Monday, July 28, 2014

Mount Pleasant to Tysons Now a 2-Seat Trip

The real Silver Line payoff for most of us in DC will be the rail link to Dulles Airport. As part of Phase 2, it won't be operational until 2018-2019. But, with the opening of Phase 1 of the Metrorail project last Saturday, we did get a major upgrade regarding transit access to Northern Virginia. 

So, how long does it actually take? Since it was Saturday I took a bus to the closest Silver Line station, McPherson Sq vs walking to Columbia Heights Station and transferring at L'Enfant Plaza.

12:09 PM - Board S4 bus towards downtown DC at the corner of 16th and Irving NW.

12:26 PM - Hop off of bus, walk to McPherson Square Metrorail station.

12:38 PM - Board Silver Line train to Wiehle-Reston East

1:15 PM - Train arrives at Wiehle-Reston East Station

Total trip time from Mount Pleasant to Wiehle-Reston East = 1 hour 6 minutes
Total cost = $4.85 using SmarTrip 

At this point I disembarked, roamed around the station, talked up some Metro employees, pondered the new Metrorail map, wondered why there wasn't a stop at Wolf Trap, took more photos, ET CETERA; transit junkie stuff. I took the next train three stops to the Tysons Corner Station where I joined almost everyone else getting off in walking to Tysons Corner Center. I had lunch there and picked up a much needed new pair of shoes. But, I digress. Headed back towards the city...

2:57 PM - Board Largo bound Silver Line train at Tysons Corner station.

3:24 PM - Disembark train at McPherson Square station and transfer to S4 bus.

3:47 PM - S4 bus arrives at 16th and Irving NW.

Total trip time from Tysons Corner station to Mount Pleasant = 50 minutes
Total cost = $4.85 using SmarTrip

Not sure how often I'll be taking a trip of this nature. However, there are now two new options for getting to Dulles Airport. This could entice me to fly out of IAD more often:

1) Washington Flyer Bus: Departs from Wiehle Station every 15-20 minutes during the weekday. It costs $5 and will get you to the airport in about 10 minutes.

2) 981/983 Fairfax Connector Bus: Departs from Wiehle Station every 20 minutes during the weekday (PDF). This bus makes intermediate stops with a travel time of 30 minutes to the airport. It costs $1.75.
Waiting for Silver Line train at McPherson Sq station.
End of the line: Wiehle-Reston East station.
Shiny new fair gates at Wiehle station.
Pedestrian walkway over Route 7 towards Tysons Corner Center mall.
The awkward pedestrian path to the mall. This experience will be improved soon.
New hotel and office towers next to Silver Line station.

Thursday, July 24, 2014

New Hotel for Chinatown

Location of proposed 245 room hotel in Chinatown.
District Source has a very detailed run down of the zoning adjustments made en route to approval of a 245-key hotel project in Chinatown. The article discusses the reasons the project was allowed to move forward despite planning for zero on-site car parking spaces, which is typically a no-no for a development of this size. 

The H Street Hotel would be built atop a long-empty lot on the 600 block of H St NW, between Vapiano and Panera restaurants. (The future of this lot, including its parking allotment, has been in question for seven years.) This space is directly across the street from the WMATA Metrorail Gallery Pl-Chinatown station and adjacent to stops for the busy 70s and X bus lines. Currently the closest hotels to this site are Kimpton's Hotel Monaco and Marriot's Fairfield Inn & Suites. 

The new hotel would be run by Modus Hotels, the company behind DC's One Washington Circle and George Washington University Inn hotels. With no current structures remaining on the lot to incorporate, the hotel would feature all-new construction. The 245 rooms would bring the hotel to 11 floors, including some form of ground level retail. Exciting development for this block, one of the busiest in the central business district.

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Pharmacy Bar Could Get Sidewalk Seating

Pharmacy Bar (also known as Troublemaker) could get outdoor seating soon, joining other establishments on 18th Street in Adams Morgan. The bar ownership, which recently changed hands, has applied for an unenclosed sidewalk cafe. Any restaurant or bar owners who wish to create seating on a public sidewalk must be cleared by DC DDOT. Luckily for Pharmacy (2337 18th St NW), Adams Morgan sidewalks underwent a major expansion two years ago and plenty of other establishments have already been approved for outdoor seating including: Tryst, Diner, Mellow Mushroom, Grand Central, Amsterdam Falafel, Angles, Carriage House, Millie & Al's, Jyoti, Libertine, and a bunch more. Good luck Pharmacy. Would be a cool addition to this space.

Monday, July 21, 2014

La Tomate Adds Café

La Tomate has been serving Italian food in Dupont for nearly thirty years. It's in a great location; on a narrow, triangular corner at R and Connecticut, just a block form the Metro station. I've actually never eaten there, but they may have a new customer after opening a cute addition in the form of a café. 

The grand opening for La Tomate Caffé is July 25, but I stopped by last week to peek in. It's a simple affair, being located in the rear of the restaurant, next to The Cheeky Puppy pet store. The café menu is separate from the bistro and for now, includes mostly sandwiches and salads. And of course a full coffee service. Looking forward to checking it out! La Tomate Caffé is located at 1701 Connecticut Ave NW.