Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Update on Florida Ave Market Development

Here is a Washington Business Journal article discussing a new twist in the development plans for the Florida Avenue Market.

I've actually never been to the market although we've been meaning to. We do know it's closed on Sunday and by late afternoon, which are the times we've tried to check the market out.

Change coming soon? From Sursum Corda to Northwest One

So two D.C. developers have been chosen to develop the Sursum Corda area. As the Washington Post describes the project: "The $700 million project is part of an ambitious strategy to attract mid- and upper-income families to help revitalize a struggling and once crime-ridden neighborhood, without displacing residents."

It's always comforting to see areas around your neighborhood being developed but this is an area that I would really like to see changes happen soon. During the summer, I taught at the Georgetown Law gym and would bike down 1st Street, NW to get home. Although the Union Station area is probably only a 20-30 minute walk from Eckington, I chose not to walk through the neighborhood because I just felt so uneasy in the area, even when I was careening through on my bike.

It was only after being in Eckington a couple of months that I read more about the Sursum Corda Cooperative and its crime-ridden history, which confirmed the anxieties I had when I was in the area. Hubby and I often drive by on the way home and I sometimes ask "What is going on over there?" or "What is that guy passing to that other person?" And hubby some times replies, "It's probably not a good idea to stare."

The fastest way to walk or bike from point A to B is usually just a straight shot but right now, to get to Chinatown, I take a longer route through Shaw. I can't wait not to have to plan my walking or biking routes to avoid an entire neighborhood.

Monday, December 17, 2007

Old Hecht's Warehouse to be Developed

The old Hecht's distribution center at 1401 New York Avenue, NE, is slated to become a new retail hub. Philadelphia developer, Patriot Equities, has plans to turn property into a shopping center anchored by retailers such as Target, Wal-Mart and Costco. The building, which is listed on the National Register of Historic Places, will retain its original facade.

Also in the article are comments from District developer Jim Abdo who already has a $1.1 billion plan to build Arbor Place, a residential mixed-use planned unit development in the same area.

This is definitely a positive development for our quadrant. However, if any sort of retail (or residential use) is to take off in that area, the developers will have to make the area more accessible as it is not near a metro. Perhaps the developers can lobby for new or more frequent bus lines or provide shuttles to the metro? I believe Abdo already plans to provide shuttles to the Rhode Island Metro station.

I must admit though, because of Wal-Mart's appalling labor record (Target doesn't have a great record either), I wouldn't support any Wal-Mart moving into DC. I'd love a Costco though!

Photo by colros.

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

NoMa Launches New Website

Check out the redesign of the NoMa BID website launched today.

Saturday, November 24, 2007

Best of Washington

Check out the December 2007 issue of the Washingtonian. Our next door neighborhood, Bloomingdale, gets two mentions in the Best of Washington feature article.

The Bloomingdale Farmer's Market is noted as a favorite local farmers market for community spirit:

Community spirit: A trio of markets (14th and U; Mount Pleasant at 17th and Lamont sts., NW; and Bloomingdale at First and R sts., NW), all run by Robin Shuster. She saw a need for locally grown produce in these expanding DC neighborhoods and brought together a group of farmers selling free-range eggs, lamb, apples, potted herbs, and seasonal produce.

And the Big Bear Cafe is included in "Wi-fi Hot Spots":

Big Bear Cafe: A market and liquor store in DC's Bloomingdale neighborhood has been transformed into a welcoming neighborhood coffee shop where neighbors enjoy the Counter Culture Coffee and free Internet service. Friendly baristas and good coffee and sandwiches make the cafe a laid-back spot to check e-mail or get some work done.

Monday, November 19, 2007

DC Tax Holiday

Don't forget! Shopping in DC is tax free starting Friday, November 23, until Sunday, December 2. And with those tax savings, you can go check out the Bloomingdale Holiday Art Market at the Big Bear Cafe on 1st and R Street, NW, on Saturday, December 1, 3-9p.m. The holiday market will feature DC artists, designers, and craftspeople.

Friday, November 16, 2007

Justice Department and NPR Considering NoMa

We knew back in September that the Justice Department was looking to consolidate its criminal division under one roof. That means finding a single building that can offer at least 521,000 square feet of office space for about 1,200 employees.

The NoMa sites being considered are 1100 1st Street, NE, 90 K Street, NE, and Constitution Square at 100 M Street, NE. Other sites being considered are Southwest (300 block of E Street and 400 7th Street, SW), 425 I Street NW, a site at the corner of H Street and New Jersey Avenue, NW, and Mount Vernon Place.

