Bits of News …

… from a recent Beat26 Email

According to Mark Batterson, lead pastor of the National Community Church, the organization is purchasing The People’s Church building at 535 8th Street SE.  The sale is now under contract and expected to finalize in June 2011. Batterson says, “we are thinking about turning it back [to] a functioning theater of some sort that celebrates it’s history [as the Meader Theatre].  We have more questions than answers but we really know this has potential to serve Barracks Row and the entire Capitol Hill community.”

The National Community Church <> has recently purchased the “Miles Glass site” at Virginia Ave and 8th Street SE and adjoining lots on that Square 906.  Concept plans for building(s) on these parcels may be made public in late Spring.

I do feel a bit vindicated, having taken a few bruises for pushing so hard on the original plans the ANC reviewed in February for this new building at 8th & L Streets SE.  At the March 24th Historic Preservation Review Board hearing a much revised concept plan for the building was approved.  As I said in my blog on 10 Feb: “In my view, the building begged for more simplicity to let its industrial style shine.” It now conforms to that view, thanks to the Board and its staff.  Gone are the multitude of varying materials and the two story rain screen planned for the 8th Street facade.  Also gone is the “deconstructed tower” above the corner entrance.

You can compare the old and new design at <>. Also on this JD Land site you can view the lots now owned by the National Community Church on Square 906.

Starting April 1, Groovy DC’s hiatus ends with a temporary move to the second floor at Monkey’s Uncle at 321 7th Street SE.  The card, stationary, gift bags & wrapping paper, party supplies, balloons, journals, candles and other gift items store will be at this location until its new location in the 700 block of 8th Street SE is ready.  Store hours are 11am to 6pm (Tue, Wed, Fri); 11am to 7pm (Thu); 10am to 6pm (Sat); and 11am to 5pm (Sun).  Closed on Mondays.

Marking the beginning of the end of the work in front of the Commandant’s House, the scaffolding is coming down from around the building starting Monday March 28; this work will continue until April 7th.   A large flatbed truck will be parked on the south side of the 800 block of G Street SE during this period.  (I will have more news about this project later this week.)

The City Paper has picked John Stokes, DPR’s Chief of Staff, as the best civil servant in the District. The article describes Mr. Stokes as a person “…who gets things done and he’s so everywhere sometimes it seems like there’s more than one John Stokes.” <>. In my personal opinion, Mr. Stokes has been a critical element in helping to resolve tensions created by DPR when the planned renovations of the Watkins fields were suddenly sprung upon the community last fall.  The City Paper has also noted the success of the DC Pop Warner Football League since DPR took over its administration.  The Watkins Hornets team has won national championships in the past two years.

ADVANCE NOTICE: Dates of Some April Meetings
Tue 5 Apr: ANC6B Planning & Zoning Meeting
Tue 5 Apr: CHRS Meeting with Hine Redevelopment Presentation
Thu 7 Apr: ANC6B ABC Committee Meeting
Thu 7 Apr: PSA 106 Meeting
Tue 12 Apr: ANC6B Monthly Meeting
Tue 26 Apr: ANC6B Special Call Meeting on Hine Redevelopment
Thu 28 Apr: Historic Preservation Review Board Meeting (Hine Redevelopment project)

I also am trying to schedule an organizational meeting of the new ANC6B Transportation Committee.  Date not yet selected, however.  The ANC’s Executive Committee meets on Tue 29 Mar and sets the agendas for all of its April meetings at that time.  Thus, I will have those details to share mid-week.

In the meantime, I do know that the organizer of the Frager’s Hardware April 16th “Annual Spring Convention” will be appearing before the Planning & Zoning Committee to discuss plans for a parade of school kids and bands, which will  proceed the convention.  As for details, all I know so far is that it is to begin at Pennsylvania Avenue and 12th Street SE (in front of Frager’s) and the units will march along the west bound lanes of the Avenue to 7th Street, where the parade will turn right and march along 7th Street to Eastern Market.  The west side of PA Avenue will be closed to traffic for about 20 minutes.  The crossing streets (8th-11th Streets SE) will be closed only while the units pass (i.e., not during the entire time of the parade).  The convention will be held in the North Hall of Eastern Market from 10am to 3pm.

It is pot hole filling season in DC.  If you know of a pot hole in the street or an alley, you can report it in various ways.  Call 311, go to <>, tweet to <> or send an email to <>.  I used the latter route last year and got amazingly fast response.  However, I noticed that the hole patch did not last the year and it is once again in need of filling.  Perhaps that is the fate of this type of repair.  Still, better than nothing … and I know how long it takes (a long time) to get a repaving accomplished.

