Archive for the ‘Columbia Heights’ Category

Does Ross & Marshall’s @ DC USA = Low-Rent Columbia Heights?

DC USA
DC USA Construction

Over on the Columbia Heights listserv there is a flame-tastic email exchange going on over the revelation that the DC USA retail center might be leasing space to Ross Dress for Less now that Whole Foods has pulled out.

That somehow the addition of Ross to a retail mix that includes Target and Marshall’s, both discount retail chains, will bring down the mall and the neighbourhood.

Or in RJ Mauch’s words:

I think most people would prefer NOT to see Ross and Marshals. We need that like we need another damn CVS in this city. Enough unless you’re interested in experiencing a Silver Spring City Place disaster, because that is where this headed with all this dumping of low-end retail junk.

The fine citizen of Columbia Heights want DC USA, the multi-million dollar retail extravaganza in the center of their community to be uplifting and diverse as it was in the past. Or as Adam Aaronson says:

The issue is that we are getting retail that isn’t best suited for the neighborhood, and that much of it is redundant – all the banks, all the drycleaners, etc etc. Marshalls and Ross are the same store. I’m sure if Safeway or Harris Teeter opened up across the street from the Giant, the uproar would be the same.

But would it? Could this really be an issue of class? Of the socio-economic desires of a “transitional” neighbourhood to have a Logan Circle effect with DC USA? A transformation of image (and residents) from working class to high class through retail establishments? I think I have to agree with batboy8686’s conclusion:

The debate about Ross Dress for Less in Columbia Heights REALLY comes down to peeps thinking they could make 10% annually on a real estate investment.

You have a Starbucks. You have some condos that have presumably sold. The anti-Ross campaign really comes down to people thinking they were going to move to Logan Circle – no more, no “less”.

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U-Haul Washington DC Website Referral Rip Off

uhaul dc 20009

Are you moving? Do you want to use U-Haul, “your moving and storage resource” for a DC zip code change? Before you type in http://www.uhaul.com to make a moving truck reservation, go local.

Go Google Maps for UHaul.

Why? Because if you go to the main UHaul site, they will charge you a $5 service fee to tell the local U-Haul to call you back. Essentially $5 for the U-Haul website to give you a local telephone number.

I just realized this after I called the 1-800 number listed on the U-Hall website and tried to make a reservation for a moving van. They couldn’t guarantee me a reservation for my in-town move, saying they would have to call me back.

As I am in Egypt this week, gazing at pyramids on Giza Plateau, I asked for their number instead.

A $5 “nonrefundable reservation fee” later, they gave me the phone number of the U-Haul on U Street. Nice. Next time, if there is ever a next time with my half-million dollar mortgage, I’ll save the $5 and call the local U-Haul Company directly.

Before then, you can save $5 and have a better customer service experience. Just call your local U-Haul dealership directly and skip the scam website.

Spanish Catholics Getting Crazy on Good Friday

This is the Shrine of the Sacred Heart Catholic Church tonight in Mt Pleasant: a Good Friday procession right out of the Old Country.

Good Friday in DC

Be it anywhere in South America or South Italy, the procession was the same. There was a walking cross, a Jesus Christ laid to rest, the Virgin Mary, and even Roman soldiers all prepared for Easter Sunday..

Best of all, music right from the Godfather blaring loud and ominous over the crowd as it slowly staggered across 16th Street and down Mt. Pleasant Avenue.

Now that I am almost a homeowner in Petworth with my half-million dollar mortgage, I am going to miss these moments of Catholic culture in Columbia Heights.

Yes, traffic will flow faster on Easter, but the sounds of Latin mass (in Spanish, Vietnamese, French, and Haitian Creole) will be less.

Where is the DC USA “Topping Out” Party?

This is the view from my window this cold afternoon: the crane that built the DC USA infrastructure is slowing being dismantled by another crane.

That means the DC USA building, the future home of Target, Best Buy and a whole slew of other chain stores, is now structurally complete. Next, an army of carpenters, masons, electricians, plumbers, tradesmen of all types will infiltrate the structure, bringing comfort, detail, life to the growing retail epicenter just blocks from my apartment.

But before you think I rejoice at such a sight, do know that I see this as the suburbanization of my urban neighbourhood. A “Chinatown”-ing of Columbia Heights. An end of Pfeiffer’s Hardwares and Heller’s Bakeries.

So as I watch the crane come down, I am thinking its time to pull up stakes. Its time to mortage my future somewhere else.

But before I go, I wanna party with the construction crew. The “Topping Out” party to be exact. The party always held when the roof is complete on a new building, commercial or retail. Yeah, I may be the only non-Spanish speaking Latino, but that’s diversity, and its time to embrace my fellow man.

Even if he is driving me out of the neighbourhood with every nail, bolt, and screw.