Apparently, the GSA was supposed to announce in late October who would be awarded the consolidation lease but so far, no news.

Also, posted on the Eckington listserv was a Washington Business Journal article from today saying that NPR is relocating and is considering NoMa. It is looking for 400,000 square feet to consolidate its operations and accomodate a high-tech digital studio. NoMa sites being considered include the Washington Gateway project at New York and Florida Avenues, NE, 1100 1st Street, NE, and Constitution Square at 100 M St. NE. NPR is also considering sites near the Nationals' new stadium and downtown Silver Spring.

Note that both are interested in 1100 1st Street, NE, and Constitution Square. I believe only the Constitution Square project has the planned office space to accomodate both so the Justice Department's selection would probably influence NPR's choices as well.

I'm being very optimistic here but I am already thinking that the trio of government agencies, ATF, EEOC, and DOJ, and the two radio stations, NPR and XM, would be very cool for the neighborhood.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

DC Circulator to Expand

Two more routes will be added to the D.C. Circulator bus system and are expected to be up and running by the end of 2008. One route will run between the Convention Center and Adams Morgan, and the other will be between Union Station and the new Washington Nationals ballpark on the Southeast waterfront.

For a minute, I wondered why this story was on the Latest News section of the Noma BID website since none of the new routes would go through the New York Ave Metro. But of course, since my life revolves around Eckington, I tend to forget that the Union Station Metro anchors the southern edge of NoMa.

The Convention Center-Adams Morgan route is supposed to replace the Adams Morgan-U Street link, which is more familiar to people as the chronically late or absent 98 Metrobus. I lived in Adams Morgan for 6 years but only rode the 98 bus a handful of times. I never saw the point. It only takes 10 minutes at most to walk from the Woodley Park Metro to 18th & Columbia and about 20 minutes to walk from Adams Morgan to the U Street area. If the bus didn't come within 5 minutes, I started walking.

Since the current 98 bus route only goes as far as 9th and U, it will have to be extended to reach the Convention Center and intersect with the Convention Center-SW Waterfront route. All three routes do intersect at some point so you can transfer to another route.

I'm not sure how they decide these routes. From what the article says, other parts of the district have requested Circulator routes. I'm assuming connecting the Adams Morgan and U Street areas to the Convention Center would allow conference folks to easily access DC's nightlife and restaurants.

But for me, it would make more sense for the this new route to go through Adams Morgan and the U Street area, down to the Shaw metro and then maybe down Florida Ave, brushing close by Eckington pass the New York Ave metro and stopping at Union Station to connect with the planned H Street Trolley. If this trolley doesn't pan out by 2008, which it doesn't look like it's going to, perhaps the Circulator could also go down H Street.

Regardless, it would be nice to see the Circulator connect other parts of the city. I'd like to see it show some love to the NE quadrant, maybe connect unappreciated sights such the Basilica and the National Arboretum to both DC residents and tourists.

Photo by tom.arthur

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Natural Brick v. Paint

It was nice to see all the comments on IMGoph's blog regarding the photos of one of his favorite houses. I'm still of the mindset that there does not need to be just one way to go and that paint and natural brick are equally aesthetically pleasing and can co-exist in one neighborhood. But regardless of the differences in preferences, it's good to know people do care. The comments actually reminded me of the discussion/dialogue going on in the Eckington listserv about making Eckington a historic district. I don't feel strongly for or against it yet but that may change in time.

In the meantime, I thought I'd also post pictures of my favorite houses.

Here is a painted one...

The ribbon detail near the top is a pretty common feature in the neighborhood. The built-in china cabinet at our place has this feature too and I would love to find the right colors to paint and outline the details.

...and here are some that appear to be natural brick...

...and here is a garden statue that I just thought was cute.

Sunday, November 4, 2007

Sweat the Fat - Take a Samba Class

I love this commercial and wish I could see it air in the U.S. The song used is Suda El Jamon or Sweat the Fat and the chorus basically says, "sweat the fat, sweat the fat, so you'll be so hot." My other favorite line translates to "sweating is a sexy and juicy thing." The best translation I could find was on this blog, Luluby.

My favorite form of exercise is dancing. I already teach Zumba (latin dance aerobics) at local gyms but when I'm not teaching, I like to try dance classes around D.C. Last weekend, I checked out MamaSita Cultural Center in Takoma Park. I've been meaning to try them out for a while but Takoma Park was a bit hard to get to from Adams Morgan. Now, it's only 4 metro stops away on the redline.

The MamaSita Cultural Center calls itself a place for dance, movement, and holistic healing and it is also the home of the Bellydancers of Color Association (BOCA). It is less than two blocks from the Takoma Park metro stop but there are no signs identifying the place so make sure you have the exact address.

