Tuesday, May 5, 2015

Cinco de Mayo deals today at the Red Derby

Today is Cinco de Mayo, a Mexican holiday, and the 'Derb is getting into the act, with $2 tequila pops, a $5 Dos Hombres special (a Tecate beer and tequila shot) and half-price tacos. Sounds like a good deal to me!

Cinco de Mayo is often billed as Mexican Independence Day, which is not actually true -- it commemorates a victory over the French in Puebla in 1862. It's actually not a huge deal in Mexico apparently, but hey, I like parties.

Monday, May 4, 2015

A happy ending for an abandoned building: developers rehab, finish 1483 Newton apartments

If you've followed this blog for a while, you may recall the saga of 1483 Newton Street NW. The building was abandoned for years amidst a dispute among heirs of the building's owner, making it an eyesore and a magnet for crime, trash and more. There were reports of people hiding stolen merchandise there, loitering, squatting and more.

The building was slated for demolition, which would be a shame, as it was a potentially beautiful early 20th century building -- just look at its seven nice-looking neighbors, all developed by Harry Wardman, one of the most influential and famous real estate developers in the city, who did a lot of building in the early 1900s. Then finally, in 2012, it was bought by UIP, a developer. They since worked to rehabilitate it, as it was in terrible condition.

And now it's finished, with 38 apartments, about half of which are leased. It's great to see an abandoned building in our area put back to productive use. That means more residents in our area, more available housing, more taxes for the city, and fewer places that could be used for crime.

Here's their press release.

Washington, DC, (May 4, 2015)  – Urban Investment Partners (UIP) has completed a two-year gut renovation of a formerly vacant apartment building originally developed by iconic Washington, DC real estate entrepreneur Harry Wardman in Columbia Heights. Isabella now offers 38 modern apartments that are now 50 percent leased.

When acquired by UIP in December 2012, the building at 1483 Newton Street, NW had been vacant for more than two decades and had been condemned by the DC Condemnation Board. It was one of the last blighted, vacant multifamily properties in Columbia Heights. “This was the most run-down building we have ever purchased, with holes in the roof, collapsing floors, and a failing fa├žade,” said UIP Principal Steve Schwat. “It’s a joy to see the restoration of this classic structure, and the apartment homes are nothing less than spectacular. This is what we love to do.”

UIP General Contracting, Inc. (UIPGC) performed the $4.2 million renovation; Bonstra Haresign was the architect of record. UIP Property Management Inc. (UIPPM) has taken over management of day-to-day operations. For leasing information, call: 202.885.9785, visit www.1483newton.com.

Isabella is one of the “Seven Sisters” – seven identical buildings between Newton Street and Meridian Place NW, all developed by Wardman and designed by architect Albert H. Beers in the early 20thcentury. UIPGC recently renovated the exterior and common areas of another one of the Seven Sisters: the 24-unit 1489 Newton Street Cooperative located next door to Isabella.

Isabella’s newly designed apartments feature such up-to-date  amenities as Nest learning thermostats, LG washer/dryers, USB charging outlets, open kitchens with islands, balconies, patios, granite counters, tiled kitchen backsplashes, and more. Fourth floor apartments have special flooring and other unique finishes.

The UIP family of companies owns and manages more than 3,000 apartments in Washington, DC and Maryland and has renovated and restored more than 20 downtown apartment buildings over the last eight years. UIP’s primary focus includes working with tenants in Washington and helping them exercise their TOPA (Tenant Opportunity to Purchase Act) rights.  UIP is also active in entitling land, new development, and acquiring residential assets in the close-in Washington, DC suburbs. For more information, visit www.uipllc.comand www.uippm.com.

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Spring festival this Saturday at the Old Soldiers' Home

Spring is here (finally) and the Old Soldiers Home is holding a community festival to celebrate. There will be music, ballet, art, food trucks and local food vendors, games, crafts and art for kids, craft beer for sale, and more.

It should also be a nice time to explore the grounds, which are really beautiful, and also include President Lincoln's summer cottage.

Here's a full list of what's hapening. Sounds fun!

A *Free* Family Festival featuring the music of *Herb Spice & The Cinnamonstix and the vocal stylings of Cecily Bumbray *

*Saturday, May 2, 1 p.m. to 5 p.m*. on the lower grounds of the Armed Forces Retirement Home in Washington, D.C. (Enter gate at *Randolph Street and Rock Creek Church Roads NW*; for Navigation use 322 Rock Creek Church
Road N.W., Washington D.C. 20011)

*2 p.m. 60-minute Nature Walk guided by landscape architect Mary Pat Rowan and her husband Philip Blair (Meet at gazebo next to Soldiers Home pond)

*Local food vendors including Captain Cookie, The BBQ Bus, The Lemongrass Truck, and more...

*Craft Beer selections for sale

*Children's crafts with Historic Lincoln's Cottage, Kirov Ballet Academy, Creative Minds

*Face painting & body art

*Children's games

*Beautiful forecast ideal for hiking and biking on the lower grounds

*Friends of the Soldiers Home t-shirts available!

Celebration is a 10-minute walk from the Georgia/Petworth Metro stop on the Green Line; also accessible by H8 Metro bus; $5 charge per car for those who drive in; no dogs please

Monday, April 27, 2015

The Funk Parade is this Saturday on U Street

If you like having a good time, get yourself to U Street this Saturday for the second Funk Parade, a celebration of music (mostly funky) and the street itself.

