Friday Question of the Day

Did anyone see the Post article on all the restaurants coming to H Street, NE? We once discussed this a long time ago but I think it may be a bit more apropos now. Is development on H Street, NE a zero sum game vis a vis development of Georgia Avenue? I ask this because it seems the primary force behind H Street’s development is Joe Englert. Mr. Englert was/is also a minority owner in Temperance Hall. Now it seems like Mr. Englert has abandoned Georgia Ave. development to focus on H Street. I’m not saying there aren’t other investors or visionaries out there but it seems tougher to realize without him. I always joke with my attorney who lives near H Street that Georgia Ave will have more restaurants than H Street. But I’m beginning to doubt myself. So what do you guys think – does development on H Street take away money and investors from Georgia Ave.?

Ed. Note: Do you the readers have any interest in my covering H Street, NE development?

27 Comment

  • very interested in coverage of H street.

  • I don’t think its a zero-sum game. If Joe Englehart wasn’t investing in H Street, it wouldn’t make Georgia Ave a more attractive business proposition for a prospective restaurant owner. But while we’re on the topic, does anyone think that a coop operation would work here? Or maybe if a bunch of us pool resources we could form an LLC that would back a restaurant? Just seems like lots of us have little bits of money, and there’s a need that’s going unserved…

    — JM

  • H street = hipster trap. its like the manufactured collectibles on QVC… you can’t manufacture a “cool” neighborhood. the cubic zirconia of nightlife.

  • Petworth seems much more attractive to me from an investment standpoint. The location is better. Metro accessible. More foot and car traffic. GA Ave is far and away more busy than H St. Closer to popular U St. and Col Hts. I think NW is the driver of DC. As NW goes, so goes the rest of the city.

  • i lived off of h street, near the argonaut, before i moved to petworth… to me, it feels like georgia avenue is closer to the nate said, more accessible, more traffic, and maybe even more safe… h street still feels a little untamed to me…my money is on georgia.

  • Well probably what Mr. Englert sees, somewhat similiar to what “petworthy” said is that it doesn’t seem like a lot of people go out here in Petworth. No matter what day or time, my husband and I feel like we are always the only people out for dinner/drinks. Grant it, Looking Glass gets some good business, but I am told that it is a lot of people coming up from Columbia Heights.

    I posted once before on how my husband and I were looking to purchase some property to open a Wine Bar in Petworth. It was amazing ,the support we had received and how big the interest was for us to open this. But frankly I think we are happy now that the real estate deal fell through, (due to sketchy owners), as I don’t know if we would have enough customers to have supported the restaurant and bar.

    I have had this discussion many times before with other residents. Seems like everyone “talks” about wanting more restaurants, etc, but do Petworth residents really go out, are we more “stay at home”, or is this area just more spread out or connected to other areas, that we are all going out but spreading ourselves thin across the Petworth/CH, U Street area?

  • I am not interested in anything more than glancing coverage of H Street. Maybe once the street car line opens we’ll see interesting non-homogenized development of that area and I’ll be more interested in making the trip over there. Currently, I don’t have any desire to participate in the forced manufacture of a neighborhood or in helping to stuff Joe Englehart’s pockets with the profits from overpriced/shoddy drinks. I don’t think it’s possible or even advisable to create a neighborhood from hipster attractions — but he’s certainly trying.

  • Say wha? H st and Col Heights/U St have a lot of similarities. Both were heavily affected by the riots, both are newly-minted hip places as a result of gentrification. I’d say in quality, non-chain restaurants, the focus of the Post article, H St has the edge.

    What make CH any less “manufactured” requires some further, unbiased explanation.

  • So walking northbound from Lamont to the metro we have a new apartment building Sidney on the Ave. On Morton, next to the gas station there is an apartment under construction. A block up from that is the new school which is across the street from the soon to be seniors center. And when one finally arrives at metro, how do you miss that huge building under construction. Yes, Georgia does have its detractors. No one is arguing that. But, the potential is starting to materialize.

  • I think Petworth can support a wine bar or any of the amenities that you see in CH or U St. I can’t tell you how many nights per week a friend and I go to The Heights or Busboys or Mayorga (pre-Korean restaurant).

    I talk to some of the store owners in Petworth. Mango gets a lot of business. It is really one of the few non carryout restaurants in the area. Domku serves food that is far from mainstream or inexpensive and is still in business. The guy with the store on Randolph and GA says his beer selection has had to change to accomodate the more affluent population.

