January 31, 2006

SOME COMFORT FOR DC CONDO INVESTORS. Reading between the lines of the Washington Post story and the report by Delta Associates itself about condo prices, investors in metro DC condo market seem more likely to enjoy "a soft landing" than investors in other cities.

According to Delta, three characteristics are indicative of a hard landing:

  • Low barriers to entry into the market and lots of housing production;
  • Only modest levels of job growth;
  • High levels of speculator activity;

Delta pointed to Las Vegas, Miami and Phoenix as "as cities to watch" for a hard landing. While metro-DC, Boston and L.A. are places where Delta "is more confident of a soft landing."

Looking at the three determinants, DC Bubble takes comfort in the strong job market in DC and the fact that absentee investors, as opposed to owner occupants, often are/were discouraged from buying condos on a pre-construction basis. Moreover, many hot DC areas (NOMA, Columbia Heights), as opposed to outside the Beltway, are incredible locations that for decades were underutilized and underdeveloped.

Always cause for comfort is the price of howeownership relative to income. For decades, the nation spent 3.5 times its income on a house. In many markets, this ratio is above 6, but "surprisingly, Washington and Chicago are affordable by this measure," Delta reported.

Delta goes on to say that prices have begun to fall not because of a glut, but because of "price fatigue. Buyers either can not afford or are not willing to pay these prices."

PUSH ME, PULL. Crime has spiked in Adams Morgan so the metropolitan Police Dept. pulls officers from other areas to deploy more in the area. "When are these band-aid reactionary solutions going to stop and when are we going to get an effective management and policing solution" for Adams Morgan, Dupont Circle and other areas served by the Thrid District, asks Scott Pomeroy of the of the MidCity Business Assn.

With the unfortunate death of a man beaten in the alley off of 18th Street, the drive to do something will only grow stronger. Larry McCoy, commander of the 3rd Police District, said the number of officers in Adams Morgan will grow to as many as 23, up from five to 10 on a typical Thursday, Friday or Saturday night.

"So tell me which of these neighborhoods are we pulling resources in this redeployment?" asks Pomeroy. Is it going to be Mount Pleasant, where they are still hoping to find out who killed Gregory Shipe, or LeDroit Park, where crime at 7th & T has resulted in several shootings and homicides, or Dupont Circle where muggings and assaults are on the rise?

Reacting to the critics, Councilman Jim Graham said "we should never have to pit one neighborhood against another on the basis of scarce police resources." Graham, along with Councilman Adrian Fenty, proposes using current year surplus dollars to hire 500 new police officers (and related resources) for the neighborhoods.

January 30, 2006

DOW AT 100,000 BY 2000. Would someone please tell the Washington Examiner that the real estate market in DC has cooled. And that the neighborhoods most likely to feel the cooling are the speculative ones, like NOMA. Yet the Examiner today ran a story with this headline: Property Values Soaring in 'NoMa'

Now if today were July 30, 2005, not Jan. 30, 2006, we would be rooting too, saying "c'mon real estate keep on chugging." But as inventory builds even in established neighborhoods, one has to wonder what's up with this story with its prominent photo of the Whitman condo construction site.

Of course, prices have risen compared to five years ago, ten years ago. But six months ago? No way. If we were buying a condo today on spec for two years from now, we would want to know what protections are in place if prices fell even further. Some overstate the size of the housing bubble, particularly in DC, but to pretend the bubble has not compressed is ridiculous and foolhardy.


PEPPERONI WITH ABSOLUTE BLACK GRANITE COUNTERS. Back when there was an Italian neighborhood in DC Augusto Vasaio opened what now is called a family-style restaurant. For decades, A.V.Ristorante Italiano at 607 New York Ave. served good pizza and pasta. Wine in earthen pitchers. But the family seems ready to cash in on their hot property and are being courted by developers.

Hey if Mayor Tony bet a white pizza from A.V. maybe the Redskins would be in the Superbowl and another historic DC venue would have found a new audience. Instead we will probably get more condos and an upscale Olive Garden with no personality. Progress comes with a cost.

BLUE INTO YELLOW GETS YOU GREEN. Tireless Ward One Council member Jim Graham has fleshed out some ideas about extending the Yellow line further into DC. Following a public meeting on the issue last week, Graham expressed concern about infrequent service late at night and crowding during rush hour.

Columbia Heights is already the busiest station in our area with 13,900 riders every weekday, Graham reports. This number does not include all the new riders who will surely result from the 525,000 SF of retail (Target et al.) and 825 new residences going up right now in the area of 14th and Irving Sts. NW.

One solution is the called "Blue Line Split," in which every other Blue line train passing through the Pentagon would divert along the Yellow line all the way to Greenbelt. This might result in many happy DC riders, but many unhappy Maryland riders to boot.

Another solution would be to outright extend the Yellow line. DC Bubble agrees with Graham that the first solution is complicated and cheap, but the ultimate solution -- his second idea -- is expensive (more cars, cross-over track) but fixes the problem. Well, you want something, you gotta pay for it.

The next step, according to Graham, would be for the Metro Board to consider these proposals as part of the fiscal year starting July 1. "Your support is critical here. Please take a minute to look over the plans at www.grahamwone.com/metro and let us know your reaction," asks Graham, who generally responds to emails and can be reached at jim@grahamwone.com.

January 29, 2006

Woodley Park cleaners
on a sunny January day.


Stylish suicide bomber blockages. Be handsome and safe all at once!!... Added to condo directory, the Whitman, The Watergate, T Street Flats and Kalorama Court. ... As noted on DC Blogs, here are recent sales in Petworth and Shaw where houses sold below original list price.

pix by Terecico

Old Threads

New gym Mint Fitness opens in Adams Morgan. ... Streetcars on the horizon for H St. NE and in Anacostia. ... London edged out DC as the most popular place for foreign investors. ... Comparing prices of one-bedroom apartments units in DC. ... Garage parking fees on the rise. ... Noodles at Full Kee. Yum. ... Dupont Circle and plaza in SW make list of public spaces needing improvement. ... Steady mortgage rates. .... Work on Georgetown Waterfront Park to begin soon. ... Stadium lease. ... Logan parking still a mess.

January 28, 2006

Saturday Observer

MOVE OVER SOUTH BEACH. DC too has its mid-century gems, but here they have been cast aside and forgotten. But not unloved.

D. Kamili Anderson, president of the Brightwood Community Association, and others in the neighborhood are tired of waiting for renovations and living with an eyesore at 6425 14th St. NW. The DC government "should should exercise whatever authority it has ... to ensure that 6425 is made habitable again," said Anderson. Actually Anderson has even more to say over here.

Formerly the Winchester-Tewksbury Apartments, the building, built in the 1950's, was designed by nationally renowned architect Joseph Henry Abel. According to Cultural Tourism DC's Brendan Meyer, Abel's firm, Berla & Abel, "can make a pretty solid claim to be the most prominent modern architects in DC in the 40s." Abel also designed the Shoreham Washington on Connecticut Ave. Such a great opportunity going to waste.

6645 14th Today ...

And Tomorrow It Could Look Like Its Neighbor

Pix by Anderson.

