Meeting report and update on 2027 Rhode Island Ave NE

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Below is an update/discussion on the proposed building at 2027 Rhode Island Ave NE and notes from the meeting held Nov 1 where we heard from the developers.

This will be on the agenda at the next meeting of the full Advisory Neighborhood Commission 5C meeting which is scheduled for this Wednesday, November 16 at 7pm at the New Woodridge Library.

One aside: also note on the agenda will be a resolution to protest the renewal of SIP Lounge at 1812 Hamlin Street NE. I expect the ANC to join the neighbors in opposing this establishment.

About the proposed building at 2027 Rhode Island Avenue:
The owners of this property are proposing a 42-unit residential building with approx 5,000 square feet of retail space fronting Rhode Island Avenue. The current plan calls for the current building to be demolished and a new one built over this lot which sits between Dudley’s and St. Francis Catholic Church. The building that sits there is the old ‘Langdon/Woodridge Bank’ and is at least as old as 1920s, though I heard reports it went back to 1900 after the meeting.

At the meeting, the owners expressed the likelihood the units would likely be apartments, though some neighbors pushed for condos instead. They are mostly 2-bedroom units, some one bedroom and a couple “penthouses” on the top floor.

The owners expressed a strong desire to attract people who would be living without personally owning a vehicle. The building would have 7 parking spots for residents, accessed from the alley in the rear, all of those would be reserved for car-sharing services (zipcar, car2go, etc). The owners also said they be doing other incentives like including credits for uber/lyft as a monthly rebate on rent.

Because there is not room for a dumpster, the owners state there will be an interior trash room and trash will be taken out daily. Of course timelines are always subject to revision, but they are currently looking to complete this building and folks moving in fall of 2018.

The exact zoning ‘relief’ the owners are looking for is a few things:

  • The property is ‘split-zoned’ meaning that the back 35-feet of the property sits in residential, while the front portion is in the commercial district on Rhode Island Ave.
  • The alley is technically too narrow for the building. it is 10-feet and the law recommends 12-feet for one way and 20-feet for two way alley access.
  • An interior court is slightly smaller than required, 585 square feet instead of 875.

 

I snipped a couple of the renderings below. I put the documents in a public google drive folder. You can access most of the documents relating to this case here. Most of these below are from file named “Exhibit 15”

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Meeting report on resident Concerns/Questions:There were a couple dozen neighbors at the meeting on November 1. The owners presentation was met with a mix of skepticism and tentative support. To the chagrin of some neighbors, I did not take a vote of those in attendance.

Concerns:

  • Parking – Lots of folks had concerns where the residents of these 42, mostly 2-bedroom apartments would park. The developers insist they are going to attract young folks who won’t want a car or will use the carshare cars in the parking lot. Many neighbors at the meeting were skeptical that all these folks were going to live out here car-free.
  • Condos vs. Apartments – The developers preference is for apartments, but neighbors expressed the desire for the continuity that condo ownership would seem to bring. By the end of the meeting they said they’d take another look at condos and the decision isn’t really final until later in the process.
  • Historic Building – There was genuine concern for the building itself. It was apparently a bank and a cornerstone in the community for the last hundred or so years. Neighbors asked the owners if they could look at incorporating the old building instead of demolishing it.
  • Alley use, including snow and trash disposal – Part of the zoning relief is a slightly narrow alley. This requires daily trash removal, but the concern for more trash remains. Concerns about the impact that kind of building and traffic has on the immediate area, including the church and adjacent streets/alleys. Snow removal also an issue, if the narrow alley isn’t cleared how do these folks get out?
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WE WON! The liquor license application has been withdrawn!

It’s now official, the application for a liquor license at 2066 Rhode Island Ave NE has been WITHDRAWN!

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You can view the entire order here. This means we’re officially done with this and we don’t need to show up on Feb 17.
This is a tremendous victory for the neighborhood and it would not have been possible without everyone’s combined effort. The sheer numbers we were able to produce came from everyone chipping in and stepping up – THANK YOU!!

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GREAT turnout Monday at the Alcohol Control Board – THANKS to everyone who helped make it happen!

Photo from the ABC Roll Call Hearing, Nov 30
Photo from the ABC Roll Call Hearing, Nov 30 via Twitter user @DrewCourt

 

I am so happy to report that we had a GREAT turnout of residents on Monday morning at the Alcoholic Beverage Control (ABC) Board hearing to protest the proposed liquor license at 2066 Rhode Island Avenue NE. We must have had over 25 people there in person, and there was no question from the ABC Board that we were ‘granted standing’ as a protest group. Our original petition came in with over 200 signatures and we turned in 95 of the additional sheets we were asking folks to sign (to officially designate a representative of the group).

Folks who would know have told me these are fantastic numbers. A huge THANK YOU to everyone who signed a petition, went door-to-door, printed/dropped off petitions and letters, and/or attended any meetings. This has been a great team effort of concerned residents stepping up, and while it’s far from over, it’s also a good time to acknowledge all the work that has already been done.

The next step is that the Alcohol Beverage Control (ABC) Board asks the two sides to go into mediation. If the two sides can’t come to an agreement in mediation, then it goes to a final protest hearing. The first mediation is set for December 17 and I (Nolan) will be representing the group but I’ll also be looking to bring a small crew to make sure we’ve got all our bases covered. We’ll then have a Status Hearing, where we’ll go before the actual ABC Board and update them on how the mediation is going. Finally, if the mediation fails, the final protest hearing will tentatively take place January 27 at 4:30 PM. The Protest Hearing is where we’ll be asking everyone who is able to come out.

I’ve also learned this week that Councilmember McDuffie is sending a letter to the ABC Board in opposition of this establishment. If you’re interested you can read my letter to the ABC Board detailing my concerns here (PDF).

It was very inspiring to see the community out in force and I’m hopeful this means we can win our case and deny this nightclub (“tavern”) a liquor license.

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