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After 3 Years, Cathedral Commons Officially Opens In Upper N.W.

After 3 Years, Cathedral Commons Officially Opens In Upper N.W.

After three years of construction, Cathedral Commons, a sprawling  mixed-use complex at the corner of Wisconsin and Idaho Avenues N.W., officially opened this week in upper N.W., marking the arrival of 137 apartments, eight town homes and 125,000 square feet of retail space to the neighborhood at the western edge of Cleveland Park.

Since development began in 2012, the area — save for Two Amys, Jetties and Cactus Cantina — as been void of most commercial activity: The former Giant supermarket and other shops, including a pharmacy and Starbucks, shut down to prepare for the new construction. Gone too was much of the neighborhood’s surface lot and street parking.

This spring, the lot came alive, anchored by a 56,000 square-foot Giant that includes a cafe and tasting area. Rentals began for the residential units — ranging from studios to three-bedroom units — earlier this year.


Residents have access to outdoor courtyards, a fitness center, garage parking and a rooftop terrace. But more impressive is the number of big-name retailers opening their doors in the complex. Along with Giant, the development includes a 12,440 square-foot CVS, a Starbucks, SunTrust Bank, Solidcore, Wylie Wagg and Barcelona Restaurant and Wine Bar, a spin off the popular 14th Street location.


In June, more shops are expected to join them:  Le Village Marche, a 1,515 square foot boutique-style home furnishing store; Pure Barre; Core 72; and Raku, a 3,321 square foot Asian dining, sushi & sake restaurant.

Expected in August: Allure SpaZengo Cycle and a dry cleaners.

Another big tenant: Washington Ballet, which is opening in August another location in a 6,850 square foot studio.

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110 Apartments Could Come to Old Coal Yard in Shaw

110 Apartments Could Come to Old Coal Yard in Shaw

In the early 20th century, the Chapman Coal Company Stable and Garage in Shaw was a busy coal office and yard with stables, part of a booming light industrial corridor.

Now, developer Four Points is moving forward with plans to transform the site into a 110-unit rental complex at 57 N Street N.W., using the both existing structure as well as a new L-shaped,  five-story building set back from the landmark with a courtyard.  The two buildings will be connected by a five-story stair tower.

The city’s Historic Preservation Review Board gave conditional approval to early plans for the renovation this week, a victory that comes half a decade after the most recent tenant, Brass Knob Back Doors, was shuttered.

Since then, the building has been vacant. It was saved from demolition in 2013 and placed on the city’s Inventory of Historic Sites.

The main building — constructed as a 75-car garage with service and repair facilities above it — and stable have survived since they were built in 1908 and 1912, though some are in poor condition; some of the historic door and window openings have been filled in, some of the horse stalls parged over.

Developers are looking to revive some of those features and restore others that were  lost . They plan to paint and re-point the brickwork, repair the tin cornice, replace the windows and remove the iron stair, iron door canopy and stoop from the existing building on N Street, which have deteriorated over the years. At the same time, they’ll rebuild the stable’s long-missing carriage entry, hayloft door (with block and tackle) and roof. They’ll also replace all second story windows, re-introduce openings on the first floor and build all new window openings facing the courtyard.

A view from the alley of the proposed development at 57 N St N.W. Courtesy Studio 27 architects.

A view from the alley of the proposed development at 57 N St N.W. Courtesy Studio 27 architects.

The plan also included adding a one-story+ loft addition to the roof of the existing building, set back 15 feet from the facade, a design element that didn’t sit well with the board.

“It’s awesome we can more than double the area of a landmark,” board member Graham Davidson said — but designers should be mindful of what it means for the neighborhood and pedestrian experience, he said.

“I’m happy that something is happening but concerned that it’s happening in such a way that the top of the building is being increased to a substantial amount,” said Joyce Robertson Paul, a former ANC commissioner in the neighborhood who has lived across the street from the site for more than three decades.

The board will require developers to either remove the roof addition or limit it to no more than one story, scale it back to be smaller than the length of the building, set it back no less than 35 feet to the point of the current roof monitors and ensure it’s not visible from N Street.

Developers will also need to rethink the design for the new building, which board members called overly vertical.

“This is a 50 foot tall building and the building surrounding it aren’t even that tall,” Davidson said.

“It shouldn’t feel like you’re on the side of a building but that there’s something a little more refined … that there’s a facade,” board member Gretchen Pfaehler said.

No date has been set for construction.

Featured image: A western view of the development planned for 57 O St NW. Courtesy of Studio 27 architects.

