Shaw Streets

Eighth and O Project Breaks Ground

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The dirt starts flying at the Eighth and O Groundbreaking. Photo:Pleasant Mann

Private sector and government dignitaries got together on April 13 to formally break ground on a new project at 1336 Eighth Street NW. The site, a District-owned parking lot, long a locus of suspicious activity in the neighborhood, was recently sold to developers Roadside Development and Dantes Partners, the team behind City Market at O and the Hodge on 7th.

Richard Lake, principal of Roadside Development, opened the groundbreaking ceremony. Dantes Partners principal Buwa Binitie noted that the lot was awarded in 2014. He characterized the time since then as seven good years working with the city and the Shaw community, although he hoped that it would not take another seven years for the project to get finished. John Falcicchio, the Deputy Mayor for Planning and Economic Development, mentioned Mayor Bowser’s goal of building 36,000 new units of housing, with 12,000 of them being affordable, by 2025. He declared that this project, and its affordability, will move the District closer to the goal.

The project at 1336 Eighth Street will take one of the few remaining vacant lots in Shaw off the boards. Graphic courtesy of Shalom Baranes Associates

Lake took a moment to mention that his history in Shaw goes back to when his grandparents had a store in the neighborhood and he had to make pickups at the old O Street Market where his uncle had a stall. Then Alex Padro, who had worked as a community member on the project as an Advisory Neighborhood Commissioner and the Executive Director of Shaw Main Streets, noted that after the riots, Shaw had a number of city-owned vacant lots and that the Eighth and O project will build on of one of the last undeveloped parcels in the neighborhood.

The project, when completed, will have 79 residential units, 24 of them affordable, along with five townhomes and retail on the ground floor. The design is by Shalom Baranes Associates, the architects of City Market at O. Construction is expected to be completed in late 2022.

TG Cigars Opens New, Larger Location

TG Cigars, a unique contribution to Shaw’s mix of businesses for over a decade, has opened in a new, expanded space. Negest Dawit, known as “TG,” spent $4.7 million to buy and totally renovate the former Chinese laundry next to her old shop. The new TG Cigar Lounge at 1120 Ninth Street NW takes up 2,400 square feet with over 5,000 different cigars for sale, a walk-in humidor, private cigar lockers, a kitchen, an extensive bar and an outdoor deck for smokers to linger and chat.

A ribbon cutting ceremony was held by Shaw Main Streets on the evening of April 7, with Shawn Townsend, the Director of the Mayor’s Office of Nightlife and Culture, wielding the three-foot-long golden scissors. Townsend congratulated TG for her success as a woman entrepreneur and read a statement from Mayor Bowser celebrating the opening of the new TG Cigar Lounge.

Tunneling Project Reaches Shaw

The Northeast Boundary Tunnel project, an effort by DC Water to improve the District’s sewage system and Anacostia River water quality, reached a milestone on April 21. At about 4:00 a.m., the project’s tunnel boring machine, nicknamed “Chris,” reached the end of its journey 80 feet below Sixth and R Streets NW. The machine had spent most of the year drilling from North Capitol Street, down Rhode Island Avenue to create a 23-foot diameter tunnel to connect to the Anacostia River Tunnel system.

When the new system becomes operational in 2023, the neighborhood will be protected from the frequent flooding and basement backups that have occurred along Rhode Island Avenue during heavy rains for at least 100 years. For now, expect to see a lot of activity in the coming weeks as the 650-ton boring machine is disassembled and pulled out of the tunnel from its terminus in Shaw.

Unconventional Diner Holds Mother’s Day Contest

Shaw’s Unconventional Diner has teamed up with NBC Channel 4 to sponsor the “Get Mom on the Menu” contest. The contest was an effort to give back to the community as the hospitality industry recovers from the pandemic. The contest invited people to send in their mothers’ favorite recipes, with the best recipe to be chosen by a team made up of Unconventional Diner’s award-winning Chefs David and Ana Deshaies, along with NBC4 news anchors. The winning recipe will be put on Unconventional Diner’s menu on Mother’s Day, with 100 percent of the receipts from sales of the dish going to the venerable charity House of Ruth. The author of the winning recipe will also be treated to a six-person brunch at the restaurant.

Shaw Main Streets Executive Director Alex Padro, owner Negest “TG” Dawit and DC Nightlife Director Shawn Townsend celebrate the opening of the new TG Cigar Lounge. Photo: Pleasant Mann

Events DC Community Meeting on Convention Center

Events DC, which manages Shaw’s Washington Convention Center, will hold a virtual meeting with the community to go over its plans for and progress on improving the interior and streetscape of the center. RSVPs are needed to participate in the Zoom meeting on Monday, May 10 at 6:00 p.m., which can be submitted at www.eventsdc.com.

Buttercream Bakeshop Chef Conducting Virtual Cooking Class for Charity

Tiffany MacIssac, proprietor of Shaw’s famed Buttercream Bakeshop, will be offering a virtual cooking class on Sunday afternoon, May 16 to support neighborhood charity New Endeavors by Women. By making a donation of $25, you will be able to learn award-wining pastry chef MacIssac’s secrets and support New Endeavors as it works to keep women from succumbing to homelessness. Tickets can be purchased at eventbrite.com/e/148780473401.

Art All Night DC Returning to Shaw in September

After a year when the event was relegated to the virtual realm, Art All Night DC, Washington’s annual free overnight arts festival, will return to Shaw and other District neighborhoods this September. The Shaw festival, which was founded in 2011 by Shaw Main Streets, will take place on the night of Saturday, September 25 starting at 7:00 p.m. The festival will feature a variety of indoor and outdoor attractions, including free art shows and musical performances, an outdoor art market, opportunities to create your own art, multi-story-tall video projections, a parade, street performers and other highlights. Save the date and watch for details as they are announced at www.artallnightdcshaw.com.