If you’ve ever been to Rustik in Bloomingdale, you’ve probably noticed that it has this big, gorgeous patio… with nothing but firewood on it. Rustik has a voluntary agreement with the Bloomingdale Civic Association allowing patio seating for reduced hours, but has not yet secured the public space permit required to actually seat people outside. The hearing with the Public Space Management Administration is on March 24, and neighbors are writing letters in support of Rustik’s petition to Juan Amaya at the Space Permit Office.
In Brookland, the 901 Monroe project is moving along through the hearing process. On March 14th, the Zoning Commission held a setdown hearing on the project. The commission seems generally in favor of the idea, but would like to consider setting down a version of the plan with zoning that would restrict its height further. The Commission has asked for a number of additional documents: shade studies on how the proposed development will affect the surrounding area, perspective drawings of how it will look from various points around the neighborhood (12th Street retail, the Metro station, etc.), as well as a copy of the Brookland Small Area Plan. The developers have until tomorrow to turn in this information and the Commission will consider the issue again at their March 28 meeting.
Meanwhile, ANC5A has nominated the Colonel Brooks Tavern building and the neighboring houses for historic designation, which would effectively halt all progress on the 901 Monroe Street development. The Historic Preservation Review Board meets this week, but it seems the nomination will be heard next month. For those of you interested in the debate around the use of historic designation to halt development and the issues that arise from it, I direct your attention to this Greater Greater Washington post and its comments.
ANC Carolyn Steptoe of Single Member District 5A07, the SMD which encompasses the 901 Monroe project and the neighbors most directly affected, held a meeting of her SMD on Saturday for 5 hours. Steptoe invited Barbara Kahlow, DC zoning expert, to speak on how neighbors can navigate and work within the zoning process to achieve the desired result. Kahlow accuses the 901 Monroe developers of thinking they can steamroll un-savvy Brooklanders, but ran the risk of alienating the crowd when she called the Welcome to Brookland bridge mural “dreadful graffiti.” The gasps in the room were audible– that mural is pretty well-loved, including by this Brooklander. Many thanks to Brookland Avenue and Jason Lloyd Clement for their invaluable Twitter-reporting from the meeting.
In Eckington, there’s great consternation (and more than a little punchiness) over the development of a project called “Alexan NoMa West.” The 600+ unit development is being built on a privately-owned field that had been used as a dog park by residents of Eckington. Despite being a residential development in the Eckington neighborhood, it’s being called “NoMa” because it’s within the boundaries of the NoMa Business Improvement District, and was to be called “West” because it’s on the western side of Harry Thomas Way. Phase 2 of the project (NoMa East) was to be on the east side. Now that NoMa East has been canceled, the “West” is to be dropped from the project’s name. Eckington residents have so far been unsuccessful at convincing the developers to add Eckington to the name. Despite the neighborhood’s history, the developers argue that the businesses financing the project were more familiar with the NoMa construction than with Eckington. (Which is a damn dirty shame, if I may editorialize for a moment.)
This community frustration with the “NoMa” construction led to a pretty entertaining round of oneupsmanship on the Eckington list, in which everyone tried to come up with a more awkward and geographically-imaginative nickname for their neighborhood than the last, such as:
- NOMAWIE (NOrth of MAss – West Inside Eckington)
- noma sonhampshirewie eobloomdl
This, in my opinion, is the neighborhood mailing list at its finest; information is shared among neighbors and collective frustrations vented with good humor.