DC Office of Planning Seeks Your Help To Create a Vision and Revitalization Plan for Mt Pleasant St

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First we learn the Raven was getting renovated and now this! In various posts here I’ve read a number of comments from readers expressing their frustration over the slow development on Mt. Pleasant Street so hopefully this will provide a useful outlet. If you can’t make the workshop Wed. night please leave your ideas in the comments section and I’ll be sure to forward to the folks from the Office of Planning. If you can attend the event I’m told – “this is NOT a meeting, but an open house where folks can drop in and give their opinions and ideas on how to improve Mount Pleasant Street.”

So how would you improve Mt Pleasant Street?

From a press release:

On Wednesday, June 17, 2009, the DC Office of Planning will hold a public workshop in the Mount Pleasant neighborhood of Ward 1. The purpose of the workshop is to obtain community input on revitalization and development priorities for the Mount Pleasant Street commercial corridor in order to shape a revitalization plan.

The workshop will be an open house and participants may drop in any time from 6:30 pm – 8:30 pm to give their input on various topics to include:

* Mount Pleasant Street Physical Enhancements
* Development Opportunity Sites
* New Economic Development (new businesses, retail)
* Assistance for Existing Small Businesses
* Promotion of Unique Neighborhood Character

The study area for the planning initiative includes Mount Pleasant Street from Park Road to the north down to Hobart Street to the south, as well as Lamont Street, Park Road and Irving Street from 16th Street to Mount Pleasant Street.

Mount Pleasant Street Revitalization Open House-Style Workshop
Wednesday, June 17, 2009
6:30 – 8:30 PM
Bell Multi-Cultural School
3101 16th Street, NW (Cafeteria)
Se traducira en espanol

Bell Multi-Cultural School is located two blocks west of the Columbia Heights Metrorail Station (Green Line) and is on the S1, S2, S4, H8 and 42 bus lines.

61 Comment

  • The first thing people need to do is accept that the Deauville building will be tied up in litigation for the next 5 years. They were insured for $5 million and had a $5.5 million loan (or something like that- my numbers are probably off), so the debtors took the insurance money up-front and the owner’s in the hole for $500k, so now it’s for the judge to decide.

    The next thing people need to do is accept that MtP is no longer a Latin community. with the disappearance of the Deauville the percentage of “yuppies” I see on the street is 50% or more. Therefore the stores that catered to this customer base are going broke and closing.

    The last thing people need to do is develop a plan to deal with LC. I spoke to people who know her well, let’s say used to see her on a daily basis, and they lamented that she’s now completely insane and trying to cling to her past life which has totally rejected her. I don’t mean that she’s got wild opinions, they told me she’s a danger to herself and others. They begged her to get real professional help for her obsessions that destroyed her marriage in a very public arena. I was told they told her that she was no longer allowed to call them.

  • Arbys will be exactly what opens if Laurie Collins keeps scaring away quality restaurantuers. (side note. The arbys joke stopped bying funny so long ago it actually now pains me to read the word “arbys”. has nobody heard of setting a joke to pasture?”
    The easiest way to resurrect the street is to get the city to ban the Ludites who do NOT RESIDE HERE from meddling in neighborhood affairs. Investers have longed to open up here for a long time. It is one of the citys most interesting neighborhoods. If the neighborhood comes together and puts out a press release encouraging development of the vacant storefronts. changing our image to a neighborhood that will great new businesses with open arms. I think change would be quick to come.

  • How does a person who does not live in a certain neighborhood still have any say in that neighborhood’s governance. (Besides, you know, council members and whatnot.) How is that remotely possible?

  • if ONLY laurie collins were checked into a psyche ward. Im sure that headline would bring developers running to MTP Street in spades. It would be like a Laurie Collins Moratorium.

  • Please leave Mt P alone! It’s the only fun, quirky, truly integrated community left in DC! Don’t sterilize it!

  • if a Matchbox or other decent family friendly place with solid food opened on MTP. It would make a killing. A Goodstuff Eatery, Rocklands, (local casual eatery) would also do well. There is a lot of foot traffic considering there isnt a whole lot worth going to on the strip now. It could definately support a lot of boutiques as foot traffic would only increase as vacant storefronts get filled and better restaurants attract patrons from outside the neighborhood. as it is now neighborhood residents are going to other neighborhoods to eat. This trend should be reversed.