January 27, 2006

Afternoon Flash

DC, BASEBALL AGREE ON REVISED STADIUM LEASE. The revised lease calls for the city to use traditional, tax-exempt financing to build South Capitol Street Stadium and to get most of the proceeds from the condos, restaurants or retail built on the site."The new agreement is a much better deal for the city with as much as $12M in concessions from Major League Baseball," Bill Hall, baseball chairman for the DC Sports Commission, tells WTOP. The Post downplayed the "deal's" significance noting that there is no word that it does much for controlling costs, which was the major concern of holdouts on the council.

Here are details:

  • No private financing. Goodbye parking Deutsche Bank parking scheme.
  • Parcels at the south end of the stadium site can be sold to developers. DC gets 57.5 percent of proceeds and the Nationals receiving 42.5 percent.
  • The team will have an option to lease and develop the retail space designated on the east side of the stadium on 1st St.
  • MLB will lease RFK in 2008 if the stadium is not ready.
  • The Nats will help develop a new youth baseball facility.
  • The Nats will give away more tix for kids.

We dont see how this is not a good thing for the city and for baseball fans. The stadium will push development into a decrepit, forlorn and forgotten part of the city and that means tax revenue. The rendering at the left gives you an idea of how it might look.

You can always say, DC should have gotten a better deal, but this is the deal. For better or for worse. At least another $12M was squeezed from the rock that is Major League Baseball.

But before we start congratulating Mayor Williams, let's see what the DC Council does. It ain't over til it's over.

Pix from ballparks.com

Georgetown Gem Is Not a Mirage

A sign at the park site and its website annuonce a groundbreaking in 2005 for the Georgetown Waterfront Park, which will be "the final jewel in Washington, DC’s riverfront necklace of green." Only problem is that there was no groundbreaking last year and no physical signs of work this year either. Today, the park looks much like the parking lot pictured below in fact it is the parking lot below.

But requests for construction bids will go out in March, said a spokesman for the National Park Service. The intention is to begin the 18 months of construction during the spring. If all goes according to plan, work on the majority of the park will be complete by fall 2007.

"This magnificent green space will curve along 10 acres of waterfront extending from the Washington Harbour complex to Key Bridge, creating the vital last link in a contiguous park extending from the mouth of the Anacostia River to the District of Columbia Line," explains the park's website.

Key features include: a new promenade, "gracious lawns," bike lanes and "lighting that offers a sense of security during evening visits." Thus far, backers of the park have raised $12M of the needed $15M for the project.

So the forthcoming request for proposal will only cover phase I, the area extending from 34th St. to Wisconsin Ave. Phase II, which includes a grand plaza and the redesign of the existing park next to Washington Harbor, won't happen until the needed funds have been raised. Donations to fund can be made through this website.

More incredible than the park itself is the notion that this prime real estate was used as a parking lot all these decades. The only thing that would have been worse would have been to build a highway. Oh wait, they did! Now if we can only get rid of the Whitehurst Freeway, but we digress.


Oddballs and characters are selling land in SE paving way for condos and other developments. ... DC becoming more economically polarized. ... City reaches deal to swap land at old convention center for land at 9th St. and Mass. Ave. (next to the new convention center) for a large, large hotel. DC council must bless the deal.

Pix by DC Rob and the NPS.

January 26, 2006

Afternoon Flash
Stadium vote comes down to the wire, says Mayor Williams. Tony is "optimistic" that the DC Council will approve the stadium lease on Friday. Wanna bet a chili halfsmoke from Ben's?

MORTGAGES MOSTLY STEADY. Mortgage rates have come off their three-month low, according to the Freddie Mac weekly survey. "The miniscule rise in mortgage rates this week most likely reflects market expectations that the Federal Reserve will once again raise rates next week," said Frank Nothaft, Freddie Mac chief economist.

Comforting those fearful of the real estate bubble bursting, Nothaft added that last week mortgage applications for home purchases were stronger than last December's average. This suggests there is some life in this real estate market.

Also making a soft landing call, David Lereah, the National Assn. of Realtors' chief economist, pointed to the 5.7 percent drop in existing home sales in December. Turning bad news into good, he said home sales activity is now at a "sustainable level and is likely to pick up a bit in the months ahead."

But clearly, this is now a buyer's market, no matter how strong the spring buying spree is. The only questions are how fast and how far will sales prices decline. In DC, rising rental rates may help soften the blow, as well as favorable interest rates.

The Jan. 26 survey said the 30-year fixed-rate mortgage averaged 6.12 percent with an average 0.5 point up from last week's average of 6.10 percent. Last year at this time, the 30-year FRM averaged 5.66 percent. The average for the 15-year FRM this week is 5.70 percent, with an average 0.5 point, up from last week’s average of 5.67 percent. A year ago, the 15-year FRM averaged 5.14 percent.


DC, Maryland and Virginia homeowners who are feeling the pinch of dropping prices are in good company. Redskins owner Dan Snyder dropped the price on his seven-bedroom starter mansion in Bethesda's Longwood neighborhood from $5.295M to $4.25M. Don't cry crocodile tears yet, he paid only $1.9M in 1995. ... Local girl makes good. Clothing store on 14th St, Pop, is opening a second home in Brooklyn. Big sale on now, says DCist.

TELL THAT PARK THAT SHOULDER PADS ARE OUT, OUT OUT. Dupont Circle and a soulless plaza in SW have earned the dishonorable distinction of being listed on the Project for Public Spaces' list of the 16 worst-dressed parks. Actually the list is ponderously called "The 16 Squares Most Dramatically in Need of Improvement" and was prepared by the New-York based nonprofit PPS.

Coming in as the tenth worst public square in the world is "the Education Plaza" at Independence Ave. and 4th St. SW.

"The federal government needs to move past the fortress mentality it has imposed on every building it operates. Department of Education on Independence Ave. is the perfect site to move beyond the perpetual state of fear that pervades every federal building in Washington and, increasingly, across the nation," said PPS.

Truth be told this space at 4th and Independence Ave. SW was dreary long before 9-11 and its related efforts to ramp up security. But PPS is correct, this plaza and other nameless plazas around town should be rethought and redesigned.

And if they don't work as parks, heaven forbid, turn them into commercial or residential spaces. To our mind, no amount of re-engineering is going to turn this dreary plaza into a vibrant place. There's no there there. Even with trees, flowers and free beer. The surrounding streets are empty, the plaza is empty.

Surprisingly, beloved Dupont Circle comes in on the list at No. 13.

"Many think Dupont Circle is the best destination in Washington. We think it is performing at 30% of its potential. ... There are active parts of the Circle, but they are not connected. The Farmers Market is separate from the inner circle and from the active part of Massachusetts Avenue. The road around the Circle is two lanes too wide, and the connections from the interior park to the edges could be dramatically improved," PPS said.

A two-lane Dupont Circle roadway would be a traffic nightmare. But greening some of the concrete medians, say along the Q St. overpass, would help. Moving the farmer's market to the circle and closing a street or two on Sunday morning would be even better.

January 25, 2006

Evening Flash

Mayor Anthony Williams says he will present the DC Council with a new stadium lease on Friday. Major League Baseball has not signed off on the revised lease. This is either the beginning of the end or the end of the beginning for baseball in DC. Maybe its really round seven in an 11 round knock-down drag out fight. Stay tuned.

Comfort Cuisine
Save the architecural presenatations for someone else, DC Bubble loves homestyle food. Furthermore, the DC Bubble does not even have a favorite restaurant. Instead the Bubble has favorite dishes at restaurants here and there.

