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Archive for January, 2011

From the February 2011 edition of the Glover Park Gazette:

The strip-club standoff has ended. When last we reported on 2412 Wisconsin Ave—the former and potential future home of JP’s Night Club—the vacant building was at the center of a stalemate. The club has been shuttered since a 2008 fire, and the Advisory Neighborhood Commission sought to prevent it from reopening by challenging its recent liquor license renewal. According to the Alcoholic Beverage Regulation Administration, though, the license renewal could not formally be challenged until the club reopened its doors. And according to an attorney for the club’s owner, that wouldn’t happen until its would-be buyer secured a lease on the rebuilt property. But no lease had been signed after months of waiting: the buyer seemed reluctant to commit to the deal in the face of a certain challenge to the club’s license.

Now, however, after additional legal direction, ABRA has decided to allow the ANC’s protest to go forward before the club reopens, a spokesman says. A group of nine neighbors represented by attorney Milton Grossman has filed a separate protest, and the objections of both groups—along with those of anyone else who files a protest by the February 14 deadline—will be aired at a hearing before the Alcoholic Beverage Control (ABC) Board on February 28.

Both the ANC and the Grossman group question the club’s appropriateness for its location, given its proximity to the Guy Mason playground and ball field, as well as other areas where families with young children congregate. They also raise questions about the identity and plans of the would-be buyer, whom the owner’s attorney, James Charles, has never publicly named.

Charles, who has been representing such clubs for 30 years, says any protest against the license will fail ABRA’s stringent tests for denial. “It’s a waste of time and money for everyone,” he says. “There aren’t any legitimate grounds for a protest.”

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From the February 2011 edition of the Glover Park Gazette:

The future Chipotle Mexican restaurant at 2338 Wisconsin Ave. will probably open at the end of April, though there’s no firm date set, says company spokesperson Katherine Newell Smith: “It could move one way or the other” based on the speed of construction. Along with its Wisconsin Avenue storefront, the restaurant will have an entrance from the rear parking lot it shares with Bruegger’s Bagels (2334 Wisconsin Ave.), and it will seek city permission to build a 16-seat patio in the back, as well as a 24-seat dining area inside, she says.

UPDATE: This store is now slated to open in late May.

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From the February 2011 edition of the Glover Park Gazette:

The restaurant currently known as Blue Ridge (2340 Wisconsin Ave.) will likely be closed for renovations through early June, says owner Eli Hengst. Plans for the overhaul are still forming, he adds, but will include a continuation of the restaurant’s craft beer program, a coffeehouse component, and “a farm-to-table ‘diner’ menu” with breakfast served all day and night, from 6 a.m. on. The spot will also offer yoga classes, free WiFi, and “lots of cozy seating,” he adds. The restaurant’s new name has not yet been decided, and Hengst invites those with suggestions for this or any other aspect of the redo to contact him at eli@blueridgerestaurant.com.

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From the February 2011 edition of the Glover Park Gazette:

While Whole Foods (2323 Wisconsin Ave.) has applied for a license to sell beer and wine by the glass at its in-store cafe, the grocery has “no current plans” to actually offer this service, says assistant manager Scott Cuviello. The ABC Board was scheduled to consider any protests to the license at a January 31 hearing. No protests had been filed at press time.

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From the February 2011 edition of the Glover Park Gazette:

According to the Washington Post, real estate investment firm The JBG Companies is negotiating to buy two “choice” Glover Park buildings from developer ICG Properties, which owns office complexes at 2115 Wisconsin Ave. and 2121 Wisconsin Ave.

At 2115 Wisconsin Ave.—which is 99% leased, according to ICG principal Stylianos Christofides—tenants include Fannie Mae, Georgetown University, and MedStar Health. Tenants at 2121 Wisconsin Ave. include Balance Gym, SomaSpa, and WBDC-TV. The purchases would be part of a post-recession “buying spree” for the powerful JBG firm, according to the Post. “They are the gorilla in Washington, there’s no question about it,” one former JBG leasing agent told the paper.

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The news blog Georgetown Patch has invited residents to submit photos and street addresses for a listing of unshoveled sidewalks in the area. The first entry: 2621 39th Street in Glover Park.

District law requires residents to clear snow and ice from sidewalks abutting their property within eight daylight hours of the end of each snowfall. But the law is tough to enforce: if you don’t shovel, all the city can do is shovel for you and then sue you for the cost (plus a $25 fine).

