Bloomingdale Bites

May 2019

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Rendering of 150 S St. NW. Image: Arcadia Design

Checking In on 150 S
The new townhomes to be built at 150 S St. NW have cleared another major hurdle, this time with the Historic Preservation Review Board (HPRB). In April, the HPRB conditionally approved the design for what is effectively eight townhomes that will sit on the corner among other historic homes that define Bloomingdale.

Since MidCity reported on this project last year, a lot has happened to the lot that once held St. Paul’s Methodist Episcopal Church. MidCity reported that the DC Preservation League (DCPL) had applied for historic status for the church, which would require the developers, Kadida Development Group, to redesign the home so as to preserve a portion of the then-existing facade, which would in turn remove the option of offering parking spaces for each house. Neighbors, for the most part, were upset that DCPL had taken such action and supported Kadida in the fight against historic status, mostly because of the parking issue. DCPL went before the HPRB in April 2018 but was denied, thereby giving Kadida the right to raze the whole structure.

DCPL continued to fight Kadida’s actions in June, when the developer started bringing in the equipment to raze the building. DCPL notified the Department of Consumer and Regulatory Affairs (DCRA) that construction was to begin and that Kadida did not have the right permits. After a lengthy bureaucratic back-and-forth, Kadida paid a small fine and was able to begin the project. Now Kadida must work its plan through HPRB.

The HPRB ruled as follows: “The HPO recommends that the Board find the concept to subdivide 150 S Street NW into four new lots and build four new, three-story-tall brick buildings on half basements, to be compatible with the character of the historic district, consistent with the purpose of the preservation act, and that final approval be delegated to staff, on the condition that dimensions, proportions and components of the projecting bays be revised as described and that the brick color be specified as either red or tan.” Basically, it approved the plan as long as the developer was willing to make some aesthetic changes to fit more directly with the feel of the surrounding historic homes.

Kadida will continue to work with the neighbors who live closest to the project and with the Bloomingdale Civic Association and other community groups to ensure that the new homes fit seamlessly within the established and historic neighborhood.

‘Open’ Again
The rumors are true: Windows Cafe and Market will be staying open for at least another year. Despite last month’s reporting that the small market at Rhode Island Avenue and First Street NW would close at the end of April, the building’s owner has given a reprieve.

Two months ago, neighbors noticed that the store (not the building) had been put up for sale for $149,000, leaving many residents concerned that owner Hunegnaw Abeje was closing up shop in a neighborhood that desperately needs market-like convenience. When asked about his future plans, Abeje confirmed to MidCity that the new owners of the building (new since his last lease renewal) were raising his monthly rent to an unsustainable level when his lease ended. Abeje felt he had no choice but to try to sell and close up shop, a process which began the third week of April.

As he was busy packing crates and saying goodbye to neighbors, a representative of the building’s owner, Barzini LLC, made an offer. Barzini was not going to raise the rate to the level originally set but only slightly to an amount that Abeje would be able to pay. Abeje joyfully agreed and signed a lease that will extend to the end of April next year. Barzini LLC did not return requests for comment.

When asked if he believed that Barzini caved to community pressure, Abeje said he wasn’t sure why the owner-developer decided to allow him to stay, only that he was immensely relieved and grateful for the opportunity. He said he has received overwhelming support since he announced his closing and he appreciates all the neighbors who have stopped in to wish him well.

The news that Windows Cafe and Market is to remain open has brought glee and relief from the community. Its closing would have made a huge amenities gap in Bloomingdale.

 

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.