April 2013 Archives

I could search the past times I've done this, but I'm just going to break my own rule, just this once. Unless something like this pops up again....

Chatting with a neighbor, I discovered another family will be leaving our lovely street and there is a 95% chance that they will sell. They think they'll need to stage the house so they can get the best price.  My vague memories are that the house is mordern on the inside and in good shape. It is a 3 bedroom more than 1,400 sq ft.

I'm aware some of you are dying to live on my block and yes, it is an awesome block, so heads up.

Decade in Review: That Damned Firehouse

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Well I think I've found a pattern. I see something new, I search my blogs for when I posted about it, and write up something short and post it. This is the case with the North Capitol Street firehouse.

Yes, the firehouse that seemed to have been doomed to a circle of neighborhood development Hell.

 I found a post that was written by my short term co-writer Truxonian from 2006 announcing that a restaurant was coming. [Mari looks at wrist] It's 2013, seven years now. Boundary Stone wasn't even a sparkle in anyone's eye then and Big Bear wasn't going to open until later that year. There was lots of hope and promise and sh*t in the air.

Well the new thing is the Firehouse has a facebook page. Which I think is the requirement for all new hip ventures opening in Bloomingdale. In the past 24 hours, the owners of the page have posted a photo of an upstairs bar...... Hey how's that ABRA license thing going? Is Steve May still in charge of this project? Sorry, but I am seriously friggin jaded. I've had 7 years to get this way and Mr. May's 2011 hissy fit letter didn't help.

Scott Robert's seems to be more hopeful.

Decade in Review: Parcel 42

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I saw on the Shaw Neighborhood Yahoo list ANC Kevin Chapple mentioned that the Deputy Mayor for Planning and Economic Development (DMPED) selected the Shaw 42 Developers as the developers for Parcel 42. This confused me because I thought some hotel group got the ANC vote and silly me thought last year's ANC's vote counted for something. If you forgot what all the proposals were, see East Shaw's blog.

The Parcel 42 saga has been going on for a while. My earliest mention was back in 2007 (6 years ago). There was another mention in 2009, and 2010, 2011, and 2012. Part of that was the protest camp that was there in 2010.

UPDATE- East Shaw has a post on this new turn.

Protest banner

Decade in Review: New Stuff in Bloomingdale

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Last night we drove past the new Italian Bloomingdale restaurant Red Hen, and man that place was crowded. It looked fun but crowded. We'll probably wait a week or two before checking it out ourselves. But this got me to thinking that Bloomingdale is the place where the cool destination places are landing, while we over in the TC just get to look and walk over.

Part of me wants to say it started with Windows, they were there first, and pointed to as a signal of change in the neighborhood. This was in 2005. The next year Big Bear, the coffee shop, opened after much, much waiting and hoping and a few get to know the neighbors events. Then it became the tie for the Bloomingdale Farmers Market in 2007, and real estate ads began citing it as an amenity. Now the coffee shop is all fancy and stuff and popular.

In early 2008, Kim Wee opened Timor, now Field to City. Back then it was just a few shelves and some fresh milk in glass jars. Back then, if you wanted milk in glass jars you had to go all the way to the Logan Circle Whole Foods. Back then it was also quirky, as Kim would adjust and change things, like making the side door the entrance after he was robbed.

Two years later there was a hint of the Boundary Stone coming to Rhode Island Avenue. I'm doing this decade in review to check the copy of the old blog, so by the time the Boundary Stone opened in 2011, I'd moved from inshaw.com/blog to blog.inshaw.com. A bit before Boundary Stone's opening, Rustik opened in the fall of 2010

It seems each year after that Bloomingdale gets something new, some new place or thing that helps define the commerical part of the neighborhood, making the place more and more attractive. These changes did not come quickly, as nothing seemed quick about them as we waited for construction, and licenses, and stuff before we could start enjoying these places and taking friends to them. I predict Red Hen won't be the last new great thing in Bloomingdale, as there is something about the neighborhood. When we figure out what "it" is, maybe Truxton Circle can get some.


Note: I also found in my old blog posts EC-12 dating back to 2006, there is probably some 2005. EC-12 is the firehouse on North Capitol that was supposed to become a restaurant. In 2006, that's pitiful.

Decade In Review: Individual Taxes

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Happy Federal Income Tax due day. When I have blogged about taxes, I tend to stick with the real estate taxes because I can look that up on the city government's website. I have only mentioned the individual tax return thing maybe once on the old InShaw blog. That was praising the free online DC tax filing. This year I bitched about it, because it was so friggin confusing. I tried to do our DC taxes by hand but the instructions were so confounding and confusing, such as directing us to look at page X but not giving the page number.

