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Wednesday, February 21, 2024

Bloomingdale Bites

Denizen’s Future Secured?
An item in the public record of commercial real estate transactions sparked conversation in the Bloomingdale community last month about the proposed Denizen project at 1634 North Capitol St. NW. The Capitol Food Mart, the small green storefront located next to the new Spark, has been sold for $1.2 million to a group of investors.

Neighborhood development watchers quickly realized that this property is smack in the middle of the proposed Denizen project, a mixed-use development that would encompass most of the rest of the block. The project was scheduled to break ground in 2018, but no ground has been broken and no new timeline has been presented. So, the noted transaction sparked curiosity, yet a simple explanation was soon found that sparked even more curiosity about the start date of the project.

Per the transaction record, the sellers were Patricia Economides/James J. Cokinos/Daniel J. Cokinos, and the buyer was Fusion Limited 2 LLC, whose mailing address is the same as the home of developer Frank Economides. In the end, this looks like a transfer from personal ownership to LLC ownership. Neither Frank nor Patricia Economides could be reached for comment.

Maedwell Companies stated it was withholding public comment until speaking with the advisory neighborhood commission (ANC). Local ANC Commissioner Katherine McClelland did not reply to requests for comment.

The Denizen is planned to be a luxury mixed-use development in the heart of North Cap Main Street. It will include 14 apartment units in two, four-story buildings ranging from studios to rarely seen four-bedroom units. The luxury apartments will include panoramic views of the city and a posh rooftop terrace. There will be approximately 10,000 square feet of retail space, storage and off-street parking for the apartments. No word yet on when construction will begin.

Not Just a Name for Just Court
This year’s annual LeDroit Park Community Day marked the “opening” of the newly named Ernest Everett Just Court. Considering the alley, now court, has existed since the subdivision of LeDroit in the late 1800s, the event was less of an opening and more of a recognition, but residents were happy to celebrate the alley that runs from Fourth to Fifth streets NW between T Street and Florida Avenue.

It all started with a little neighborly snooping. Ethan Arnheim, president of the LeDroit Park Civic Association, owns a carriage house along that long alleyway, and he was looking to get inspired for renovation ideas.

“I was familiar with Bloomingdale Court after I used one of its houses as a model for my carriage house renovation. So, I started by asking my friends in Bloomingdale how they got that street named,” Arnheim explained. He realized how greatly the alley and those who live there benefitted by having a named “street.” After many missed package deliveries, frantic guests walking the street unable to find him and multiple requests for help with the dumping problem in the alley, Arnheim figured the best way to solve his address anonymity problem was to get his alley a name. A real one.

He embarked on a journey that took over a year, but is now finally able to tell his friends to look for signs to Ernest Everett Just Court to find his home.

But first, Arnheim and the community stakeholders had to settle on a name. On advice from the DC Council, Arnheim focused on names with historical significance (currently there are no guidelines to naming alleyways, but the council hinted that in the future it might require historical significance).

A number of names were floated of people who were important to the history of the neighborhood, including architect James McGill and Mayor Walter Washington, but both already had streets or such named for them.

Arnheim and a group of stakeholders, including faculty from Howard University, settled on Ernest Everett Just, a Howard professor who lived on the block at 412 T St. NW. Just was a pioneering developmental biologist who focused on studying organisms in real-world environments instead of in a lab. He was also a founding member of the Omega Psi Phi fraternity on the Howard University campus. Many current Omega Psi Phi brothers supported the request and testified to the council on behalf of the name change.

The process of naming the alley was intensive but not difficult to navigate. First, Arnheim was required to get a petition signed in favor of the designation by 60 percent of the homeowners of the surrounding block. Then the petition was then presented to the Transportation Subcommittee of Advisory Neighborhood Commission 1B (ANC 1B). On its recommendation, the commission unanimously voted to send a request to the DC Council for the name change. The DC Council approved it unanimously.

Arnheim is happy to celebrate a worthy individual and have a way to guide people to his home when necessary. “It’s been a long process but I’m very glad that, in the end, we were able to honor a great American and help folks more easily navigate the neighborhood.”


Taylor Barden Golden is a real estate agent with The Stokes Group at McEnearney Associates Inc. A former Hill staffer, Taylor lives in Brentwood with her husband, two dogs and a cat. She’s always on the lookout for new places to explore and ways to spend time outside. Get in touch: taylor@midcitydcnews.com; @rtaylorb.

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