February 2015 Meeting Minutes

Thank you Brianne for finding meeting space for us in a snow day pinch!
Meeting held at the Greater Washington Sports Alliance (GSWA)

2015 Board Elections: Congratulations to Ashley Kennedy, Chris Young, Daniel Foster, Monika Pamp, and Natasha Ghent-Rodriguez who all were elected to the Board. 

Funk Parade / Gospel Brunch: Discussed MHNA's letter of support for the proposed Sunday gospel event, which would occur May 3, the day after the Funk Parade festival. All present agreed in principle with support for the proposal. For more information about Funk Parade see http://funkparade.com/ 

Spring Beautification Day: Decided on Saturday April 18 for the event. Considered planting tree boxes, but decided that providing and spreading mulch is more manageable. Will work with District offices to get tools, materials, etc.

Next month we look forward to hearing the planned discussion of the Historic Preservation Office's new Ward 1 Heritage Guide, which was cancelled this meeting due to the snow.


November 2014 Minutes

Tuesday November 18, 2014, 7:00 pm
The meeting was held at Moshe Zusman Photography Studio.  A quorum was present.

1) Dec. 13 Martha’s Table Volunteer Opportunity: Discussed upcoming volunteer event. Dec. 13 (Saturday) from 1:00 – 3:30. Volunteers will help deliver meals to residents of the Paul Lawrence Dunbar apartments. 7 slots available. Spaces are filling fast—contact Chris or Natasha if interested.

2) Reeves Center Update and Next Steps: Chris provided an update on recent Council hearings and MHNA comments submitted. In addition, there are new questions regarding the cost/benefit to the city, and of the Reeves role in the “swap” transaction.  A recent mailing from Akridge contains an inflated “net benefit” figure, which erroneously includes as a benefit the monetization of existing DC assets (including the Reeves Center).  A planned hotel near the new soccer stadium would increase net gain for the city, but that project is not mandatory. Of note, an updated transfer agreement moves toward some of the goals MHNA has advocated:

 - preserving space for the farmer’s market (indoor or outdoor?) 3,000 ground floor area available for community events/farmer’s market
 - one community engagement open house
 - 100,000 sq ft for non-residential space is reserved
Next step involves the joint press release drafted to include three other neighborhood associations; will set a date to distribute if the various organizations do not consent in time. Also discussed whether MHNA should seek a community benefits package.

3) Proposed ABRA rules changes: All present agreed to submit comments emphasizing ABRA’s obligations to follow its rules with limited discretion, and to review draft comments before submittal. For example, “If applicant does not submit xxx within xxx time ABC may withdraw…” should be “shall” withdraw. (May is very open-ended). Chris will send draft of new language to members present for review and additional edits.

4) Proposed crosswalk at Crosswalk at 14th and Belmont: Voted to support a new crosswalk across 14th Street at Belmont, where the bus stop is. It does not make sense to walk blocks in either direction (i.e., up to Chapin) from the bus stop to cross the street.  Ricardo R. reported that the ANC Transportation Committee and full ANC are supporting (letter is being drafted). Vote was unanimous by acclimation. Natasha will draft brief letter in support.

5) December Event: Discussed possible location for an event in lieu of a December meeting. Christina pointed out that there is a precedent for having the event in January instead (and not conducting a December meeting due to travel and holiday schedules). The Board will consider options and make appropriate arrangements.
Note: Nominees for Board positions are welcome. 

6) New Business:
 -       Upcoming meeting with Historic Preservation Office -- A representative from HPO (Ann Brockett) will attend an upcoming meeting to discuss a forthcoming Ward 1 Preservation Guide. If you have an interest in preservation issues, please keep your eyes peeled.
 -       New developer at 1472 Belmont St. NW: Members on 15th street raised this as an issue; no one attended to discuss. We will keep the item open.


October 2014 Meeting Minutes

Tuesday October 21, 2014, 7:00 pm
The meeting was held at Judy Restaurant, 2212 14th Street NW.

1) Support for Two Liquor Licenses
Members present strongly endorsed supporting the renewal of two Class B Retailer liquor licenses.  Those establishments are (1) U Street Wine and Beer at 1351 U St, NW, and (2) Yes! Organic Market in Union Row at 2125 14th ST NW.

2) Reeves Center Redevelopment Committee  
The committee is drafting a press release, in conjunction with three nearby neighborhood associations, to express the redevelopment principles that MHNA has previously agreed to.  Contact Chris Young if interested in participating.

