PoP visits the Triangle

The uber popular DC blog Prince of Petworth had a trio of Mount Vernon Triangle postings yesterday. PoP surveys his readers for input on the Dumont and Ledos, Louis Rogue, and Buddha Bar.

In the comments I riffed against the urban design of the DuMont’s Mass Ave frontage. Two entrances accompanied by semi-circle driveways on Mass Ave was completely unnecessary. Good urbanism would have been to place one entrance on Mass Ave and the other (sans semi circle driveway) on either Fourth or Eye Street. This would have allowed more Mass Ave frontage for retail space. The developer placed greater emphasis on the prestige of Mass Ave addresses over good urban form. That was a very short sighted attitude. Is this a travesty – no? But definitely a large missed opportunity considering.

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Urban Turf on MVT

Urban Turf wrote a brief posting on the Mount Vernon Triangle yesterday. A wide range of opinions were expressed by readers in the comments section. Below was my response:

I won’t disagree with the notion that my neighborhood will take 7-10 years to tap into it’s full potential. However City Vista has several of the core amenities you need like the Safeway and Results Gym. City Vista also has the Busboys and will sign several additional restaurant tenants for the vacant K Street retail bays at some point this year.

Let’s also consider that while MVT is a neighborhood in transition it’s only 3 blocks from the epi-center (7th & H) of the downtown’s hustle and bustle. I can be at Verizon Center and dozens of Penn Quarter restaurants with a walk of just a few blocks. Also our location is a short walk to all 5 metro lines, union station, and two DC circulator lines.

MVT will take a little time to grow into it’s own, but it’s immediate proximity to the downtown core make it imminently more livable now than say the Capitol Riverfront, NoMA, or someplace like Jenkins Row by the Potomac Ave Metro.

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DCMetrocentric features the Triangle

DC Metrocentric has featured our blog in their “Focus On” feature.

Below I’ve cross posted the content.

Focus On: Mt Vernon Triangle

Each week we turn the site over to a different neighborhood blogger from the metro area and let them loose on a series of topics about what makes their neighborhood great. This week we are focusing on the emerging neighborhood Mount Vernon Triangle.

Mt Vernon Triangle thumbnails
The Mount Vernon Triangle’s boundaries comprise 15 blocks within the east end of downtown bordered by Seventh Street on the west, New York Avenue on the north, New Jersey Avenue on the east, and Massachusetts Avenue on the south. Our blog covers the Mount Vernon Triangle in depth and occassionally posts on topics related to neighboring Chinatown, Penn Quarter and Mount Vernon Square.

Neighborhood’s Best Kept Secret?
Tunnel Fine Wine and Spirits is a small boutique wine shop at 4th and H Streets NW with high end spirits, cigars and engaging ownership.

Favorite Neighborhood Building?
The City Vista development is the anchor for the neighborhood with the Safeway, Busboys and Poets, 5th Street Hardware, Results Gym, and Chevy Chase Bank. The project offers still more potential as nearly 12000 square feet of retail space is still available for lease. Focusing on design rather than amenities I like 455 Mass Ave within the Triangle and the Carnegie Library, Yale Lofts and Avenue across the street from our formal borders.

Least Favorite Building?
Much of the prostitution and drug dealing in the community is in the shadows of the low income Museum Square Apartments. That can’t help but shape opinions of the building. I would like to see 635 Mass Ave leveled and rebuilt after NPR moves to NoMa in 2012. At the confluence of 7th Street, Mass Ave and K Street NW it is just far too prominent a location to be void of substantial retail.

Biggest Current Issue for Residents?
The biggest issues for the community are crime and safety. While improvement has been seen with the MVTCID contracting MPD officers for weekend patroles and neighborhood activism helping to shut down illegally operated crime magnet Fun Fair video more progress is needed. Transgender prostitutes are a constant fixture at the 1000 block of 4th Street (4th between K & L Streets NW) and drug peddlers roam K Street late at night. Beyond crime and safety, the lack of cranes in the neighborhood is a tad disheartening. Revitalization in the Mount Vernon Triangle is geared towards high-rise new construction which has development windows that last several years. In an area like ours ideally you’d hope to see atleast one crane in the neighborhood at all times so that the next wave of progress is never too far off.

New Development you are looking forward to?
I’m most excited about the recent RFP awarded by the District to the development team led by Donohoe. The Arts at 5th and I is one block from City Vista and will be anchored by the Me by Melia hotel, Zenith Art Gallery, a cafe, bike shop and the London based Boisdale will operate a subterranean jazz club. This project has a good mix of destination and neighborhood serving retail and will further foster pedestrian activity and identity for the 5th street corridor.

Anything you would like to ask the DCMetrocentric readers?
If you comment regularly on your neighborhood blog, why do it as Anonymous instead of an identifying screen name?

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EveryBlock DC

Thanks to WeLoveDC I became aware of the debut of EveryBlock in the District. This web tool parses and compiles information from a variety of live public feeds and allows end users to customize what they receive.

I’ve created an EveryBlock feed that has data including Business reviews, Calls for city services, Crimes, News articles, and Real estate listings centering around the 400 block of K Street NW. A link to this feed will be a fixture in the right hand margin of our blog.

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Track 29 on Back to the Future

I enjoyed a recent blog post from Track Twenty-Nine on analyzing fictional Hilly Valley of Back to the Future through the prism of urban decline and gentrification.

I’m sure we’ve all seen Back to the Future. Indeed, it’s one of my favorite trilogies of all time. One of the reasons for that is it’s treatment of the city through time.

