Creme and Rodman’s

Topic #1- my hot date with Jimbo:
Hot as in spicy food HOT! Mouth on fire, must get water! Jimbo suggested we wander over to Creme (1322 U St) for dinner the other day and man, that’s some pricey Southern food. $18 for shrimp & grits. Jimbo admired the look of his $17 plate o salmon. Also the amount of wine poured for the glass of wine left one wanting. I was enjoying my shrimp & grits until I hit the sausage. It was an unexpected bite of spice. Maybe I didn’t read the menu right. We just had entrees as Jimbo had to go to the gym and I was headed out to Friendship Heights for dancing and shopping.
The rest of this post has nothing to do with the Shaw neighborhood. It’s about a store I adore, Rodman’s, up in Friendship Heights on Wisconsin Blvd. Why? I can get PG Tips (and other Brit teas), Aero bars, Cadbury Flake, lots of wine under $10, and $.89 avocados. I think they have other imported food items from Greece, Russia and India but I only care about the British imports. Being an anglophile (you can see why I’m excited about my London vacation) I like some British foods and it is so good to find decent tea and chocolate. It’s a little gourmet store without the nasty gourmet prices. Sometimes the prices are cheaper than that of Giant’s. The only problem is that it is way up in FH, so I don’t go up there much.

Confused by Geography

Washington Examiner: Top News covers the changes in NoMa but all that they are describing seem like areas other than NoMa.
Okay here are a few things that kinda confused me or gave me some pause:

Five years ago, the area around Florida Avenue and North Capitol streets was trash-strewn, crime-infested and rife with abandoned buildings and warehouses.

Um, the area around Florida and North Cap has trash and people hanging out who never get on the bus and I would not exactly say that the intersection is drug-free. Not yet. Maybe they are talking about the intersection of NY & FL?
Then there were the pictures. There was one of U St. Which is not in the NoMa area as I understand the general area that is NoMa. Besides, we call it U St. Then there are the multicolored door apartments at 6th and L. Is that NoMa? I thought the northern border of NoMa was NY Ave, but I haven’t given it much thought. Besides I’m claiming those apartments in the name of Shaw and Mt. Vernon Sq. I just gotta find my flag to plant.
Speaking of Mt. Vernon Sq….. This Old House has invaded and took over a house. It’s over on the 1100 block of 5th or 6th St. I enjoyed the web cam. Every housing project needs a web cam. But I was thinking I want an alley cam. Watch the coming and going of who is walking through my alley.
ETC2- I just realize that Truxtonian and I wrote about the same article, and I’ve updated my link as the article has moved.

Gaining momentum?

There’s a great article in The Examiner about development along North Capitol Street. The article talks about how the NoMa area (edit: apparently the writer is mistaken about boundaries of “NoMa”) has been blighted for so long but now it appears to have reached a tipping point. A great observation:

“This neighborhood has a new fabric,” said Patterson [VP of Corp Affairs for XM Radio]. “People have stayed here and the new people coming in – you’re seeing a new sense that things are changing. People are picking up trash. There are community watch groups. There is an influx of students at McKinley Tech. These are great things when you can have new schools, new residents and new businesses coming together.”

Though XM has been in the area many times longer than me, I do think it’s getting easier to see what he’s talking about. The changes over the next few years on North Capitol Street are going to be amazing to see.

Finally, I thought this was interesting. Maybe it’s interesting because it’s what I want to hear… so I’m biased, but interesting nonetheless:

“The economic engine in the capital for the past 30 years has been the development of office space, but beginning in 2001, there was a resurgence in the residential markets. Developers now say the city is primed for rebirth in urban retail.”

Hopefully we see this on North Capitol Street shortly, regardless of whether or not it’s properly referred to as “NoMa”.