Founded last year via Kickstarter, the event was a blast, with lots of crafts vendors, food, music and performers, plus the actual parade, which then was down V Street. They since have received a permit to take the parade itself to U and T Street from Florida Avenue to 13th Street.

The event this year has three parts: the "day fair" on and around U Street, the parade itself, and then a music festival at venues around the area.

The day fair runs from noon to 5 and includes all kinds of happenings on and around U Street: last year I bought a t-shirt, barbeque, saw graffiti artists, bands and performers and had tons of great people watching. There's also a ton of bands performing.

The parade itself runs from 5 to 7 with local high school marching bands, Batala Washington (an awesome women's drumming group) and if it's like last year, a generally fun and awesome vibe.

Then the music festival kicks off at 7 at an outdoor venue to be announced, plus lots of bars, restaurants and clubs around U Street and an after party at the Lincoln Theater with Trouble Funk and more.

The full lineup with bands is here, with more to be added.

Images from the Funk Parade's FB

Friday, April 24, 2015

New coffee shop and beer & wine bar open at 3118 Georgia: Colony Club (also with tinned seafood)

Folks looking for some pep or a drink on Georgia Avenue now have another option: a new spot called Colony Club just opened at 3118 Georgia Ave NW. It opened on Wednesday.

The name is a reference to owner Max Zuckerman's family, who used to own a flower shop on Georgia called Dave Zuckerman's Colony -- a pretty cool historical reference.

This spot used to be Mama's Southern Cuisine, a two-story space just south of Kenyon Street (the green building above, now painted white.)

They have all manner of coffee and espresso drinks with beans from Ceremony Coffee Roasters, plus craft beers, fancier beers (think Belgian style and other higher-end ones) and also a nice wine selection. The menu also says "spirits" but I don't see any, maybe they're working on that.

They have some food too: breakfast pastries and quiche plus bar snacks like almonds, olives, charcuterie and "tinned seafood" which is a new one to me: they'll have sardines, tuna and mussels, all served with bread, butter, herbs and lemon. I haven't seen that at a bar before, but it does sound pretty tasty.

Park View DC has some photos of the space, which looks very clean and modern, but cozy, and there's also a ping pong table upstairs. I could see having some beers and knocking around some balls.

They'll be open 7am-11pm Monday-Thursday, 7am-midnight Friday, 8am-midnight Saturday, and 8am-5pm Sunday, with the cafe functioning until 5 each day, then switching to the bar.

Here's the old flower shop from their website -- pretty cool.

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Jim Graham wasn't messing around about the male stripper nights at The House

Jim Graham 1

A couple days ago, I was heartily amused by former Ward 1 councilmember's new gig: he's organizing and promoting male stripper nights at The House, the exotic dancer establishment at Georgia Avenue and Otis Place. He promised hot guys, both on "Rock Hard Sundays" aimed at gay men and a Thursday night event aimed at women. And the best part, the strippers would be wearing bow ties from Graham's personal collection.

It sounded like after his defeat in the last election to Brianne Nadeau, Graham decided to something fun -- like when somebody retires and takes a trip around the country or goes skydiving. But he isn't goofing around. To wit, his latest tweet is advertising gay porn star Eric Clark, who promises quite the show on Sunday. (I would not recommend you click the links at work, unless you work somewhere cool.)
It kind of looks like a tweet where you'd immediately say you've been hacked, but no -- that's the new gig. The first night was a fundraiser for the Whitman-Walker Clinic, and according to Twitter folks, it went well. (Also, how did I miss that The House has a Twitter too -- one which you should also definitely not click at work.)

More power to him, although some have noted the irony of Graham, who worked to shut down some bars and clubs in the ward -- he even had a word coined about it, Grahamstanding -- is now promoting a club.

But I'm glad he's keeping things interesting.

Photo by Adam Fagen

Wonderland's Sundress Fest is back for its 11th year on Sun. May 3

Wonderland, our neighborhood institution, has one of their big events coming up soon: the annual Sundress Festival, to be held on Sunday, May 3. The event is a fundraiser for the DC Central Kitchen, which fights hunger and a lot more.

The idea is that anybody who wears a sundress will get happy hour all day -- both dudes and ladies. You can bring your own, but they'll also have racks and racks of them for you to wear in all sizes, from the nice to the ridiculous. There's a lot of camaraderie, and it's a pretty funny sight to see that bartender who only seems to wear black t-shirts in a flowery little number. Here's Wonderland's page about the event.

Plus, happy hour deals. The atmosphere is great and it's one of those times when you'll probably see some neighbors or pals walking by or having a drink too.

The Wonderland Ballroom is at 11th and Kenyon.


Tuesday, April 21, 2015

The Columbia Heights Farmers Market changes name, is back open again every Saturday

It's officially spring in Columbia Heights: you can wear short-sleeved shirts and the farmers market is back at the Columbia Heights Civic Plaza. Closed for the season, the Columbia Heights Farmers Market is open again, every Saturday from 9am-1pm. Get there earlier though, things start to run out at 1.

You might notice the name is different -- they were formerly the Columbia Heights Community Marketplace, but most people I know just called it the farmers market, and they have since adopted that on their Facebook page. It's easier to say, that's for sure.

The market, if you haven't been, has a nice selection of produce, meat, cheese, juices and bread, plus some crafts from local artisans. There's sometimes other food offerings too, like a taco vendor last weekend and Pleasant Pops, the popular local popsicle maker. Grab a coffee at Coffy Cafe or Sticky Fingers and check it out.