Union Station Intermodal meeting

Earlier this week Ward 6 had a Community Meeting on the Union Station Intermodal Transportation Center Feasibility Study. Union Station and the surrounding area has many exciting projects on the horizon. These include being a hub for the H Street NE Streetcar, a potential move of the Greyhound station to Union Station, a possible Blue Line reroute, and a 3.0 million square foot mixed-use development concept to be built above the existing rail yard called Burnham Place.

The study itself focuses on:

  • Baseline Transportation Improvement Studies
  • New Rail Passenger Concourse
  • Upgraded Amtrak passenger concourse
  • Improved Emergency Access & Egress
  • Improvements to the Existing Rail Concourse
  • Tour Bus & Commuter Parking Accommodations
  • Streetcar Integration
  • Pedestrian Tunnel from Union Station to 1st Street, NE
  • New Metrorail Entrance from the H Street Bridge
  • Baseline Environmental Requirements Study

David Alpert of GreaterGreaterWashington attended the meeting and posted a recap on his blog. If this topic interests you I recommend visiting his site with frequency as he covers DC Mass transit issues in a very detailed and comprehensive manner.

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Mount Vernon Triangle Historic District

A reader asked a question about Historic districts in the comment section of yesterday’s post on the ANC 6C recommendation for 5th and Eye.

I dug around on the HistoricWashington yahoo group to find this map of historic properties in the Triangle. The map is attributed to Matthew Gilmore and you can visit his PDF by clicking through on the image below.

According to the map the historic properties are both to the north (5th & K) and the adjacent to the east (Eye St) to the property at 5th and Eye (463 I St NW) that the ODMPED has the RFP on. Among other properties this includes the old Capital Automotive Building (443 I St NW), Subway Liquors (500 K St NW) and the Louis Rogue gentlemen’s club (476 K St NW).

If anyone has any knowledge they can share about the Historic rules that might apply to these properties please share your thoughts? Will developers have to keep the facade of these buildings and build over them? If so, does the new structure have to be setback 20 ft? Are there other rules?

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Park at 2nd and Mass

Cary Silverman, MVSNA president and candidate for the Ward 2 council seat, recently organized a meeting with city government officials including Council Member Tommy Wells (D-Ward 6); Sarah Latterner, Director of the Mayor’s Office of Community Relations and Services; Jason Turner, Chief of Planning and Capital Projects for the Department of Parks and Recreation; and concerned residents of the Sonata condominium and the Mount Vernon area to discuss maintenance and renovation of a dilapidated and forgotten park at 2nd Street and Massachusetts Avenue NW.

Read more about the meeting on Cary’s blog. Seems to be some well thought out action items for city officials and residents to reclaim and beautify this park. These items include not only funding for improvements but also giving the park a name to foster ownership. This seemed to come together very quickly after the Spring parks cleanup MVSNA and the CID organized in later April.

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ANC 6C endorsement for 5th and I

Last night ANC 6C held a special meeting to further discuss the 5th and I development proposals. Attendees included the full set of 6C commissioners, Clint Jackson from the Office of the Deputy Mayor for Planning and Economic Development (ODMPED), community residents and some members of the development team also attended merely to silently take in feedback.

Upon entry to the meeting each attendee was provided printed documents of the commission’s analysis and recommendation. The commissioners briefly explained what the documents represented, why they decided to have this special meeting two weeks after initially discussing the topic, and how the meeting would proceed.

Clint Jackson from ODMPED was then given the floor to explain how the recommendation from ANC 6C would be used in his departments decision. Basically the commission and community members are given most of the details of these proposals but not every detail is public. Jackson explained that companies would not compete in this manner if items like detailed financials of bids were publicly disclosed. Therefore ODMPED will give great weight to the feedback of the ANC but will use all the information at their disposal, including that which is not publicly shared, to select a proposal.

The commission then opened the floor to residents to share their points of view. While I lost count of the number of residents who took the microphone it was in the double digits and about 80% 555 Mass residents. I was pleasantly surprised that every resident who spoke agreed that the The Arts at 5th and Eye (Donohoe/Holland) was the best fit for the community. I had expected that some would prefer I5/Potomac due to the lure of a Tryst-like cafe, artist studios and to avoid having any kind of club in the neighborhood. However residents were lockstep in feeling the # 1 priority was to make 5th Street a vibrant and safe place. People were very vocal that they wanted to feel safe near their building and safe during walks to the Safeway and other future amenities at City Vista. Consensus was that, while I5/Potomac is an acceptable proposal, the Donohoe/Holland vision to expand the project up to K Street would have the greatest potential positive impact.

The ANC 6C commissioners reclaimed the floor and presented their recommendation. They unanimously agreed with the community to endorse the Donohoe/Holland proposal.


It is clear from comparative review of the RFP criteria and the additional community criteria that only two of the final four development teams submitted proposals that clearly address community concerns and identified neighborhood needs. Donohoe/Holland and i5 both focus on local retail, local amenities, and improvements that take into account the unique needs and resources of this community. ANC 6C believes that the Donohoe/Holland proposal (aka Arts on 5th) best meets the majority of the above criteria, particularly with regard to the development of 5th St NW, long-term job creation using the First Source standards, pedestrian safety issues beyond construction, and written agreements with the community and the ANC. ANC 6C recommends the Donohoe/Holland proposal as the best fit for the community and the future of 5th and Eye. The Commission notes that i5 is a strong proposal and our second choice.

