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Howling at the moon: Dupont group decries noise

noise, gay news, Washington Blade

Claiming ignorance after moving into an entertainment district should not be grounds for later complaints regarding living in a commercial zone.

The tiny cadre of chronic complainers railing against the indignities of city living in D.C.’s Dupont Circle mixed-use neighborhood seldom fail to amaze and amuse.

So it was once again this week when Washington City Paper advised that yet another small ad hoc anti-business group had launched in the commercial district. Headlined “Citizen Vigilante Group Forms to Combat Noise in Dupont,” the publication reported that residents of the Palladium Condominium, directly adjacent to the six-lane Connecticut Avenue, N.W., commercial thoroughfare, were upset about noise from nightlife venues in the downtown area.

Named the D.C. Nightlife Noise Coalition, the assemblage appears to be the latest incarnation of one formed by Palladium resident Abigail Nichols, now a Dupont Circle neighborhood advisory commission member from district 2B-05. Her group, the Alcohol Sanity Coalition D.C., was formed in an unsuccessful effort opposing liquor-licensing reforms enacted a little over a year ago.

Nichols had argued that nightlife establishments have a monetary incentive to play music with “a rhythmic beat” at elevated levels. She publicly claimed that “alcohol tastes sweeter in the presence of loud music” and that “young males consume beer 20 percent faster” when listening to it.

The new “anti-noise” gaggle is demanding enforcement of a city ordinance limiting exterior sound within one meter outside venues to less than 60 decibels, the equivalent of two persons laughing during normal conversation. In a 23-page document detailing their annoyance, building residents acknowledge that this measurement is equivalent to “a quiet conversation.”

Sound measurements conducted in another part of the city by a restaurant battling objections to an outdoor patio abutting a major traffic artery registered a passing Metrobus at decibel levels in the mid-to-high-80s, with patron conversations adding no additional noise to the surrounding area. Sound meter readings by the Dupont coterie indicate that in seven of eight instances the noise level immediately outside area nightlife establishments overlapped with the ambient levels of auto traffic prior to venue opening.

This so-called “citizen group” objects to standard city inspector protocol to first verify that an excessive noise level exists within the complaining person’s home. They argue that, according to the law, the sound measurement must be made within one meter – or 3.28 feet – of the business. City regulators, however, have discovered that businesses targeted by coordinated cliques generate anonymous phone complaints without merit or from blocks away. In a high-profile instance several years ago on U Street, officials utilized Caller ID to visit the home of a woman who had phoned in nearly 100 complaints, finding no unusual noise could be heard inside her apartment.

These Dupont dwellers are actually late to the public discussion regarding noise abatement strategies and should be careful what they wish for in any official response. A D.C. Council committee recently engaged a task force meeting for two years to make recommendations regarding revising noise regulations. Key among the determinations was requiring housing construction soundproofing materials and window qualities to prevent noise seepage into units.

That should be of concern to Steve Coniglio, developer of 70 planned units of housing on a commercially zoned street only a half-block from several nightclubs, who has joined the complaining Palladium residents around the corner. Is it not his responsibility to ensure construction includes sufficient soundproofing to mitigate noise originating within a commercial area? Or should he be allowed to build housing units not adequately designed for urban noise?

Claiming ignorance after moving into an entertainment district, however, should not be grounds for later complaints regarding living in a commercial zone.

Before this disgruntled group howls too loudly, they might pause to consider the potential downside to their whining. If the city determines that current noise restrictions are unrealistically low or unenforceable, the likely solution may be to either raise the allowable level or officially require that sound measurements be conducted inside the complainants’ domicile.

How loudly would a hearty cackle register on a sound monitor?

Mark Lee is a long-time entrepreneur and community business advocate. Follow him on Twitter, @MarkLeeDC or reach him at OurBusinessMatters@gmail.com.

05
Feb
2014

Pro-LGBT banner set on fire at D.C. church

St. Luke's United Methodist Church Mission Center, gay news, Washington Blade

D.C. police are investigating the Feb. 5 burning of a banner outside St. Luke’s United Methodist Church Mission Center. (Photo courtesy of Metropolitan Church, a multi-site United Methodist congregation in D.C. that includes St. Luke’s Mission Center Church at Wisconsin and Calvert streets, N.W.)

