Housing Complex

Morning Links

shawMarion Barry, remembered by his erstwhile foes in the government and press. [LL, LL, LL]

D.C. gets inspired by New York's High Line. [Post]

Council committee passes stadium bill, without Reeves (or many details). [WBJ]

Gallery Place may not have been built without Barry. [WBJ]

As federal jobs vanish, D.C. area tries to wean itself off government. [Post]

Today on the market: 3BR condo in modern Shaw rowhouse—$719,000

Morning Links

truxtonA photo archive of a changing mayor in a changing city [WCP]

Developers remember Marion Barry the wheeler-dealer. [WBJ]

A tour of Barry's former Hillcrest house [Curbed]

Peebles pays a healthy premium for 5th and I NW lot. [WBJ]

Mi Casa pitches an all-affordable development for Florida and Q NW. [UrbanTurf]

Is Congress breaking its own rules on free parking? [Streetsblog]

Where Olympics venues could go in and around D.C. [Post]

Today on the market: Truxton Circle rowhouse with separate basement unit—$849,900

Six Years Later, Residents Return to Fire-Ravaged Mount Pleasant Building


The new Monseñor Romero Apartments

After a fire ripped through her Mount Pleasant apartment building in 2008, leaving some 200 residents homeless, Yasmin Romero-Latin was confident she'd be returning before long. "Former Mayor [Adrian] Fenty, he promised to us that we come back to the building," she says.

But six years later, as the returning residents of the former Deauville building on Mount Pleasant Street NW celebrate its reopening today as the Monseñor Romero Apartments, she can't help but get emotional. "We are really really happy," she says, "and really blessed."

Romero-Latin is the president of the building's tenant association, which fought hard to make sure former residents would be able to return. Yesterday, the first 15 families moved back into the building, Romero-Latin says. Of the building's 63 affordable units, 38 will be occupied by households from the old Deauville building.

Even if the residents are mostly the same, the building is radically changed, courtesy of a $19 million rebuilding. "It's completely different," says Romero-Latin, who has been living just down Mount Pleasant Street, the street where she's spent 18 of her 19 years in the United States. "The old building, we were living there like animals, because nobody made anything good for us. This building is completely new."

Read more Six Years Later, Residents Return to Fire-Ravaged Mount Pleasant Building

The D.C. Area’s Now (Slightly) Less Rich Than Boston

Screen Shot 2014-11-22 at 10.07.04 PM

Last year was not kind to D.C.-area pocketbooks. Measured against inflation, per-capita personal income in the region dropped by 2.1 percent between 2012 and 2013, a much bigger decline than any other large metropolitan area experienced, according to a new study from the Center for Regional Analysis at George Mason University.

As a result, the D.C. region, which since 2005 has been the country's second-wealthiest when it comes to per-capita income, dropped to third place, slipping behind Boston.

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The D.C. area's per-capita personal income stands at $61,507 as of 2013, behind the San Francisco area's at about $69,100 and the Boston area's at about $61,800.

Read more The D.C. Area’s Now (Slightly) Less Rich Than Boston

Morning Links

capitolRemembering Marion Barry. [LL, Housing Complex, LL, LL]

Removing Reeves isn't enough; the stadium deal still needs improving. [DCFPI]

D.C. contracts 260 motel rooms for the homeless this winter. [DCist]

The District's 2024 pitch includes an Olympic Village in Hill East. [Post]

In Mount Vernon Triangle, 92 percent of households are childless. [@OConnellPostbiz]

D.C.'s "pot belt" runs down the city's center. [Post]

Right Proper is opening a Brookland brewery. [DC Beer]

ANC committee votes to support demolishing former gay sex club. [SALM]

Visualizing the hazards faced by pedestrians. [GGW]

Today on the market: Rowhouse near Capitol Heights Metro—$179,900

In Petworth, a Mural Commemorates Marion Barry

Artist Pahel Brunis with his mural, a work in progress

Artist Pahel Brunis with his mural, a work in progress

The street jam was already planned. Hip-hop artists were going to perform, and be filmed for a documentary, to commemorate the "Black Rock Star Super Hero" mural completed earlier this year at the corner of 14th and Randolph streets NW.

But when the organizers learned this morning that former mayor Marion Barry had passed away, they decided to add a fresh element. Spraypaint artist Pahel Brunis got back on his ladder, busted out his cans of paint, and added Barry's face to the wall.

"It's the right thing to do today," says Head-Roc, the organizer of the project (and an occasional Washington City Paper contributor).


Read more In Petworth, a Mural Commemorates Marion Barry

Marion Barry Leaves His Mark on a Changing City

barryWhen Marion Barry learned last year of the city's plan to trade the Frank D. Reeves Municipal Center to a private developer as part of the deal to build a new soccer stadium, he was furious.

City Administrator Allen Lew, who negotiated the deal, tried to explain the benefits of the arrangement to Barry. But the Ward 8 councilmember, who helped build the center as mayor in 1986 and whose name is still engraved on its facade nearly two decades later, was having none of it.

"He said, 'We’re going to tear down the Reeves Center,'" Barry told me at the time. "I went off on that, because I put it there to stimulate growth and development in that area. I was raising hell with him on the phone."

