Housing Complex

Why Uniontown Bar Could Be Transformational

When it's cold and dark outside, the walk from the Anacostia metro station to the newly-opened Uniontown Bar and Grill on W Street seems like a drag. And then, when it's closed until 9:00 p.m. for a private party and you're forced to kill time with a walk around Good Hope Road, through the neighborhood, past the Frederick Douglass House, and back out on to Martin Luther King Avenue, irritation mounts.

When you get inside the bar, of course, all that melts away. On my first visit there this weekend, my little band of friends was totally satisfied; Councilmembers Tommy Wells and Sekou Biddle even stopped by to gladhand.

And if you think about it, the advantage of people being forced to walk from the metro to Anacostia's first upscale bar is becomes blindingly clear: Though Uniontown is very much a boon to nearby residents, it's also going to draw interest from west of the river. Every person who takes the metro there will pass by storefronts on MLK, and if foot traffic is the most critical component of a retail operation or restaurant, all of those spaces become more viable business locations. Every store open late makes the street feel more safe. Meanwhile, Uniontown already needs a sister bar to catch the overflow from people who can't get a table–it's almost inevitable that a nightlife cluster will start to develop around it.

In two years, I think that strip is going to look quite a bit different than it does today.

  • http://www.thedchive.com The Hive

    Hey Lydia--

    Great story! Uniontown Bar & Grill is exactly what is needed for the exact reasons you mentioned. It's getting great foot traffic and feedback and really is inspiring people from all over the community -- and West of the River-- to come hang out.

    Shameless plug but If WCP was a member of The Hive (www.thedchive.com) you could have gone down the block and waited out the cold in our toasty upstairs lounge. We would have even given you cookies, lol.

  • http://districtdiaries.blogspot.com/ The Diarist

    The city and neighborhood also need to put some focus on Good Hope Road to get foot traffic from the neighborhood east of Minnesota Avenue to make the trek over to MLK. It's all good and fine to get the attention from the Metro station; but there are those of us in the neighborhood, too. And that walk down Good Hope to MLK isn't exactly inviting.

  • Rick Mangus

    Don't forget to take you're gun!

  • http://districtdiaries.blogspot.com/ The Diarist

    @Rick, spoken like a true ignoramus. I feel safer walking the streets of Anacostia than walking around Verizon Center in the summer or waiting in the L'Enfant Metro Station. Know your subject next time.

  • Rick Mangus

    'The Diarist', see you in the crime reports dumb ass!

  • Cap City Records Panhandler

    @Lydia - Your absent minded conjecture that Uniontown will bring more retail to lower MLK Ave. is pretty lame when you consider it took nearly 6 months of starts and stops for said bar to open. It is great for the community but the wide-eyed optimism that night life will magically spring up is wildly uninformed. After 730 pm it is dead. There is no retail - only barbershops, beauty salons, PNC, BOA, and some carry-outs/corner stores. It takes private investment and then commerce to make change not the guesswork of some out-of-town City Paper scribe.

  • Hmmm…

    @Cap City Records.

    I have been to Uniontown 4 times and each time have stayed until after 9pm and with a full house.

    From 4pm - 9pm it's shoulder to shoulder in there.

  • http://urbanplacesandspaces.blogspot.com Richard Layman

    It'll take much longer than you think--especially when buildings take lots of money for refurbishing after decades of disinvestment and (2) when the asking and prevailing price for rent is at least 50% too high based on the revenue potential of the space, but you're right that this is how the revitalization process is triggered.