For those of you who haven’t seen the movies, the characters are time travelers whose situations keep getting them stranded in the wrong year. The range of the movies stretches from 1885-2015, with the Doc and Marty visiting 1885, 1955, 1985, 1985 Alternate, and 2015. All of the events take place in the fictional Hill Valley, California, a small town, presumably on the edge of a metropolitan area (at least by 1985).

Marty McFly in 2015 with his hoverboard

If you look carefully at scenes from Hill Valley in 1955 (“they’ve really cleaned this place up”), you can see how vibrant the town square is. By 1985, they’ve paved over the square itself for parking and most of the businesses are run down. The bench on which Marty and Jennifer sit near the beginning of the film (#1) advertises that Zales is ‘now in Twin Pines Mall’. In 1955, it was on the square. By 2015, however, Hill Valley’s downtown is experiencing a renaissance. The shops are occupied, there is a little cutrification (Cafe 80s, the Antique Shop), but it appears vibrant. The square is now a reflecting pool for the Courthouse and houses an underground shopping mall.

1985 (top) 1955 (bottom) courthouse square with the clock tower in the background; from flickr user misterbiscuit

It is certainly interesting to the town transform. We see the prototypical 1950s town square through the eyes of a child of the baby boomers. A kid growing up in the 1980s, who has no idea of what his town used to be. While his parents’ generation hung out at Lou’s Diner on the square and frequently walked or biked home, Marty’s generation presumably hangs out at the Mall and have a much greater attachment to their cars (hence the drag races).

And even the costs of sprawl are noted. We discover after Marty makes it back to 1955 for the first time, that in 1985 Doc is living in his garage. If you read the newspapers framed on the walls, you’ll note that Doctor Brown sold the Brown estate to developers, presumably to finance the Delorean. That explains why in 1985, Marty leaves the Doc’s place, and steps right into the parking lot of a Burger King. The typical suburban strip is visible in the background.

2015 Hill Valley streetscape; from flickr user john85

But what is most interesting is the movies’ prediction of the future, only 30 years distant from the movie-present, 2015 is drawing nearer. And it seems that the writers predicted gentrification and reurbanization. While I don’t think we’ll have flying cars within the next 7 years, it’s not too far-fetched to see the continuing tide of revitalization in our urban areas (including small towns).

After that recap of Back to the Future, Track Twenty-Nine’s author then asks What does the future hold for America’s Cities and Suburbs? Alternatively, if this merely wet your whistle for more Back to the Future – I recommend that previously linked Hill Valley wiki.


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Looking for new voices

Hello, I just wanted to remind our readers that we have a standing open invitation to community members to join our blog. We would love to have a contributor representing each of the buildings in the Triangle. It’s also important to us to represent a diversity of perspectives. If you are interested in writing for the Triangle send me an email here.

With a huge influx of new residents in the coming years a neighborhood forum such as this blog and many others can really make a difference in the community!

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Another links roundup

  • Renew Shaw highlights $631,749.38 (!) in expenditures (taxes/repairs) Shiloh Baptist Church has spent on their portfolio of vacant properties in Shaw since 2005.
  • Fisher Raw’s title says it all “D.C. Official: Outdoor Seats At Pizza Place Will Mean Rapes And Murders“. A post on DCist also discusses the topic.
  • Several sources discuss DDOT’s plan to move low cost regional buses from Chinatown to L’Enfant Plaza (Examiner | DCist | GGW ).
  • Sparked by comments on a posting about the West End days earlier, Greater Greater Washington asks: “Is it true the West End has no community because it has no families, and it has no families because it’s all tall buildings and small condos“.
  • DCMetrocentric has renderings of Northwest One project just east of the Triangle’s New Jersey Ave border. This development aims to tear down and rebuild the area (including the Sursum Corda housing projects) as a new community. Northwest One will be mixed income, mixed use including a new clinic, library, recreation center, and rebuilt Walker-Jones elementary school.

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Friday roundup

Just a roundup of links that maybe of interest.

  • District Chatter writes about a recent hard hat tour of the Dumont. I don’t agree with his comment about “‘faux loft’ exposed ceilings [are features] everyone will regret in 5 years.” But different strokes for different folks I guess.
  • DCMetrocentric brought my attention to the blog “Ellis Denning Sucks“. This blog highlights dissatisfaction of new owners of the Fennessy Lofts condos near Logan Circle. As one commenter pointed out: “[The site] is more than a rant, it illustrates the risks people take on when they buy new and they have to go through a building’s shakeout period“.
  • DC CityCouncil Member Jim Graham made some news earlier in the week stating on camera that Maryland drivers who commute in and out of the district are the “the devil incarnate

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I recently contacted ‘Mediocre Bad Guy‘ about his open invitation for people to join the blog as contributors. It was an attractive opportunity for me because I found the various neighborhood blogs of DC invaluable as I contemplated the move from the inner suburbs (Arlington) to the downtown life in the District. In the last few months I have visited Prince of Petworth, DCist, Penn Quarter Living, DCMud, JDLand and other blogs with great frequency. I look forward to the chance to be apart of that larger DC blog community while growing the Mount Vernon Triangle blog with insights and discussion.


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A New Addition to the Triangle

Please welcome our new writer, FourthandEye, he’ll be contributing to the Triangle blog and telling us a little more about his slice of the pie.

We look forward to adding more neighbors who wish to contribute to the blog in the future. If you’re interested drop me a line, we would love to be able to represent all of the condominiums in the Triangle!

and again, if you live at 400Mass, Yale Laundry, The Meridian, or 300 Mass, you are most definitely part of the Triangle community so don’t be a stranger!

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