Friday, October 31, 2014

Mount Pleasant Lantern Walk is November 2nd

From the organizers:
"Take back the hour! Join us for a lantern walk to mark the end of Daylight Savings Time and the onset of winter’s early darkness!

The walk will start in Lamont Park at 5:30 on the evening of Sunday, November 2nd, the day we turn our clocks back. We will make a procession around the neighborhood carrying lanterns of all sorts. Our route will include a woodsy section full of mystery and surprises!

In case of rain we will move the walk to Sunday, November 9th.

Paper-Lantern-making Workshop:
We will have a paper-lantern-making workshop on Saturday, November 1st, from 9:00 - 2:00 at La Casa, 3166 Mount Pleasant Street. You can come for any part of that time period. This would be a great thing to do before or after visiting the Mt P farmers' market!

We create lanterns by collaging tissue paper and other things onto pre-built paper lanterns. It makes a good activity for even the youngest kids (with grown-up help!) but it also allows a lot of creativity and craft and is great for older kids and adults. Lantern-making supplies, including battery-powered lights - will cost $5 per lantern.
You don't need to bring anything to the workshop, but these things might be fun or useful:

*pretty fall leaves - to collage onto your lantern
*silhouette cut-outs (from construction paper or such)
*scissors – to cut out shapes

If you plan to attend the workshop, it would be helpful if you would let us know how many of you there’ll be and roughly when you expect to come. Drop-ins are welcome, though.

If you already have a lantern to carry or want to make one on your own, all types are welcome, except NO FLAMES. No candles, torches, fuel-lanterns or anything that could set anything on fire will be allowed on the walk. Safety first! 

Who Should Come?
This will be a great event for kids and grown-ups both. The route is about 1.3 miles and includes a section on a wooded path. It is possible to do the walk with a rugged stroller, but it would be a bit of a challenge.

Want to Help Out?
We need guides to help direct the procession and to make street crossings safer. We need people to help out at the workshop. We need musicians and artists who would like to take part in some special activities.

Maybe Let Us Know if You're Coming?
You're welcome to come unannounced, but if you expect to come on the walk it would be helpful if you could send an email. This will help us with planning for the event. This is especially true if you're coming to the workshop.

Coming? Questions? Want to volunteer? Write to

Like us on Facebook to hear about upcoming events! We hope to see you there!

- The Mount Pleasant Children’s Puppet Hour:"

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Lamont Street Halloween Block Party

It's baaaaaaaaaaack. The District's best Halloween night celebration is right here in Mount Pleasant. The party takes place on Lamont Street NW between 17th and 18th Streets. Typically, many of the row homes on this block have residents that give out candy, go all out with decorations, or at the very least drink beer on their stoop while silently judging your costume. And yes, I'm obligated to share that I once handed out 2,000+ pieces of candy one year when I lived on this block. It's that kind of fun. 

This year there will be a costume contest, shadow puppet show, and BONUS; the Torches are playing! Torches are playing a porch show on the stoop near the costume contest at 17th and Mount Pleasant. They play early, at about 7:30 PM. Come out, have fun, be nice!

Monday, October 27, 2014

New Residential Tower for Columbia Road?

It's looking more and more like a new residential project will rise above the 1700 block of Columbia Road NW in Adams Morgan. With the recent and abrupt closures of T-Mobile (1775 Columbia Rd NW) and Radio Shack (1767), only Burger King and Pho 14 remain of the six adjacent properties. Old City Cafe and Payless Shoesource were the other two properties, since closed.

Back in June, Washington Business Journal noted that four of the properties had been sold to a Michigan Developer, hoping to consolidate and build residential units above the first floor retail spaces. Indeed, the District government lists "1777 Bond St Equities LLC" as the owners of the 1777, 1775, 1773, and 1767 Columbia Rd addresses. (Bond St Equities lists the same home address as Beztak Properties, the Michigan property developer.) The owners of 1771 (Burger King) and 1769 (Pho 14) are listed as "Laskin Properties LLC."

When I checked with Pho 14, they were only saying so much, but it appears that Burger King will soon vacate the storefront at 1771 Columbia Rd NW, leaving Pho 14 as the only operating tenant. No word of the final fate of Pho 14, but I assume they signed a long term lease with no intentions to move anytime soon.

Surely the owners of these properties are trading on the eventual build out of The Line Hotel across the road at 1770 Euclid St NW.

Streetsense property brokers are already listing ground floor retail for the space formerly occupied by Payless. And the full brochure counts The Line Hotel as a major asset to this location. The hotel is not yet built.

An older property listing (below) contains a rendering that depicts a 65 unit residential building rising above the retail spaces. The current listing does not include this aspect.

Keep an eye on this block. It looks like big changes are coming to Adams Morgan.

Thursday, October 23, 2014

How is Mount Pleasant Zoned?

Planning and zoning are two disciplines that I've always been overly obsessed with. Each straddles the line between public and private domains with a creation process that involves municipal specialists, but also input from the community at large. Zoning is also not permanent. As time goes on, there are variances offered for specific plots, and the zoning for a certain block, or section of a neighborhood can change in order to foster development or make way for new land uses. 

Mount Pleasant has a fairly simple zoning pattern, unlike neighboring Columbia Heights and Adams Morgan. There are only four zones in Mount Pleasant. 

About 80% of the neighborhood, the western part next to Rock Creek, is zoned as R-4. This designation permits "..development of single-family residential uses (including detached, semi-detached, row dwellings, and flats), churches and public schools with a minimum lot width of 18 feet...and a maximum height of three (3) stories/forty (40) feet (60 feet for churches and schools and 45 feet for public recreation and community centers).

A smaller area on and around the 1600 block of Park Rd is zoned R-5-B. It's similar to R-4, but allows for apartment buildings, taller structures in general, and smaller rear yards.

The commercial strip along Mount Pleasant Street NW is zoned C-2-A. It permits "...low density development, including office employment centers, shopping centers, medium-bulk mixed use centers, and housing...and a maximum height of fifty (50) feet.

The fourth zoned area of Mount Pleasant includes all the buildings along 16th Street NW, including the Woodner, the Northbrooks, and the Kenesaw.. R-5-D permits "medium/high density development of general residential uses, including single-family dwellings, flats, and apartment buildings... and a maximum height of ninety (90) feet (45 feet for public recreation and community centers)."

That's it for Mount Pleasant. We're comprised of just four zoning codes, three of which are in the residential land use category. If you'd like to drill down and look at a particular building or lot, you can do so via the DC Office of Zoning interactive map: The zoning abbreviation explanations are here. Pretty cool!

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Adams Morgan Named an APA Great Place

18th Street NW / Adams Morgan / Washington DC
DC's Adams Morgan neighborhood was recently named as one of the American Planning Association's Great Places in America, under the Neighborhood category. APA's Great Places are described as: 

"... places of exemplary character, quality, and planning. Places are selected annually and represent the gold standard in terms of having a true sense of place, cultural and historical interest, community involvement, and a vision for tomorrow."

Adams Morgan is definitely one of the District's historic and vibrant neighborhoods. It's gotten some needed attention over the last five years in the streetscape and transportation departments. And it remains the definition of mixed-use with a healthy fabric of residential, commercial, institutional, and open/public space land uses.

I also have to give a shout out to my hometown of Richmond, VA, whose Fan neighborhood also made the list. The Fan was the neighborhood I lived in (Floyd Ave!) before moving to the District over a decade ago, and I can vouch for its place on this list! 

RVA & DC: Great American cities with great neighborhoods.
Corner of Harrison and Grace Streets / The Fan / Richmond