3) Holiday Volunteer Event
Natasha is arranging an opportunity for MHNA to deliver meals to seniors in the Paul Dunbar building with Martha's Table.  Saturday, December 13, 1 pm - 3:30 pm.  Stay tuned for more details, please get in touch if you’re interested in participating!

4) New Business / Announcements

  • Meridian Hill Park Turf Closures: The US Park service informs us that Fall turf maintenance will temporarily close portions of the lawn at Meridian Hill Park, for  annual fall seeding and aeration, beginning November 5, 2014. The northern turf panel on the upper terrace will be closed from November 5 through December 3. The southern turf panel on the upper terrace and the adjacent areas will be closed December 3 through January 7, 2015. This will include areas used for special events and First Amendment activities.
  • SDCA Toy Drive: The Shaw-DuPont Citizens Alliance is arranging a holiday toy drive. Please donate a new, unwrapped toy, book or other gift to a child under the care of DC Child and Family Services.  Special demand for toys for teens aged 13-21, but gifts for all ages are welcome. Drop off at Home Rule, 1807 14th Street.
  • MHNA Holiday Event: Beginning to play for December event. Considering holding an informal event in a local restaurant. Is there interest in organizing a silent auction with donations from our many responsible local businesses?

September 2014 Meeting Minutes

Tuesday September 16, 2014, 7:00 pm
Moshe Zusman Photography Studio, 2300 14th Street, NW
A quorum was present. 

Note: due to staggered arrival times of some attendees, the meeting did not occur in the order presented here; these minutes have been organized for clarity, but the content of each item is unchanged.

(1)            Introductions

a)    Stephen R. McKevitt, Author of  “Meridian Hill: A History”

Stephen McKevitt, a lifelong Washingtonian and historian, introduced his new book, “Meridian Hill: A History,” which was recently published by The History Press.  It is currently available on Amazon and in local bookstores.

b)    Gallagher & Graham Fine Spirits, New Business (Tucker Gallagher) 

Tucker and his cousin John Graham plan to open Gallagher & Graham Fine Spirits, a high-end spirits store, at 12th and U (1939 12th Street), in October. They plan is to specialize in sustainable wine, beers, and liquors. 

c)     Mara Home, New Business  (Erin Claire Mara)

Mara Home opened a few months ago at 2213 14th St NW. It is a new venture for Erin Mara—who formerly co-owned HomeBody on Capital Hill. The store sells furniture, homeware, and custom pieces, and eventually will offer design services.

d)    Restaurant Opportunities Center - D.C., local organization (Jeremiah Lowery)

Restaurant Opportunity Center DC represents restaurant workers including in our area. It supports workers with issues such as withheld wages, sexual harassment, and wage theft. It also works with restaurants, educating them about DC’s paid sick days law. Jeremiah discussed the minimum wage for restaurant non-tip workers: employers are responsible to ensure that tipped workers earn at least $9 per hour and for making up the difference if tips are not sufficient.  Restaurants can lose business license for non-compliance. An app available on www.rocunited.org helps track which restaurants are compliant with the sick day law (or not).  For more information, please email jeremiah@rocunited.org.

e)     ANC Candidates 

Chris Young announced the October 16 ANC Candidates Forum, co-sponsored with Shaw Dupont Citizens Alliance (SDCA). (More details below.)

Two candidates for 1B-12 each introduced themselves and provided a brief presentation of their visions for the neighborhood:

John Green wants to focus on safer cleaner streets, affordable housing, and mixed income housing. He pledges to attend every meeting, and stated that if a meeting is missed Green will not run again for ANC.

Matt Abbruzzese believes he is most qualified for the position. He is a member of MHNA and the USNA, a co-founder of his buildings tenant’s association, and serves on the 1B transportation committee. Matt also serves on a special Planning and Economic Committee, which aims to promote the integrity of community development. He stated his vision is to increase community engagement to achieve more. 

f)      Other Candidates 

At end of meeting we also heard introductions from two candidates for local office:

  • Kevin Cain, candidate for ANC 1B-04 (unopposed for the SMD currently represented by Deborah Thomas). 
  • Scott Simpson, candidate for Ward 1 State Board of Education.

Thanks and congratulations to both candidates for patiently sitting through this long meeting, and introducing themselves! 

(2)            Development at 15th and V Streets, Bozzuto Homes (Nihar Shah)

This project, on 15th and V St. and across from St. Augustine Church, was initiated by Jair Lynch (see minutes from June 21, 2011 MHNA meeting, and subsequent activity). Nihar Shah of Buzzuto presented an updated project plan and schedule. It will be named Parker 15 after Charlie Parker, and comprise 96 condominiums. The units will range from 490 to 1.100 square feet. This project includes no affordable units. There will be 2 underground floors for parking (27 parking spaces).