Case in point, the pork noodle soup with vegetables at Full Kee. Until the wee hours (2 am) at 509 H Street, NW, you can order a steaming bowl of soup.

Think: hearty broth with hints of star anise. A pile of long al dente noodles. Crunchy greens. And flavorful char-su pork (don't be fooled by the photo, they are not stingy with the pork).

Add a little bit of chile to balance the pork's sweetness and DC Bubble is in Chinese heaven.
In one serving you have your protein, vegetables and starch. Its like a whole food pyramid in a single bowl.

If you are especially hungry, order a pork dumpling appetizer (steamed or fried) or an order of stir-fried Chinese chives (leed flower). For fun, dare your dining companion to order from the "delacies" menu, which features cold jelly fish, pork skin and turnips, and duck blood in scallions. Anybody know the Chinese word for "yum?" Oh wait! I think its "Yum."


The Daily Dish notes that the Blue Duck Tavern (1201 24th St. NW) will replace Melrose. BDT is expected to be "a gathering place" where diners will find linen-free black walnut tables, a wood-burning oven and an American menu influenced by Pennsylvania's Amish community. Sounds a little unrefined for the Park Hyatt but we shall see. .... Komi at 1509 17th St NW has reopened with a new menu concept reports Metrocurean.

NO FREE PARKING. The cost of unreserved parking in DC has gone up by $40 per month according to the latest survey conducted by Colliers. Higher parking fees, reflective of a national trend, show that the U.S. economy is growing and creating more jobs, so with the added demand prices have gone up. Capiche?

In 2005, the median price for parking in DC was $225 per space per month. In 2004 the cost was $265 per month. In fact 20 percent of all garages in DC have waiting lists. No wonder churchgoers in Logan Circle are parking all over the place.

The five most expensive parking districts in the US are; midtown Manhattan ($492), downtown Manhattan ($444), Boston ($425), San Francisco ($350) and Philadelphia ($318) all per month.

The news of higher prices at garages comes on the heels of the Mayor's proposal to increase the for a zone parking sticker.

Pix from Colonial Parking


Courts hear eminent domain arguments over stadium. ... Drive to cut costs to win DC Council approval of the stadium lease.

January 24, 2006

What's It Worth To Ya?!?

A TALE OF TWO UNITS. One is in Cleveland Park. The other downtown. One is a co-op. The other is a condo. The asking price on one is $275,000. The ask on the other is $525,000, almost twice the price.

The Cleveland Park unit is at 3620 Connecticut Ave NW. The description says: "brand new absolutely stunning granite and stainless steel kitchen includes top of the line appliances. ... Hardwood floors throughout as well as built-in shelves." No parking, but its a block from the Metro. The downside to a co-op means a slightly higher mortgage rate and slightly lower closing costs.

The spacious Penn Quarter condo at 400 Mass. Ave. features many amenities such as 24hr security, a fitness center, a business center, a rooftop terrace w/outdoor pool and grills with a stunning view of the Capitol. No word on parking, which probably means no.

Cozy Co-0p
Spacious Condo

If you had $50,000 to put down, which would you pick? The Cleveland Park unit is a better neighborhood. Comes with only the bling, not the bling-bling, and has low fees. The Penn Quarter condo comes with not much of a neighborhood. Lots of bling-bling. More space. With the Cleveland Park unit, you put down a down payment and go on a great vacation for two years in row. With the Penn Quarter unit, you might not have the money to furnish it.

Which one is off market? Is Cleveland-Park unit priced too low or Penn-Quarter unit priced too high? If the Cleveland Park unit goes above the ask, does that mean the bubble is alive? If the Penn Quarter unit sells below the ask, does everyone repeat the new mantra: prices are coming down? Has the bubble burst?

LONDON CALLING. London edged DC as the favorite place for foreign real estate investors worldwide to place capital.

"Even though the U.S. is regarded far and away as the most stable and secure country for real estate investments and as has enjoyed the greatest capital appreciation, they will spread their dollars more globally in 2006," AFIRE said. About $20B will be invested in the U.S. in 2006.

One reason cited for shying away from the U.S. "is the difficulty in finding good opportunities." said AFIRE, providing further proof that there is a real estate bubble in DC and the rest of the U.S. Read those words again: "difficulty in finding good opportunities."

Nonetheless, AFIRE noted DC benefits from low vacancy rates, good rental growth and experienced high capital appreciation.

Though DC continues to hold the top spot among U.S. cities NY is closing in and "is quickly closing the gap."

Look above not only have those cheeky Brits stolen the real estate ranking but they have nicked our dome too. Wankers!

Pix by neilmadhvani

January 23, 2006

You Gotta Comment?!?

GOLD DOWN THOSE STREETS. True the wind has been taken out of the sails of the real estate market, but that does not mean there are no great investment opportunities left in DC real estate. Condo flippers please disregard this post because you must be patient.

How about H St. NE. As the Washington Examiner points out streetcars are coming to link the Union Station and Minnesota Ave. Metro Stations.

The already reviving area will pop not tomorrow but by the end of the decade or so. Remember property along the Greenline was doing very nicely even before everyone went mad and drove prices sky high across the country. In some areas of DC, real estate prices went up for reasons other than just speculative bidding. Wanna make you children wealthy look for property along H Street.

Streetcar details:

  • The 3.5 mile streetcar line is slated to open in 2007;
  • Construction bids will go out this summer;
  • The existing Metrobus lines (X2, X1) along H St. exceeds 20,000 riders daily;
  • Advisory Neighborhood Commissions on the hill already have been advised about
    design details.

Even closer to coming online is the Anacostia streetcar line running roughly North-South on the other side of the other river.


Senate Square and 22 West Condos were added to the directory. ... DC Council does its part on Metro funding. ... It takes money and patience to build a memorial in DC. We have enough of those if you ask me. How about a memorial to the Victims of Communism" in the shape of a park bench, swings and basketball court.

FITNESS MADE SIMPLE. Making you feel even guiltier about already forgetting those New Year's resolutions, there are two new healthclub-gyms to choose from here in DC.

In Adams Morgan, the Mint is opening in February just off 18th and U Sts. To get things going, the Mint is offering their first 100 charter members $130 off the $175 enrollment fee. Act now.

More than a gym, the Mint when fully operational will include a spa, a lounge and a physical therapy suite. "There are plenty of alternatives. But what if your idea of re-energizing is a clean, natural environment, not clutter and loud music."

Top quality resistance equipment, personal training and nutritional counseling, massages, wi-fi etc. Goto the Mint's website where you'll be gently admonished to "condition yourself." Only two words, but they say so much.

And along H Street NE WillPower Health & Fitness Studio has just opened. Offering a similar menu of services, but in a more direct atmosphere, the 4,000SF facility will be "exceeding your expectations."

That's a promise. We dunno. Without a pithy two-word tagline DC Bubble already feels that Willpower Studio is a little more down market. No bother Willpower Studio features Technogym equipment, which sounds impressive to couch potatoes like us.

January 22, 2006

SCHOOL RECIPE NEEDS TIME TO COOK. The DC school masterplan now coming in Feb. with more advanced programs at many schools, not just at the magnet schools, and neighborhood schools getting more spending authority independent of the school board. Let's hope Superintendent Clifford Janey follows though on his ambitious vision and is not here today gone in two years.