D.C. police are investigating the burning of a banner last week outside St. Luke’s United Methodist Church Mission Center at the corner of Wisconsin Avenue and Calvert Street, N.W., as a possible anti-LGBT hate crime.

Rev. Charles Parker, senior pastor of three LGBT supportive United Methodist churches in D.C., including St. Luke’s, said in a Feb. 6 statement posted on the church website that the incident appeared to be related to the heated debate within the Methodist church over same-sex marriage.

Church spokesperson Jeff Clouser told the Blade on Monday, Feb. 10, that St. Luke’s employees discovered last Tuesday, Feb. 4, that the banner had been burned but weren’t sure exactly when it happened.

“I visited our St. Luke’s campus yesterday to find that someone had burned – yes, burned – our ‘Stop the Trials’ banner calling for a stop to church trials of clergy officiating at same-gender weddings,” Parker wrote in his statement.

He was referring to a banner currently being displayed by LGBT supportive Methodist churches in D.C. and other cities that consists of a rainbow flag bearing the words, “Stop the Trials.” The message refers to a decision by church leaders to put on trial and defrock pastors who defy Methodist Church rules that prohibit its pastors from performing same-sex marriages.

“I am clear in my own wrestling with scripture, tradition, reason, and experience that the current position of our church is wrong,” Parker said in his statement. “I am also clear that other colleagues of good will and integrity have likewise wrestled with the issue and come to a different conclusion,” he said.

“What I would like to ask is, ‘can we respect each other enough to allow each of us to act in accordance with our conscience?’”

Foundry United Methodist Church, another LGBT supportive church on 16th Street, N.W., near Dupont Circle, has twice welcomed as a guest speaker Frank Schaefer, a former Methodist minister from Pennsylvania who was defrocked for performing his son’s same-sex wedding.

Foundry is among the D.C.-area Methodist churches that are displaying the “Stop the Trials” banner.

D.C. police spokesperson Gwendolyn Crump said the incident occurred on Feb. 4 and was reported to police on Feb. 5. She said police have classified it as a “destruction of property-hate bias incident.”

10
Feb
2014

From Stonewall to marriage equality at lightning speed

Stonewall to marriage, gay news, Washington Blade, National Equality March

Even those of us involved in the fight for women’s rights and civil rights would never have believed the speed at which things are changing for the LGBT community. (Washington Blade file photo by Michael Key)

The progress from Stonewall to marriage equality in my lifetime is amazing. My accepting who I am mirrored the evolving LGBT movement. Coming of age at 21 in New York City, a gay man deep in the closet, hiding my sexual orientation to become a teacher. At 25, starting a political career and working for the most gay-friendly politician in the nation, the congresswoman who introduced the first ENDA bill in Congress, yet still deep in the closet.

Then moving to Washington, D.C. at 31, a city that just elected a mayor who credited the LGBT community and the Stein Democratic Club with making the difference in his election. Pride events were gaining in strength and visibility and my first in Dupont Circle had me hiding behind a tree to make sure my picture wouldn’t end up in a newspaper. Then life started moving faster for me and the LGBT community. By the time I was 34, we were beginning to hear about AIDS and that coincided with my coming out to friends. Then began the process of my morphing into an LGBT activist joining in the fight against HIV/AIDS and openly participating in marches for LGBT rights, openly attending Pride events on a muddy field in Dupont, and being a regular at Rascals, the bar of the moment.

Over the ensuing years the organized LGBT community would get stronger and stand up for our rights and I would find that being “out” still had its consequences. Being rejected for a job for being gay was one of them. As the community turned to more activism, my role in politics was becoming more identified with being gay. First becoming a columnist for the Washington Blade and then finding my picture on the front page of the Washington Post supporting a mayoral candidate and being identified as among other things a gay activist.

As the fight for marriage equality heated up in D.C., GLAA activist Rick Rosendall and I met at a little outdoor lunch place on 17th Street and set the plans in motion to form the Foundation for All DC Families, which begat the Campaign for All DC Families, which helped coordinate the fight for marriage equality in the District.

For so many who grew up in the Baby Boomer generation, life continues to hold many surprises. But even those of us involved in the fight for women’s rights and civil rights would never have believed the speed at which things are changing for the LGBT community.