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Dupont Microcondos Get Approval From Historic Review Board

Dupont Microcondos Get Approval From Historic Review Board

Between Connecticut Avenue’s commercial corridor and the historic row houses that surround it, there’s not much room for new development in Dupont.

One solution, from Valor Development: Look up.

Two years after it put forward a proposal that would take commercial office space and turn it into small condos, Valor’s project — The Penelope — will receive a nod Thursday from the city’s Historic Preservation Review Board.

The development, atop a five-story building with ground floor retail tenants like The Gryphon, will build as many as 21 micro condos: Eleven on the fifth floor and 10  on the newly -constructed  sixth floor.

Initially, developers envisioned eight large luxury units on the site at  1337 Connecicut Ave NW. But soon after those plans in 2013, Valor came back to the table with a plan for micro units, something they say strikes the work-life balance young residents are seeking.

It’s a strategy that’s found recent success with DC developers looking to design attractive units while also respecting historical character. There’s a 245-room micro hotel planned for Chinatown, and 125 micro apartments coming to another development in Shaw. SB-Urban is behind the latter, along with plans to put micro-apartments in the historic Patterson Mansion in Dupont Circle and to in the Latham Hotel in Georgetown.

Valor, also behind the transformation of nearby 1617 Swann St NW into luxury apartments, first wanted to add two additional floors to the building. It’s since reduced its plans to include only one. Architects scaled back the massing and design of the addition to better blend into lower floors.

HPRB staffers asked developers to consider the scale of a large expanse of glass curtain wall on the sixth story’s facade, saying it “should be developed so that it is not overwhelming in scale to the underlying building.”

The project is still waiting for a Board of Zoning Adjustment decision on parking relief.

The building, which was zoned for office use, would normally require 10 spaces, but got an exception that allowed it to provide only eight. With the new project, developers would be required to provide a totally of 13 spaces, but they’re hoping to continue to provide no more than eight.  An April hearing was rescheduled for June 30.

Featured image: Proposed Penelope micro condos in Dupont. Image Courtesy of Valor Development and ALine Architecture. Rendering created by ArchBim Inc.

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The Colonel, a 70-Unit Residential/Retail Building, Opens In Shaw

The Colonel, a 70-Unit Residential/Retail Building, Opens In Shaw

Another mixed-use building is joining the rapid development happening along 9th Street in Shaw.

The five-story Colonel, named for Robert Gould Shaw, the neighborhood’s namesake and commander of the first African American regiment in the U.S., boasts 70 residential units, a mix of efficiencies and one-and two-bedrooms along with some penthouses, duplexes and a townhouse.

The $13 million project, from CAS Riegler, Douglas Development and PGN Architects, renovated the original turn-of-the century structure at 1250 9th St. N.W. to include below-grade parking, a bike room, a courtyard with a fireplace and a rooftop deck with a theater, a fire pit and a catering kitchen.

The real draw for the neighborhood: 8,500 square feet of ground-floor retail that already has some big-name tenants. Among them: All Purpose, a pizzeria behind the teams at Red Hen and Boundary Stone.

The vision is an 80-seat restaurant with deck oven-cooked pizza, owner Michael Friedman told The City Paper.

Don’t expect it to be as formal, though.

“I want it to have a great, airy, warm feeling to it,” he told The City Paper.

Tiffany MacIsaac will also open a much-anticipated storefront for Buttercream Bakeshop in the building, EaterDC reports, while consulting on pastries and pizza dough.

Both shops are expected to open in late 2015.

Featured Image: 1250 9th St NW. Courtesy of Douglas Development.


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Split, A New Ridesharing App, Is Out To Shake Up D.C.’s On-Demand Transportation Scene

Split, A New Ridesharing App, Is Out To Shake Up D.C.’s On-Demand Transportation Scene
With Uber, Lyft, Sidecar, Getaround and Bridj, does D.C. really need another on-demand ride app?


Split, a new ride-sharing service out of start-up incubator 1776, thinks there’s room for improvement.


Unlike the other services that have made a name for themselves in the District, Split is homegrown, from a team of local entrepreneurs. And instead of the kind of ride-hailing service made popular by the likes of Uber and Lyft, Split is focused on “smarter shared rides,” spokeswoman Mary Margaret Plumridge says.


In other words, it’s an on-demand carpool that’s more convenient than public transportation but less expensive than a taxi. Fares range from $2 to $8 because, founders say, users are always sharing a ride, which cuts down on cost.


