HPRB Approves North Capitol Development
Throw a rock down North Capitol Street and you’ll likely hit a building being developed or in the process. The 1600 block is the epicenter of this change. Every lot on the even side of the street is in some stage of upgrade. The latest, 1600 North Capitol, was just given the okay by the Historic Preservation Review Board (HPRB).
The project is being spearheaded by Bonstra Haresign Architects. The building, as it is currently imagined, will be a seven-story residential design with proposed retail on the first floor. The 100-unit, 86,000-square-foot building will also hold parking for residents with possible retail spaces. As Bonstra Haresign describes, “The lively building massing, rich masonry detailing, and architectural character of the design establishes glass bay windows strongly relating to the rhythm, scale and proportions of its historic context. The design on this gateway site establishes a new community landmark and a catalyst for future transit-oriented redevelopment.”
The project was originally rejected by the Bloomingdale Civic Association, but Advisory Neighborhood Commission (ANC) 5E, which represents the neighborhood, ultimately supported the proposal and it was brought to the HPRB in early March. HPRB stated that while the general concept for the building is “compatible within the historic district, the design has a visually busy quality that could benefit from some simplification.” The board’s suggestions include changing the color of the balcony edges to a darker color and evaluating the use of darker colors for the precast and metal panel elements throughout the building.
The space is commonly referred to as the Joe Mamo Lot, as he is the current owner. Called “DC’s Gas-Station Master” by Washington City Paper, Mamo was accused of buying gas stations around the area and increasing the rent so drastically that it raised the price of gas generally in the District.
The next step will be a possible redesign by the architect to accommodate the comments of the HPRB, but considering the current state of the lot, little else stands in the way of this project.
With a heavy heart it is confirmed that Windows Cafe and Market has closed, after serving the community for 18 years. There is no word yet what will take its place. Details to follow in next month’s article.
Spring Blooming for BloominGays
Now that the weather is, dare it be said, not heinous, it seems everyone is ready to celebrate the return of summer. BloominGays, a local LGBT-centered community group, is no exception. It celebrated the start of spring with a happy hour at Tyber Creek Wine Bar.
BloominGays was formed in 2013, when husbands Josh Siegel and Seth Schermer moved to Bloomingdale and wanted to engage with other LGBT neighbors. They opened their home quarterly for the community to come together for drinks, laughs and getting to know each other. The events became so popular that the group outgrew the couple’s home and opted for a larger space. They partnered with neighbors and friends Andrew Smith and Carl Holshouser to start hosting BloominGays events at local bars and restaurants.
The group has been splitting its happy hour time between El Camino and Tyber Creek. The happy hours act as gathering times for the group that is largely managed through a Facebook page. BloominGays has over 800 members in the Facebook group, and over 300 people attended Pride in the Park last summer, the group’s main event. On average, monthly happy hours bring about 50 people into neighborhood bars and restaurants.
Pride in the Park, now in its third year, is by far the group’s biggest annual event. Members gather in Crispus Attucks Park to celebrate community pride and raise awareness of their presence in the neighborhood. They raise money in support of local LGBT organizations, including SMYAL, Casa Ruby and the DC Center. Proceeds also go to benefit the park.
“When we started BloominGays at our home, we never imagined that it would develop into the group it has become today,” explains Siegel. “We’ve just loved getting to see all the new faces over the past six years … watching the community grow and thrive.”
For more information and to get involved with BloominGays, visit their Facebook page.
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: firstname.lastname@example.org; @rtaylorb.