The courts are moving at a much faster pace than anyone could have predicted even a year ago, striking down bans on gay marriage enacted by state legislatures. State constitutional amendments banning marriage equality are being declared unconstitutional by a raft of federal judges. From Oklahoma to Kentucky, Utah to Virginia, federal judges are saying that states must recognize these marriages. While the cases are being appealed there is a clear path for one or more of them to reach the Supreme Court in its next term. While they weren’t ready to make a decision when they rejected the Prop 8 case in 2013, they will now probably have to decide the fate of marriage equality nationwide and determine whether it is constitutional to discriminate against gay and lesbian citizens.

Judge Arenda L. Wright Allen in her decision in Virginia added to the so-far unanimous group of federal judges who have thrown out these bans. Judge Allen quoted from Mildred Loving, who was at the center of the 1967 Supreme Court case that struck down laws banning interracial marriage. At the time that case was decided only 14 states had laws allowing interracial marriage and already there are 17 states and the District of Columbia that allow gay marriage. While people are hailing her decision she clearly had to be embarrassed when she had to amend her written opinion because she confused the U. S. Constitution with the Declaration of Independence. She isn’t the first and won’t be the last to do that.

Clearly the time has come in our country for full equality. The decisions made by these federal judges have been based on the Supreme Court’s decision in Windsor. Then Attorney General Eric Holder announced “the federal government would recognize legal same-sex marriages in federal matters including bankruptcies, prison visits and survivor benefits.” He stated that, “It is the [Justice Department's] policy to recognize lawful same-sex marriages as broadly as possible, to ensure equal treatment for all members of society regardless of sexual orientation.”

In what seems like lightning speed, the LGBT community is moving toward full civil and human rights.

18
Feb
2014

Boom-time for L’Enfant

Jim Ball, Christopher Lynch, Cafe L'Enfant, gay news, Washington Blade

Jim Ball and Christopher Lynch hoped to contribute to ‘café society.’ (Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)

Like the newly confident city for which the venue namesake designed the geographic layout, L’Enfant Café & Bar is in boom-time mode. Steps from French architect and civil engineer Pierre L’Enfant’s original Florida Avenue city boundary sits the long-popular dining, drinking and entertainment landmark at 2000 18th St., N.W.

Eleven years ago, co-owners Jim Ball and Christopher Lynch discovered this “perfect place” for the next adventure in their lives. The lively restaurant-bar the then couple opened in April 2003 became a unique component of a maturing nexus of evolving commerce straddling Dupont Circle and Adams Morgan at the intersection of 18th and U streets.

Last weekend was an anniversary for the duo. After exchanging Valentine’s Day gifts at the Manhattan apartment they shared a year prior to launching their hospitality enterprise in D.C., traditional Tiffany treasures were followed by Ball presenting Lynch with a flip chart. Ball asked his cohort to list five “hopes and dreams” while he did the same.

Both lists contained a solitary shared item – opening a coffeehouse and bar. “We wanted to do something different and be our own boss,” Lynch says. They soon would.

“We hoped to contribute to ‘café society’,” Ball recounts. “Fusing what we liked about the East Village spots we frequented,” Lynch notes, as Ball adds, “combined with the tradition of the French.” “At the time there were few places with outdoor space,” Ball recalls. They now offer the area’s largest sidewalk patio.

Their goal was a destination to enjoy a cappuccino or glass of wine along with a meal. “Where a table for two suddenly grows larger” on the spacious wrap-around patio with the addition of friendly faces both known and new, Ball says.

The menu features French-inspired classics and notes “we are the true backbone of this economy, a small business that dreams big.” Steak frites, bistro burgers, savory dinner crepes, and mussels are popular plates. Aperitifs, specialty cocktails, a selection of draft or bottled beers and wines are offered. Open until midnight Sunday-Thursday and 2 a.m. on weekends, seasonal spring-summer-fall lunch service will soon re-initiate.

A national “Top 100 Brunch” among 14,000 Open Table venues, the weekly Saturday reservation-only “La Boum” early-afternoon booze-and-breakfast “house party” with DJ fills 60 interior table and bar seats. With either Lynch or Ball as emcee behind covered windows, guests are exhorted to celebrate debauchery. “We’re pretending our parents are away for the weekend and we have the keys to the liquor cabinet,” Ball writes on the business website. An acclaimed Sunday “Speakeasy” cabaret supper club featuring drag performers from New York, Las Vegas, Berlin and London is on hiatus.

