Closeup look at alley behind 300 block of H Street NW

I attended last night’s ANC6C ABL committee meeting in which the applicant (Pouya Yousefi) for the new proposed tavern at 315 H Street NW explained his concept and fielded questions. I will recap that discussion in a later posting – but I first wanted to lay a little more ground work to convey the alley setup to all readers.

This flickr photo set visually represents the alley behind the 300 block of H Street NW that is shared by the commercial uses, the Second Baptist Church, and the Madrigal Lofts and Sonata condominiums. I thought conveying this representation was important because while many area residents are familiar with the location of Tunnel and Papa Johns – only residents of Madrigal and Sonata are intimately familiar with the alley. (Note: once viewing in Flickr roll over the pictures with to see notes that explain exactly which building is which.)

Click thumbnail image to visit flickr photo set

This alley is already an extremely high use alley with residents of two high-rises condos traveling through to access the garage egresses to roughly 350 underground parking spaces. Papa Johns delivery drivers also make heavy use of the alley. A new use of this large scope that will attract more employees, deliveries, trash pickups and up to 299 patrons to the block would need to be carefully and respectfully integrated. Residents deserve to know the applicant has a plan to manage their share of the alley use and a voluntary agreement to codify that plan into enforceable expectations.

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  1. 1

    Anonymous says

    Why the knee jerk reaction to set up barriers to new businesses in this area? Don't the new residents of Mt Vernon Triangle want new bars & restaurants?

    I don't like the idea of "voluntary" agreements which by their nature are not really voluntary. Its really –commit to this agreement or we will oppose your new business. What about some binding "voluntary" agreements to hold the condos and the church and papa john's accountable re: this alley?

  2. 2

    fourthandeye says

    @Anon 9:33 – If you think coming to an agreement over how a business operating on this scale account for how it will handle it's own parking and refuse is a "barrier" that's weak sauce. Honestly if that's a difficult obstacle to plan for and commit to the owner probably isn't up to running a business with this kind of cash flow. To his credit – he claims he's willing to negotiate this…

    As for your comment about the condos… The condos, the church, and even Papa Johns all have varying amounts of private space behind their buildings separate from the common alley. This building appear to have none as it's footprint of the structure and the basement patio go right up to the property line – so yes it deserves extra scrutiny.

  3. 3

    SG says

    Paul, I love your blog, but my impression is that you're being a bit of a NIMBY when it comes to a business opening up next to your own condo. I hardly think alley access is a huge stumbling block in opening a new business that, let's face it, will only be in full swing from 9 pm to 3 am, Thursday thru Saturday. That being said, I'm sure he'll come up with an accommodation. I just don't think it's much different than hundred other businesses in the city in terms of limited and noisy alley access.

  4. 4

    Anonymous says

    sounds like good development and beats an empty building, for sure.

    the alley issue doesnt seem too big to me. whether or not the other buildings have some or no "private space" next to the alley is an issue for them, not the new business. the alley was designed for garbage pick-up and deliveries, no?

  5. 5

    MO says

    The concern Paul is raising with the alley is the fact that two good size condos uses it regularly to access their garage entrances. And it is hard enough today with Papa John's and an auto store constantly using it to not just park cars but work on them. And yes…we've had it out with them already.

    I think it's only right to ask the questions that are being asked. Especially when the business is in your own "backyard". I welcome new business to the area (very excited about Buddha Bar coming)but not at any cost.

  6. 6

    Anonymous says

    Those of you with attitudes such a voluntary agreement about parking is an oppressive barrier or a bar "beats an empty building" humor me. I imagine how these low expectations translate to your dating life. "Beats an empty building" translates roughly to "any warm hole will do".

    Lets have standards folks.

  7. 7

    namllih says

    I do very much like this blog as I have been watching "the triangle" & considering making a move here.

    So I am an outsider looking in– but from the pics and some of the comments it seems the design of the alley is built for issues and that you already have them without any new business.

    These abandoned props were there when folks bought their condos. What was the expectation of what would eventually occupy these spaces?
    Is there issue with the actual business proposed for this space? I also saw something in here about hours of operation also being an issue.

  8. 8

    Anonymous says

    "Lets have standards folks."

    actually, we have laws and permits and regulations. "voluntary agreements" are bullshit. it becomes the neighbors running other peoples business.

    so, yeah. we do have standards.

  9. 9

    fourthandeye says

    Hey folks, I'm not going to indefinitely tolerate Anonymous commenters insulting others with crass innuendo or calling other's opinions bullshit with little to back it up. Disagreement is expected. However if you can't express your disagreement constructively and in a civil fashion we don't need your participation your comments may be removed.

  10. 10

    Jacquelyn says

    I actually think it will be critical to have that alley adequately protected. I also think that it should certainly be possible for the new business to come up with sufficient plans (such as [and this is only my off the cuff ideas] all deliveries must be made during the daytime and no customer or employees parking in the alley).

    It is imperative, however, for both the "good neighbor" aspect and for the survival of the business that this issue is planned out. It will not be terribly successful if NO ONE at either of those buildings ever goes and if the business owner goes about implementing his business plan with so little planning as to not think about these matters.

    I don't think anyone wants to keep that property vacant – there just needs to be sufficient planning to ensure that no one's use of common space hinders anyone else's use of the same space.

  11. 11

    fourthandeye says

    @namllih – thanks for reading and considering our neighborhood as a potential future home.

    This particular vacant building was formerly an apartment building. The zoning is commercial so an alternate use is possible. However the burden of this property's lack of private space in the rear for trash/parking should be shouldered by the owner of that property – not everyone else.

    I realize many readers desperately want to see revitalization of retail use in our neighborhood. That eagerness may be clouding some judgment. Imagine this building would instead become an 16 unit condo not a lounge. Would you think it was OK if this hypothetical condo had cars parking in the public alley space? What about if they partially obstructed the main alley throughfare with their dumpsters? How about if they ran a VIP valet service out of the alley? No, I imagine most would not find these things appropriate. A lounge may be a sexier addition to the neighborhood but that doesn't absolve it from responsible alley use. We have an opportunity to incorporate responsible alley use into a V/A to codify expectations.