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Renovations of Hill Institution Mr. Henry’s to Wrap Up in New Year

Mr. Henry’s Restaurant will be spiffed up in 2015.

Construction on the Capitol Hill institution (601 Pennsylvania Ave. SE) is expected to include new tables and chairs, and upgrades to the downstairs bathrooms, general manager Mark Steele said. Work also may be done on the restaurant’s bay windows.

The work will likely start in January, as the restaurant’s owners and managers figure out what project to tackle first, Steele said. As the first floor is restored, the newly renovated upstairs area will be open with a limited menu, he said.

The goal of the work is to stay true to the bar and restaurant’s atmosphere while giving it some much needed maintenance.

“The essence is still there,” he said. “But it’s fresh, new and pretty.”

Keeping the restaurant that first opened in the 1960s open is crucial said Steele — whose wife is the niece of restaurant owner Larry Quillian.

“The marketplace here has changed a lot, but Mr. Henry’s has a longstanding tradition,” said Steele, who worked for years in restaurants in Delaware. “A lot of people really love the place, and we want to rejuvenate the business.”

That reinvigoration began in August, when Steele came on board following the retirement of longtime managing parter Alvin Ross. Steele started working on long-deferred maintenance projects around the restaurant. The work in the past few months focused on the second floor, including restoring the wood paneling, redoing the ceiling and installing a new draft beer system.

Mr. Henry’s management also installed a new stage and electrical system to allow for performances. The restaurant will host music nights every Friday starting Jan. 9, with a focus on jazz.


Hill Pet of the Week: Roscoe

Metro Mutts

The Hill Pet of the Week is Roscoe, a a fluffy Keeshond who likes Eastern Market and the Southeast waterfront. Here’s what his owner, Terry, shared about him:

Hi, my name is Roscoe and I am a 6-year-old Keeshond. I moved to Capital Hill almost two years ago from Brooklyn and I love it here. There are so many fun places to visit, including Garfield Park, the Congressional Cemetery and Eastern Market. Eastern Market is my favorite because everyone wants to meet me and pet me and some people even let me give them kisses! The nice people at the restaurants are very good about putting water out for me. I love to run loose in the park, but I think chasing balls is a silly thing to do. I’d rather hang out with the people.

Being a Dutch barge dog by ancestry, I also love to visit the Southeast waterfront. I hope my mommy can get tickets to a Pets in the Park Nationals game this year! I’m so glad that it is winter time, but for some reason my mommy has been taking me on shorter walks lately. We have been spending a lot of quality time by the fireplace. Maybe she’ll take me out for a longer walk if it snows.

Want your pet to be considered for Hill Pet of the Week? Email [email protected] with a 2-3 paragraph bio and at least three horizontal photos of your pet. Each week’s winner receives a gift bag of dog or cat treats from Metro Mutts, along with 100 Metro Mutts Reward Points.

Known for “What dogs and cats want. What owners need,” Metro Mutts specializes in products and services for passionate pet owners. Now offering individualized dog walking, pet sitting and cat care from two store locations on Capitol Hill, on Barracks Row and on H Street NE. Learn more at www.metromuttsdc.com.


Hill Crime in 2014: Violent Crime Is Down, Property Crime Is Up

First District violent crime, 2013 vs. 2014

Hill residents experienced less violent crime in 2014 but more property crime.

The number of violent crimes reported in 2014 dropped 10 percent since 2013, District Crime map data shows. Only five homicides occurred this year in the First District — which covers Capitol Hill, Hill East, the H Street Corridor and Southwest. Twenty homicides occurred in the First District last year, including the 12 victims of the Navy Yard shooting. The number of robberies without the use of a gun also dropped, from 370 incidents in 2013 to 283 incidents in 2014.

The number of property crimes reported rose more than 8 percent in the past year, with reports of stolen cars, theft and theft from cars all increasing.