The owners relish the relationships developed with patrons. After investing in imported French café tables and chairs and installing shrubbery boxes, locals were quick to appreciate the streetscape enhancement. The desired “street activation” of city government terminology is more simply expressed by neighbors as “enlivening and beautifying” their street-corner location, Lynch says.

The venue’s sustained success was no certainty. Neither Lynch, previously a sales and marketing professional with Estee Lauder Companies or Ball, an independent event and marketing consultant, had prior industry experience. “We met in a bar and ate in a lot of restaurants,” Ball chuckles. “We ‘winged it’,” he says, “and that was the most exciting part. We learned a lot fast. It’s all part of a story being written every day.”

“We’re proud of these 11 years,” Lynch adds, “most of all that we’ve created a sense of community with our customers.” “We can brainstorm a new idea today and tomorrow make it happen,” explains Ball, “that’s the magic of it.”

Mark Lee is a long-time entrepreneur and community business advocate. Follow on Twitter: @MarkLeeDC. Reach him at OurBusinessMatters@gmail.com.

18
Feb
2014

Queery: DC Allen

DC Allen, Crew Club, gay news, Washington Blade

DC Allen (Washington Blade file photo by Pete Exis)

Things will be a little different at the Crew Club (1321 14th St., N.W.) on Sunday. From 2-6 p.m., owner DC Allen is hosting a birthday party. Gay porn star Matthew Rush will be on hand. It’s open to the public.

Allen, a 58-year-old Boston native, has been in D.C. since 1990 after spending the ‘80s in New York.

He and husband Ken Flick live on 17th Street near Dupont Circle with their dog, Toad. Allen enjoys reading, community activism, working out, cooking and traveling in his free time.

Find the Crew Club on Facebook or visit thecrewclub.co for details.

 

How long have you been out and who was the hardest person to tell?

Since 1979. My stepfather who was not gay friendly.

 

Who’s your LGBT hero?

Frank Kameny for his long-term activism.

What’s Washington’s best nightspot, past or present?

The Crew Club, of course!

 

Describe your dream wedding.

Surrounded by family and friends, in the District Courthouse with fake flowers on a plastic trellis. We did it in October 2012!

 

What non-LGBT issue are you most passionate about?

The little children in the U.S. Congress playing their childish games.

 

What historical outcome would you change?

The U.S. Supreme Court decision in the Windsor case would apply to all states, not just the federal government.

 

What’s been the most memorable pop culture moment of your lifetime?

The first time I saw “The Book of Mormon” on Broadway. The irreverence and truth was spectacular!

 

On what do you insist?

That we as a community never put up with bullies.

 

What was your last Facebook post or Tweet?

I posted my birthday party at the Crew Club that I’m throwing on Sunday. I also posted thank yous to everyone who wished me happy birthday.

 

If your life were a book, what would the title be?

“Whoremaster to Weenie Waggers”

 

If science discovered a way to change sexual orientation, what would you do?

You can’t teach an old dog new tricks. I would stay the same delightful homosexual that I am today.

 

What do you believe in beyond the physical world?

A spiritual existence and a power greater than myself.

 

What’s your advice for LGBT movement leaders?

Never forget that we are not heterosexuals.

 

What would you walk across hot coals for?

Complete equality.

 

What LGBT stereotype annoys you most?

We are not all 20-year-old muscle bunnies.

 

What’s your favorite LGBT movie?

“Kinky Boots”

 

What’s the most overrated social custom?

There are no overrated social customs.

 

What trophy or prize do you most covet?

I was lucky enough to receive the Business Leader of the Year Award in 2012 from the Capitol Area Gay and Lesbian Chamber of Commerce. That was and is the award I most coveted because it recognized all of the positive things I’ve tried to do in the D.C. gay community.

 

What do you wish you’d known at 18?

Floss more, eat less.

 

Why Washington?

I had family in the area. Also, Washington has the highest percentage of master’s degrees per workforce in the world. I like a bright, driven population around me.

05
Mar
2014

A family of food and farm

Josh Hahn, David Winer, EatWellDC, gay news, Washington Blade

David Winer (on right) and his nephew Josh Hahn are the force behind EatWellDC.

When David Winer recounts the launches of the five EatWellDC restaurant group establishments he doesn’t note openings by year. He identifies how long each has been in operation, as if doting on the ages of offspring.

It’s a fitting quirk for the serial creator of affection-winning restaurant-bars with a welcoming “family feel” extended to employees and patrons alike.

