Thursday, May 19, 2005

Businesses & Neighborhood Opposition/Support

DCist posted a story about the closing of N-A-Minit conveniance store (near Lincoln Park). The closing follows the recent closing (under great community pressure) of the notorious Excello Liquors. The story is short, but it touches on many of issues we are currently dealing with on H Street. Particularly, the article cautions against being too quick to issue blanket judgements against business types (for example, those with alcoholic beverage licenses) without looking at individual business owners. One notable difference is that the vacant space in the article will soon be replaced by condos...on H Street, a vacant space is likely to remain vacant (at least for the present).

1 comment:

Richard Layman said...

One of the neighbors in that area communicated with me in late March on this project. This is what I wrote (plus images):

Just a quick skim. 1. With matter of right generally we can't do s***. So we have to convince.

2. I agree with you wholeheartedly about mixed use and retaining commercial spaces within the neighborhoods. If you go back through the H Street archives you'll see the document I wrote that ANC6C transmitted to the Zoning Advisory Committee. It basically summarizes mixed use points relevant to the city from Getting to Smart Growth 1 and 2 (these two publication are clickable under publications at the tail end of the links on my blog).

3. While the buildings won't be able to sustain an individual landmark designation, you could maybe "threaten" to file a nomination to get suasion with the developer, and negotiate an agreement to retain some commercial. That might mean filing a nomination though. It's a lot of work, and ultimately it will fail. I spent more than 100 hours dealing with the unsuccessful nomination of the two frame rowhouses on the 800 block of 7th Street, so now I only file nominations that I think have a reasonable chance to succeed. I don't think you would need to spend that much time though.

OTOH, you have to figure whether or not it will be the club you need with the developer. It will lengthen the time required for the developer and maybe that would help you.

4. Again, I agree with you about mixed use. There is something that I call the philosophy of "noxious use" where people are like surgeons and think the best way to get rid of a bad use is to demolish it, rather than fix it. I guess that's a pretty typical American attitude.

There are lots of great mixed use images that you can get to show how this can be done properly. Obviously, there are thousands of such examples from Manhattan, Brooklyn, and Philadelphia.

If you look through the March archive of my blog, there is an entry on Fox and Obel supermarket in Chicago. Look at the images in that entry (I didn't know how to incorporate multiple images into an entry at that time so you have to click through).

Another example would be the live-work units in Kentlands. You could suggest that the first two floors be combined live-work units with commercial space on the first floor. However, these tend to be service businesses not retail so they wouldn't really accomplish what you want, but it is something to consider.

Another example would be the two groceries on the 400 block of E. Capitol. With a little work, either one could have an outside patio. A combined grocery-cafe would be an obvious use there and of course, on the site you're talking about. Hell, I would be interested in trying to do it--and so would a couple other people I am working with.

On this, I would talk to Cody Rice and Drew Ronneberg of your ANC's zoning committee.

5. Misc. Somewhere I have a menu that I bought off Ebay that was from a drugstore at 13th and D--but I haven't gone through the city directories to confirm the exact address (which wasn't listed on the menu). There are trolley images of 13th and D in the Wymer collection at the City Museum. As far as the turnaround and the trolley, Lee Rogers would probably know and I can get you his number. He's also speaking at Washingtoniana soon about bridges, and you could go hit him up then... Also, the DC Historic Preservation Office Transportation ("Trolley") Studies might have more detailed information on the building over there, you can ask Emily Paulus I suppose.

6. Re the images: red hook 1 and 2 are a diner in Brooklyn; Safeway is a ground floor grocery store in Florida with condos above, Salvaggio is an interior from the Detroit suburbs, and the Wall Street Cafe is an interior image from a place in Detroit.