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Archive for May, 2009

From the May 2009 Glover Park Gazette:

Loud rooftop carousing has come to Glover Park—not at Town Hall, but at a mostly-empty building one block south of there. This winter, while Town Hall awaited permission from the Alcoholic Beverage Regulation Administration to serve liquor to seated patrons on its roof, the hulking tan stucco apartment house at 2136 Wisconsin opened its doors to paying guests for all-night, all-you-can-drink music, art, and dance events.

People who live or work nearby say they first noticed the parties in February. Speaking on condition of anonymity, one observer said the events happen several nights each week and frequently last until dawn. Revelers arrive and leave through the rear of the building, which backs onto a shared parking lot. The cover charge tends to be $25 or $50, but inside, it’s open bar, according to online invitations discovered by the Glover Park Gazette.

The building’s location is typically kept secret from party invitees until after they have RSVP’d, but the venue blew its own cover on April 3 when it hosted a public and widely publicized art show and dance party billed as “the grand opening of Wisconsin Overlook.” Police and ABRA inspectors were called to the raucous scene, but they did not stop the party, even though its organizers had no license to sell alcohol, according to ABRA spokesman Bill Hager. The agency has no jurisdiction over residential buildings, Hager explained.

The Department of Consumer and Regulatory Affairs, however, could well have jurisdiction. To run any sort of business in D.C., you need at least one government license, and 2136 Wisconsin doesn’t have any, says DCRA spokesman Mike Rupert. A private nightclub, even one that charges at the door rather than by the drink, would likely need a business license, a liquor license, and a certificate of occupancy, among other licenses. Rupert would neither confirm nor deny that a DCRA investigation of the property was underway.

No investigation may be necessary to quiet things down, though: our sources report that, between the police visit on April 3 and our deadline one week later, they saw no party activity at the building at all.

Building owner David Cameron could not be reached for comment, but he told us last fall that he was about to lease the long-vacant property to one tenant, who would then sublet it. According to a sign on the door, the property is managed by GreenLight International, LLC. Calls and emails to the company went unanswered, except for one emailed response that read, “Ok sorry. Do we know each other?”

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From the May 2009 Glover Park Gazette:

Up at Town Hall at 2218 Wisconsin, construction of a rooftop deck has been further delayed. The Alcoholic Beverage Control Board issued an order in March approving table service there, but the restaurant’s managing partner, Paul Holder, has filed a motion for reconsideration of the order. A public hearing on the matter will be held May 6.

The problem, it seems, is that the ABC Board’s order requires that a “cinderblock” wall be built to protect a nearby rental house from crowd noise. Although last May’s original voluntary agreement between Town Hall and the Advisory Neighborhood Commission did specify a cinderblock wall, Holder says, the rental house’s owner later objected to the material. Holder’s architect and structural engineer then redesigned the wall to use “composite materials that would mitigate our direct neighbor’s concerns and would actually be more effective” at blocking noise, he says. This change was reflected in an August amendment to the voluntary agreement, but not in the ABC Board order.

Holder is requesting no other changes to the order; he says he only wants permission to build the wall as agreed, even though it will cost “tens of thousands of dollars” more than cinderblock would. “At the end of the day, we don’t want to be in violation of the ABC order because we abided by the spirit and not the letter of the law,” he says.

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From the May 2009 Glover Park Gazette:

The man who set fire to a Good Guys manager in November of 2007 was sentenced in March to 30 years and eight months in prison for the crime. “I would give you the chair, but I can’t,” D.C. Superior Court judge Robert Richter told Vasile Graure, according to WTOP.com.

Graure poured gasoline on employee Vladimir Djordjevic and lit a blaze after Graure had been ejected from the strip club at 2311 Wisconsin for taking cell-phone photos of dancers. The fire injured Djordjevic, then a newlywed, so severely that he has been hospitalized ever since, according to news reports.

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From the May 2009 Glover Park Gazette:

At an ABC Board hearing in March, the owner of JP’s Night Club at 2412 Wisconsin fought a bid by the ANC to revoke his liquor license. The site has been vacant since a January 2008 fire, and James Charles, attorney for owner Michael Papanicolas, testified that the landlord considers the club’s current lease “null and void.” The two parties are discussing a new lease that would take effect after the landlord demolishes the building’s burnt-out shell and builds its replacement, he said.

Charles told the board that a new investor was interested in joining or buying Papanicolas’s business, but that no deal could be struck until reconstruction begins. “It’s a very interested party, very substantial, but they obviously can’t sign anything till the building starts going up,” he said. With deeper pockets, the rebuilt club would be “a very, very high level operation,” Charles added. “The décor is going to be rather impressive. Better menu; better management.”

Judy Green, a member of the Alafoginis family group that owns the building, testified that its lease discussions with JP’s are serious but not exclusive: the family is open to other potential tenants. Even though that means the JP’s license might end up homeless, ABC Board members said they saw no cause to take action now. “We’re not going to be dissolving this license based on what we’ve heard today,” said board chair Peter Feather.

Meanwhile, project manager Fredrik Starmark of The Construction Guild says he’s “getting very close” to securing a permit to raze the structure, after a protracted application process that began last October. Out of 13 “clearance” documents needed to show that no utility or government agency objects to the demolition, only two were incomplete at press time. Starmark estimated he would secure those two—and submit all 13 to DCRA—before the end of April.

DCRA spokesman Rupert has said that once proper clearances are submitted, approval of a permit to raze the building might happen fairly quickly. Starmark says demolition will start within days of permit approval and will be completed two weeks after that.

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From the May 2009 Glover Park Gazette:

Provideo at 2428 Wisconsin is dead; long live Custom TV Solutions at 2428 Wisconsin. “We had a long, good run,” says Matt Foley, one of two co-owners of the TV store, which closed on March 28 after 30 years in business. “We were another small retailer killed by the Internet.” While Provideo was able to match the prices at local big-box stores, Foley explains, he could not compete with online vendors: “They have it for my cost. So that’s the end of the road.”

Now, Foley is focusing on the part of his business that the Internet can’t replace: design and installation of audio and video systems. As sole owner of Custom TV Solutions, Foley can set up home theaters and office conference rooms, as well as automated lighting and window shade controls, security cameras, and other technology. The old Provideo retail space has become a showroom for this new venture. “Walk right in,” Foley says.

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From the May 2009 Glover Park Gazette:

File under: rumor control. A supposed “stabbing” at Gin & Tonic at 2408 Wisconsin was more of a scratching, according to the victim. A bartender at the club asked a cluster of five men to leave the bathroom on New Year’s Eve, and one of the men produced a sharp object and inflicted “a very small scratch” on the bartender’s abdomen, says the bartender, who asked that his name not be used. The scratcher fled the scene, and the scratchee returned to work without calling police. The police and ABRA later heard rumors of an attack and investigated the incident before putting the matter to rest.

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From the May 2009 Glover Park Gazette:

Shameless plug department: On Saturday, May 30, Gin & Tonic at 2408 Wisconsin will host Charm Aid 2009, a super-fantastic rock show to benefit St. Luke’s Shelter. The event will feature three bands, including The Charm Offensive, a very famous and successful act whose bass player is your Commercial Strip Confidential correspondent. [The other two acts are Yell County and Kid Goat.] Charm Aid 2009 runs from 7 to 10 p.m. and costs $10, 100% of which will go to support the shelter’s work to help its formerly homeless residents achieve independence.

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