DC schools must change if the city is to thrive, but they can only change with a sustained effort. And don't tune this topic out real estate investors. Couples used to flee Dupont Circle and Adams Morgan as soon as the words "baby wipes" passed their lips. Now they stay or try to until the wee one is ready for school. The real estate market would be that much more robust, if they actually thought they could send their children to the schools here.

City Paper tracks top alum from DC schools. ... Its been 50 years since the Archdiocese of Washington opened a new high school. Targeted toward low-income students, Cristo Rey, is set to open in the fall of 2007 in Takoma Park. ... As noted at DC Education Blog, Francis Scott Key elementary will receive a 15k grant from Best Buy to fund a high-tech classroom initiative.

Old Threads

Home values in DC and the Virginia and Maryland suburbs face 35% chance of dropping within two years. ... New french steak restaurant coming to DC. ... DC needs more gourmet food so save the Columbia Heights Whole Foods. ... Logan Circle parking woes. Fair Trade home products store opens on 14th Street in Logan Circle. ... Upper Northwest rental. Swanky. ... Mayor proposes change in parking rules. ... Online fight in Columbia Heights and Adams Morgan. ... Inclusionary zoning on the agenda. ... Yellow line to Greenbelt being discussed.

January 21, 2006

Saturday Observer

LOGAN RESIDENTS ASK CHURCHES TO BE GOOD NEIGHBORS. Logan Circle residents are seeking to put an end to illegal parking by churchgoers in their community along Vermont Ave. on some weeknights and weekends. The root of the problem is that the churches with congregations in excess of 1,000 persons -- all within 1 block of Vermont Ave. and R St. NW -- do not have any parking facilities whatsoever.

While most residents consider the churches to be a neighborhood asset, they assert that the illegal activity creates significant safety hazards, is unfairly burdensome, and has caused several accidents. As a result of being blocked, residents have reported missing airline flights, being late for professional appointments and stranding children away from home.

Indeed, earlier in January part of the neighborhood had to do without basic municipal services, i.e. trash collection, because garbage and recycling vehicles were not able to maneuver the streets due to the illegally parked vehicles.

The residents contend that the need to protect public safety and needs of local residents to access their vehicles outweigh any associated limited inconvenience to church parishioners from asking them to take public transportation or arrive early enough to find legal parking which is available only a few blocks away.

Parking enforcement and the Metropolitan Police Department have refused to issue tickets citing an unofficial policy of the Mayor's office allowing churchgoers leeway. The residents contend that the policy is in direct contravention of DC code which specifically prohibits double, as well as illegal parking, at all times in all places in the city.

Though double-parking may occur around churches in limited other neighborhoods around the city, the residents point out that police actively ticket around the Jewish Community Center (located just blocks away) and that most religious institutions and private schools in the city responsibly arrange for alternative parking so as to respect local residents.

To resolve a similar dispute on Capitol Hill, at least one local church responsibly rented parking spaces for its members to alleviate the safety hazards and the burden to local residents. The residents contend that the Logan churches should act as good and responsible community citizens by implementing a similar alternative solution.

Approximately 50 residents calling themselves "Logan Residents for Equitable Enforcement of Parking Laws" signed a letter detailing the problem and protesting the city's lack of enforcement. The letter was sent to various city officials on Dec. 6, but to date no written response has been received.

Residents, church leaders and the ANC have formed a committee to address the problem and seek solutions. In the interim, the police have begun issuing tickets for all parking violations on weekdays and for violations resulting in safety hazards on the weekends. The police have promised to begin issuing tickets for double-parking on Sundays in the near future as well, but say they want to give time to notify the community and the parishoners of their intention to do so.

Todd D. Lovinger
Logan Residents for Equitable Enforcement of Parking Laws

Submissions for the Saturday Observor post are welcome. Send an email to dcbubble@gmail.com.

January 20, 2006

STEAK FRITES BON. DC always struck me as a meat and potatoes kind of town. With so much focus on keeping up to date with nuggets on your Blackberry about the latest appropriations rider, who has time to savor food other than a good steak?

One wonders why it took so long for Smith & Wollensky, Brassiere Les Halles and Bobby Vann's to take the Metroliner down from NYC. Well hold onto your knives and forks because here comes another one: Bistro Laurent Tourondel.

After stints in Paris, London and Moscow, Tourondel (right) opened BLT in mid-town NYC. BLT bills itself as Tourondel's "adaptation of the American Steakhouse, elevating it with his signature style and all-around finesse. The result -- the Modern American Steakhouse." The review says BLT has good beef, lots of sides and a stylish atmoshpere.

BLT will be housed at 1625 Eye St. NW right around the corner from the White House and down the block from Farragut Square as reported by the Washington Business Journal.

YELLOW TO GREENBELT. Nothing is more frustrating than waiting for a Green Line train on your way to diner on U Street and be forced to stand, say, at Gallery Place for an empty Yellow Line train to pass. You're late, your friends are at the U street eating pizza and drinking wine and there you are 3 minutes 'til the Yellow and another 5 for the Soul Train, i.e. the Green line. Wouldn't it be great if you could just ride the Yellow to U street.

Well the creaky wheels of progress have begun to turn, but it will be a long trip. "Since December [Metro] has examined several enhanced service possibilities, the needs required to implement, and the overall costs involved for each of several options and will be providing this information" at meeting open to the public on Jan. 23 at 7 pm at 823 Florida Ave. NW, said Scott Pomeroy of the MidCity Business Assn.

The task will not be an easy one to pull off. The cost of extending the Yellow Line from Mt. Vernon Square to Greenbelt is more than $100M to purchase the necessary railcars plus $9M for operations, James J. Hughes, METRO assistant general manager for operations. Yikes maybe I should save the dough and just take a taxi to dinner!

With all the development along the Green line corridor, not to mention the possibility of a baseball stadium in Southeast, it only seems to be a matter of time before the Green line becomes as crowded as the Red and Orange lines.

Kudos to those behind this effort including Councilman Jim Graham. Now lets find the cash.

photo by rllyman

January 19, 2006

Afternoon Flash

INCLUSIONARY ZONING. Do those words send chills up and down your spine as they do for many DC condo developers? Like so many things in life, incusionary zoning -- which requires builders to add a certain number of affordable units to new condo projects -- could be good or could be bad. The zoning commission is expected to continue its deliberations on the topic on Feb. 6.

What's affordable? How many units must be set aside in the condo? Do developers get something for setting aside units? Is the whole thing mandatory or voluntary? Does it apply to small fry developers?

To illustrate the need for inclusionary zoning, the Washington Examiner today talks about lucky Jack McKay who bought his house in Mount Pleasant for $21,000 in 1972. And today the house is worth "multiples" of the original price. But six months ago I bet it was worth more multiples than today.

DC Bubble fears the inclusionary zoning requirement, which everyone says is coming, will have been written at a time when the market was hot. Red hot. But that was then and this is now. The market has cooled. Maybe the lead anecdote in the Examiner should have been about the guy who bought a condo in July and now the identical unit on a lower floor is on the market at a 10% lower price with no offers coming in.

Inclusionary zoning will be good for the city because of the economic diversity it will impose, but be careful. Let's craft it using today's market, not the red hot one of early 2005 and all of 2004 when anything was possible and the sky was the limit. In fact, the Commerce Department reported that construction of new homes and apartments fell by 8.9 percent in December.