Here’s more data:

First District property crime, 2013 vs. 2014

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Morning Rundown

8th Street SE

D.C. United Stadium Deal Is Done — Mayor Vincent Gray signed the stadium deal yesterday (Tuesday). Reveling in the “transformative” development, he used a dozen pens to sign the legislation, handing them to aides and team officials. [Washington Post]

Hardware Store Opening on Bladensburg Road — The hardware store W.S. Jenks & Son will open on Bladensburg Road NE near Neal Street on Monday. The building previously housed a drug treatment clinic. [Frozen Tropics]

Peruvian Chicken Restaurant Opening — A Peruvian rotisserie chicken restaurant will open at 77 H St. NW, next to Walmart. The company has four locations in Maryland. [Popville]

Average Rent Increased — Average rent in the region increased this year to $1,428 per month. Tenants paid landlords a total of $13.4 billion in 2014, an increase of 7.7 percent over 2013. [Washingtonian]


Streetcar Service Won’t Start in 2014

D.C. Streetcar (Photo via DDOT)

People eager to ride the streetcar will have to wait a little longer.

H Street Streetcar service will not begin today (Wednesday), Mayor Vincent Gray said in a statement issued this morning.

“The DC Streetcar system is in the final stages of safety and security certification and will be open for passenger service early in the New Year,” the statement said.

Officials aimed to start passenger service within 2014. Disagreements between DDOT and the State Safety Oversight Office over safety documentation have delayed the process. The oversight office, which is part of the District’s Department of Fire and Emergency Medical Services, has accused DDOT of filing misleading documentation, as The Washington Post reported.

Here’s the full statement:

As many know, launching the DC Streetcar system has been a top priority of my administration and of the District Department of Transportation (DDOT). Unfortunately, we will not be able to see that goal through to completion as we wind down, but I can tell you that we are exceedingly close to carrying passengers on H Street and Benning Road. We know that DC Streetcar will be a welcomed economic engine that will result in new services and amenities for the community and I am confident the benefits of DC Streetcars will be realized in the very near future.

While we won’t meet our goal of opening in 2014, the good news is that the DC Streetcar system is in the final stages of safety and security certification and will be open for passenger service early in the New Year. We continue to work side by side, day and night, with State Safety Oversight (SSO) in order to ready the system for passengers.

Safety is our top priority and we want our passengers to have the utmost confidence when they enjoy this new premium transit service.

At this time, DDOT has completed all the requisite steps for system testing and certification and has submitted its final Safety and Security Certification Report. The SSO is in the process of reviewing the final documentation and DDOT is addressing the SSO’s final recommendations based on its readiness review. All parties agree that this process will not be a long one to complete.

Once DDOT delivers on all SSO recommendations, the SSO approval to begin passenger service will follow.

Even though the cars are not yet rolling with passengers, I am proud that we’ve moved this important transit project forward after it stood still for years. I am proud of the staff that continues to work tirelessly to open the system for the public to enjoy, and appreciate our partners who have joined us in this certification process.

I look forward to the day very soon when I will be able to jump aboard with other residents who are excited about the DC Streetcar.


The Most Expensive Parking Spaces on the Hill in 2014

As many locals circle the neighborhood for precious parking spots, some Hill residents are paying top dollar for dedicated spaces.

The priciest parking spot on Capitol Hill this year sold for more than $95 per square foot. A 1,061-square foot garage built in 1920 was the most expensive space. The 314 13th St. NE real estate went for $101,500 in September, according to data from the real estate firm Redfin.

“People will invest for convenience,” Redfin Capitol Hill agent Michael Alderfer said. “If it’s a desirable location, someone will want to own it.”

The second-most expensive garage sold for $80,000. The brick structure behind 638 G St. SE boasts an automatic door and electricity, the listing says.

The third-most expensive space went for $40,000, in Capitol Hill Tower at 1000 New Jersey Ave. SE.

Parking spaces in the Capitol Hill Historic District are in particular demand, Yarmouth Management’s information manager, Tim Burr, said.

“[Spaces] are rare at the older buildings,” he said. “The places that do usually have parking are the newer buildings.”

Top prices for Hill parking spaces could be even higher than what’s officially listed. Many deals for spaces happen quietly, between neighbors, a Redfin spokeswoman said.