  • Anon 11:32- I used to share your opinion. but the facts cant be helped. stores will keep closing. vacancies will rise. you cant freeze the neighborhood in time. if we dont attract good local businesses now then the vacancies will keep piling up and eventually chains will snatch them up since we aare shunning local investers with solid reputations. so if you truely arent interested in MTP becoming steril i suggest you start writing letters to local businesses. Lets get a Taylor St Deli to open in MTP instead of a Panera. Lets get a Rays Hell Burger instead of yet another Five guys. Lets get a tryst instead of a starbucks. etc. Shunning change will only bring about the wrong kind in the long run.

  • Between this and Marc Fisher’s last column for the Washington Post about Cleveland Park…well, it makes me happy to live in Petworth where the neighborhood rallies to get development (such as helping Yes Organic Market to get their beer/wine license) instead of opposing any kind of devlopment. Yes, there are dissenters about what kind of development, but overall at least the neighborhood welcomes it.

  • I know several small business owners [two ABC establishments and one specialty retailer] who have businesses in other neighborhoods and were considering expanding into MtP. They all ultimately decided it was basically more hassle than it was worth due to likely interference from Ms. Collins. Until she’s out of the picture simply the reputation/fear of her will keep many local businesses from considering starting up there.

  • The potential for Mt. Pleasant to have a cool Main Street-type environment, combined with the retail doldrums it’s been in for years, is very depressing. It should be all the things that DCUSA and Target are not – it should have a vibrant nightlife, with plenty of small/local cafes, bars and restaurants, mixed in with the hardware store, bakery, and other small retail establishments. The streetscape can certainly be improved, and the vacant building, litter and crime need to be addressed. The disconnect between Mt. Pleasant’s surrounding affluent residential areas, and the dingy main commercial drag is something that should be bridged, one step at a time, with care.

  • I think we need to develope some sort of Neighborhood grants for solid small businesses that need a little sprucing up as well. Don Jamies is great. I go there often. But as the tide changes will it be able to survive? I hope so. Balancing good change and preservation is tricky but I think it can be done in a way that MTP retains its character. But I agree that just trying to stop all change is not a means to an end.

  • If change equals shutting down and kicking out the latino businesses in favor of businesses (small or large, local or chains) that cater to the rich whites in the “surrounding affluent residential areas” it will be shameful. Perhaps such change is inevitable, but it would be the wrong way to bring about such change.

  • Hey Anonymous,

    The Arbys suggestion isn’t a joke. A lot of us actually really enjoy Arby’s, and it’s 10 times better than your average fast food restaurant. If Arby’s came to Mt. Pleasant everyone would love it, including you. You just don’t know it yet. That’s the thing about Arby’s.

  • Also, if the word Arby’s actually pains you than prepare yourself for an awful existence on this earth, because for most people the word Arby’s brings nothing but joy and good memories and the Midwest.

  • Anon 11:53- That is just fear mongering. there are like 9 vacant storefront on MTP street. There will be more to come but nobody is going to up and kick out the latinos. Don Jamies- Don Juans- Haydees- Ercilias- Sabrosa. Are all solid businesses that have no trouble making the rent. and nobody is going to kick them out when there are endlesses empty spaces on the strip.

  • It’s not about shutting down or kicking out Latino businesses — or any other kind of businesses for that matter. It’s about attracting businesses to take over the numerous vacant store fronts up and down the street.

    People are so vocally picky about the kind of businesses they DON’T want (it can’t be a chain, it can’t be for yuppies, it can’t be for Latinos, it can’t have live music, etc) that MtP has gotten a well-deserved reputation for being anti-business.

    I want cafes with outdoor seating that liven up the street life. Stores that appeal to young families. A “destination” restaurant. A gourmet market. But I’ll take any honest, legal business that provides wanted services to a sizable amount of the surrounding community.

  • These aren’t “planning” issues. We don’t need a streetscape, or a charette, or a visioning-exercise.

    These are business issues. We need some entrepreneurs to decide to risk their own money and start some businesses on Mount Pleasant Street that earn money.

