Neighborhood Watch: Bar Icing Neighbors?
The Issue: A new tavern is set to move into Ward 1–and just in time, as there's nothing better than ice and boozing after a 9:30 Club show in this sweltering heat. The American Ice Company has taken over the 2,375 square foot lot once occupied by Madden Roofing, at 917 V Street NW. The owners intend give the existing warehouse, complete with a rolled-up garage door, slight renovations before opening in late summer or early fall. The tavern will be a “small neighborhood gathering place with entertainment to include dancing, DJ’s and occasional 3-piece combo band,” says the Alcoholic Beverage Regulation Administration’s notice of a public hearing.
The bar will have a maximum occupancy of 143 with 44 seats outdoors in the summer garden, and live entertainment until close. Indoor and outdoor operating hours will be: Sundays from 11 a.m. to 2 a.m., Mondays through Thursdays from 4 p.m. to 2 a.m., Fridays from 4 p.m. to 3 a.m. and Saturdays from 11 a.m. to 3 a.m.–with alcohol served during all hours of operation. Some residents at Rhapsody Condominiums though, located behind the tavern at 2120 Vermont Avenue aren’t buying the “small gathering place” sell. Between the music streaming out of the garage door to the drunks on the patio, they’ll never sleep again, they argue.
It’s Just a Peaceful Patio: When the American Ice Company met with about 30 community members in early June, there seemed to be overall support, Advisory Neighborhood Commission commissioner Peter Raia said at last Thursday’s ANC 1B meeting. Joe Rivas, a LeDroit Park resident and tavern representative, says they’re going to add a perimeter wall around the front patio to keep the noise in. “We don’t have any plans for live music, any DJs or the like,” he said. They plan to work with the company that installs all the sound for Marvin and other taverns with similar complaints from neighbors. In the summer, the garage door will remain open, but when temperatures fall, the door will close, he says. “If there’s umbrellas and people want to stay outside, they’re more than welcome,” but he adds, “we’re not going to try to keep it open. I mean—it’s a patio.” Also, a bar beats an empty lot. “Vacant buildings can be a serious ‘neighborhood health’ issue. Sure, a bar may not be the ideal substitute for all audiences, but Duffy’s is just around the corner,” writes commenter Mitchell over at Prince of Petworth.
Loud Drunks All Night: At last week's meeting, one resident of Rhapsody Condominiums (who didn't want to give her name) argued that most of the people who came to the early June meeting weren’t directly affected. Since the condominium is U-shaped, there are around 30 residents whose units directly oversee the bar, she said. The tavern’s plan to build a brick wall around the patio will only cause the noise to rise up—making it worse for residents. “When there’s two people in the alley, you can hear the whole conversation, I might as well talk back to them," she said. "So 44 drunk people, 20 feet from my bedroom…I think it’s a much bigger issue than we’re making it.” She already has two white noise machines to muffle out sounds from the alley.
If it weren’t for the outdoor space, another resident says she wouldn’t be as concerned. “I used to live in Langston Lofts, and…the noise from Marvin on the roof deck was a lot to deal with. It still makes me worry I’m going to be in my house at 11 o’clock during the week…and I’m hearing ‘boom boom’…and the idea of that is really disheartening because our neighborhood is really quiet right now,” she says. “I live in the Rhapsody and selected that building for peace and quiet, not for some dumb rowdy ghetto club,” writes PoP commenter Neighbor.
What’s Next: Some residents of Rhapsody Condominiums and the local ANC plan to protest the ABRA application in order to negotiate a voluntary agreement with the establishment later this month. A public hearing before the ABC Board is set for July 26.
Photo by d'n'c'. Creative Commons Attribution License.