When someone is spending millions on a house, the price tag for a parking spaces doesn’t seem so high, Alderfer said.

“An extra hundred thousand is a great idea,” he said.

Related content: These were the most and least expensive homes on Capitol Hill in 2014, and here’s how new members of Congress are expected to shake up the Hill real estate market.


How to Cope With Water in Your Basement

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This regularly scheduled, sponsored Q&A column is written by Tom Faison of ReMax Allegiance at Eastern Market. Please submit your questions via email.

I get lots of calls from Capitol Hill clients and friends asking for waterproofing company references because of moisture penetration in and around their basements. Moisture in a basement and the moldy walls and ruined carpet it can cause often result in big money decisions — despite inexpensive options.

By professional waterproofing, I’m speaking of what is typically called a French drain system, which is buried beneath the perimeter of your basement and carries water to a sump pump, which ejects the water into the main storm/sewer drain, or back outside. This isn’t waterproofing. This is addressing symptoms by taking the problem out each time it appears. Imagine treating a pest infestation that way.

Over the years, I’ve seen costs for such systems range from $7,500 to as much as $14,000. Here are some simple methods and obvious reminders on how to save money by waterproofing your home yourself. Remember, we’re on Capitol Hill, where water naturally wants to run away, if you’ll just let it.

Absent mechanical failure, or manmade flaws in workmanship or installation of plumbed appliances, there are only four reasons water would be found in your Capitol Hill basement: grading, gutters, downspouts and drains.

Gutters: It seems obvious, but it’s important to understand that with most Capitol Hill townhomes, every drop of rain that falls on our flat roofs is captured by the 5- or 6-inch rear gutter that spans the width of the house. If the gutter isn’t fully clear of trash and debris, even a moderate rain load can spill over, landing directly next to your foundation. Combined with poor grading, soil becomes saturated, and isn’t noticed until too late. Many of us don’t have roof hatches or 40′ ladders, but I’ve found that many roofers willing to do the job, twice a year, for about $150. Also, Frager’s will rent out, deliver and set up a ladder for you.

Downspouts: Obviously tied in with gutters, these must also be clear of debris. But again, based on grading, where and how your downspouts exhaust water is crucial. If you’re one of a growing group of residents without functioning storm drain pipes on the rear of your home, your downspouts must be diverted away from your foundation. Without proper grading, unsightly extensions can be called for; but like a sump pump, these simply take water away from where it shouldn’t have been in the first place. When you or someone else is cleaning your gutters, try to run a garden hose down the spout to insure no blockage.

Drains: We all know they must be clear of leaves and debris, but keep in mind that in and around Capitol Hill, our storm and sewer drains are tied together. What you put in your toilet, as well as your garbage disposal, all goes to the same place; so backups can be awful. Call the plumber before you call the waterproofer … or once again head to Frager’s and rent a snake.

Grading: It seems simple, that the land around your home should slope away, but this may be the No. 1 overlooked cause of moisture in basements, particularly when the cause is difficult to ascertain before damage is visible. Over time, in even moderate rain conditions, a flat or reverse grade can result in saturated soil and a very slow penetration of moisture at the base of your foundation, which is often unnoticeable until it’s too late.

Grading is last on my list, but most important in my book. Landscaping 101: raising beds, proper plantings next to your foundation, good drainage and even some heavy dirt relocation can save thousands of dollars in unnecessary mechanical fixes. So head to Frager’s and rent a shovel. Spring time will be here soon.

The views and opinions expressed in the column are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of HillNow.com.


Ward 6 Residents Appointed to Charles Allen’s Staff

Charles Allen and wife Jordi Hutchinson, Nov. 4, 2014Charles Allen is heading to the Wilson Building with a six-person team.

The Ward 6 D.C. Councilman-elect announced his staff appointments today (Tuesday), including ex-ANC 6B Commissioner Nichole Opkins and Jamaal Jordan, a former staffer for Councilman David Catania.

“I know first-hand the importance of a strong Council staff and I’m excited to welcome aboard this outstanding team,” Allen said in a statement. “They bring a wealth of experience and relationships, both at the Council and in our Ward 6 neighborhoods.”