If the inclusionary requirement forces too many set asides, we wont have a cool market, but a frozen one where developers will say its just not worth it building in DC.


MORTGAGE RATES DROP AGAIN. The benchmark 30-year fixed-rate mortgage fell 10 basis points to 6.12 percent from 6.22 percent the prior week, according to the Bankrate.com national survey of large lenders. The mortgages in this week's survey had an average total of 0.31 discount and origination points. One year ago, the mortgage index was 5.71 percent; four weeks ago, it was 6.33 percent. The 5/1 adjustable-rate mortgage fell 11 basis points to 5.71 percent.

Morning Feed

YOU THINK HE'S GOT WORRIES. The chances of a decline in housing pricing within the next two years in DC, Arlington, Montgomery and the rest of the suburbs increased to 34.5 percent, according to the Winter 2006 Economic and Real Estate Trends report issued by Private Mortgage Insurance Co. The Fall 2005 report estimated only a 20.9 percent chance of a decline. Things just got scarier for DC condo, co-op and house owners.

Now before starts looking like our friend Mr. Abramoff, the report goes on to say: "Because the national and regional economies remain strong, providing a counterbalance to slowing appreciation, at this point we believe a soft landing is the most likely outcome."

Everyone knows, the report said, that the housing price increases of recent years were "unsustainable because people's incomes can't support the kinds of home prices that result."

How many times have you had this conversation? You know the house on that street on Capitol Hill or Bethesda or wherever ... Where nearly everyone is a trade association hack, a government lawyer or a journalist ... It sold for close to seven figures and everyone says who can afford that? We can't. It's unsustainable.

The assumption being made though is that the economy will keep growing slowly. What if an unexpected economic downturn hits, what if the terrorists strike, what if ... kiss that soft landing goodbye. Ok then its time to worry.


The feds want to take a big chunk out of the 110 acres that will be available when Walter Reed hospital moves out in 2011, says DC Delegate Eleanor Holmes Norton. The State Dept. wants land for new chanceries and the General Service Administration wants land for office space and sees no reason to share the name of that agency it envisions filling it.

But GSA taking a chunk and State taking another, there should be plenty of room to build fancy condos, offices, hotels and other revenue-generating facilities. Right? Maybe wrong. The feds have asked for portions of the property with which has the fewest historical buildings, thus is considered the easiest to build on.

January 18, 2006

You Gotta Comment?!?

A BATTLE IS RAGING in Columbia Heights. The fight I'm referring to is not a dispute over luxury condos or some gourmet bistro forcing out a family-owned restaurant. No this is about a new website called Columbia Heights News.

Rather than welcoming this new voice to the community, commenters on the Columbia Heights and Adams Morgan listserves on Yahoo! have been pelting the site with charges of plagiarism, intimidation and use of a false identify. The suspicious critics want to know who is behind the effort?

Well this dustup has not been settled by a forthcoming answer to that question. According to Columbia Heights News, the site "was created and is being managed by a husband and wife team." But they won't really say much more.

Skepticism has been further fueled by the fact that the site liberally quotes various corporate sources who do not ordinarily speak so freely to small and very new news outlets. (Don't get DC Bubble started.) Maybe "the husband and wife" are, in fact, sponsored by the corporate entitites themselves some wonder.

As one commenter noted, Columbia Heights News "purports to offer a wide variety of neighborhood news, but in reality focuses only on drawing a large national chain retailer to the area." In fact, they are behind the effort to save the Columbia Heights Whole Foods. Hmmmm.....

Have June and Ward Cleaver moved to 14th and Irving or has a public relations campaign been outed?

Morning Feed

ANOTHER PARKING BROUHAHA. The DC Council tomorrow will hold a hearing on a proposal to raise residential parking fees. Under the plan proposed by Mayor Williams, the price for "a residential zone sticker" would rise from $15 to $25. A permit for a second car would cost $50 and the third would be $100. The idea is to encourage use of mass transit when going out for brunch, shopping for a party-dress or new suit, meeting a pal for coffee. Whatever.

DC Bubble doesn't really see the hardship associated with such a fee increase. While DC Bubble lauds any effort to increase use of public transit, the proposal seems to be about bringing fees in line with "reality" more than anything else. Charging 50 bucks for a second car will not dissuade folks from having a second car and will not encourage use of Metrorail or Metrobus.

Bottom line though: DC Bubble believes the $15 is ridiculously low. The $15 doesn't even really seem like it would cover the cost of administering the whole program to begin with.

LOGAN PARKING DOUBLE SPEAK. While 11 parking tickets were issued in the area surrounding Logan Circle churches on Jan. 15, many, many double parked and illegally parked cars were unticketed as seen in the photos here.

Sgt. Stuart Emerman with the Metropolitan Police Department told the Washington Times last week "we will start ticketing double-parked cars on Sundays." When asked about all the unticketed cars from the most recent weekend, Emerman told DC Bubble that the MPD will ease into ticketing. Rather than the blanket ticketing policy stated in the Washington Times, Emerman said for now "we are issuing tickets for fire hydrants, crosswalks, etc. on Sundays."

"When the officers are in the area, they are advised to be looking for all kinds violations ... including parking issues," Emerman added. It does not sound like the officers were looking very hard last Sunday considering the number of illegally parked cars.

DC Bubble is not sure we agree with the demanded parking policy change, but when the MPD says it is going to issue tickets it is reasonable to assume it will follow through.

One Liners
STADIUM NEWS. Earliest the DC Council will vote on the stadium is Feb. 7. C'mon boys and girls bring it home for Valentine's Day. Former Detroit Mayor Dennis Archer was named the mediator between the city and Major League Baseball. Plus Archer is an ally of the Mayor.

BIG TRAIN COMING TO CAPITOL HILL. Starting Jan. 30, Metro will run 8-car trains during the morning rush.

photo by: Ancodia

January 17, 2006

Not For Sale

FURNISHED TO THE MAX. The super-luxury apartment rental market always mystifies me a bit. We suppose people choose to rent an apartment and not buy because they want flexibility. No commitment. Well if you need only the best and want to wait until condo prices drop further, what do you do?

Clean & Well Lit
Too Beautiful To Cook In?

One option is to look here. For $2190 per month you can live at the Warwick at 3051 Idaho Ave. NW. Located kinda near Cleveland Park and kinda near Spring Valley and maybe near Glover Park.

Mind you this 740 SF apartment comes furnished with modern classics, Asian antiques and "good art," the ad says. Definitely a cut above the leftover Ikea, a smattering of Pottery Barn and the deceased Aunt collection that most in DC call furniture.

Moreover, the apartment comes with linens and towels, dishes, silverware and glasses, cooking equipment, TV and stereo. Soup to nuts. Hmmm....we wonder what the thread count is on those sheets. The apartment has a brand new kitchen with euro cabinets, "granite counters" and there is "a wonderful roof deck with Cathedral view." Full laundry in the basement.

For whom does this make sense financially? Pied au tier for a senator? Tom Cruise in town for a movie shoot? A Nat hung in limbo as the DC Council ponders the stadium lease?

New On The Block

NEW BREED OF DEALER ON 14TH. "Future Green" has opened its second retail outlet just off of 14th St. NW. Not another fancy shmancy furniture store that's part of chain to boot, you ask? Well if that's what you think, you'd be wrong.