Winer, originally from the Boston area, enjoys 30 years in the industry – first honing his hospitality skills at a Back Bay restaurant. His employer partnered in Winer’s inaugural Miami Beach restaurant in 1993.

Josh Hahn, Winer’s nephew growing up a block away in Newton, Mass., worked at an upscale gourmet carryout and caterer while in high school. Completing a business degree at Emory University in Atlanta, Hahn came to D.C. 12 years ago to join the staff at his uncle’s first local venture. Grillfish restaurant, opened in 1996 at 21st and M streets near Dupont Circle, has remained popular for seafood specialties and American fare in a relaxed setting.

Featuring elevated ceilings, wood textures, warm colors and eclectic accents, the casual environment and cuisine would serve as a model for subsequent eateries. Logan Tavern, opened in 2003 off a desolate-at-the-time 14th Street corridor, was followed by now-named Commissary in 2005. Both are prominent fixtures on the 1400 block of P St., N.W.

“We were busy from opening day” at Logan Tavern, recalls Hahn, “so busy that I had to splash water on my face every so often.” It was the “right concept at the right time,” he says, noting that the venue quickly won the loyalty of locals eager for dining and socializing spots during the area’s then-nascent re-emergence. “We were able to give the neighborhood something it wanted,” affirms Winer, “and it helped the area grow.”

“Everyone thought I put together something magical,” Winer says, “but it was just something lacking and appreciated.”

“The neighborhood needed so many things,” Hahn adds, “we helped accommodate the desire for a consistently reliable and value-oriented” product that contributed to “a sense of community.”

The duo, with partner Tony Oquendo, next looked north to open The Heights in 2008, at the commercial corner of 14th and Kenyon streets in Columbia Heights. An expansive outdoor patio and light-filled interior pub-tavern ambience have made it an area mainstay.

This spring will mark the second anniversary for the newest addition to the EatWellDC family of restaurants. Usually “fiddling with a concept” for several months, Winer figured the evolving plethora of 14th Street dining options suggested something “very special, very unique.” The Pig, at 1320 14th St., offers a distinctive nose-to-tail “pork-centric menu with eccentric fare,” says Hahn. “It’s a completely different concept.”

Several years ago Winer, frustrated by the lack of reliable availability of locally sourced organic produce, found a 13-acre farm for sale in La Plata, Md., an hour outside the city. EatWell Natural Farm, initially a hard-labor-of-love, now supplies in-season vegetables, greens, tomatoes, herbs, orchard fruits, vine berries, and beehive honey. A new greenhouse extends the growing season and produce variety.

It’s taken significant investment to grow the farm, Winer points out, “but we’re committed to sourcing produce from our farm and other sustainable growers.” He notes that proteins are ethically raised, free-range and organic.

Employing nearly 200, “our staff become like family,” Winer says, “and represent an incredible cross-section,” noting many have been with the company nearly 10 years or longer. “By expanding,” notes Hahn, “we can provide opportunities to grow into new leadership positions” while serving the community.

Winer, helming the enterprise with Hahn handling managerial details, adds, “We’re always thinking about the next opportunity.”

Mark Lee is a long-time entrepreneur and community business advocate. Follow on Twitter:@MarkLeeDC. Reach him at OurBusinessMatters@gmail.com.

19
Mar
2014

A personal FITness place

Michael Everts, FIT Personal Training, gay news, Washington Blade

Michael Everts refers to his business as an ‘institute of higher learning’ for fitness. (Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)

FIT Personal Training founder Michael Everts refers to his business as an “institute of higher learning” for fitness more than an exercise gym and workout center. That distinction has proven key to the success of the soft-spoken 38-year-old owner’s enterprise, located on the lower level at the corner of 17th and Q streets in the Dupont Circle area.

Always knowing he “would work for himself,” Everts launched what is now “the oldest personal training gym in Dupont” at 1633 Q St., N.W., in Dec. 2002. The high-profile spot at the center of the 17th Street commercial strip garnered immediate attention. “There weren’t a lot of similar options when I opened FIT,” Everts recalls.

It was his fitness philosophy, however, that attracted clients to the one-on-one personalized approach he offered, initially as the sole trainer. Everts now employs 14 part-time and full-time trainers assisting a diverse clientele that has evolved alongside neighborhood demographics.