So I gave up and paid the extra for the state software, good thing. The amount I paid was returned to me 5 times over in a refund. Last year when we used DC on-line tool we wrote a check to the government. Because the commerical software kept insisting that we file on the same form separately, as opposed to filing jointly, like I wanted to do. Makes me wonder if I would have had to write a check last year if I had bothered to use commerical software.

Part of me wants to write about leadership, but I can see where that can lead to hurt feelings.  I discovered a post on the ToT blog about a current leader's outburst that I found disappointing. But I'm going to go with the song accentuate the positive, the positive being Jim Berry, former ANC for 5C01 and former BACA president for-like-forever.

I had to search my emails to locate a 2007 event I distinctly remember, honoring Jim, in order to locate a mere mention in the blog. I didn't go into detail but a huge thing was Jim's service to others, putting others before himself, being humble. A lot of honorary dinners have a lot a empty blah-blah-blah of why X is a great leader, there I remember a lot of testimony of how Jim treated them or helped them and I learned a lot about this huge teddy bear of a man.

Something else I had to search the emails for that I'm sure is mentioned nowhere on the blog, Jim's vision. In 2007 I had found, while skimming the transcripts of the National Capital Planning Commission Meeting, Jim's name. It seems that in October 1995 he testified in support of the building of the MCI (now Verizon) Center, seeing that future residents in our neighborhood walking over to the purposed entertainment center to enjoy what the place had to offer. I think of it and have thought of his testimony every time I'm on the 70 bus back home and I have caught a glimpse of a neighbor on 7th St with stroller/kid in tow after some child friendly event at the Verizon Center or movie. Jim acknowledged the problems of the now, but he also held a view of a better future ahead.
One of the things I really appreciated with Jim as my ANC was his full support on issues like zoning. In 2005 and 2006 the residents of Square 507 (Richardson Pl, NJ Ave, 4th St, etc) were dealing with a developer named Wilbur Mondie. Mr. Mondie wanted to build several "luxury" townhomes on a few skinny lots on Richardson Pl. The houses were to be something like 12 feet wide (6 feet short of legal) and 3-4 stories tall. One passionate neighbor, Karl, organized many other neighbors in protest. There were several daytime, during work hours, BZA meetings.  Jim showed up to at least 1 or 2 of them and as ANC supported the protesting residents. So it was disappointing when a few years later the ANC who replaced Jim did not provide any support when another zoning issue came up in the area.
Jim wasn't perfect, at times he was too sympathetic and understanding, particularly with the running of the BACA meetings. He let people have a voice, but that would allow the meeting to devolve into a gripe session. I understand in the gripes there was real pain and the possibly that the victim hadn't had anyone else to listen to their story. So Jim was slow to cut people off, which made meetings run long.
Jim was BACA president until 2010 and stepped down from his role as ANC in 2006. As I remember, he moved to somewhere in Ward 4, and that was the last I heard.

I was actually looking into writing about someone else but something else popped up and sparked some memories, posts from 2005 about developer/entrepreneur Joe Mamo and his spot of dirt at the corner of Florida Ave NW and North Capitol Street.

I think the earliest post is from August 2005 about a presentation he and some fuzzy looking guys (they look fuzzy from the picture) made at a BACA meeting. I don't know if it was this meeting or another meeting where an agent of Mr. Mamo said that the project was going to get done with or without the community, or something to that effect. I just remembered the agent snapping and bursting out in a spot of irritation at a female community member. In September I can only gather there was some community vote on the proposal as I only had an announcement for a meeting to vote on Mamo's project.

Well, it's been eight years and if memory serves me right he's renewed or is renewing his PUD. Which is why I am calling it a Zombie/Vampire project, it seems dead but won't die. It surely isn't looking lively. I have theories about PUDs. I think PUDs get dragged out so long that the original community members have forgotten what they fought for, or there are no more original community leaders because most have died or moved on. Another thing with PUDs, I think when it is dragged out this long (two more years and it's a decade) the current community has to put up with things a weaker, less experiened community negotiated. These are my thoughts in general, not specific to the Mamo project.

I remember there was a question about parking and traffic (getting in and out of the building) along with some concerns about height. If you don't remember what it was supposed to look like see this 2011 entry from the BACA blog. Mamo was trying to secure funding in 2011, there was nothing about parking and from the I can't see a garage or anything. I know zoning rules have changed, and not providing parking would make it cheaper, but what exactly did the community agree to? What would the community get (type of building, type of rentals, etc) if and when he gets funding.