I took the 11:30 a.m. Spicy Samba! class with Brazilian native, Zezeh. The class started about 10-15 minutes late because the earlier class was running late. But I thought I was taking a one-hour class and the class went on for more than two hours! It was still going on when I left close to 2 p.m. That made up for the late start.

The first thing you'll notice is that everyone in the class is super friendly. Most know each other already but if you don't look familiar, Zezeh and everyone else will come up to you to introduce themselves. And there are men in the class! It's pretty rare to find a non-partner dance class where men will attend. I also don't normally expect to get a workout at dance classes because there is usually a lot of standing around listening to instruction but Zezeh's class did a really good job of being a cardio workout as well. Her warm-up alone moved every part of my body and got me breathing hard.

Most of the students seemed to know how to samba already but there were a couple who were complete newbies. I liked how Zezeh was able to break down the moves and use fun practice drills in a way that got the newbies learning the steps but still not bore those who already knew how to samba. I know I still struggle with making my own classes both simple enough for newbies and challenging for the hard-core folks. It's a great skill to have and Zezeh certainly has it.

Most classes that are advertised for all levels end up being too hard for beginners and too boring for advanced students. This one is the rare drop-in class that you can recommend for dancers of all levels. My calves were pretty sore for the next couple of days but it was a very fun class with a warm atmosphere. I know I will definitely go again.

MamaSita Cultural Center
6906 4th Street, NW
Washington, DC 20010
202-545-8888 - ph

*$12/class - drop in (multiple class cards also available)
*other classes offered include bellydance, yoga, salsa rueda, and hand dance
*classes also held at locations on U Street and Forestville, MD

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Street Harassment

I like to read Golden Silence's blog, Don't Be Silent --- Speak Out Against Street Harassment. Most females living in D.C. (and in many other cities) have experienced this but most, including me, tend to just deal with it as a fact of life. But it really shouldn't be that way and I appreciate that her blog at least keeps the issue in discussion.

Since moving to the neighborhood from the Adams Morgan/Mt. Pleasant area, I must say I have experienced significantly less harassment. Eckington is a more residential neighborhood than Adams Morgan or Mt. Pleasant and the streets I do go through on a daily basis just do not have the same amount of business and pedestrian traffic conducive to street harassment.

So far, the only incident I can remember was when I was on my bike at the corner of 1st street and florida avenue, nw, waiting for the light to turn green. A bike rider pulled beside me, then asked for my number. I said no but he persisted on starting a conversation. I said I wasn't interested, the light turned green and I biked away. Then, he followed me on his bike yelling for me to wait up. I yelled back to leave me alone and biked as fast as I could, looking over my shoulder to make sure he wasn't following me home. But that's about it as far as incidents worth mentioning...and probably because being chased by bike was kinda scary.

Anyways, earlier today I left the following comment on one of her posts with my thoughts on the issue:

I read this post some time ago but I’m only getting around to commenting.

I like your blog and I peruse it because often times, I read something and say oh, that happened to me too. I have since moved, but on a daily basis, I walked Columbia Rd and occasionally Mt. Pleasant Rd and not a day went by that I didn’t encounter some form of street harassment. I was actually flashed in broad daylight when I walked down the alley besides the Safeway. Contrary to how you’re feeling, I think those who are harassed a lot, are harassed because they send out a strong and confident demeanor which is attractive to most people. And I think the comments and contributions you get from readers should show you that you shouldn’t feel singled out.

Street harassment has never bothered me to the point that it made me feel bad about myself or depressed. At the end of the day, there is just no room for me to give the street harassment I encounter on a daily basis much thought. It’s always just been an annoyance. I’ve managed to do my daily walks being deaf to anything I perceive as harassment. I look past harassing people as if they don’t exist, I ignore car horns, whistles, leers, etc. and like you, I’ll only respond to polite greetings or compliments. I think I’ve gotten so good at it, it is the people I’m with that will notice and say they feel offended for me.

People who harass want attention and I refuse to give them that. The only days that street harassment affects my mood or get a reaction for me is when I’m having a bad or tough day in general, when it’s a particularly disturbing or disgusting incident, i.e., being flashed, or if it’s racially derogatory. I admire that you post your experiences up and that you respond to your harassers, it’s gutsy and it takes a lot of strength to put your daily experiences in writing. I know I wouldn’t be able to do it. But I think to let street harassment make you feel the way are feeling or bother you to the point of ruining your day is an extension of that harassment.