The idea is catching on: Uber and Lyft have launched their own companion ride-sharing services in recent months — Uber Pool and LyftLine — though they aren’t yet available in D.C. Bridj, a Boston-based startup that launched last month, has already captured a part of the population willing  to share rides to avoid driving and the Metro. But unlike Split,  it operates more like a bus service: All riders board the vehicle at the same time from the same location, and are dropped off that way, too, based on collective starting points and destinations.


With Split,  users enter a starting and ending location into the app and walk no more than a block to a pickup point determined by technology that, thanks to D.C. open data, steers passengers away from things like crosswalks, bike lanes and loading zones. (It also helps avoid the confusion on-demand ride drivers sometimes have when trying to locate obscure addresses).


The driver receives requests via a real-time routing algorithm, which maps pickups and drop-offs into the most efficient route, Plumridge says. There are virtually no single trips: You’re almost guaranteed another passenger in the car. Another efficiency: Split can accommodate several passengers at once, which founders say allows the service to use  fewer vehicles to transport the same number of passengers as more traditional ride services.


It will also follow new regulations from the D.C. council on background checks and insurance.

At the moment, Split is focused on a central zone of the city: Columbia Heights to the north and Constitution Avenue to the south, and from Capitol Hill to Georgetown University east to west.  There are plans to expand within the city, and beyond it, as business picks up.



Can it compete?

So far, reviews are good, though there some bumps — like recognizing landmarks and locations — the new app will have to learn over time, says a review from Arlington Transit Partners.

When picking my Foggy Bottom Metro Station destination I was unable to find the Station in the address lookup. I ended up moving the pin right on to where the Metro Station is located which is not very handy if you aren’t exactly sure of your destination’s absolute location.

At the least,  Split,  et. al, can offer D.C. commuters more options.

Featured: A Split car on the road. Courtesy of Split.

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Four Liquor Licenses Open In Georgetown

Four Liquor Licenses Open In Georgetown

For the first time in more than a year,  liquor licenses are open in Georgetown.

D.C.’s Alcohol Beverage Regulation Administration (ABRA) said Wednesday that four alcoholic beverage licenses for restaurants are available in the Georgetown Moratorium Zone, which limits the number of restaurants that can sell alcoholic beverages to 68.

The Georgetown Moratorium Zone, one of five across the city,  applies to any establishment within 1,800 feet of the intersection of Wisconsin Avenue and N Street, NW — roughly from 36th St NW east to Rock Creek Park, and from Q Street NW south to the waterfront — with the exception of hotels or businesses located in Georgetown Park, Georgetown Park II, Prospect Place Mall, Georgetown Court or Washington Harbor.

The openings come after cancellations of licenses at   M Café  (3236 Prospect St., NW), Puro Café (1529 Wisconsin Avenue, NW), Zenobia Lounge (1025 31st St., NW) and Pizzeria Uno (3211 M St., NW), ABRA spokeswoman Jessie Cornelius told District Source.

The ABC board will accept applications for the Georgetown restaurants beginning June 25; they’ll be reviewed on a first-come, first-serve basis.

The openings come after the administration created several new types of liquor licenses, one that allows businesses like wineries, breweries and distilleries to mix their products and sell them on premises, via cocktails or glasses and pints, and another that lets bakeries to sell alcohol-infused products (with up to 5 percent alcohol).

Some breweries, none in Georgetown, have taken advantage of that law. There are no wineries in the district, though there could soon be one in Navy Yard.



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Two Restaurants Planned For New Trump Hotel In Old Post Office Pavilion

Two Restaurants Planned For New Trump Hotel In Old Post Office Pavilion

The $200 million renovation of the Old Post Office Pavilion, the future site of Donald Trump’s new downtown luxury Trump International Hotel, won’t be complete until mid-2016. But plans for two restaurants inside the 270-room building are picking up speed.

Iron chef Geoffrey Zakarian has announced he will open a farm to table concept serving American and French cuisine.

According to an application filed with the city, the restaurant will seat 350 and also include a 60-seat summer garden at the hotel at 1100 Pennsylvania Ave N.W.  Preliminary hours would be 7 a.m. to 2 a.m. Sunday through Thursday and 7 a.m. to 3 a.m. Friday and Saturday.

Zakarian operates a restaurant of the same name in New York. For the D.C. outpost, he will partner with Virginia’s trump winery to source produce and wines, he told The Washington Post.

A hearing for the restaurant’s liquor license is set for July 13.

The National will join another restaurant, yet to be named, from José Andrés’ ThinkFoodGroup. The restaurant, in the hotel lobby, will be responsible for the hotel’s food and beverage menu as well as its menu for events.