Opkins was appointed general counsel, and Jordan will be director of constituent services. Allen’s chief of staff will be Laura Marks, a Hill resident who was chairwoman of the councilman-elect’s campaign. Council committee director Anne Phelps will be legislative director. Naomi Mitchell, who is the community liaison for Tommy Wells, will remain in the role. Scheduler Myisha Atchison will also retain her position.

Allen will hold an inaugural open house on Friday.


Robber Armed With Sword Being Sought in Southwest

Sword (Photo via Flickr/albioneurope)A man armed with a sword robbed someone on 6th Street SW last night.

Police said overnight today (Tuesday) that the man held up a victim about 10:30 p.m. yesterday on the 900 block of 6th Street SW, on the western edge of Town Center West Park. The robbery occurred on the sidewalk, according to police.

The sword-wielding suspect was wearing glasses and dark clothing. Police did not immediately respond to an inquiry.

Anyone who can identify these individuals or who has knowledge of this incident should take no action but call police at 202-727-9099 or text your tip to the Department’s text tip line at 50411.

Crime Solvers of Washington, DC currently offers a reward of up to $1,000 to anyone who provides information that leads to the arrest and conviction of the person or persons responsible for a crime committed in the District of Columbia.

Photo via Flickr/albioneurope


Morning Rundown

1st Street SE

Statehood Advocates Honor Charles Allen — Ward 6 District Councilman Charles Allen was named a “Workhorse Not Showhorse” by the group Neighbors United for D.C. Statehood. [The51st.org]

Gentrification and the 11th Street Bridge Project — The head of the 11th Street Bridge Park group told The New York Times that managing development is a priority. “If we end up building a bridge park and people who were part of the process can no longer afford to live here, we have failed,” Scott Kratz said. [New York Times]

Youngest Member of Ward 6 ANCs — ANC 6E Commissioner-elect Antonio Barnes, 24, will be the youngest person to become a commissioner in Ward 6, District Chronicles reported. [District Chronicles]


Barracks Row Restaurant The Old Siam Flooded by Water Main Break

The Old Siam, Dec. 29, 2014

D.C. Water says the broken water main on 8th Street SE has been fixed, but the Thai restaurant The Old Siam is still coping with damage.

The basement of the 406 8th St. SE restaurant was inundated with two feet of water because of the water main break Christmas Eve morning, manager Nikkie Likitvanichkul said today (Monday). The flooding broke the heater for the entire building, and forced the restaurant to close for most of Wednesday.

“We probably lost a lot of business,” Likitvanichkul said as crews worked again this morning — just feet from The Old Siam’s front door — to repair the 12-inch pipe that flooded Barracks Row.

The Old Siam is open today but on Wednesday had to stay closed until 5 p.m. They usually open at 11:30 a.m. The Thai and sushi restaurant was able to operate for three hours before they were forced to close again.

The restaurant doesn’t yet know how much damage was done and is awaiting an insurance assessment, Likitvanichkul said.


VIDEO: Meet the D.C. Streetcar Operators

As the District Department of Transportation tries to get the streetcars running, meet the District residents who will drive them.

DDOT introduced nine streetcar operators in a new video promoted today. The drivers share their thoughts about the service in the upbeat minute-and-a-half-long clip.

“We are just making sure the public knows that we’re here. So far, everything is going good,” one operator says.

“Looking forward to seeing you on a D.C. Streetcar, riding with us,” another driver says in the “Meet the Operators” video. “Let’s share the road and enjoy transportation, because I got your ride!”

DDOT and the State Safety Oversight Office are locked in a struggle over safety documentation, The Washington Post reported. The oversight office has accused DDOT of filing misleading documentation. Officials are still aiming to start passenger service this week.


8th Street SE Closed Again Due to Water Main Break

Barracks Row water main break

(Updated at 12:30 p.m.) A water main break has closed a stretch of Barracks Row again, for the second time in less than a week.

