night's meeting of the 2B Redistricting Task Force, a proposal was developed by the group to redraw the SMD boundaries to more closely meet the 2000 resident criterion that redistricting requires every ten years. My SMD needs 400 more residents to meet the minimum of 2000 residents, so the working group expanded 2B09 to pick up the 1600 blocks of S and Swann Streets. Your ANC is seeking comments and feedback on the proposed boundary changes so please visit our site.

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Dog Days Are Here Again

Dog Days are here again...along with some great specials.

Click here to see a list of specials from our local businesses:

See you in the neighborhood this weekend!

Consignment Chic Comes to 14th


Current Boutique has opened another location at 1809 14th Street. It joins other locations in Alexandria and Arlington to bring women's clothing and accessories to our neighborhood. We wish them good luck and urge our neighbors to shop there...frequently!

Saturday, July 30, 2011

ANC Offers New PSA 208 Boundaries


On Thursday evening, July 28, the Dupont Circle ANC held a public meeting to discuss the PSA boundaries proposed by Chief Lanier. As a result of public input, the ANC drafted a statement about the Chief's plan to split our community and offered new PSA 208 boundaries that keep our community together (see the map above). In its statement, the ANC said that it "strongly urges and prefers that the Dupont Circle neighborhood remain as a single PSA to maintain cohesiveness, working relationships, and communication for effective law enforcement in our community."

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Redistricting leaves our SMD in Ward 2


I am pleased to report that this afternoon the DC Council voted 8-5 to support the redistricting bill that leaves our SMD 2B09 in Ward 2. Every ten years after the census is conducted, the Council redistricts its Wards to balance the growth in population. The next step is for our Councilmember to appoint a Task Force that will determine the ANC and SMD boundaries. Stay tuned to see if there are any changes to our current boundaries.

Friday, May 13, 2011

El Centro DF opens on 14th on Cinco de Mayo


This is a new 14th Street taqueria and tequileria brought to you by Richard Sandoval of Masa 14 fame. On the street floor you can visit the casual eating space in front or head to the dining room in the rear. Fill up on traditional Mexican dishes like tamales, carne asada, tacos (try the shrimp alambre with bacon and oaxaca cheese), and enchiladas (go for beef brisket with entomatado sauce and crema fresca).

You can also head to the lower-level bar to sample 200 types of tequila and mezcal. Take it straight up or go for a cocktail with herbs, botanicals, and house-made bitters. You can also kick back on the roof with a homemade soda or Mexican beer cocktail (with smoked bacon garnish).

We wish Sr. Sandoval "buena suerte (good luck!)" with the new restaurant at 1819 14th Street!

Thursday, April 7, 2011

"STANDARD" Fare For You


STANDARD has opened its doors and patio seating, serving up barbeque and beer at the former Garden District space at the corner of 14th and S Streets. The menu includes pulled pork, ribs, fries, beans, and slaw, as well as bratwursts and kraut. Draft selections include K√∂stritzer Schwarzbier and Weihenstephaner Hefe-weissbier, as well as Bell’s Two Hearted IPA, Avery Ellie’s Brown Ale, and North Coast Scrimshaw Pi.

Until the weather warms up a bit more, they’re open Wednesday and Thursday from 5:30 pm to 1 am… on Fridays from 5:30 pm to 2 am… and Saturdays and Sundays beginning at noon. We extend best wishes to Tad Curtz, the owner, with his new venture in our neighborhood!

Photo courtesy of Luis Gomez

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

JBG Unveils Construction Schedule


JBG Project Manager James Nozar has announced the construction schedule for District Condos at 14th and S. Excavation will occur during April and be completed by June. Concrete will be poured from June through November. The utility work will be done from June through November. The exterior work on the building will be done from October through April. Interior work will take from January through October of 2012. Streetscape details will be completed in September. Construction will occur from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. Mondays through Saturdays. We wish the construction team the best as they proceed to build this new addition to our neighborhood. If you have any questions, please call James at 202.295.7348.