Along with the two restaurants, the hotel will also offer  39,000 square feet of meeting and event space. The centerpiece; A 13,000 square foot Grand Ballroom.

Both restaurants are scheduled to open when construction is complete next year.

Featured image: The future Trump Hotel in the Old Post Office Pavilion, via Trump International Hotel.

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Public Hearing Set For 400-Unit Mixed-Use Building in Noma

Public Hearing Set For 400-Unit Mixed-Use Building in Noma

Developers of a proposed mixed-use building just blocks from the southern entrance of the Noma Metro station will make their case before D.C.’s zoning commission this summer, arguing for a change in zoning code to allow the 525,000 square foot property to include residential units.

The property at 300 M St NE — now a warehouse building and surface parking lot — is located in a commercial zone. A development team, led by architects Hickok Cole, envision replacing it with a 400-unit residential multifamily development, with 13,000 square feet of ground floor retail.

The building will reach 110 feet at its highest point, stepping down to 80 and 50 feet from west to east, according to early plans. It will also include 175 off-street parking spaces located in a below-grade garage. Some of the residential units will be walk-up lofts with individual entryways and front porches.

Also on the table: Approval of a planned unit development (“PUD”)  that includes public park-like space along M Street to the west of Abbey Place, with paving, benches and lighting, according to Hickok’s project page.

This spring, developers said some of the other benefits considered in the PUD include:

  • Sidewalk improvements on the south side of M Street, NE
  • Replacing nearby streetlights
  • Contributing to the BID’s trash and snow removal program or providing such services independently
  • Contributions to Two Rivers charter school on the north of the site and possibly to Planned Parenthood, another nearby neighbor
  • Adding additional fare gates to the southern exit of the NoMa Metro

The Wilkes Company has been sitting on about 67,000 square feet of land between NoMa and Union Market since the 1980s; the most recent plans surfaced about two years ago.

Washington Business Journal reports the project has received clearance to do some soil testing, but designs, and construction, won’t begin without zoning approval.

Shaun Courtney reported for this story.

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Now Open: CaBi, A “Bike Corral” Service For Busy Capital Bikeshare Stations

Now Open: CaBi, A “Bike Corral” Service For Busy Capital Bikeshare Stations

The number of people who use Capitol Bikeshare to get to and from work is growing.

But what happens if there’s nowhere to dock the bike when you reach your destination?

It happens more often than you think: At its busiest, the company moves more than 2,500 bikes between stations each weekday, in vans that only hold a certain number of bikes at a time.

On Thursday, the company offered a solution: CaBi, a curbside service that will create virtual unlimited open docking for at least two of the system’s busies stations: 21st and I Streets, N.W., and downtown at 13th St and New York Ave N.W. 

How it works: Staff will be on hand between 7  and 11 a.m. to remove bikes from spaces when the station docks are full, which will let you  dock your bike and be on your way. (Bonus: the service is included with a membership).

For Bike to Work Day on May 15, the company will also offer the service at 14th and D Streets NW.

Reviews, so far, have been enthusiastic:

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CaBi will be available for the first two locations every day of the week through the end of September, though it could continue beyond that based on demand.

Featured image: The first day of service at one of two new Capital Bikeshare bike corral stations, via Capital Bikeshare on Twitter.

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Developers to Raze 18-Trailer Office Park For Massive M Street Development

Developers to Raze 18-Trailer Office Park For Massive M Street Development

Part of M Street SE is about to get a makeover.

The developers of a three-building retail and commerical complex in Southeast Capitol Hill applied this week for a raze permit for 1333 M Street SE, putting into motion a major plan to build up the plot of land along the Anacostia waterfront.

The project, from Cohen Siegel Investor, will include three residential buildings with an estimated 673 residential units and more than 10,000 square feet of retail.

But first, developers are tasked with clearing the site near Navy Yard, which is home to a complex of 18 interconnected trailer offices. The permit asks for permission to lift, by crane, the wooden structures piece by piece from the complex so construction can begin.

The nearly 3-acres site is bounded by M Street, a future Virginia Avenue and Water Street, SE. The first phase entails a 10-story residential building with 218  rental units, an underground parking garage with 51 spaces and 44 surface parking spaces.

As part of the first phase, the developer will improve existing surface streets like M Street, construct an extension of Virginia Avenue south of M Street and create a new internal north-south private street.  Among the public benefits expected in the first phase are a public dog park at the southern terminus of 14th Street at the project and a wildflower meadow along the Water Street right- of-way to help with surface runoff and biodiversity.

A target date for the project has not been set, but developers said earlier this year they had a three-year timeline.

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