A proposal: Parking garage

I know this will sound like a horrible proposal but I hope that there is a large enough consensus in the Truxton and Eckington areas that maybe residents we can pursue it, or at least be open to it, but I really think North Capitol or New York Ave needs a parking garage. Not a surface lot, but a multilevel for profit garage.
Why because we are already complaining about parking and there are future parking headaches around the corner. The current parking pressures come from churches and businesses in the area as well as new residents. There is the big ugliness that is the ATF building coming up and couple that with XM employees driving in from the far reaches of civilization, you have folks parking in the neighborhoods, pissing off residents. I’m thinking of the various proposed businesses for North Capitol and wondering, if these places are successful they may attract people not living in the area who might want to drive here.
Yes, there is the metro station on Florida Ave but not everyone can take the metro. It helps to live near a metro and have decent public transit near one’s house. Yet, if a portion, even a large portion of people are coming to the intersections of Florida Ave and North Capitol or Florida and New York Avenues, there is another portion (large enough to be annoying) who won’t be doing public transit and putting pressure on the residential streets. I know for a fact, XM employees are willing to pay between $10-$20 a day for parking. And who knows the future actions of the ATF people, maybe they’ll park at Union Station, maybe they’ll invade the neighborhoods, who knows.
Anyway, I’m just thinking out loud and thought I’d share.

Misc Wash Post Stuff

Saturday morning, when I get the Sunday inserts in the Post I quickly pulled out the parts I read and save the rest for my aunt who want the coupons and sales papers. Anyway I pull out the magazine section and said aloud “Why is Steve on the cover?”
Apparently whenever the Post does a feature on the Washington DC swing dance scene I know at least one person in the photo. Gad, this is a small town. But the Post did me a great service in explaining something about a most wonderful dancer that at first I was too embarrassed to ask about and later didn’t care about. Of course, I kinda miffed, Steve never dipped me.
Later I get an e-mail from an InShaw reader about a Post article regarding 9th Street and the Carter G. Woodson house. Maybe that section of the block might get better now that it is in the hands of the National Park Service. Would be interesting to see how it matches up (or pairs) with the Mary McLeod-Bethune house over on 1318 Vermont Ave, also in Shaw.
Lastly, in Friday’s paper there was an article on the income gap between DC’s upper income and lower income folks. One thing that caught my eye in the article was this:

Lazere cited the city’s statistics showing that most workers in the D.C. Convention Center are not city residents. “Most of these jobs don’t require a college degree, and they are stable, with decent wages,” he said. “We’re spending city resources to create jobs and then not even ensuring they go to D.C. residents who need them.”

Ah the beauty of the DC metro area. Work in one state or district, live in another. Also even if you have rules stating you have to hire District residents, there is no rule I know of that says they have to remain district residents throughout their career.

I’m protective of the ‘hood

So this morning I was enjoying a cup of coffee and trying to figure out what I’d be up to for the day when I heard a loud knocking at the door. So I go downstairs, open the door and two women are standing outside. At least it’s not Contractor Guy again.

There’s a pause and one says, “Sir, how are you?” Me: “Fine, what can I help you with?” There’s a pause and one says, “We’re curious if you know what causes the problems around here?”

I think I know where this is going, but it’s a little annoying to have someone come to your door and try talk about your neighborhood’s problems when you’re having a quiet weekend morning to yourself. And I really don’t know where they live and I probably should have asked. If they actually live in the area I might have taken their question differently.

So I say, “What problems here?” and then get a really confused look from both of them. I pause and lean out the door, look up and down the street and then look back at them.

One, with an expansive Vanna White-esque gesture, signals my street is quite problematic and states, “The problems here.”

I look back at them, like I just don’t understand: “What problems?”

They explained that there is crime, violence, drugs, etc. and again rhetorically asked if I knew why they are problems. I’d have been a jerk if I brought up the DC government’s failings over the past several decades so I just say, “Yes, I know.” They offered me some scripture and left. No biggie.

I’ve got no problems with religion but I do get annoyed when people sell it door to door. If you insult my ‘hood and that just makes it worse… even if we do deserve the criticism. My ‘hood is like family. No matter how dysfunctional or busted, it’s only fair game for us to insult. Like family.

