Tuesday, March 04, 2008


I'LL BE IN NEW YORK for the next few days and hope to get out and around town with my camera and such. Nothing huge on the agenda. Maybe I'll get out to Rego Park, Queens, for some Uighur food. But that's been on my agenda for the past year or so.

BALLSTON: Old Peck Site to Peek Out From Proposed Replacement

OVER AT THE CORNER of Glebe Road and Wilson Boulevard in Arlington, the old Bob Peck Chevrolet car dealership — and its architecturally interesting showroom, pictured at left among new additions to Ballston's skyline — sits, waiting for redevelopment. When the car dealership closed in 2006 in advance of future mixed-use redevelopment at the site, it was thought that all traces of the 1960s modernist structure would be erased from the streetscape.

But if you look at the rendering posted at What's Up Arlington, take careful note of the corner section. The old Peck showroom seems to be peeking out, which is an exciting development for architecture buffs.

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EXPRESS: Will D.C.'s Anacostia Move Follow in Reeves Center's Footsteps?

MARION BARRY is sometimes credited with sparking the revitalization of the area around 14th and U streets NW. It was there during his tenure as mayor when the District government moved many of its agency offices to the Reeves Center, which officials hoped would anchor the area's revitalization. And while the Reeves Center brought jobs to the U Street corridor, some say it's debatable whether the municipal complex sparked the neighborhood's renaissance, which didn't kick into high gear until more than a decade after it opened in 1986. [More ...]

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Sunday, March 02, 2008

WOODLEY PARK: Downfall of American Civilization

POKING AROUND the Woodley Park neighborhood Yahoo! Group, I came across this quote from a recent posting:
It is fifty years since John Kenneth Galbraith wrote about "private affluence and public squalor." Here’s an example right here in Woodley Park.
What's the complaint? Excessive dog poop over along Woodland Drive, home to some of D.C.'s most exclusive residences. (Former Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist's house at 2930 Woodland Drive, mapped below, was sold last year for $2.65 million, according to Washingtonian.)

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HOUSEKEEPING: Updated Blogroll Progressing

SO ... IT'S BEEN SOMETHING LIKE three years or so since I've last updated the blog roll here. I was able to get through a good chunk this weekend, but there's still more work to be done. I'll continue on these efforts during the week.

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WOODLEY PARK: A Mini-Mart, Barely Open, to Close

THE CONNECTICUT AVENUE business strip in Woodley Park is dotted with some odd businesses. And one, an unnamed mini-mart, is about to close. But it was never really open to begin with. With two very large hotels — the Marriott Wardman Park and the Omni Shoreham, you'd think that the busy commercial district between Woodley Road and Calvert Street would have a vibrant business environment. But living in the neighborhood for now more than three years, I've found that there are precious few shopping options. The Manhattan Market is expensive and the inventory, including beer, is nothing special. But it does have the essentials. The CVS has more in the necessities department, but like any CVS, it comes with frustrations, especially when there's a line of tourists buying gum and cigarettes and you're in need of paper towel.

So late last year, a random convenience store opened, tucked away between the Chipotle and Mr. Chen's. But it had one lone small window. It didn't sell alcohol, but advertised specials on cigarettes and milk, two things I generally steer clear of. I think I saw it open maybe three or four times and then it went dark for many weeks. Until this weekend: It's closing down and everything must go, the sign out front says, advertising discounts of 50 percent to 70 percent for just a few days.

I am in need of paper towel, so I might swing through. But oh would I ever love a Wawa in the neighborhood. It'd make a fortune.

Anyhow, what's the next store on my Woodley Park failing business watch list? No, not the Oriental rug place on Calvert Street NW. (I think they've been through a series of "Bankruptcy" and "Under New Management" sales over the past three years.) No, not Antiques Anonymous. (It will end up the lone survive of a nuclear winter.) It's the random souvenir shop next to Velvet Garden that's peculiarly open past midnight during some weekdays. It has a friendly sign at the door that says "No Stealing." The last time I checked out the store, around Christmas, its campaign trinket collection consisted of anti-John Kerry tschotskies from the 2004 campaign. Mind you, this place has only been open for a year or two. Great bulk buy, eh?

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PETWORTH: Grant Circle Greenery

OF ALL OF THE DISTRICT'S TRAFFIC CIRCLES, the rotary where New Hampshire and Illinois avenues meet in Petworth is one of my favorites. Grant Circle's variety of architecture is eye catching — it's too bad that most of the drivers heading through the neighborhood are speeding by too quickly to likely take careful notice. The New Hampshire Avenue axis puts the spattering of coniferous trees (not sure what kind they are) front and center, making Grant Circle lush and green even in the middle of the winter. (Look at Prince of Petworth's iconic view of circle.)

As for the deciduous trees, they'll start budding in a few weeks and eventually mask parts of the architectural streetscape, including the churches on the western side of the circle. (The shot above was taken from the southeastern side of the circle.) So right now, the combination of evergreens and deciduous trees creates an evolving urban portrait that residents there are fortunate to have. If I'm not mistaken, Grant Circle may be the only traffic circle in D.C. with coniferous trees anchoring the center of a rotary park.

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