On February 9 at 10 a.m., the City Council’s Committee on Public Works and Transportation will hold a hearing on a bill that would make enforcement much easier, allowing municipal workers to issue $25 fines. We hear the bill faces strong opposition from residents of certain Northwest neighborhoods with larger lots than ours. Residents wishing to testify in support of bill—and of winter walkability for all District neighborhoods—can contact bill co-sponsor Mary Cheh, 202-724-8062 or mcheh@dccouncil.us.

Until the bill passes, you won’t get far by reporting shoveling scofflaws to the city. But now, at least you can rat them out to the Patch.

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In honor of its birthday, Bruegger’s Bagels (2334 Wisconsin Ave.) will send a coupon good for three free bagels—redeemable on “National Bagel Day,” February 8—to anyone who has completed a short survey and “liked” Bruegger’s on Facebook. Check out the “new coupon” tab of the shop’s Facebook page for details.

Reported by Laurie England.

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In lieu of—or, ideally, in advance of—fines, the District today announced a public awareness campaign to encourage compliance with the law that requires residents to shovel snow from their sidewalks.

The campaign’s message, “Is your sidewalk shoveled?” appears on this poster of a mother forced to push her baby’s stroller in the street. To request a high resolution copy of the poster, email ddot.communications@dc.gov.

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The snow-shoveling bill that languished for a year in mean old Jim Graham’s Committee on Public Works and Transportation was reintroduced today by cosponsors Mary Cheh and Tommy Wells, TBD.com’s Dave Jamieson reports. The bill stands a better chance of coming to the City Council for a vote now that Wells has been named the chair of that committee.

Cheh and Wells’s bill would provide for a $25 fine for residents who fail to shovel snow from their sidewalks within 8 daylight hours, as is already required by District law.

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From the January 2011 edition of the Glover Park Gazette:

In a blistering resolution sent to the Alcoholic Beverage Control Board last month, the Advisory Neighborhood Commission strongly opposed the license renewal of JP’s Night Club (2412 Wisconsin Ave.), a strip club dormant since a January 2008 fire. Citing seeming discrepancies between statements club owner Michael Papanicolas made to the ANC and those made by Papanicolas’s lawyer to the Glover Park Gazette, the document states that Papanicolas’s “truthfulness … has been called into question,” which “inevitably raises a significant question regarding Mr. Papanicolas’s character and fitness for licensure.”

At its September 28 meeting, Papanicolas told the ANC that his corporation, BJ Enterprises, owned the club’s liquor license “and had not sold it to anyone,” the resolution states. Meanwhile, Papanicolas’s attorney, James Charles, has told this paper that Papanicolas signed a contract last March to sell the business, including its license, to a new owner. That deal is contingent on the buyer’s securing a lease on the reconstructed building, which hadn’t happened at press time.

The source of the seeming contradiction is the definition of the word “sale,” Charles tells us. The pending contract is not for the sale of BJ Enterprises, but merely for all stock in BJ Enterprises. BJ is, and would remain, the owner of the liquor license, no matter who owns its stock. Therefore, the license itself has not technically been sold, he says.

The ANC also questioned why no placards had been posted at 2412 Wisconsin Ave. Ordinarily, when a liquor license is renewed—as the JP’s license was on September 30—the public has 45 days to protest, and the license holder must post placards to advertise this protest period. But, contrary to what both Charles and ABRA had told this paper earlier, dormant licenses are not placarded upon renewal. The protest period does not begin until the business reopens its doors.

And there’s the catch for JP’s. The buyer would naturally be reluctant to invest in a business whose liquor license is about to be challenged. But until the business reopens, the ANC’s challenge cannot be addressed. Charles insists that the license would survive any protest. “There aren’t any grounds for a protest,” he says. “You cannot prevent a man that’s had a business burned down from reopening it. That’s unconstitutional.” Referring to the club’s long tenure in the neighborhood, he adds, “If they’re protesting because they don’t like nude dancing, they’re 26 years too late.”

Charles says that Papanicolas is considering renegotiating the sale to retain some of his BJ Enterprises stock, in order to ease the club’s reopening. Charles also hopes to bring the buyer to meet with the liquor board, to assuage the buyer’s concerns. Would he also bring the buyer to meet with the ANC about their concerns? Charles says maybe. “We’ve always wanted to work in good faith with the neighborhood,” he adds.

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