This "eco-friendly home and family center" has just opened (their other store is in Milwaukee) at 1469 Church St. They specialize in organic body-care products, organic mattresses, bedding and clothing, non-toxic building supplies, various recycled items, plus "fair-trade" products, which are produced by laborers earning a living wage.

In general, the store seems to have an Asian vibe to it. According to their website, "Future Green was born with the idea to have a shop that your every purchase created some sort of positive impact. Thus our slogan: The power of purchase, the positive impact! came into being." See what I mean. Reads like a fortune cookie.

Anyway, this is the second retail outlet that has opened in DC recently with a mission in mind other than simply turning a profit. Books For America -- with its pro-literacy mission -- opened in Dupont Circle last year.

One Liners

HOUSING PRICE MAP. As spotted on bubblemeter, here is a cool google mashup of recent home sales laid upon a map of DC.

MARK TUOHEY SAYS HE'S AN OPTIMIST about closing a deal on a baseball stadium. DC Bubble says "it will believe it when it see it." Plus it adds "show me the money" and "talk is cheap." You get the idea.

January 16, 2006

Morning Feed

SAVE WHOLE FOODS. Whole Foods had been looking hard along 14th in Columbia Heights to bring their fourth store to DC. But apparently the gourmet market is not as close to committing as was once believed. This news comes on the heels of the Adams Morgan Harris Teeter store inching toward approval last week.

Whole Foods was contemplating the DC USA retail complex which is being developed directly across from the Columbia Heights Metro Station by Grid Properties. Target (Tar-shay), Bed, Bath & Beyond and Best Buy already have committed there.

After many months, there have been "some stumbling blocks" with the Whole Foods' talks, according to Columbia Heights News. You see, at a minimum, Whole Foods needs 45,000 SF of retail space. But the developers are only offering 35,000 SF because of the way the property is configured. As a point of reference, the Whole Foods at 14th and P Sts NW is 37,000 SF. What's more, Whole Foods has not been promised the requested number of parking spaces in the structure's underground lot, which will be owned by DC. In short Whole Foods is saying a 10,000 SF shortfall is a big headache for them.

Whole Foods' arm can be twisted though. Recall, Whole Foods in the late 1990's contemplated a store at 13th and U Sts NW before committing to their current location on P St. Karen Riley of Whole Foods says "show me" how much interest there is, so send her emails if you want a store in Columbia Heights to become a reality. Email: karen.riley@wholefoods.com. Copy info@columbiaheightsnews.org on any emails because these good folks are organizing the campaign to slam this deal home.

MORE ON WATERSIDE MALL REVAMP. The inclusion of more housing has helped to get the project moving again, says the Washington Post. Also Steuart Investment plans to construct apartments on H St. NE.

PRESERVATIONIST BEMOAN razing of Naval Observatory buildings.

INDEBLUE EXTENDED its Restaurant Week menu. Check others.

January 15, 2006

As Far As We Can See

IN DC IT AIN'T OVER TIL ITS OVER. Hope no one got blocked in on the way to brunch, on the way to an open house or after a few drinks late at night.

Once again double parked cars and no tickets in Logan Circle on Sunday afternoon. As you can see lots of Maryland cars parked illegally here in DC. The pictures below were taken around 1 p.m. Don't believe reports that the police will be issuing tickets.

DC Bubble believes a solution to this situation must be brokered. Churchgoers have been double parking and parking on the curb for years and years without complaints, but now the neighborhood is up in arms about it. The status quo does not really cut it.

Notice the
"No Parking Anytime Sign"
No Parking Tickets

Sunday Viewpoint

LOW CRIME IS NOT NO CRIME. In the past six months two people have been murdered on the streets in Washington DC who I have know personally. Though the declining murder rate in DC is something to take comfort in, let's not forget DC has a long way to go.

Thankfully, the Metropolitan Police Department has caught the credit-card killers of New York Times reporter David Rosenbaum, who DC Bubble stood along side with in the halls of Capitol building in the late 1980's waiting for Congress to make news. Also over the summer, Greg Shipe, who was a colleague at a public relations firm, was killed in Mount Pleasant.

Two totally random murders. These were not unfortunate souls involved in the drug trade, nor were they involved in vendettas of the street. Both were going about their business; minding their own business. The other night, for the first time in a long time, on my walk home I bypassed certain areas because it was late and I was unnerved. For no particular reason, DC Bubble felt unsafe on the street because of these killings.

Yet there is comfort to be found in the numbers: for the second year in row murders in DC fell below 200. DC has cut in half the number of murders from the heights of the drug wars, but as a percentage of total population the rate is still high. Very high when compared to New York City, which had only about 530 murders in 2005. Since New York has more than ten times the number of people and twice the killings, it is fair to say that the mean streets of New York are not so mean by comparison.

In Singapore years ago, there used to be (maybe there still are) placards saying "low crime is not no crime." The signs warned about the dangers and risks of chewing gum in public. As comical as the campaign was, DC Bubble is reminded of it now. 200 murders makes me feel safer, but not safe. Low crime is not no crime.

January 14, 2006

Ding Dong the Mall Is Dead

DING DONG THE MALL IS DEAD. Well not exactly dead, but at least the execution has been scheduled for sometime in the future on a day no one really knows when yet. But on that very day, DC will rejoice for the Waterside Mall will be no more. Chamaigne corks will pop in the restaurants while there is dancing on the tables.

The half billion project to redevelop the 13 acre Waterside Mall at 4th and M Sts. SW is on again. Potential tenant Fannie Mae backed out last year, so the whole thing was put on hold, explains the Washington Business Journal. The landowner, the National Capital Revitalization Corp. that is developing Columbia Heights, will be the lead tenant with Waterfront Associates.

Under the deal, NCRC will develop 400,000 SF of residential space. Waterfront - a consortium of developers -- will develop an eye-popping 2.1 million SF of office, residential and retail space. Under the plan, fourth street will reopen as well.

Before you celebrate recognize that this deal still is very fresh and that the DC Council must endorse it. Stadium lease. New hospital. Now this third item. Question of the Day: How many balls can the clownish DC Council juggle at one time? Answer: Zero.

DC Bubble predicts yet another circus at One Judiciary Square. Please pass the cotton candy.

One Liner

$100 MILLION FOR DC SCHOOLS approved by DC Council Committee. The dough comes from the sales tax.

ADAMS MORGAN HARRIS TEETER ONE STEP CLOSER. The DC Board of Zoning Adjustment gave approval this week of the zoning variances for the proposed Harris Teeter grocery store to be located at 17th & Kalorama NW. The order contains 17 conditions, including a required Truck Management Plan that must win endorsement by DC DOT before a certifcate of occupancy will be issued.

"By and large, most of these conditions in concept track those that the developer and the [Adams Morgan Advisory Neighborhood Commission] proposed," said ANC Commissioner Alan Roth in a recent email.

As noted on DCist some still have quibbles with Harris Teeter coming to the neighborhood. Though, for god's sake, DC Bubble can't understand why. Its not like DC has lots of grocery stores to choose from? Whole Foods is overpriced. Safeway is hit or miss. Giant. Don't get DC Bubble started.

Wouldn't it be great if everyone shopped at neighborhood bodegas and green markets to buy their food? Well they don't. Not in DC. Not in the U.S. Not in Europe.

TAX ASSESSMENTS UP 18% in Arlington.