Urban design & DC Housing Conference

1) WRN Urban Design Forum Reminder – January 30
2) DC Housing Conference – February 3
1) WRN Forum on January 30th

Designing D.C.’s Future:
Shaping Buildings and Public Spaces to Enhance Community Identity and
Protect the Environment

Dhiru Thadani, Urban Designer, Ayers/Saint/Gross, Inc.
Paul Morris, Urban Designer, PB Placemaking

Monday, January 30, 2006
6:00 pm Refreshments; 6:30 pm Program
National Capital Planning Commission (NCPC)
401 9th Street, NW – North Lobby, Suite 500*

New residents, buildings and businesses are filling in vacant lots and
renovating buildings. Leading urban designers discuss how D.C. can guide new
development so that new buildings enhance neighborhoods, reclaim
auto-oriented commercial strips, restore neglected parks and public spaces,
make transit stations vibrant village centers, and build greener.

RSVP (attendance only): WRN, 202-244-1105, or e–mail: This event is free of charge. For more about
WRN, see:

*NCPC is located on 9th St between E & D St; Metro Stations: Gallery Place,
Metro Center, Archives, Federal Triangle. Doors close at 7 pm; and bring
photo ID.

2) Housing Conference: Shaping the Future of Housing in Our City, Feb. 3rd

Please join the Fannie Mae Foundation and the Coalition for Nonprofit
Housing and Economic Development (CHSTF)

Speakers include:
Rafael Cestero, Deputy Commissioner,
New York City Department of Housing Preservation and Development
Margery Austin Turner, Urban Institute, co-author of Housing in the Nation’s
Capital 2005
Alice Rivlin and Adrian Washington, co-chairs of the D.C. Comprehensive
Housing Strategy Task Force

Friday, February 3, 2006
8:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. (registration begins at 8 a.m.)
Continental Breakfast and Lunch will be provided
U.S. Chamber of Commerce
1615 H Street, NW, Washington, D.C.

Registration is free, but RSVP at, or call
For Further Information, go to

Slow slow renovation

When I looked back at my 2005 January and February entries I noticed I have been complaining about the house across the alley from me for about a year. Which means the house has been under reconstruction for over a year or two. I can tell you why it has taken so long. The fat man who took over after the crew that tore off the whole rear of the house (and rebuilt it with cinder block), has been doing work off and on. A dedicated crew would have finished the darned thing months ago.
I noticed around this neighborhood that some houses are forever under construction. As long as I can remember I don’t think anyone has lived at the house on the corner of 5th and P. It has been worked on FOREVER. There have been other houses rehabbed and sold in the time that this house has been under construction. There is a house on NJ Ave, same thing. As far as I know, no one has lived there and the only folks I’ve seen coming out are workmen.
Some buildings and rehabbed houses seem to get done overnight while others just sit. And sit. They are sort of like a vacant houses, but prettier. But still vacant, and still not bringing a new face to the neighborhood. And there is nothing anyone can do about it.

Proposed Low(er) Income Development in Eckington

Background from DC North: “Collaborating with Catholic Community Services, St. Martin’s plans to spend some $25 million to construct 180 apartments on two acres off T Street NE near where Todd and Summit streets intersect. Fifty junior one-bedroom units are designated for renters earning between $18,000 and $20,000 annually. The rest are designed for families with incomes ranging from about $30,000 to about $53,000.”

It’s a tough topic. On one hand, I think that affordable workforce housing is very needed in DC and the right form of it can truly benefit the city.

However, high density, low income rental housing has proven not to be the “steppingstone” that ANC Commissioner Cleopatra Jones claims it is in the DC North article. What DC really needs are homeownership programs targeting those that are priced out of the market.

This area of DC has more than paid its dues with low income rentals, group homes, halfway houses and a mixed bag of cooperatives. Too high a concentration of low income housing without an ownership stake can block development in a community. Heck, even low income housing with an ownership stake can turn problematic (Sursum Corda). The North Capitol corridor can already check the low income housing box. Why don’t we diversify by adding something new to the area?

So here’s my suggestion. Quit putting low income housing on the N. Cap corridor. We have enough of it already. Friendship Heights has very little. Let’s share the economic diversity of the N. Cap corridor with the other parts of DC that sorely need it. Like Spring Valley. Or Cleveland Park.

Instead of having Vincent Orange going up there and providing cheap gas for the affluent folks, why don’t we send him up there on a fact finding trip to locate an alternative site for the next low income housing endeavor?