    H. St., in my opinion, works because many of the people there have little voice. Many of the buildings were abandoned. Development can take off when there is little resistance from the community. Just look at how difficult it is to get a liquor license for the organic grocery store. Yet, bar after bar open up on H. St. Our ANC’s can stifle development.

  • Whether you like what Englehart is doing is irrelevant; he’s doing well enough to continue to pump more money in the area. People are going, whether one feels it’s manufactured, artificial, or overrated. I say cover it.

  • since when is H Street a manufactured neighborhood? so, when someone opens some bars in a formerly extremely seedy area, the neighborhood is suddenly zirconia? this is infill NE DC, people, not a suburban lifestyle center. have you ever even been to H Street?

    how else is a neighborhood supposed to progress? and what would be the alternative where you all would then not call it manufactured?

  • One problem with H Street is that it abruptly turns into Benning Road, which looks and feels like an avenue of death and despair. I would never under any circumstances want to live anywhere near Benning Road (or “super extended capital hill eastern like area” as im sure the realtors will start calling it soon). Going up Georgia Avenue, there are rough spots for sure, but nothing like Benning Road.

    I think Petworth development is happening more organically, while the development of H street was being forced during the real estate bubble…I don’t think H street is going to happen for a long time, if ever.

  • Yeah, H Street has (even before all the new stuff coming in) by far the coolest group of places in D.C., or at least can compete with U Street on that front: Granville Moore’s rocks (oh how I wish it was in CH …), Red and the Black and Rock and Roll Hotel get some good acts, Argonaut is very good as well, and Sticky Rice (haven’t yet been) sounds awesome. The places feel local and are very high-quality. But the big problem really is the location, I have been very aggressively pan handled or acosted every time I’ve gone there, including having a rock thrown at me b/c I wouldn’t give a drunk guy money. I feel nervous there in a way I don’t feel around here. I think Georgia Ave. has far superior infrastructure: metro, close to lots of big residential development, what will very soon be a very attractive, well-lit, busy street-scape, but for some reason, there seems to be ZERO development of new commercial properties on that stretch, despite tons of available real estate. Are folks waiting for the public realm to be done? Is there just too much competition from near-by U Street and Columbia Heights? I don’t know, but I do know that I would kill for a Sticky Rice or Argonaut or Granville Moore’s around here …

  • Petworthy: Could not disagree more. A very few local investors took an abandoned strip of commercial around a promising anchor (atlas theater) and between themselves opened enough good businesses to create a self-sustaining nightlife district. You can’t “manufacture” a cool neighborhood — you’re right, but turn your eyes on CH and the Petworth metro, not the wholly locally and independently owned H St businesses. If we’d be so lucky in Petworth…

    We got the massive corporate development first (park place), so every piece of run-down real estate has been priced up. You think someone wants to pay a cool million to open a pub in the EatMore Fried Chicken space? Or pay 15k a month to be in the condo building? That’s why GA Ave will get Mocha Hut and CVS, not the Argonaught and the Red and the Black. I feel better about 14th street…

  • Without commenting on H Street neighborhood one way or the other, please remember that the Frozen Tropics blog (linked from this one) covers H Street and the surrounding area very well. Therefore I don’t think this blog should branch out to that area when FT already exists (lots of good info on all the restaurants there too). And to anyone who thinks the commenters on this blog sometimes get into nasty fights, you h’ain’t seen nothing until you read some of the comment-strings on Frozen Tropics.

    I will say that I’m envious of H St. for having jumped ahead of Ga. Ave. in the queue for a streetcar.

  • 1300blk hit the nail on the head

  • 1300 blk makes a good point. Columbia Heights is WAY priced up whether you want to buy a place to live or open a business. I think we can still have hope though for Georgia Ave (Eatmore will not get a million…that building fall apart as it sits on the market forever). Georgia Ave, 14th St NW and 11th St NW have a lot of small business spaces that will bring independent businesses. There are plenty of shops getting crowded out of Dupont Circle, Adams Morgan and U St by high rents that need a less expensive place to go.

    BTW Mocha Hut is a local business even if they have a couple locations…not fair to lump them in with CVS. Donatelli Development has done a good job of getting a good mix of businesses to open in their building, and by bringing new residents to the neighborhood, they’ll support the smaller businesses as well.

  • Arguably a more relevant discussion for Petworth could be started around these (good) news:

    More background:

    With the Great Street Project, these new developments, and all the others up and down the lower and middle part of GA, GA is on an up swing (how “organic” and local it will be, remains to be seen).

    ps. DCMud is a great blog IMO.