January 13, 2006

You Gotta Comment?!?

WINDOW OF OPPORTUNITY. DC Bubble's contrarian nature says now is a good time to give up your apartment and buy a condo, if you are a first time homebuyer looking for a studio or one-bedroom. (If its a house you are after wait. If prices fall 5% on a $300, 000 condo that's $15K. But $90K on a $900,000 house.)

1. Mortgage rates hit a three-month low, according to Bankrate.com survey conducted the week of Jan. 11. But don't count on these low mortgage rates for long. Economists predict that rates will rise closer to 7 percent by the end of the year. Rates for a 30-year fixed were 6.22% this week compared to 6.27% last week. Rates on a 5-year adjustable rate mortgage dropped to 5.82% this week from 5.86%.

2. Rents are going to start rising. With the sales market slowing and more people renting, landlords will jack up rents. Gone are the days of comfy Dupont Circle studios for less $1,000.

3. Inventory is growing so you will have many units to choose from. What's more sellers are getting nervous. Be aggressive, there is no need to pay what the owner is asking. Make an offer at 10%, below the offerred price. See what happens. You don't get it, move on to the next one.

But dont be too greedy, prices are not going to plummet. Commenting on the sales market, David Lereah, chief economist for the National Association of Realtors, said "the (housing) boom is obviously winding down." He added, "But it's important to note that it's winding down, but still to healthy levels of activity."

One Liners

HOW LOW CAN IT GO? Cushman & Wakefield calls 2005 the best year for the DC office market since 2001. The office vacancy rate hit a four-year low of 7.2%, the fifth consecutive year D.C. has outpaced other markets.

COOL DC HOODIES & TEES. Be the first to wear a t-shirt saying: "Walk Left, Stand Right," "Hill Staffers Do It On The Floor" or our fave "Hey @$$hole: Virginia Is That Way." First seen over at Rock Creek Rambler. I hate seeing all those people walking around Dupont Circle with Brooklyn tee-shirts. How 'bout a "Red Line -- Shady Grove" tee.


Morning Flash

RALLY IN THE ALLEY. The fact that there even is pro-Marion Barry rhetoric is even more unbelievable than what these supporters of the Mayor-For-Life are saying. Or maybe DC Bubble got that backwards.

A flyer announcing the Jan. 18 pro-Barry rally at 500 Indiana Ave. NW actually says: "The Fat Cats are out to get Marion Barry once more." Given this man's record of life as a public servant, nothing can be added to the previous statement to make it any more comical or sad. Just read it again and try not to weep tears of laughter.

The flyer posted throughout the city says: "When they are done with him they are coming after you and me." They?!? White-y? Gentrifiers? Meter maids? Downtown developers? Congress? Texas cowboys? All of the above?

More than a case of hard-headedness, the flyer illustrates half-hearted demagoguery and poor grammar. Read on: "Coming after your health care, your housing, your children (sic) public education, and for what? A baseball stadium!" Oh please don't tell us that its the stadium opponents who are behind this rally of the dim and illiterate. Thank god, according to Marc Fisher, the Barry-can-do-not-wrong faction is on the wane.

One Liners

LIGHT RAIL for Columbia Pike under discussion.

LEASE RENEWED. The Urban Institute renewed its lease of 128,342 SF at 2100 M St. NW.

TALK. TALK. TALK. The DC council meet yesterday afternoon on the stadium to discuss hiring an outside consultant and possibly allowing Major League Baseball to build the stadium itself.

January 12, 2006

Whats It Worth To Ya?

FRUMPY DC IS LONG GONE. When HGTV features real estate in DC, you know Washington has risen on the style-meter. Still not on par with Miami or San Francisco but definitely a notch or two above, say, Pittsburgh. This is nothing to brag about, but DC used to pride itself on its lack of fashion and style. But things have changed.

You Can See For Miles

Spending almost $900K used to mean stately Georgetown, but now it can mean hip, happening Columbia Heights/Adams Morgan where Designer Challenge helped make this luxury penthouse cozy. It certainly has all the bells and whistles: 17 ft ceilings, travertine marble and bamboo floors, remote control blinds, parking, direct elevator access blah blah.

Will it go for this much?

Now some say “There is a condo glut.” True. Others say: “For practically a million bucks you should get lots more space than one bedroom and loft.” Also true. But look at this place. It’s amazing. Real estate should and is about return on equity and price per square foot, but sometime you just gotta say WTF.

Perhaps the market has peaked and the asking price reflects the old market, but this place defies logic. Say you are an empty-nester living in Rockthesda Md and are sitting on tons of equity, why not sell and buy here? Ahhh...but at what price?

DC Bubble is not responsible for any errors, claims or assertions made in this posting.

Morning Feed

DONT QUIT YOUR DAY JOB. There are probably many reasons why work continues on the Beauregard, a new condominium in DC, well into the wee hours of the night. Some days work goes until 10 p.m. or 11 p.m. The photo at the below was taken around 6 p.m., after work began at 6 or 7 a.m.

The DC Bubble suspects that the developer, Robertson Development, sees the growing inventory and has said to himself, "Let's get this thing built before its too late."

Of course, Robertson Development is a quality builder that wishes to deliver a product on time and meet expectations of his demanding Washington buyers.

Nonetheless, changing market conditions probably give Robertson comfort that his building is rising quickly.

If you want proof the housing market is slowing and some smart people fear they will get whipsawed, drive by 11th and V Sts NW late at night. You will see for yourself how its a race against time and a decling market in DC.

One Liners

"A DECENT COMPROMISE." That's what DC Council Chair Linda Cropp says about her stadium lease proposal. The key provision, which she says would win council support for the stadium, would cap construction costs at $535M.

Its sounds so innocuous. Cap construction costs. This would be great if Major League Baseball would go for it. Aren't the baseball owners being rightfully demonized for being sharks? Why would MLB go for this, Linda? Compromise is when both sides give not when one side says: "Im being nice so take my position."

Linda: what happens if the arbitors impose financial penalties on DC for failing to approve the lease? Whether you favor the stadium or not? What then?

SCHOOL-YARD BRAWL I. Part of the school restructuring plan expected later this months calls for grouping schools for families to choose from within loose neighborhood boundaries rather than using the current rigid school boundaries, according to DC School Board members who have been briefed on the most recent draft of the plan.

Such a change surely will draw the ire of parents and homeowners in NW DC who enjoy higher property values than those in other parts of the city, partially because of their neighborhood schools.

Suddenly if parents whose children currently are in bounds for, say, Oyster in Woodley Park have to compete with children from Adams Morgan or Columbia Heights to get into school, they will be very unhappy. Much of how one ultimately feels about this depends on which side of the fence or boundry line you sit one.

SCHOOL YARD BRAWL II. Resident around Lincoln Park are fighting the location of a school in their neighborhood. Do charter shools have the same right as do public school do to locate in a residental neighborhood as a matter of right? At first blush allowing the AppleTree institute to locate to 138 12th St. NE seems like a good idea. Why not? Parking and noise, say these good people. Can't we all just get along?

January 11, 2006

Afternoon Flash

AT LEAST ITS OVER. But in DC nothing is over until its over. As reported in the Washington Times the police will begin ticketing double parked cars around Logan Circle churches as early as this weekend.