Specializing in individualized instruction for clients with a wide range of objectives, Everts has assembled an experienced staff roster. “Our trainers have comprehensive knowledge, allowing us to teach people how to work out with a plan covering all aspects of health, exercise and fitness,” Everts emphasizes.

Hiring professionals with “very strong academic credentials,” Everts employs trainers with a minimum five years experience and multiple accreditations. “I know how much I’ve learned,” he adds, “and continue to learn about all areas of fitness. We’re not a place that checks exercises off a list, instead designing strategies for achieving goals.”

“Most new participants come from referrals,” he notes, “but we also get a lot of walk-in inquiries from people who have seen our sign or website and heard good things about us, as well as those working in the surrounding area.”

Everts – who serves on the Mayor’s Council on Physical Fitness, Health and Nutrition – has a master’s degree in Exercise Science and Rehabilitation Science. His credentials include certification both from the American College and the National Academy of Sports Medicine, American Council on Exercise and National Endurance Sports Trainers Association. A former college athlete with a background in physical therapy, Everts is a NASM-certified Corrective Exercise Specialist, holds an Advanced Exercise Nutrition Certificate and is a CrossFit L1 Trainer.

He personally introduces new clients to the compact well-equipped facility, featuring both free weights and other equipment ideal for use at home or when traveling, and that “provide diversity in muscle recruitment.” Everts sits down for a complimentary one-hour meeting to discuss goals before setting up a schedule with a dedicated trainer. Optional in-home sessions and on-site workouts in residential gym facilities are also available.

One of those trainers is Alvaro Maldonado, domestic partner to Everts, and director of local non-profit dance-theatre company Ballet Teatro Internacional. Maldonado’s training in both classical and modern dance expanded expertise in stretching and alignment techniques.

The couple met shortly after Everts opened FIT and they now live above the gym in the mixed-use building with their two surrogacy-born children. In addition to training clients, Maldonado assists with administrative tasks and marketing projects. They share childrearing duties for five-year-old son Paolo and five-month-old daughter Sasha.

The motivation for Everts to provide guidance to those focusing on their wellbeing is exemplified in his obvious pleasure ducking out of the gym to meet Paolo after his pre-K classes at Ross Elementary School a block away. “The best bang for your buck,” Everts says, “is investing in your health and not being limited by coordination, alignment, or core strength.”

It’s the kind of fitness that allows him to playfully lift Paolo up as they walk home from school together.

Mark Lee is a long-time entrepreneur and community business advocate. Follow him @MarkLeeDC. Reach him at OurBusinessMatters@gmail.com.

25
Mar
2014

Hot housing trends in D.C.

Real estate, trends, gay news, Washington Blade

Some residents are opting to ‘go micro’ while others are finding their money goes far enough to afford an extra bedroom in their condo. (Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)

Spring is finally here but the biggest buzz isn’t about what’s outside but what’s going on inside. Real estate in the District is changing in a major way from size and design to renovations. Here’s a roundup of some of the latest trends a savvy buyer should know about when hunting for a new home in the District.

First, expansion has become a need than a want. Efficiencies were once the popular (and affordable) option when seeking out a new condo. However, more buyers are now springing for that two-bedroom unit. According to Valerie Blake of Prudential PenFed Realty, the market is more affordable than it’s been for a while. Residents are no longer forcing themselves to downsize and are choosing to spring for another bedroom. The extra space can be used for a guest room, office, nursery or combination of the three.

More space isn’t only desirable feature. Those looking for a new condo are no longer primarily interested in condo facilities such as how good the gym is or whether there’s a pool. Instead, Blake notices a trend of residents wanting their own private, larger outdoor space.

D.C. residents also seem to have had enough of picking up the hammer, those who work the local market say. Many buyers are now looking for completely finished properties that require no extra work.

Kevin McDuffie of Coldwell Banker in Dupont Circle says, “People just want to bring their clothes and toothbrush. They don’t want to do their own renovations. They want a finished product.”

Design is always evolving and kitchen design is no exception. Dark cabinets with light floors used to be the “in” trend. However, now the opposite is true. Dark floors with lighter cabinets is the new chic. Many new homes feature this modern design. In general, traditional looks are no longer being used and a sleeker, sophisticated feel is in demand.