    Nobody, not even Laurie Collins, can shut down the existing businesses. the only things that can do that are the customers, the business owners, and, on occasion, the landlords who jack up rents.

  • “Please leave Mt P alone! It

  • I’m a relatively new Mt. P resident. Can someone give me background on this Laurie Collins character and why she’s screwing with my ‘hood? I can tell from the earlier comments that this is a contentious point, so I don’t want to steer the whole discussion towards this.

    Maybe just some links to other articles/discussions about said woman?

    Viva Mt. Pleasant!

  • “Please leave Mt P alone! It

  • Oh good grief. Will the rabble-rousing Laurie Collins haters just please stop. She lives in another neighborhood now, she has definitely started withdrawing from MtP politics and, contrary to what people have posted above, she is not the sole reason why Mt.P Street is in the dumps. Here are some other, more likely reasons:

    1. There is currently no one economic group dominant enough to support a particular type of business. That’s why the most trafficked places (the bank, the hardware store) are places that draw from a wide variety of ethnic and economic groups. That makes it very hard for someone trying to start a business to decide what type of business would be economically viable in Mount Pleasant. Much easier to start a business over on 11th—where you have a predictable market in the 700 new yuppie apartment units that have come on line at Columbia Heights.

    2. Mt.P street is hard to find and therefore is not a natural choice for retailers. Mt. Pleasant Street’s name should be on the Columbia Heights metro, but the Columbia Heights ANC has blocked it.

    3. The owners of the commercial buildings on Mt.P Street lack the will and/or interest and/or sophistication to make physical improvements to their buildings or make tenant improvement dollars available to attract decent tenants.

    4. Laurie Collins is far from the only “colorful” civic personality in MtP. The long-time ANC Commissioner whose SMD serves most of the MtP business district is an eccentric with the desire to have MtP be maintained and/or redeveloped into predominantly low-income high rise housing (a la Columbia Heights Village High rise) and attacks anyone who disagrees with his personal ideosyncratic vision for MtP as being racist and/or classist. Even though the owner of Radius/Tonic wanted no part of the “live music wars” that raged between MPNA and the ANC, this particular commissioner protested their liquor license anyway in an attempt to use them as a political pawn in his power struggle with Ms. Collins—thus forcing a popular and locally owned small business to incur needless attorney fees.

  • Yes, improve the streetscape as was done with 8th Street SE, but only if it isn’t going to take three years of closed sidewalks to get there.

    Create some kind of improvement zone with relaxed DC rules and regulations that could help new businesses get around the MPNA NIMBY’s who don’t want any “outsiders” ever wanting to come to Mt. P for any reason and who like the main street dead.

    Provide loans, incentives, financial assistance to locally-owned businesses. Penalize owners of vacant-nuisance properties.

    If possible, seize the Deauville through eminent domain and tear it down.

    Discourage any *additional* laundromats or bodegas. I think eight or so nearly identical establishments should be enough for any community.

    Even just a Mt. P BID with a couple of employees responsible for keeping the trash picked up and the tree boxes spruced (a la the “Golden Triangle downtown) would be a big plus.

  • 11:53- you are a fool with your head up you know where.

    The Latino owned businesses are going bankrupt because they aren’t profitable and they’re going bankrupt rapidly. DO NOT DARE insinuate that white people in the neighborhood are trying to do anything but bring in functional businesses. the dysfunctional businesses are closing under their own weight and there are 9 empty store fronts the last time I checked and I believe 7 catered to the Latin community. You owe every reader here an apology for what is virtually hate speech. You think so much about race that you are virtually a you-know-what who is part of the problem. I am really concerned that the von Brunns of the community might infect this meeting.

  • 1:00pm, aren’t you confusing two different ANC reps? Gregg and Jack are two different people, but you write as if they’re the same person.

    If LC has withdrawn from MtP, show me one thing she’s withdrawn from. I talked to people in May who were shrugging their shoulders at her personal issues writ large.