Feels good to be at a meeting where everyone is on the same page. Hopefully the ODMPED follows suit. We’ll know in mid June. =)

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Pizza! Pizza! Pizza!

Okay, the exclamations points really weren’t warranted. The new pizza vendors coming to the Triangle are merely national chains. I don’t even like Papa Johns. However it is promising to begin to see some additional retail will arrive to the Triangle soon. Where do we think these delivery drivers are going to park? It’s especially puzzling for Ledo Pizza. Let’s hope it’s their solution isn’t double parking on Mass Ave.

PQLiving broke the news on the new Papa Johns coming to 311 H St NW a few weeks back. The tarp has since come down and the signage has gone up. I’ve also peered into the storefront and have seen that the front counter would seem to be <= 8 feet from the front door. Seems likely this location will be strictly carryout and delivery.

I’ve also previously written about the future Ledo Pizza at 433 Mass Ave NW.

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MVSNA/DNA joint meeting Q&A recap

I previously recapped the panelist discussion from the recent special joint MVSNA/DNA meeting on Homelessness and Housing issues. You can reference that recap [here].

The Q&A discussion between the community members and panelists also deserves a recap. I’m new to the area and am still absorbing the challenges for our community. I always learn much from the questions raised by experienced residents. Among the questions were:

  • Homeless impact on the libraries
  • Pathologies of the homeless
  • Panhandling
  • Locations of shelters
  • Is the homeless ‘burden’ really being spread across the district
  • Lack of communication with residents
  • Perceived busing of the homeless to downtown

Homeless impact on the libraries: Due to the lack of day service centers for the homeless many homeless residents will congregate at libaries such as MLK Library during the day. The Department of Human Services feels that the scattered site housing first approach will help mitigate this. Large meal and mattress shelter facilities are often only open 7pm to 7am leaving their members to fend for themselves during the day. Housing First provides a home and local services.

Pathologies of the homeless: A community member raised concerns that while they do have compassion for the homeless they are worried that individuals with pathologies such as drug addiction, past criminal sexual offenders behavior are allowed to roam the streets unchecked due to their homelessness. For instance, a sexual offender would typically need to register their address into an offender database, notify neighbors of a community when moving in and stay a certain distance from schools. The perception is that the homeless sex offenders skirt by under the radar and avoid these same hurdles. The panel took the angle in their response that the pathologies you find in the homeless are also found in society at large. While true I’m not sure it adequately addresses the sex offender tracking issue.

Panhandling: I found the topic of panhandling to be the most interesting of the evening. Chet Grey wanted to stress to everyone that while many chronic homeless in the downtown do panhandle that conversely many panhandlers are not homeless. Mr Grey gave examples of panhandlers that make $100/day. Such individuals have perfected techniques to earn a living through panhandling. One panhandler sells free Smithsonian maps for $1 to tourists. Others position themselves near popular news stands to get change from pedestrians who buy newspapers. He told a story of one panhandler he knew on a first name basis who was not homeless but used his earnings to buy crack. A member of the audience chimed in that the tourist traffic in the downtown is a magnet for panhandling and that he’s seen a tourist give a $20 bill to one before. While residents who see the same panhandlers on the same corners everyday do the smart thing and donate to an organization rather than a beggar – tourists do not. I myself have seen the same pan handler near my office in Rosslyn for years. Some days he even has a cell phone that he hides in his hat…

Location / Downtown Burden / Communication: Residents expressed concerns about the perceived clustering of homeless shelters within blocks of the intersection of Mass Ave and H Street NW. The Mitch Snyder Shelter at 2nd and D streets is privately run and has over 1000 beds. The Central Union Mission’s relocation to the Gales School also places it nearby. Rumors in the Washingtonpost earlier this year also suggested new shelters could open at 4th and L Streets NW as well as 2nd and Mass Aves NW. The idea of four shelters clustered so closely made residents uneasy. The response from the panel was that the WaPo rumored new locations were erroneous. The Gales School had previously been a shelter and plans to reuse it in that capacity had been public for five years. What I inferred from their collective response is that the downtown does presently have a concentration of shelters. While new downtown shelters are not part of the plans we’re more likely to see downtown shelters downsized over time rather than being outright relocated to other parts of DC. The commitment to permanent supportive scattered site housing will gradually shift the burden out of the downtown. Market forces (read: real estate prices) will naturally make other parts of the city better candidates for these housing sites. MVSNA president Cary Silverman took a moment to recap the anxiety that residents experienced due to the WaPo rumors surfacing at the same time as the public announcement that the Central Union Mission would be relocated to the Gales School. It was agreed that more ongoing communication between neighborhood associations and homeless service/housing entities would be mutually beneficial.

Perceived busing of the homeless to downtown: Residents inquired about the heresay that other parts of the city bus their homeless downtown. Chapman Todd fielded this question. He cited an example of homeless busing related to the closure of the Randall School Shelter in SW DC. This shelter was closed several years back with many of it’s homeless shifted to another shelter south of the Anacostia River. Many of the homeless that stayed at the Randall School frequented the downtown during the day (some for jobs). Once shifted south of the Anacostia a bus service run by Park and Recs(?) was established. This bus service was meant to return the homeless to their shelter south of the river rather than bus homeless downtown. Of course bus trips by nature are round trips…

I’m particularly glad to hear the rumor of a new homeless shelter at 4th and L Street NW is false. I just could not see that as a compatible use with the one long awaited downtown grocer (CityVista Safeway) only a 1/2 block away.

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