In a sense, the Reeves building seemed to represent Barry's role in the city. When it opened, it was a hugely significant city investment in the troubled U Street NW and 14th Street NW corridors, decimated by the 1968 riots. It helped spur the development of that area into one of the city's most flourishing today. And yet, as time passed and luxury apartments sprang up around it, the building came to seem obsolete, as if the city's tremendous growth had left it behind.

The same was sometimes said of Barry, who died early this morning at 78. In D.C.'s early Home Rule years, Barry was a titan, both in politics and in development. In his four terms as mayor—at the end of which he'd been mayor for the majority of the Home Rule era—he cut deals with developers, planned big public investments, and helped reshape a struggling city where real estate was the biggest business game in town. As his days in charge receded behind him, however, and the city continued to grow and prosper well beyond anything over which he'd presided, Barry looked at times like a relic of the past.

But Barry pivoted on the Reeves Center, and on his role in the District. When he learned that Reeves would be replaced by a modern government center in Anacostia, he saw it as a great opportunity for his impoverished home ward. "I’m thoroughly, 100 percent, 1,000 percent supportive of it," he said. "The Reeves Center has served its purpose."

Read more Marion Barry Leaves His Mark on a Changing City

Where LivingSocial Once Reigned, New Tech Firms Fill the Vacuum


A few short years ago, LivingSocial was the pride of the D.C. tech scene. The web coupon shop gobbled up young talent and downtown real estate, opening up a metastasizing array of offices with such amenities as a speakeasy and a ball pit. Mayor Vince Gray could hardly make a speech without delivering a triumphant applause-inducing line about the company's success.

And then it all came crashing down. LivingSocial posted nine-figure losses in 2012 and 2013. Layoffs followed layoffs. Plans for a big headquarters in a forthcoming New York Avenue NW development were scrapped, and then existing offices began to close.

But what might have seemed like a huge loss for D.C.'s burgeoning tech scene actually presented an opportunity for other startups—firms that may have a brighter future than LivingSocial.

Take Tahzoo. The four-and-a-half-year-old company, which manages customer experience for Fortune 500 firms, officially opened the doors to its new headquarters this week, at 1005 7th St. NW. The LivingSocial sign that used to adorn that building's facade is gone, replaced by a faux-cursive "Tahzoo."

Entering the office prior to the Wednesday open house, the first thing I hear is the unmistakable pop of a ping-pong ball. Tahzoo CEO Brad Heidemann is wrapping up a game with his brother, also a Tahzoo employee. The new space is much larger than the Georgetown office from which Tahzoo moved—about 12,000 square feet, versus 3,300—giving the 50 workers at the headquarters much more room to spread out and finally making room for the all-important ping-pong table.

Tahzoo's still getting set up at the new office. But there wasn't all that much work to do. The company put in a few new walls and added couches and other furniture. "They were a little more, white desks and phones for everyone," Heidemann says of LivingSocial. Mostly, though, the space, leased from LivingSocial, was ready-made for a tech company to move in.

When I ask Heidemann whether LivingSocial's consolidation and departure from the 7th Street building helped his company out, he gives me a look that says, That's a dumb question. "I got Class A space at a fraction of the price, and I didn't have to do any work building it out!"

Read more Where LivingSocial Once Reigned, New Tech Firms Fill the Vacuum

NoMa’s Transformation, Courtesy of Metro

Screen Shot 2014-11-20 at 9.48.15 PMWhat a difference 10 years and a Metro station can make.

In 2004, NoMa—at least the section of it studied in a report released this week—had no offices, no residences, no hotels, and no retail. Ten years later, there's 3.8 million square feet of office space, 3,057 residences, 622 hotel rooms, and 183,000 square feet of retail, plus much more on the way.

What happened in the interim? In November 2004, an infill Metro station opened on the two-mile stretch between Union Station and Rhode Island Avenue.

On Wednesday, developers, city planners, and officials with the NoMa Business Improvement District gathered to celebrate the 10-year anniversary of the neighborhood's Metro station, which first bore the unwieldy name New York Ave–Florida Ave–Gallaudet U, before becoming NoMa-Gallaudet U in 2012 to reflect the new neighborhood that had sprung up around it.

According to a study, commissioned by the NoMa BID and Urban Land Institute and conducted by RKG Associates, that was released to coincide with the anniversary celebration, the Metro station has led to $4.7 billion in total economic output, $330 million in tax revenue to the city, and nearly 30,000 jobs (half construction and half permanent). The growth is expected to continue: RKG projects that between 2015 and 2019, annual city revenue from the study area (north of K Street NE) will rise from $68 million to $152 million.

Read more NoMa’s Transformation, Courtesy of Metro

Morning Links

thomasA small dose of clarity on the latest puzzling DC Cool ad [City Desk]

The Lanier Heights pop-up saga continues. [GGW]

Two councilmembers weigh in against zoning change for troubled Columbia Heights building. [SALM]

Home flipping is declining, but it's more profitable than ever. [CityLab]

AG-elect Karl Racine seems open to using eminent domain for stadium deal. [LL]

The D.C. area's violent crime rate is the lowest of any major metro. [UrbanTurf]

Today on the market: 1BR condo by Thomas Circle—$374,000