Friday, March 4, 2011

New Trees Arrive


Today new maple trees were delivered and planted into empty tree boxes in our neighborhood. Last year the dead trees were removed so I was glad to see the new trees arrive. Please take care of them and make sure that they are watered for the first two years until they mature.

Saturday, February 26, 2011

Street Sweeping Begins Tuesday, March 1


Please take a look at our new Street Sweeping Signs. There have been some changes made by DDOT on some blocks and streets in the neighborhood as to time of day and/or day of the week. I have been working with Raeisha Williams, Mayor Gray's Constituent Services Director for Ward 2, to clear up any confusion since some of the blocks and streets have had their day of the week changed. T Street is one of them and now the signs have been changed back to the original days that have been in place for the past 30 years.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Thank You, Jeff, for Everything!


I want to take a moment to express my sorrow on the passing of Jeff Coudriet--a neighbor, activist, constituent and GREAT Person! He passed away last weekend and was memorialized at a service held at the Foundry Methodist Church at 16th and P Streets. He served as CM Evans' clerk for his Committee on Finance and Revenue and knew the inner workings of the Council. We all benefitted from his knowledge of politics, procedures and money in the District. We will miss him and his contributions to our city and neighborhood. He was a special person...intelligent, charming, enthusiastic, and full of life! Anyone who knew Jeff at all knew that he was one who strived to leave the world better than he found it. Thank you, Jeff, for everything!

Saturday, January 29, 2011

Utopia Project Set to Start in Fall 2011

The Utopia Project at the corner of 14th and U Streets is slated to begin construction in the Fall.

Conceived by Georgetown Strategic Capital (GSC), the Utopia development will serve up 220 rental units and 20,000 square feet of retail. Eric Colbert & Associates have moved forward on the drawings, says Robert Moore of GSC, with plans for completion of the drawings by spring.

"The design is shaping up to be a very attractive solution, combining a sensitivity to the historic buildings and materials with a modern flair as Colbert has demonstrated in some of his other work," says Moore. Colbert & Associates also designed 1406 T Street condos, the renovation of the Room and Board building, Church Place condos, The Hudson on P Street, The Floridian on 9th Street and The Rutherford
on 13th Street.


Community representatives worked with Eric and Moore to make sure that Utopia`s facade is terraced so it blends with the surrounding rowhouses and storefronts. We were trying to avoid a behomoth on the block. since the building is 90 feet high, the most towering building in the neighborhood. Colbert & Associates were sensitive to community concerns, meeting often with the ANC, Dupont Circle Conservancy, and the city`s historic preservation staff.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Demolition Begins at Whitman Walker Site










Today the wall of the laundry at the corner of 14th and Swann Streets fell as demolition continues at the Whitman Walker clinic site...the home of the new DISTRICT CONDOS by The JBG Companies. The 125 units will be completed in June 2012. I am pleased that the revitalization resumes on 14th Street...after all the planning that has been done in the past few years!

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

A Tale of Two Townhouses












Recently two properties were completed and readied for sale as condominiums. Therein lies a Tale of Two Townhouses. The one pictured on the left is a historic property at the corner of 16th and T that DCRA was prepared to raze until concerned citizens, the Dupont Conservancy, and yours truly as ANC Commissioner stepped in to convince them to shore up the property and try to salvage it. In the end a developer purchased the building and renovated it.

The other one on the right is a new development at the corner of 15th and Swann where a historic residence burned down a few years ago. The Conservancy and I worked with the architect and developer to design a project that blended in to the surrounding historic neighborhood. I think both projects turned out successfully and I wish the new condominium owners much good luck and welcome them to our diverse, vibrant and historic neighborhood.

Monday, January 3, 2011

Inauguration Day


I was very honored and privileged to be sworn in as your ANC Commissioner for another term. I was given the oath of office by Councilmember Jack Evans on Jan. 2 at the Washington Convention Center after Mayor Gray and the Councilmembers and Council Chairman were sworn in earlier in the morning.

I look forward to serving you and my Single Member District. Please contact me with any questions or issues you may have at Ramon.Estrada@DupontCircleANC.net.

See you in the neighborhood!