  • 15 years from now people will look at the concept of a “zero sum game” in DC as a joke.

  • In answer to PoP’s question as to whether or not he should cover H street developments, personally I think it is cool to know of good local eats and shopping, but since it isn’t in your regular travels maybe just a update here and there but not so much a featured neighborhood… I am glad to have learned about Sticky Rice but I don’t really care if they have nice gardens, doors, houses, or rentals over there so much. 🙂

  • I agree with nate at 9:35. Folks do go out, but because of the relatively limited selection we currently face in the area, people are not always out in Petworth, but in CH locations, or visiting friends or spots near their work, etc.

    I think H Street and Petworth are apples and oranges. They have a far more limited geographic space – about 4th street to 14th street, from the Union Station bridge to benning road, while GA ave is a ‘whole’ piece from Missouri down. We also have more bredth, whereas teh H Street area currently has the spate of violence on its northern (above Florida) and eastern borders that constrains it, and which may also continue to cause the types of disturbance that New2CH references (and which i’ve witnessed as well on H. St.).

    While H St. will top out and become the next Cap Hill, with a collection of semi-good bars and restaurants, GA Ave and Petworth has the opportunity to become much more – corporate and local, residential, condos, metro, and importantly, opportunity for ‘spurs’ – off on Upshur, Kennedy, Park, New Hampshire (the development between near Farragut and NH is a prime location for new stuff), etc. It may take longer, but I suspect Petworth and GA Ave, in the end, will fare better.

  • Since I live as the crow flies between Petworth and H ST I read both this blog and Frozen Tropics to keep up on my adjacent neighborhood news. While we in Brookland await development around our neighborhood metros (RI Ave & Brookland/CUA) I happily frequent both H St and Petworth for restaurants and I think it is silly to think of any development anywhere East of 14th St NW as a “at the expense” of other neighborhoods. Those of us who live east of 14th St. NW no matter what part of the city should cheer when we hear about development in Petworth, Brookland, Brentwood, H St, Anacostia, etc. Dense infill development /removal of boarded up buildings, and openings of new businesses in these parts of the city are badly needed and just like I cheered when Target opened in Columbia Heights I will cheer when Petworth gets more development and hopefully you all will cheer when Brookland sees some as well.

  • We have a toddler yet go out whenever we can. You all may miss us, because parents have to go out at the latest at 6:00 and be back by 8:00. We go to the Derby, La Cabana, and El Amigo, the taqueria whose name I always forget, Dom Ku, and Red Rocks. At a stretch we will go The Heights. We like the take-out chicken everybody wrote about a few weeks ago (in CH), and the pizza and wings from Washington Pizza are good and cheap. The owner of the liquor store at 14th and Quincy had to build a wine shelf to accommodate the new demand. He sometimes asks for opinions about the selection.

  • Yo D – What’s the take-out chicken you’re referencing that everybody wrote about a few weeks ago (in CH)? Do you mean sweet mango cafe?

  • living in the far east of Petworth (1st st.), there is virtually nothing in the way of bars/restaurants nearby, so if i have to drive or metro somewhere, it’s going to be chinatown, U st., dupont, adams morgan, etc. for indian, chinese, ethiopian, italian, or mediterranean food. pretty much the only decent east-of-Georgia Petworth dining/bar locations are El Limeno and maybe Domku (although i think they are style over substance–greatly overpriced for what you get, and inconsistent in quality). even the area franchises are below par–the GA Ave. Popeye’s sucks, and i LOVE popeye’s!

    i liked temperance when it was temperance, but i am not too sure about LGL; seems to have lost something (and i gotta say, i absolutely hate the name–it sounds like a food court option at Disneyland).

  • Greetings all,

    I am a regular Frozen Tropics contributor and a homeowner who lives just off H St NE.

    Thanks to everyone giving my ‘hood some kind words. I think that the best thing is for folks is different neighborhoods to work together. I’m sure folks in interested in entrepreneurial startups, more sitdown restaurants and urban renewal generally should work hand in hand (and boy oh boy i can’t wait till we can get a vote in congress, but i digress).

    Mayor Fenty has roots in the Georgia Ave community, I swear more needs to be done to lobby him to come up with a consolidated plan to renovate georgia from howard u up to the border with silver spring. it’s a long corridor, so it will require coordinated effort between city gov’t the community and entrepreneurs. is there a main street program for georgia ave?

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