Lots of happenings at The Corner Store (9th & South Carolina), now through April.  One of my favorites Frank Solivan & Dirty Kitchen perform on Fri 8 Apr, 8pm.  Donation $20. Rest of lineup with details at <>; click on Events.

ANC6B’s March Meeting

Unhappiness.  For me, that’s the word that best describes the 4-hour March 8 ANC6B meeting.  Some residents are unhappy about the impact on their lives of Barracks Row restaurants and others, over pending plans to build a mixed use development on the Hine site.  And, one resident railed against my recently announced proposal for changes to parking.  The 2011 Commission itself still struggles with its divisions.  Change is tough.

In the midst of all this, the Commission approved 3 historic preservation and 3 zoning cases and added a new consent calendar to its agenda in the hopes of shortening its meetings.  (Once the kinks are worked out with practice, this should indeed save meeting time.  It wasn’t clear to me that it had that affect on its first outing, however.)  The Commission approved a Voluntary Agreement for one more restaurant for the 500 block of 8th St SE (Pacifico) but did so without my vote because I do not think that the Commission ought to make a difference between the closing hours of sidewalk cafes and summer gardens (rooftop or otherwise).  Both generate noise that ends up keeping nearby residents awake at night.  [UPDATE: The protesting residents may have forced this equality to occur in their formal negotiations with the restaurant owner under the auspices of the Alcohol Beverage Regulation Administration.]

The Commission’s now disbanded 2010 Retail Mix Task Force brought some recommendations to the Commission but no votes were taken, primarily because Commissioners had not had an opportunity to read the task force final report because some of us had not been informed it was available.  Most of these recommendations were referred to relevant committees for discussion before they are brought up for a vote.  Even a committee that did not yet exist got a referral.

Speaking of committees, ANC6B added a new one to its existing two and established two new task forces.  The new Committee on Transportation will be chaired by Commissioner Oldenburg (that’s me); a Task Force on Capitol Hill East, by Commissioner Flahaven (6B09); and a Task Force on Outreach & Constituent Services, by Commissioner Pate (6B05).  All of these new entities have a potential to bring new ideas to the Commission and community but, in my view, they will also generate a lot of work and have the potential to further lengthen the monthly meetings.  In any one month, we could have 5 reports to deal with instead of our current two; from the ABC Committee and the Planning & Zoning Committee.  And, most challenging perhaps, where to find all the meeting space?

Toward the end of the meeting, there was a update on the Performance Parking Pilot (PPP) Program.  Part of that briefing involved the plans proposed for changes in part of 6B04 (see Parking tags).  But, the briefing also mentioned ongoing discussions with DDOT that might extend the PPP boundaries even further to areas of 6B03, 6B04, and 6B05 north of Pennsylvania Avenue.  And, sandwiched somewhere in the middle of the meeting was some time devoted to the Hine Redevelopment project but no votes … just speeches and announcements of process (see Hine tags).  The special meeting, approved by the Commission, to be held on March 15 is THE time for lengthy discussions.  I urge you to attend, if only to listen, because any write up on that meeting will be complicated indeed.

Whither Goes Hine?

I cannot stress too strongly that everyone in the CH community needs to get involved in the review and decision process on the redevelopment of the Hine Jr. High site at 7th & Pennsylvania Ave SE.  The buildings erected in this large site and what they will eventually contain (i.e., offices, residents, retail, and perhaps a hotel) are going to change our life on the Hill.  It is up to the community to make sure that change is mostly positive.

ANC6B is now leading the review of the historic preservation (HP) component of the project and in the Fall will be engaged in its zoning aspects.  (This latter stage is called a Planned Unit Development or PUD and you can go to Commissioner Metzger’s blog <> for a PUD 101 discussion.)

If you tried to attend the ANC’s Planning & Zoning meeting on March 1, you know what a debacle it was regarding the HP case.  We have learned from that experience and gotten our act together.  The Commission has now planned a series of meetings to assure that everyone will have an opportunity to contribute to the dialog on this very important but complex Capitol Hill project.

Tue March 8, 630pm: ANC6B Regular Monthly Meeting. Location: Church of Jesus Christ of LDS, 522 7th St SE
The Hine HP case is already on the agenda but the Commission will not be voting on it as previously planned.  Instead, we will use this time to explain the ANC process going forward in full.  We will vote to request the Historic Preservation Review Board (HPRB) to delay its consideration of the Hine project until April.  We may provide a short briefing on the HPRB process, as we understand this HP case will cycle through the Board several times prior to any final decisions and we expect each cycle to include an ANC6B and, thus, community review.  The  agenda of the full meeting is at <>.