A neighborhood that’s becoming a trend in its own right is the waterfront in Southwest. Chris Heller of Coldwell Banker says this spot is one of the best places to move these days. He says the River Park building (1301 Delaware Ave., S.W.) sat for years with empty townhouses and apartments. Now, many units are going under contract. Heller attributes the interest to the location.

“It feels like living in a suburb over here. There’s a new Safeway and restaurants. But the Metro is only two blocks away. It’s the best of both worlds.”

Bucking the trend of seeking more space are younger buyers, some of whom are seeking “micro units.” These units are even smaller than efficiencies. Many have been included in buildings on 14th Street and in the U Street corridor. Young professionals seek these micro units because they are easy to manage and clean. They are used solely for the purpose of sleeping. Nowadays, Heller says, entertaining isn’t done inside the home the way it used to in the past.

“People don’t hold dinner parties that often anymore if at all,” Heller says. “They entertain their guests in the city in restaurants and bars. There are so many places to go now that there’s isn’t a need for space to entertain anymore.”

These micro units are about 278 square feet and can run as low as $99,000.

Clean, modern and ready for move-in seems to be the consensus among those looking to purchase in the District. It’s something many of us can agree with — the less work the better.

 

Apartment updates

 

U Street Corridor

 

The Cardozo, a 28-unit condominium residential building, is planned for the corner of 11th and V streets. Units are planned to be small, ranging in size from 615-750 square feet. The six-story building will have underground garage parking.

JBG plans to build two buildings with five stories of residential units including ground floor retail and one level of underground parking. One building is planned to run from 8th to 9th Street and the other will be to the east.

Louis at 14th is planned for the west side of 14th street south of U Street. The nine-story building will house 267 units with 30,000 square feet of street level retail. Amenities include a movie theater, yoga room, rooftop pool and 24-hour concierge.

 

Logan Circle

 

Developer Brook Rose has proposed a rental complex on the 1400 block of Church Street. The building would include 29 micro-unit studios and six one-bedroom apartments for a total of 35 available units. Eight stories high, the complex would incorporate the existing row houses on the street.

The Fortis Companies plans to build a 33-unit apartment complex by converting the National Alliance of Postal and Federal Workers in Logan Circle. An additional two floors would be built for either condos or rentals. The units would range in size from 600-1,700 square feet.

Habte Sequar has built the Aston, a development consisting of 31 condominiums, 18 parking spaces and 3,000 in ground floor retail on 14th and R streets. This building is sold out.

The Irwin, a five-story residential building, has been planned for a vacant lot on 14th Street south of Rhode Island Avenue. Units are planned to be small ranging from 500-600 square feet. Condo amenities would include a large internal courtyard, fitness center, bicycle storage, 20 parking spaces and a common roof terrace.

 

14th Street Corridor

 

Douglas Development is building a seven-story residential building on the southeast corner of 14th and Florida Ave.; 30 units are planned for the building.

Community Three plans for a residential building with 18 condos with ground floor retail. The six-story building would have condos around 600-1,400 square feet including a penthouse on the top floor.

The Corcoran is a seven-story condo planned for a current Zipcar parking lot on 14th Street. The 40-unit condo building would include ground floor retail.

CAS Riegler has redeveloped the Lionel Train Store (1324 14th St., N.W.) into a five-unit condo building. Units are around 1,000 square feet. Pricing runs from $600,000-$850,000. The building is sold out.

04
Apr
2014

2013 in photography

2013 was a banner year for the LGBT community. Here are the top Washington Blade photos of the year. (Washington Blade photos by Blake Bergen, Tyler Grigsby, Michael Key, Kevin Majoros, Damien Salas, Lee Whitman and Jon Wooten) buyphoto 

03
Jan
2014

Bowser or Catania?

David Catania, Muriel Bowser, mayor, D.C. Council, gay news, Washington Blade

The race between David Catania and Muriel Bowser for mayor is dividing the LGBT community. (Washington Blade photo of Catania by Michael Key; Blade photo of Bowser by Damien Salas)

D.C.’s overwhelmingly Democratic-leaning LGBT community will likely be navigating unchartered waters this summer and fall as an LGBT-supportive Democrat, Council member Muriel Bowser, runs against a prominent openly gay Council colleague, independent David Catania, in a hotly contested race for mayor.

“I have no idea how it will come out,” said Rick Rosendall, president of the non-partisan Gay and Lesbian Activists Alliance.

