Monday, October 21, 2013

The American Restaurant in Blagden Alley (location currently used as a boxing gym and rent a wreck parking lot)

This blog post is intended to bring everyone up to speed on what is happening with the new restaurant. I know there are some people opposed to it and some incorrect information is being circulated.

Xavier Cavera is a well establish restauranteur who has opened many restaurants on Capital Hill including the Chesapeake Room, Box Car and Hawk & Dove.  Most of these locations are in C2A properties immediately adjacent to or backing up to residentially zoned property.  From what I can determine most are quite happy with what they have gotten.  This is intended to be an affordable reasonably priced restaurant - something similar to the Box Car where you can have something to eat and a beer for under $20.  Please note also that Xavier is buying one of the new townhouses (1321 Naylor Court) so we will have him as a neighbor.

He has proposed to develop a new restaurant in what is now the Boxing Gym in Blagden Alley and the Rent a Wreck parking lot behind it.  This property has a a strange 1209-1211 10th Street Address as alley lots often do but legally it is Square 368, lots 101-105 and 112-116.  In the zoning order link below you will see a picture of the alley and its lots.  I also suggest that you go to David's blog - - when you get there go to the header at the top of the page called "Planned Construction in Blagden Alley" for a nice picture of the alley showing all the current developments either underway or in the planning stage.   You can be assured there is more to come.

They will not be tearing down the building.  It will be renovated retaining the existing structure but adding insulation, all new systems, door, windows, etc.  If you visit any of the Xavier developed restaurants on Capital Hill you will see that he does a very high quality job and we can expect the same in Blagden Alley.  There may or may not be an addition that is not yet known.  Note that the current structure is about 30' deep by 60' long for a total of 1800 square feet.  He also intends to establish a garden dining area on what is currently the parking lot for the car rental business behind the boxing gym - this lot is about the same size as the existing Boxing Gym Building.  Both inside and outside are specified as having about 75 seats each. For comparison Thalley which just opened at 1316 9th Street occupies about 2400 square feet but only seats about 50 or so.  Baby Wale that just opened is about 3000 square feet plus another 1000 square ft in a mezzanine and seats about 150 people.

The hours of the restaurant are: Inside will close at 1AM Sunday through Thursday and 2AM on Friday and Saturday.  The outside dining area (when open) will close at 11PM Sunday through Thursday with last call at 10:30 PM and 1AM Saturday and Sunday with last call at 12:30 AM.  These hours were approved in a 5-0 vote at the ANC 2F Alcohol Policy Committee last month and closely follow the standard the ANC has been negotiating with other bars and restaurants.  To that the Xavier has agreed to a long list of accommodations to include: Hand truck deliver of supplies, acoustic insulation for the building, HVAC, exhaust unit and fencing, placement of the exhaust to minimize impact on local residents, the dumpster will be located within the property, he will discourage any smoking outside the property and provide a smoking area within the garden area, he will actively work to discourage noise from patrons entering and leaving the property.  Please note that the protest period has passed, yet he will still sign and agree to all these provisions.

I support the restaurant with the restrictions in the settlement agreement.  Note I am both the President of Blagden Alley Naylor Court Association and the ANC 2F06 Commissioner and make this decision with full knowledge from my experience in these roles over the years.  True there will be more life in Blagden Alley and it will active later in the evening than it is now but the court is zoned commercial the same as say the new Baby Wale on 9th street. Change is coming everywhere with 200 new residential units being built on square 368 alone in the next year or two (along with multiple commercial spaces), the Gang of Three by Douglas Development which plans another restaurant fronting on Blagden Alley, the Marriott opening with 1150 rooms and to follow 2 more hotels and an apartment building on the 900 block of L Street, 550 units in the New Giant project, a ten story residential building on M between 10th and 11th, another 10 story residential building with ground level retail at 9th and O, it just goes on and on.  Standing in the way of this progress, when it is the first affordable new restaurant to come in our area, from a top quality restauranteur who has a number of successful restaurants on Capital Hill, seems a bit unrealistic (plus he will be living in one of the new townhouses in Naylor Court so you won't have far to go to complain).  

Some are suggesting that this use is not appropriate for Blagden Alley.  I regret to say that this is a futile position to take.  While there is much debate and discussion of all the testimony from Office of Planning, the Neighborhood petitioners, BANCA, the Blagden Alley Naylor Court Historical Society, ANC 2F, some specific individuals back in 1994,  if you read the actual decision on pages 8-10, Square 368, lots 101-105 and 112-116, were rezoned in 1996 from R4 to C2A without any restriction along with the rest of the alley.   Even further the order clearly states that zoning is not going to put in place any covenants on any of the properties.  The full txt is at the following link and be sure to scroll down to the end so the map of the alley showing the commercial vs residential areas are shown.

Feel free to contact me if you have further questions.

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