Tue March 15, 6pm to 9pm:  Special ANC Meeting on Hine.
Location: St. Coleta’s School, 1901 Independence Avenue SE.*
There will be 3 basic sections to this meeting: (1) a full presentation by the developers on the project as it currently stands; (2) questions and comments by interested community groups and individuals; and (3) questions and comments by the Commissioners.  The developers’ most recent presentation is at: <>, select “Hine Community Concept Presentation” at the bottom left side of the screen. This will open a PDF file. There is also an article about the plans in the March 2011 Hill Rag, pages 38-40.

*Note: St. Coleta’s is walkable from the Station Armory/RFK Metro Station (two stops from Eastern Market) and there is a parking lot on the premises.

Mid April (evening, other details TBA): Special ANC Meeting on Hine.
The ANC will hold another special meeting on Hine.  At this meeting, the ANC will hear any new information the developers or the community wish to present and will vote on its position on the project.  This position will be transmitted to the Historic Preservation Review Board for its April 28th meeting.  Most likely, the ANC will also testify at the Board meeting.

I urge you involved yourself and your neighbrs in these discussions.  So far, those providing input to the developers have naturally been the nearby neighbors who will be directly affected by the demolition, construction, and ultimately the buildings that arise.  But, the project belongs to all of us.  In addition to the above formal meetings, I would like to hold series of informal, small meetings between now and mid-April with 6B04 residents to help me out with my vote.  I can meet you at my house, your house, on a park bench, over a latte … days, evenings, weekends. Just let me know where to be and when.

Residential Parking Changes in 6B04

This is an update to my January 10 posting “Residential Parking Near Barracks Row” and the subsequent January 16 update.  (See January 2011 Archives)

Based on the comments Commissioner Metzger and I received from residents on our January 2011 document “Draft Proposal on Changes to Residential Parking in Blocks near Barracks Row” and subsequent discussions with DDOT, the agency has agreed to extend the operational boundaries of the Performance Parking Pilot (PPP) within 6B04, and below Pennsylvania Ave, up to 11th Street SE and south to include I Street SE.

Several years ago DDOT added 9th Street SE below Pennsylvania Ave and the 800 blocks of E and G Streets SE to the Performance Parking Pilot area created when the Nationals Stadium opened.  Thus, these blocks were posted with Zone 6 Only parking signs on one side of the street and new Residential Parking Permit (RPP) signs on the other side.

The Zone 6 Only side (red signs) restricts curbside parking to cars with Zone 6 stickers, Monday through Saturday, 7am to 930pm.  The other side of each block has “extended” RPP signs that restrict non-Zone 6 cars to 2 hours, Monday through Saturday, 7am to 930pm.  Because of the two-hour grace period, non-Zone 6 cars can park on those sides of the street starting at 730pm.  [Note that regular RPP signs are in effect Monday through Friday from 7am to 830pm.]

With this extension of the PPP boundaries, plans are to install Zone 6 Only signs to the following:

900 and 1000 blocks of E Street SE, south side of the street
900 and 1000 blocks of G Street SE, north side of the street
900 block of I Street SE, north side of the street
1000 block of I Street SE, south side of the street
500 and 700 blocks of 10th Street SE, west side of the street

The new RPP signs will replace existing RPP signs on the alternate side of these blocks.  (And, there may be an option to lengthen the hours of these signs.) As a result of this extension of PPP, all residences on the newly included blocks will receive an annual Visitor Parking Pass.

The 700 block of 9th Street SE is not included in the above because similar changes there are planned in conjunction with security-related changes to curbside parking along the south side of the 800 block of G Street SE (i.e., in front of the Commandant’s House).

Since DDOT is not requiring block-by-block petitions before these changes are made, I would like to get feedback ASAP from those affected.  The feedback I received based on the draft discussion document was positive with one exception.  In addition, there were some who were ambivalent as they did not feel these changes would have much impact on the residential parking congestion in the area. If necessary, I am more than willing to set up a petition process so that blocks can opt in or out of these changes.

Commissioners Metzger, Garrison, and I have also been working with DDOT, Barracks Row Main Street, and CHAMPS on improving the use of the public parking lot under the freeway at 8th & I Streets SE.  Those details, along with the above, will be announced at the March 8 ANC6B Meeting, along with preliminary discussions with DDOT on possible further extension of the PPP boundaries.