Eighth Street SE is closed to traffic between D and E SE. The affected block is home to Starbucks, The Sweet Lobby, Chipotle and Capitol Hill Tandoor & Grill. Those businesses were open and had water service as of 12:30 p.m. today (Monday).

Additional repairs were needed on the same 12-inch water main that flooded the same block early Wednesday morning, a D.C. Water spokeswoman said. The water main work was complete by early this afternoon, but the the road closure remained in effect for “related utility work.” All water service has reportedly been restored.

Eighth Street SE should be able to be reopened by about 6 p.m. today, the D.C. Water spokeswoman said. In the meantime, buses are being rerouted.


Morning Rundown

Hine School building

Boy Shot Near NoMa — A boy was shot in the leg Friday afternoon near the intersection of North Capitol Street and New York Avenue. The shooting occurred about 3:25 p.m. on Hanover Place NW. District-wide, 12 people have been shot in just four days near Christmas. [Washington Post]

Atlas Performing Arts Center History — The chairwoman of the the Atlas Performing Arts Center, Jane Lang, is stepping down. A profile of her work doubles as a recent history of H Street NE. “The average person didn’t walk through H Street. The average person ran through H Street,” said Anwar Saleem, executive director of H Street Main Street. [Washington Post]

Capitol Riverfront Year in Review — JDLand rounded up all that’s new in Navy Yard and Near Southeast as of this year, including Subway Cafe, an “office building-oriented” Subway sandwich shop at 20 M St. SE with coffee and cushy chairs. [JDLand]


Smart Landlord Policies for Pet-Friendly Property Rentals

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This biweekly sponsored column is written by the experts at Gordon James Realty, a D.C.-based property management company that specializes in managing condos, single-family homes and multi-family properties in the metro region. Please submit any questions in the comments section or via email.

Want a surefire way to increase tenant demand for your rental? Take down the No-Pets Allowed sign.

The decision about whether to allow pets is a tough one for many owners, and there are no right or wrong answers. But some surveys show that nearly 75 percent of renters own pets. That’s a huge pool of potential tenants to turn away.

Tenants who find a welcoming home for Fluffy are also more likely to stay longer, which can reduce vacancy time. For owners renting their property as an investment, being pet-friendly makes good business sense.

But allowing pets isn’t always the right answer for owners renting out a home they plan to return to. For owners who have pets themselves, allowing renters to keep a cat, dog or goldfish will likely make leasing the home faster and easier. For those who haven’t had pets, keeping the rental pet-free is a reasonable choice.

According to a recent survey by Apartments.com, 9 out of 10 renters said deciding where to live hinged on the landlord’s pet policies. Seventy-two percent of renters said they owned pets.

Protecting Your Property When Allowing Pets

How can you avoid the dog that barks day and night and chews the cabinets, or the kitty that favors the closet floor over a litter box? Finding responsible pet owners is key to protecting your property and neighbors’ sanity.

The Humane Society suggests that landlords check references on both the tenant and their animal, including calling prior landlords, the veterinarian and neighbors to ensure the animal behaves and won’t cause serious damage.

The organization suggests owners limit the number of pets allowed in each unit and approve pets on a case-by-case basis, rather that create limits based on size or breed. The Humane Society recommends creating a pet policy that outlines acceptable pet behavior and requires that all pets be licensed, up-to-date on vaccinations and spayed or neutered.

Deposits and Fees

Beyond policies, landlords often charge extra deposits, fees or pet rent to limit risk and cover the cost of additional cleaning or wear and tear animals can cause to the unit, building and grounds. In the Apartments.com survey, nearly 80 percent of renters said they had to pay a fee or deposit for pets, with more than half paying $200 or more per year.

Be aware of what’s customary in your neighborhood plus local laws when deciding how much of a fee or deposit to charge.

D.C. law does not require that you rent to tenants who have pets. Service animals for people with disabilities are an exception. Under Fair Housing laws, landlords must allow service animals, even if a property is pet-free, and may not charge extra fees or deposits.

Whether you decide to allow pets or not, advertising your policy and targeting tenants most likely to appreciate your decision will help you find the perfect tenant faster.

The views and opinions expressed in the column are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of HillNow.com.


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