Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Near Capitol Had The Navy's Back, Once

Fort Davis, which protected the Benning and Navy Yard bridges during the Civil War, is one of the historic Naylor-Dupont district's most distinguished features.  At its highest point (somewhere along affluent Westover Drive), it is 303 feet above tide and well worth having a look at, if you're passing through the Near Capitol area.

Read the history of Fort Davis, here.

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

A Hospital And Whole Foods For St. Elizabeths? Where's My Sowfeest Pentagon?!

I thought the Department of Homeland Security was moving its main headquarters (Nick Fury, Captain America, heli-carrier and all) right into the East or West Campus of the old St. Elizabeth's sanitarium. I'm not talking about a satellite office, either, ..and not an annex sharing space with the Coast Guard.

Apparently, I was wrong.

I imagined this was going to look something like a second Pentagon, out here. For the last two or three years, I've been imagining what Congress Heights would look like, with slightly ominous military choppers buzzing around it, around the clock. I've been drooling with envy over the strong local police presence and consistently reliable public works commitment that I imagined would be the result of DHS setting up shop, there - of how that would become the new normal for a surrounding community with a fluctuating rate of daytime robberies, pod-snatchings and other troubles. Everyone here, between Anacostia proper and Capitol Hill, has been talking about Homeland's big, upcoming move, east-of-river, since the (now O/B) Big Chair Coffee first opened on MLK.

So, what happened? What's this about a Gateway Pavillion opening? Nobody I talk to, over here, is talking about that. When did it happen? Now, Mayor Vincent Gray is announcing a new hospital and Whole Foods Market coming? Where's my Sowfeest Pentagon, ..yo?

No one tells us anything in the Near Capitol corridor. Clearly, I'm walking in on the credits, here, and don't know what in Sam Hill's going on.

Read more about that in the 'Housing Complex' section of the Washington City Paper

Sunday, January 26, 2014

Marijuana's Easier To Find Than Coffee Or A Business Center in Near Capitol?

Cheech and Chong can't seem to figure out morning coffee in Near Capitol, ..and neither can I.
As I thought about where to procure a cup of java, this Sunday morning, after being up half the night, my River East prospects were pretty abysmal. Sure, I hate taking my money (or revenue) to people West of the river (Washington, D.C.), every time I want a cup of decent coffee or hot dinner, making their neighborhoods more influential, Downtown...

But still doing it.

Skyland Town Center coming to the edge of Hillcrest is fine, but doesn't change the need for something economically, socially or civically relevant in Near-Capitol neighborhoods, like Penn Branch and the Randle Highlands. What's needed along Pennsylvania Avenue, between the Anacostia River and the Southern Avenue border, are mixed-use business centers and important government buildings, ..commanding a strong Metropolitan Police presence and reliable public works commitment. I say 'mixed-use', because we love our already established and long-standing neighborhood businesses, like Wah Sing Restaurant and Patron's Convenience Store, and would want to see them plugged into new buildings with a wider range of civically relevant businesses that people all over D.C. will care about and will cross the Big Dirty to patronize! What's needed here are new revenue-generating properties for a thriving business sector, like what you see along Upper Wisconsin Avenue, between Tenleytown and Friendship Heights, ..and NOT new people.

NOT condos.

Big, shiny business centers and gourmet coffee...s'all I want. I talk about that a lot, on this blog. This morning, just wanted coffee.

Thought about running by the newly renovated McDonald's at Barney Circle - with its new Premium Roast and free WiFi - for that Sunday morning coffee. Might've paid a coupla' bucks for it, fattening Ward Six and Capitol Hill's already impressive revenue pile, ..but, ultimately decided to keep my money here, in the Naylor-Duponts...

And brew my own. Just imagine it...

If I'd had a larger, fancier coffee-maker and twenty or so friendly locals, coming by on an invitation-only basis, leaving me a little gift in an 'Appreciation Jar', ..I'd have a small business. Well, just read the papers - it's not like there aren't other goods being traded, this way! I think it's absolutely outrageous that there are people in and around this Near-Capitol neighborhood, who can find POT (marijuana), at 7:00 am, on a Sunday morning or any other time, ..easier than I can find a cup of gourmet coffee.



Thursday, August 29, 2013

River Easters Pack Gentrification Forum In Minnesota-Benning

 East-of-River locals, old and new, crammed into a forum on urban renewal, hosted by R.E.E.L. (River East Emerging Leaders) at Department of Employment Services Headquarters, on Tuesday night.

In another 'Don't be afraid of gentrification' forum, civic officials and River East newcomers (some, REEL members) butted heads with long-standing Southeast residents. Engaged and enraged, locals demanded information about upcoming development, east of Big Annie, ..and refused to be condescended to. In the face of overwhelming skepticism, questioning their loyalty to old-time residents, REEL took the progressive route, inviting all River Easters to join the organization and become a part of seeking solutions to decades-old OLD problems, ..instead of blocking progress.

