Monday, August 18, 2014

Dragon Video Billboards for Penn Quarter

More video advertising boards are being added to the area around the Verizon Center in Penn Quarter. The newest addition has been in the works for a few months, creating an inaccessible construction area on the G street pedestrian walk. This weekend, we got to see a bit of  the resulting work. 

This video board is mere feet above the heads of the average passerby, maybe 12-15 feet above ground level. Apparently there will be a dragon-like sculpture attached to the billboard, because... Chinatown? I mean, I should wait until completion to judge, but this seems to be a very strange location for a permanent video billboard and the addition of the dragon could be awesome or terrible depending on the execution.

The boards attached to the side of the Verizon Center last year were placed high up on the building, near the third floor, at the corner of 7th and F NW. The new video board is double-sided and has been placed in the busy "pedestrian walk" area. The pedestrian walk links 6th and 7th Streets NW, is home to several food-based kiosks, and leads to a mini-entertainment center featuring Bar Louis, Lucky Strike Bowling, and Regal Cinemas, among others.

I'll definitely post a photo after the billboard is complete. 

Friday, August 15, 2014

Botanica for Mount Pleasant Street

Botanica Boricua has placed a "Coming Soon" sign in the window of 3171 Mount Pleasant St NW. Melissa Beauty Salon occupies the ground level space and the basement space was most recently occupied by Lamont Video. Lamont Video was an old-school VHS and then DVD rental store that operated from 1991 until early 2014. The basement space is about 2,500 square feet. This botanica looks to be linked to an eponymous store located in Arlington on Columbia Pike. So cool!

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Idea #2: My Transit Wishlist

I'm constantly hearing great ideas about how to make DC a more livable, fair, and vibrant city. And of course I have a few of my own. Some are complex, other simple, most are common sense. Occasionally I'll feature one on the blog.
More rail to Richmond, please.
I have A TON of transit wishes. The list never really shortens; it only grows. Some seem to be within the realm of inevitability, such as the extension of the DC Streetcar network. Others are feasible, but aren't planned at the moment or perhaps have been ruled out of existence for various reasons. Here are a few of mine:

Rail to Annapolis from DC: Actually, I'd accept rail to Annapolis from anywhere. Maryland has a great commuter rail system, MARC, which primarily serves the Maryland suburbs of DC, DC itself, Baltimore, and its suburbs as well. There's even a line that terminates in West Virginia. They've added weekend trains between DC and Baltimore to much success. But, the rail line doesn't connect the Maryland state capital city to either DC or Baltimore. A commuter bus travels from the New Carrollton Metro station to Annapolis during weekdays, but I would love a MARC or Amtrak option with multiple weekday and even some weekend schedules.

Virginia Railway Express Extension to Richmond, Charlottesville: Driving on Intestate 95 from Washington, DC to Fredericksburg, VA is one of the most nervy, patience-testing experiences for East Coast travelers. Along with I-395, it's both consistently congested and unpredictably navigable at the same time. Luckily for Virginians, VRE will whisk you from Fredericksburg, Manassas, and other Nova communities to DC each weekday for a decent fare. While Charlottesville and Richmond are served by Amtrak (Richmond several times per day), I think they should be on the state-controlled VRE with commuter trips each day. The two cities are cultural, political, educational, and economic centers for the state. I'm not suggesting that Charlottesville be connected to DC via VRE, but I am suggesting a rail link to Richmond. And commuters from Richmond would appreciate a non-car alternative to Henrico's west end, Charlottesville, Ashland, Doswell, Fredericksburg, the Pentagon, and beyond. 

Metro Rail Infill Station at Grant Circle: Infill stations are expensive, potentially costing $100-$200 million. However, I believe that one of the ways to build transit capacity within the city is to make it easier for people in dense neighborhoods to move around while not overcrowding current stations. That could mean adding a few infill stations on Metro. It has worked very well for the Red Line's NoMa-Gallaudet station. Another candidate is a new station under Grant Circle in Petworth via New Hampshire Ave. The stop would be on the Green and Yellow Lines. This would shorten the gap between Fort Totten and Georgia Ave-Petworth stations, serving a very dense residential area of Northwest.

Thursday, August 7, 2014

H & M Opening, Sweet Themez Bakery Moving

Swedish clothing chain H&M will open its newest DC store today (Aug 7) in Dupont. The 28,000 sq ft space, at 1133 Connecticut Ave NW, was previously filled by Filene's Basement. This will be the 2nd H&M on the 42 bus line; the other is in Metro Center at 11th and F Sts NW. The new store on Connecticut is opening at Noon today, August 7. They are offering these specials for tomorrow today only; from the Facebook page

"Join us on August 7th at noon for the launch of our brand new store at 1133 Connecticut Ave. in Washington, DC.

If you're one of the first 100 shoppers in line then you will receive an all access fashion pass valued up to $300 off your entire purchase.

Bring in old garments to be recycled before the store opens at noon for the chance to win an H&M gift card valued between $50 and $100!"

After today, store hours will be 10:00AM - 9:00PM on Monday-Saturday and 11:00AM - 8:00PM.

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Sweet Themez seems to have temporarily closed on 18th St NW in Adams Morgan. The lower level space at 2318 18th St NW is being advertised as for lease. Sweet Themez has posted a sign in the window indicating that they were moving, but not to where. If I find out more, I'll post it here. Sweet Themez specialized in custom cakes and cupcakes, but also make pies and cakepops. The vegan cupcakes were great, I hope they reopen soon!

Monday, August 4, 2014

Monroe St Market : Big Addition to Edgewood & Brookland

East face of Brookland Works apartment building.
Monroe Street Market is a development of retail, residential, and arts spaces located on the border between  the Edgewood and Brookland neighborhoods. The main part of the development consists of four multi-unit apartment buildings constructed just west of the Brookland Red Line Metro station. The apartments are well and good, but the most exciting parts are the first floor retail spaces and "Arts Walk" studio components. 

On the retail/restaurant side, the major additions open to date are Barnes & Noble Bookstore (as the official CUA bookstore), &pizza, and Potbelly Sandwich Shop. On the way are Busboys & Poets, Brookland Pint (same owners as Meridian Pint), and Filter Coffee Shop. There's also a farmers market at Arts Walk on Saturdays 9:00 AM - 1:00 PM

The Arts Walk features 27 studio work and presentation spaces for artists of all types. There are studios featuring painters, printmakers, clothiers, woodworkers, photographers; it's a neat mix. The spaces are cozy, ranging from 300 square feet to 625 square feet; although many have magnificently high ceilings and cool roll-up garage doors. 

When I visited last weekend I stopped in a studio that was hosting open hours, the American Poetry Museum's Gallery and Reading Room (Studio 25). I had a chance to chat with the executive director who has a really positive outlook about the concept a new creative district in Brookland. For its part, the Museum conducts writing workshops and hosts readings onsite and also travels to schools to take its educational programming directly to students. They also feature multi-media art exhibitions in the Gallery Room.

The best part about the Museum and other studios on the Art Walk is that they are located about 100 feet from an entrance to the Brookland Metro station. Hopefully that will eventually translate to more visitors from outside of the immediate neighborhood. The Monroe Street Market buildings are located on the 600 and 700 blocks of Monroe St NE; between Michigan Ave and the the Brookland Metro Station. Aside from Metro, the development can be reached from Mount Pleasant via H2/H4/H8 buses or a mostly flat bike ride.

Retail spaces are mostly empty to date, but Busboys has singed on.

Typical studio frontage.

American Poetry Museum has open hours on the weekend.
Arts Walk is located on the ground level between the Brookland Works buildings.