“Many people are talking about supporting Catania,” Rosendall said. “At the same time, some people are circling the wagons as Democrats.”

Rosendall is among many activists who see a potential dilemma for LGBT voters in a city in which virtually all elected officials and nearly all credible candidates for public office are supportive on LGBT rights. Many have longstanding records of support on issues that were once considered highly controversial, such as the city’s same-sex marriage law.

Bowser’s decisive victory over D.C. Mayor Vincent Gray in the city’s April 1 Democratic primary appears to have come with the support of large numbers of LGBT voters, even though the city’s most prominent LGBT leaders backed Gray.

A Washington Blade analysis of 18 voter precincts believed to have large concentrations of LGBT residents shows that Bowser won 14 of them, with Gray and mayoral candidate Tommy Wells, a Council member from Ward 6, each winning two of the “LGBT” precincts.

Several of the precincts won by Bowser are located in areas long known as “gay” neighborhoods, including Dupont Circle, Logan Circle, Adams Morgan and Shaw. Other precincts she won are in areas considered up and coming neighborhoods into which many LGBT people are moving, such as the 14th and U Street, N.W. corridor, Bloomingdale, and Ledroit Park.

Everett Hamilton, owner of a local public relations firm and longtime gay Democratic activist, is serving as a volunteer communications strategist for the Bowser campaign. He said he believes Bowser captured the majority of LGBT votes for the same reason that she won the overall citywide vote.

“At the end of the day, LGBT people, like all city residents, are going to vote for the person who can best run the city and who they believe is best for the city,” he said.

With a gay brother and a gay campaign manager, Hamilton said no one can dispute the fact that Bowser and her campaign have strong ties to the LGBT community, Hamilton said.

Other political observers, however, point out that Gray was ahead of Bowser and the other mayoral candidates until U.S. Attorney Ronald Machen took the extraordinary step of implicating Gray in an illegal scheme to raise more than $600,000 for Gray’s 2010 mayoral election campaign less than a month before the primary.

Gray has long denied having any knowledge in the scheme that led to the indictment of businessman Jeffrey Thompson, who pleaded guilty to orchestrating the scheme in exchange for being promised a more lenient jail sentence. It was Thompson who has told prosecutors Gray knew about the illegal activity and approved it.

The revelations by Machen resulted in an immediate rise in support for Bowser that many observers believe led to her victory at the polls.

Catania’s LGBT supporters, meanwhile, have said that Catania’s reputation as a reform politician with a strong legislative record on issues such as healthcare, education, and LGBT rights will have none of the negative baggage that Gray had as the general election campaign for mayor moves forward.

Longtime gay Democratic activist Paul Kuntzler, one of the founders of the Gertrude Stein Democratic Club, surprised many in the LGBT community last week when he announced his support for Catania over Bowser. Ben Young, Catania’s campaign manager, said “many more” prominent LGBT Democrats would soon announce their support for Catania.

Veteran gay Democratic activist Peter Rosenstein, a Blade columnist, has emerged as one of Catania’s leading critics, saying Catania’s status as a former Republican whose philosophy isn’t as progressive as people think will work against Catania in a city with an overwhelmingly Democratic electorate.

Angela Peoples, president of the Stein Club, the city’s largest LGBT political group, said the club’s bylaws prevent it from endorsing a non-Democratic candidate when a Democrat is running in a particular race.

Even if the club could endorse a non-Democrat, Peoples said she expects the club to back Bowser, although its members have yet to set a date to vote on an endorsement.

“As always, I will certainly yield to the will of the membership,” she said. “This election poses an interesting situation for many folks and for LGBT folks in the District as there is an LGBT candidate on the ballot,” Peoples said.

“However, I think what I’ve seen thus far coming out of the primary is Democrats are uniting around Councilwoman Bowser. And I think that’s great to see,” she told the Blade.

Peoples said the club would likely adopt a plan for an endorsement vote at its April meeting scheduled for next Monday night.

The city’s most prominent transgender activists, who were solidly behind Gray in the primary, also have yet to say whether they will back Bowser now that she defeated a mayor that many in the trans community considered a champion for their rights.

Although Bowser has voted for all transgender equality measures that have come before the Council, Catania has been the author of several of those measures, including a landmark bill removing longstanding obstacles to the ability of trans people to obtain a new birth certificate to reflect their transition to a new gender.

10
Apr
2014