The project will entail two months of excavation, and pouring of concrete in late November 2014.  Bozzuto anticipates March 2016 delivery of condo units, with pre-sales beginning in the first quarter of 2015. Prices not yet available.

It will be the first condo building in the U.S. to use unitized windows (glass is one large piece). The windows would be more energy efficient as well. A question arose regarding reflectivity of the window treatment, and its potential effect on neighbors. The unitized window system are manufactured by Quest (http://www.questwindows.com/)

(3)            1481 Florida Avenue NW, side lot infill development (Gail Montplaisir, Taurus Development Group)

Owner proposes to expand existing 2-unit building to add a a total of 3-4 units (TBD), primarily by filling in a yard next to the property (near the corner of 15th St. and Florida Ave.).  Project would be carried out by Taurus Renovation & Construction, and the architect Mr. Norman Smith.  M. Madeleine Essalat is the owner. The project will go to the Board of Zoning Adjustment (BZA) for relief: zoning rules do not require side yards, but a variance would be required to fill in the existing non-conforming side yard as the owner intends.  At street level the plan is to continue the brick retaining wall that is currently in front of the existing structure and add a fence above it, along with vegetation.

The project has not received conceptual approval, and the architect emphasized that although the drawings they presented reflect input from HPO they are not final, and should not be considered an agreement or plan to build a particular design. With that understanding that the design is tentative, MHNA will seek to post the tentative presentation on our web site.   

Members raised concerns about the possibility of closing in windows on the existing apartment building at the corner (2201 15th St. NW). Because of the uncertainty and ongoing changes in plans, we decided not to conduct a vote, pending evolution and finalization of the design and but agreed to stay in touch as the project moves forward.

(4)            1429 W Street NW, rear addition and add unit to 2-unit condo structure (David Morris, Trout Design Studio)

The owner plans to add a basement, extension of 10 feet in back, and third floor, to add an additional unit to an existing 2-unit building. Proposes to maintain the existing floor structure in the main body of the existing house. Modifications will not be visible from W Street.  The project is not seeking zoning relief; however the project needs sign-off from the Historical Preservation Review Board (HPRB). It is on the HPRB agenda Thursday Sept. 18.

At the meeting, several neighbors raised an issue regarding an existing walkway alley in use behind (six?) of the adjacent row houses that would be closed off by the proposed design. Neighbors/owners would like to maintain the walkway alley to maintain egress to Florida Ave. for reasons of convenience, trash removal and safety. We learned that the ANC also objected to the alley closure. There were questions as to whether this is a “historical preservation” issue, and appropriate action. The architect stated that only the historical preservation issues he was aware of involved the choice of siding and single-pane versus double hung windows, which could be addressed. Members also raised a concern regarding the potential impact on neighboring houses of the basement excavation.

After discussion a vote was conducted on a motion to oppose the project before HPRB, on grounds that the addition should not block an existing and in-use alleyway. The motion passed 10 – 0, with no abstentions. MHNA will write a letter of opposition to the project.

(5)            Committees, New Business / Announcements

a)    Reeves Center Redevelopment Committee and Activity

Chris provided a brief update on activities, and invited perspectives and volunteers.

b)    Upcoming Events

  • The ANC Candidates Forum (organized by the Shaw Dupont Citizens Alliance) will be held 7:00 p.m. on Thursday, October 16th 7 PM, at the Thurgood Marshall Center (1816 12th Street, NW).
  • Next meeting Tuesday October 21

Annual membership dues may be paid at http://www.meridianhilldc.org/join 

Meeting adjourned around 8:30. 


July 2014 Meeting Minutes


Tuesday July 15, 2014, 7:00 pm
The meeting was held at Moshe Zusman Photography Studio, 2300 14th Street, NW. 

Development at 15th and V Streets

The representative from Bozzuto had a baby unexpectedly early. A representative will attend a subsequent meeting. 

Valet Parking

Public meeting that was scheduled for last night by DDOT and others was rained out.

Reeves Center Redevelopment

Committee is still active. Contact Chris Young if interested.

New Business / Announcements

  • Voted to skip the August meeting, due to several vacations and a light agenda. See you all in September!
  • Discussed Hamiltonian Gallery application for beer/wine ABRA permit. Members had questions about why a license is necessary at all, considering that the gallery does not sell alcohol, only provides it at private events. Will attempt to get information from ABRA or the ANC’s ABC committee.