Expanded Yellow Line coming soon

With less than four weeks to go before the Yellow Line is extended from Mt. Vernon Sq. to Fort Totten WMATA has started adding new maps and signs, 5,000 of them, to the system. The new service begins December 31:

The Metro Board in April agreed to extend the Yellow Line from Mt. Vernon Sq/7th Street-Convention Center to the Fort Totten Metrorail station during off-peak hours (weekdays, 9:30 a.m. to 3 p.m., 7 p.m. to closing, and weekends) as part of the 18-month pilot. The District of Columbia will cover the $5.75 million cost of expanding service.

By extending the Yellow Line to Fort Totten, passengers traveling beyond the Mt. Vernon Sq/7th Street-Convention Center Metrorail station to the Shaw-Howard U, U St/African-Amer Civil War Memorial/Cardozo, Columbia Heights and Georgia Ave-Petworth Metrorail stations will have additional off-peak rail service. Weekday off-peak service between these locations, which is every 12 minutes, will operate every six minutes. On week nights after 7 p.m., and on the weekends when trains run every 15 to 20 minutes, trains will operate every 7 ½ to 10 minutes.

In other words, in the early afternoons, late evenings, and weekends, Ben’s Chili Bowl is being served by twice as many trains. Perhaps the Yellow Line will start getting a little more respect now.

Hot Pads

Perhaps if Wayan’s couch guest is still looking for a place to stay, he should take a gander at HotPads.com. HotPads appears to be a mash-up between google maps and wikipedia, offering a user-friendly at-a-glance look at available housing options inside the beltway.

Users can customize their search requirements by zip code, city, county or state, using a variety of variables. A quick Georgetown search turned up not a whole lot, whereas a quick search of my home zip code turned up two rental possibilities.

Looking for a roommate? You apparently can use that feature too, although it turned up zilch for me. This appears to be a great tool for relocation professionals who know naught about the new city they’ll call home. Doing a quick search of cities such as Seattle and Boston turned up a whole lot of useful information.

These three Notre Dame former college roommates moved to the D.C. area and created HotPads in early ’05, relaunching the site last month. The best thing about HotPads? It’s totally free.

Between HotPads and The D.C. Crime Map newcomers to D.C. can learn much more about prospective neighbours before they even put down a deposit. Say ‘sayonara’ to moving in sight unseen, suckers.

Bicycle Into DC Transportation Study!



Make room for us!

Do you ride a bicycle? Do you live in Columbia Heights or Mt Pleasant? Then you are not alone.

The Washington Area Bicyclist Association thinks your neighborhood has the highest bicycle usage rates in the city, yet completely lacks accommodations for bicyclists, both in terms of on road facilities and bicycle parking.

While the Columbia Heights/Mt Pleasant Transportation Study recommends striping bike lanes on Mt Pleasant Street from Park to Columbia, Columbia Road from 18th to Georgia, Harvard Street from 16th to Georgia, and extending the 14th Street bike lanes south to Park Road, WABA wants more.

WABA recommends extending the 14th Street bike lanes further south to U Street where they will connect to existing lanes south to Thomas Circle, add bike lanes on 11th Street from Park to Florida, on Kenyon and Irving Street from 11th Street east to the Hospital Center, and add bike parking to the streetscape.

Think WABA is right on, or crazy nuts? Then let your voice be heard!

Columbia Heights /Mt. Pleasant Transportation Study Meeting
Wednesday, Oct 25th, 6:30 to 8:30pm
Kelsey Temple Church of God in Christ
1435 Park Road, NW

Columbia Heights Cranes

On one leg you perch, day in, day out.

Swivel on your body, stretch out your neck, drop your head, you pick and place.

In constant motion or constant stillness, you are there, ever present.

Columbia Heights did not see you for decades, and yet now your swarm. Or flock.

Welcome to this hilltop perch. Enjoy your stay. Leave soon.

You are beautiful but portend horrors we only now start to see.

Three to Please

Hello my little lost friends. Where are you headed today? You know you can’t pass that yellow line – your wheels will lock.

Who left you out here, all alone and wanting? Might you need a push back inside?

Or are you happy here, in the fall’s morning light? Taking in a cool breeze, a morning’s sight.

Either way, I will let you be. I need to shop, I need to buy, comsume, fill your brethren with my goods and sundries.

Enjoy your respite. The weather sure is nice.

Surveillance Camera Gentrification

Did you read the Washington City Paper lead article two weeks ago on the DC Police Surveillance Cameras?

Blockbustin’ Video! told of how the camera at 14th and Gerard Street was next to a new condo project. What it didn’t capture was how close to the new project it was.

The south side of Gerard is a brand new condo. The north side, where the camera is, looks like government housing. Might the camera be there to keep the two groups separate? Or just to improve the “security” of the condo and keep its price high?

Go by and check it out yourself.

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