Decade In Review- 2007-2008 City Services

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I tried to find a post that marked when the neighborhood turned a corner for the better, when it went from being a transition where one could question how long it would be transitional to a point where you could see the 'good stuff' on the horizon. Well with city services it appears to have been around 2007-2008.

In 2007 the city finally took care of a dead tree. A tree I had complained about had been dead for a few years and I had alerted the city to it, but the city, for reasons beyond my understanding, did nothing. A complaint that we had in the hood was that we did not receive city services, simple city services and enforcement, like other well to do neighborhoods.

Before it would require effort to get the city to enforce parking rules (church parking issues excepted) and deal with suspected stolen cars. But in 2008 when I saw a big orange boot on a car on my street, a sign that the city was being proactive (ie not requiring residents to constantly complain) about parking.

Why the change? One theory in the comments was that the city figured it was a way to get more revenue and greater chance of ticketing someone who'd actually pay up. I have another theory, the departure of Vincent Orange from Ward 5. Vinny was our (useless) Ward councilman from 1999-2007. When he was replaced by Harry Thomas Jr., who dispite stealing money from children, was pretty in tuned to residents needs and aiding with city services.

This photo is one of the things I have to keep an eye on as I plan to delete things off the inshaw.com/blog directory. I can't delete this, photo P1010007a.jpg.

Anyway, I always fear jinxing myself when I write that the drug problem is getting better. It is getting better. This photo was taken back in 2005 writing about a fellow a observed standing in 20F weather for no apparent good reason.

I was writing about our 'friendly neighborhood drug dealers' since 2005, though they were there long time before that. Residents on my street who lived here decades before I showed up would tell me about how the dealers were so bad they had even set up a table to do business. By the time I moved in, the only furniture they had were chairs. They would sit at the corner of 4th and R on found chairs. They'd be there when I came home from work in the evenings, and they'd be coming around when I left for work in the mornings.

The 'friendly' is a mix of truth and something else, sarcasm? A play on your friendly neighborhood Spiderman. With the exception of the teens trying to be and look hard the drug dealers were friendly. As I mentioned in one post, they'd say hello, I'd say hello back, keeping the friendly vibe even though I was calling the cops on them on occasion.

When did it turn? Well they aren't really gone, just less visible. But they became less visible, I guess around 2008, when I mentioned that a set of dealers had moved on. Well at least in my area of the TC. I do see on occasion someone who I believe "managed" the low level dealers. There were a lot of things that heppened to make our street less suitable for dealing. Demographics helped, meaning more dog walkers and joggers, fewer people who allowed/tolerated dealers hanging in front of their house, more people calling the cops, fewer people providing labor and shelter for the drug trade, and more homeowners. Better policing may have helped, with the shotspotter and better communication with email, but there is still room for improvement. Better city services also helped with the drug problem, fixing lights, ticketing cars, and the like as crime likes the shadows and dealers would stash drugs in unmoving (possibly stolen) cars.

For other parts of the city where the dealers haven't moved on, be they friendly or not, I hope that you can just keep chipping away at the problem. Keep calling the police, demand city services, demand enforcement, and make your area attractive to the types of people who will help make your neighborhood a nicer place. 

Decade in Review: April Fools

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My favorite April 1st post isn't even mine. Regardless, I'm gonna link to Inked 4/1/08 post "Local Historians Just Make Sh*t Up". I did mention her wonderful post that I still think of fondly. Mainly because I find a lot of local DC history suspect when it doesn't arrive with a lot of evidence, when you have to take the speaker's word on it. That's what TruxtonCircle.org is about, evidence for your local TC history.

I did have one April Fool's-ish post, in 2009, making light of a fictional couple who buy a former crack house.

Vulture House on NJ Ave

Most April 1st's I've played straight. In 2005 I wrote about "Homeownership and the single girl." That is a good reminder of what life was like when it was just me, dealing with issues. Now it's nice to know that the Help can possibly take over some duties like talking to repairmen and contractors. However, part of me thinks I'm a better negotiator, which might cancel out and surpass his gender advantage.   In 2008, I asked mentioned recycle and trash bins. The photo for the post is gone as it was linked to an image on DPW's site. An April 1st post that got some traction was in 2010 with "Death, taxes and that building is gonna fall". DCRA and Channel 7 picked up on it and demoed the rear of 1607 New Jersey Ave NW, which was looking like it was gonna come down. On it's own. The problem was the owner had gone away and died. The house was falling apart. After 3 years the house remains empty, except for some visiting vultures who hang out in the open oval window. The DCRA PIVS shows some permits issued this year, but the owner is still listed in the dead man's name. Close to $39K in taxes are owed.