Friday, October 26, 2007

Axum Restaurant

I discovered Ethiopian food in D.C. and now I love Ethiopian food so much, I usually have it at least once a week. Definitely love D.C. for having a lot of Ethiopian restaurants. Fasika's in Adams Morgan was our favorite until it burned down and was rebuilt into something completely different. After that, most Ethiopian restaurants (i.e., Meskerem, Dukem, etc.) were good enough to satisfy my cravings for Ethiopian food but nothing to rave about.

My current favorite is Axum Restaurant on 9th Street which is only about a 15-20-minute walk from the neighborhood. Decor and ambience are just ok, nothing fancy. Every time I've gone, I'm usually the only non-Ethiopian. Service is spotty, water glasses don't get filled regularly and the food takes a while to come out. But they are friendly. Someone always comes by to ask how the food is or apologizes for not coming by with water. Yesterday, someone came by and chatted with me for a bit.

There is an Ethiopian restaurant near my office where I have lunch regularly. They are super fast and usually serve my order in about 5 minutes. But the food is just OK. I go there because it's convenient, close, quick, and since I'm a regular, they usually add something extra to my order. At Axum, I like to think the food takes a while to come out because they need the extra time to make it tastier...

Just a disclaimer, I am pescatarian so can't vouch for the meat or seafood dishes as I always get a veggie combo. Also, my vocab for describing food is pretty limited. I think because I have Ethiopian a lot, I find the flavors of the different dishes in a veggie combo have started to blend into each other and even taste bland. With Axum, each veggie dish tastes distinctly different with much more flavor and seasoning then other combos I've had.

I'm going to try to work my way down all the Ethiopian restaurants in the U Street area as well as other restaurants nearby. I'd like to see other people's recommendations too. But for now, Axum is definitely worth a visit.

Axum Restaurant
1936 9th Street, NW
Washington, D.C. 20001

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Neighborhood kids...

Ok....two months since my last post. Not actually a good start and I was actually going to disable the blog but saw the comments. Anyways, I will just have to try harder to post regularly.

Last night, I walked back home in the dark for the first time in the neighborhood. It wasn’t completely dark all the way when I left my office but it was by the time I got home. It was pretty uneventful, still saw the same people and the sidewalks were as busy (or empty) as they usually are during daylight. As I passed by Big Bear CafĂ©, I walk by a group of men who always seem to be there when I walk home. They greet me with their usual, “how are you doing?” and “how was your day?” Maybe one day, I’ll stop and chat, usually I’m just in a hurry to get home.

Nearing my apartment, a bunch of kids hanging out on a porch across the street yelled out to me, “hey shortie!” I ignore them and just keep walking. As a rule, I only respond to polite greetings. Soon after, one of them yells something like, “it’s not like we’re going to steal from you or rape you!” Just great. Did not need to hear that. A teenager walking in front of me hears all of this and when I pass him, he says, “how are you doing?” and I say “fine, thank you.”

I did not feel unsafe at all throughout all of this. For the most part, I was disappointed that the teenagers thought I was ignoring them because I feared them and not because I thought they were rude. That said, most teenagers I have run into in the neighborhood (including the one last night) are very polite and either greet me nicely or smile.

Anyways, last night reminded me that I need to figure out how to do volunteer work at Emery Elementary or McKinley Tech High. Hubby and I are going to be in the neighborhood for a while and I should get familiar with the school system and the children in it as we are definitely planning to have a kid at some point.

Thursday, August 16, 2007

Hello Eckington!

So hubby and I just moved into Eckington several weeks ago. We are first-time homeowners and so far, we are loving our new pad and still getting used to our new neighborhood. We have both lived in D.C. for a while in neighborhoods such as AU Park and Glover Park and most recently, Adams Morgan. I think there are certain things we miss from living in Adams Morgan but it's also somewhat surprising how little we do miss.

As someone who walks or bikes almost everywhere, whether night or day, rain or shine, snow or humidity or freezing or boiling temperatures, summer is definitely a good time to move into a new neighborhood. With the long days, walking or biking around Eckington has been quite pleasant and gives me the opportunity to appreciate the lovely rowhouses and see new faces as well as get used to the unsightly aspects of the neighborhood. Of course, it will take more than several weeks to familiarize myself with the neighborhood but so far, so good.

Before we moved, I tried to find blogs about the neighborhood to get a better picture of our new surroundings. The ones I did find were quite helpful and so assuming I'm diligent about posting, I hope this blog would also be somewhat interesting and informative to Eckington residents, potential residents or visitors. And as the blog description states, I also hope to share with everyone else why I love D.C. so much.