The arguments against and annoyances of allowing the double parking are obvious and have been well articulated by home and condo owners in the neighborhood. DC Bubble only wishes that some effort were made to accommodate this long-standing practice. People complain about homogenization, but then when something is unique they complain about that too.

The churches affected by the new policy include: Vermont Avenue Baptist Church at 1630 Vermont Ave. NW, Metropolitan Baptist Church at 1225 R St. NW, Lincoln Congregational Temple United Church of Christ at 1701 11th St. NW and Tenth Street Baptist Church at 1000 R St. NW.

Oh well there goes the neighborhood.

Morning Feed

DRIP. DRIP. DRIP. Its very quiet on the baseball stadium front. This could be a sign that real negotiations are taking place, as Mayor Williams suggests. Or that nothing is happening as Councilman Jack "The Great-White Hope" Evans suggests.

How long can this impasse last? Perhaps 162 games. Major League Baseball is not going to pull the Nats franchise from DC during the season because they know fans would not support the team. The DC Council has dug in its heals. DC Bubble has a feeling we are only experiencing the first intermission of a very, very long opera.

Is Virginia going to try to steal the team away? Maybe there will be a regional solution where DC, NOVA and Md. work together to put together a deal because in the end all will benefit. Ha. Ha. Ha.

One Liners

THE BITCH SET HIM UP AGAIN. Mayor-For-Life Marion Barry tests positive for cocaine use. Question of The Day: Will jail-time increase or decrease Barry's chances of getting re-elected to the DC Council? Before you say increase remember there are signs the new kids on the block dont respect the old guy.

WHAT DO ANC COMMISSIONERS DO IN THEIR SPARE TIME? Advisory Neighborhood Commissioner David Sobelsohn argued in court that the landlord of his apartment at Capitol Park Plaza at 201 I St. SW effectively evicted him when it took over his patio. Whoa!! Dont mess with this guy.

January 10, 2006

Afternoon Flash

NO PLANS, LETS GET STARTED. Work has begun on the beautiful Old Naval Hospital at 921 Pennsylvania Avenue, SE. "From the perspective of the Friends of the Old Naval Hospital, the ongoing work is both a stopgap and the beginning of a full restoration," said Karl K. Kindel.

At present, only about $400K has been alloted to the job of restoring structural integrity to the building. Considering what will be needed to be done, $400K is "drop in the bucket," Kindel said. Interestingly enough when the hospital was built back in the mid-19th century the land and construction costs only amounted to about $120K

Though DC is contemplating dropping, $6M on the grand and historic structure, no one at this point really knows what the structure's ultimate purpose will be. Ideas to transform the building into the national headquarters for the Art of Living Foundation, which is an eastern spiritual group, or into a children-oriented community center, were rejected by DC.

So work has begun without a plan for how the building will be used. Can anything be accomplished in this town without doing it ass backwards? Given the structure's proximity to the Capitol, maybe the building should be turned into a minimum security prison for "government affairs professionals" like Jack Abramoff.

One Liners

THE OTHER HOSPITAL: Marc Fisher reports that many doctors say a medical facility in Southeast devoted to emergency care is what's really needed, not an entirely new hospital in a city full of hospitals.

REDSKINS-SEAHAWKS WAGER. Its Seattle Mayor Greg Nickels and his salmon steaks vs. Mayor Williams and his chili dog from Ben's. If we were Nickels, we'd make Williams buy salmon from Whole Foods at 14th & P before the chili from Ben's.

Morning Feed

FORGET RESTAURANT WEEK. Next month is theater month.

"See world-class Shakespeare. Marvelous Molière. Exciting new productions of American classics. Or new plays that challenge and incite," promise the sponsors of this event. The Arena Stage, the Folger, Ford's, Gala Hispanic, the National, the Roundhouse, Shakespeare, Signature, Studio, Woolly Mammoth.

Apparently there are hotel packages for the out-of-towners who thought DC was the place to see theater and not NYC. Acutally this is a good thing in light of anticipated glut in theater construction.

One Liners

BOON TO HOWARD, bust to DC taxpayers. Howard University could come out smelling like long-stem $100 bills if DC and HU build a hospital in SE. Maybe the hosptial should be built in Chevy Chase because it took an ambulence 22 minutes to reach the deceased David Rosenbaum of the New York Times.

CARVEL IS COMING to Columbia Heights. Banner went up next to the Wachovia Bank at 3325 14th St. NW, near the Giant Supermarket. Can anybody say CookiePuss? Does anyone remember CookiePuss?

January 9, 2006

Afternoon Flash

SEND IN THE COPS AND CRIME GOES DOWN: Duh! Robbery and assault in Adams Morgan jumped last fall by as much as 46 percent, but fell after street patrols were increased throughout the evening and late at night, says the Washington Times.

When you go to other cities, NY, Philly etc, you see police on the street, but rarely do you see them here. When you do see the MPD, they are nearly always in a squad car. DC Bubble hates cliches, but "I only ever see them actually walking is when they are going to the 7-11 down the street."

Another factor at play in Adams Morgan and elsewhere is the interplay between gentrification and crime. On one hand, gentrifying areas drive out poor people who are involved in street crime. At the same time, when criminals are released from jail they return to thier old, now richer, neighborhoods and find victums with cash. Crime really is an embedded cultural phenomenon, not just something that happens because an elderly New York Times-allum is coming your way.

One Liner

MORE DOUGH FOR SCHOOLS: With a growing tax base, DC expects to take in as much as $200M more each year, and DC Councilman Jack Evans suggests some of the funds should be used to modernize the city's decrepit schools. Would this number be even higher if the DC Council approved the stadium, which would spur and hasten economic development in Southeast? The Post has this to say.


Morning Flash

CONDO TSUNAMI: About 51,400 condos were being planned or marketed in DC, VA, MD for delivery within the next three years, Delta Associates found. This wave of units is up from 39,000 three months earlier.

Much of the growth is coming in suburban MD, where several projects are underway in PG County. About 17,400 units will be built in Maryland or converted from rentals into condominiums, by Delta's count.

The pace of new condominium development is slowing somewhat in NOVA, although it makes up the biggest share of the region's condo market, with about 24,000 units being readied for sale within the next three years.

About 9,900 units are being built or marketed in DC.

In 2005, 13,698 new condo units were sold in the area, up from 9,108 in 2004, Delta said. Sales were particularly brisk in the fourth quarter of 2005, when 3,541 new condos were sold, up from 2,394 in the comparable quarter in 2004.

One Liners

DONT LET THIS HAPPEN TO YOU. Suburbanites regret move to suburbs, even in fancy shmancy Bethesda.

A BRIEF HISTORY of allies in D.C.

BUZZ. BUZZ. BUZZ. Walnut Street Development narrowed its selection to two firms to help plan the development of a now vacant half-acre lot it owns at Buzzard's Point in Southwest Washington close to the proposed baseball stadium site.

January 8, 2006

As Far As We Can See

DOUBLE PARKING FOR JESUS: Double-parked cars along Vermont Ave. between R & S streets toady June 8. The neighborhood has been up in arms about the danger, inconvenience and lack of a level enforcement playing-field in the application of parking laws. Meanwhile the parishioners say where were you complaining two decades ago when we first resorted to creative parking. The ANC chairman asks for tolerance, and the DC Bubble says there must be some middle ground.

Up On The Curb
Triple Parked Cars
Notice The Green Light