"[REEL and DC officials] not being real with us," a middle-aged resident confided in me, last Tuesday. "They talking about how all this development's supposed to improve everything, down the road--so, they already got a plan, ..right? If you asking somebody how they feel about something you already decided, you're not being for real."

A lot of constructive anger in that room. Thankfully, less condescension than I anticipated.


Mel Dyer

Sunday, July 7, 2013

Urban Cool And Live Music At Cafe In Nearby Mount Rainier

Surprised and delighted to find live music and cafe life, just past the D.C. state line and sitting next to an art gallery, in Mount Rainier, Maryland. Seriously. I am not imagining this.

When I recently learned that the Urban Eats Arts and Music Cafe has just celebrated two years in business, at 3311 Rhode Island Avenue (Mount Rainier, MD), ..I was thrilled! As I'm always looking for places like this, away from the bustle of Downtown Washington and Capitol Hill, and rarely finding them, ..clearly, I have been missing out.

There's a cafe area, with charming, little tables for two or three, and a couple of larger, roadhouse tables for small meetings, over coffee. There's the prerequisite, cozy, little lounge area - a coffeehouse standard - with cushy sofas and loveseats, ..where a good buddy of mine reads his comics, while locals soak up the FREE WI-FI on their laptops. The lounge area gives you a front-row seat, when there's live entertainment, ..and, other times, a great place to meet your next, new best friend! It's a mix of small town diner and East Village coffeehouse that makes you feel instantly at-home, no matter your mood.

When I told Urban Eats owner, Annette Martin, a Southwesterner from Arizona, how much I loved the Bohemian atmosphere, she totally got it...another satisfied customer.

Open mike 'nites' are on Wednesday, and there's a special 'Ladies Open Mike', every third Thursday of the month. There is art, created by local artists, on the walls. I have blown by on a Wednesday night, and I can tell you that it's quite a scene! Live music from the cafe floats out onto the quiet streets of Mount Rainier. Older couples enjoying each other, over drinks and quiet conversation, with younger couples and single ladies drifting in and out, onto the sidewalk.

Love that I can always find a nearby parking space, too. Close enough to stumble out of my car, right onto a sofa, inside! You will love that, ..and don't count on finding that, in town.

You will love the coffee, and the New Haven pizza is $8.95 ..and spectacular.

There just is NO place, like Urban Eats Arts and Music Cafe, presently in the Near Capitol area. I think they might be coming, ..with the Department of Homeland Security opening in Congress Heights, Skyland Town Centre coming to the western edge of Hillcrest and more development to the northeast, in Minnesota-Benning, ..and farther out, at Capital Gateway. Being sandwiched between all of this urban renewal, I think Near Capitol will be getting a few 'towny' pleasures, sometime soon.

Until that happens, ..get out here.

Mel Dyer

Thursday, April 11, 2013

NC's Best Home, This Month: Mondo Condo Near Skyland Town Center

Looking for roomy, sensibly priced apartments or condos in the picturesque, lushly forested Near Capitol neighborhood of Hillcrest ..AND within walking distance of upcoming Skyland Town Center? Have a peek at this YouTube video, from Washington, D.C. Apartments...

And see for yourself.

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

NC's Best Home, This Month: Old Southern Elegance In Fairfax Village

The house at 3607 Suitland Road is another GEM in the well respected, sought-after, safe, middleclass neighborhood everyone, west of the Anacostia, is talking about - Hillcrest, of course!

On first glance, this house's pillared veranda recalls the stately, Georgian mansions of the Old South, ..and elegantly enough to impress. It's a great home for a young, urban professional in a quiet, tree-lined Near Capitol neighborhood that looks and feels alot like Van Ness or Friendship Heights, with the cafes and night life of Capitol Hill, barely seven or eight minutes away! Perhaps, you should ask D.C. Mayor Vincent Gray, if the Safeway and the post office are close enough to comfortably walk to, ..since he's in the neighborhood.

"The Mayor's just around the corner from me," sounds none too shabby, at all. I do it all the time.

On that note, the house's homage to Southern colonial style leaves its Victorian-look glass door oddly matched. A fully wooden one, painted ONE color, would be in better taste.

While the property is listed in Fairfax Village, it should be understood that Fairfax Village is, itself, actuallyin Hillcrest, ..and Hillcrest is about to be very close to Walmart and a very nice town center. The time to buy in great Near Capitol neighborhoods, like Hillcrest, Fairfax Village or nearby Penn Branch (where I grew up) is right now!

See 3607 Suitland Road for yourself, here, on Weichert.com.

Mel Dyer