  • A quick Google search of “Laurie Collins Mount Pleasant” will fill you in, but honestly, I think people give this woman too much credit. The ABC Board put a stop to her crusade against live music, and in the end, cooler heads prevailed. And honestly, even the MPNA acknowledges tha MtP is in dire need of development to fill the empty storefronts. I think this can be done in a way that respects existing businesses while addressing the need for more vibrant commercial development along the strip.

  • “DO NOT DARE insinuate that white people in the neighborhood are trying to do anything but bring in functional businesses.”

    Seems some are trying to bring in functional businesses that cater to the rich, white demographic and shutting down businesses that don’t. Others are more wisely looking for ways to help existing businesses thrive while also improving the landscape with new, viable enterprises in vacant spaces.

    Hard to ignore the blatant racism in some of these posts though.

  • I hear you DCDude, but her crusade against live music lasted for how many years? and has her crusade against the dumpsters, fences and related activities by the Latin bar and grocery store across the street from her old house really stopped?

    here’s an interesting LC piece by Marc Fisher:

    Please note how incredibly insane her pull quote is given reality. Really, given what you all know to be true, what do you think of her responses? Do you think she’s delusional?

  • I have been keeping up with the Arby’s thread and find it (yes still) funny. I did a map quest for Arby’s in DC. NODDA one in DC. I am so blessed to have an Arby’s across street from my job. My heart goes out to Dc’ers who are Arby meltless. Also walked around MP yesterday for the first time to get a feel for it. First reaction unfortunately, it seemed a little down and out (at 11 AM) but I will still give it whatever business I can in the future.

  • Every time I’m on Mt. Pleasant street, I find myself fixated on all the vacant storefronts, and wondering if now might be the time to cash in some (generally doing nothing but losing $) investments, raise a bit of cash, team up with someone who’s opened a restaurant in DC before, and open up a place like this:

  • Seems some are trying to bring in functional businesses that cater to the rich, white demographic and shutting down businesses that don

  • Anon 1pm. you are wrong about the demographics and what they can support. In fact nearly all the townhomes in mtp are now owned by people with disposable incomes. Young families, young professionals. etc. you have the argyle condos and the condos above tonic. Whether for good or bad the demographic has changed and can and would support a lot more restaurants, cafes, pubs, boutiques. But as it stands the young families load their kids in the station wagon and go to 2amys, or cactus cantina etc. there is a large trade deficit if you will with our own residents spending their disposable income outside of their own neighborhood because there is no place they care to patronize on MTP street. walk your dog down hobart street sometime. You are basically running a gauntlet of children. once MTP gives them some options im sure they would much rather walk 2 blocks to a nice family friendly sit down restaurant rather than drive to another neighborhood. If you build it they will come.

  • MtP reminds me a lot of Cleveland Park lately – or the other way around. Both are relatively small commercial strips with a finite amount of store fronts. Both have many vacant stores that leave me scratching my head whenever I see them. The two have plenty of foot traffic. From a top-down view, both sit adjacent to lots of west-lying, low-density housing (single family homes in Cleveland Park and large rowhomes in MtP). A lot of the stores on each strip have been around forever and seem to be institutions in their respective neighborhoods.

    They’re both great neighborhoods that seem to have lost a lot of stores/restaurants throughout this recession and credit crunch, and seem to be having trouble filling those stores back up. I don’t know if either suffer from some unique inability to attract business or if it just a sign of these unfortunate economic times. I sincerely believe the two will be fine once the larger economy turns around.

  • The Laurie Collins Moratorium went into effect almost a year ago–no need to worry about her getting involved with any local politics, alcohol, or development issues or decisions. She’s happy and living in another neighborhood…and currently laughing at all you asses who think they really know me.

    xoxo, Laurie Collins

  • Laurie this is great news! So you no longer attend MPNA meetings? I guess you have given up controll of the Mount Pleasant Listserv as well?? What of the other MPNA members who do not live in MTP? Have they decided to join their own neighborhoods groups and leave us alone as well? I can go to the MTP meeting at Bell on Wednesday and I wont see you there?

  • I didn’t see you at National Night Out last August? I thought for sure I did. I’m confused then, but I thought you were right there.

  • Dear Anonymous (weak and spinless):

    Isn’t it though? (great news!)

    I think the question is, am I still on the MPNA board. That answer is NO.

    Listserv: Gave that up last year.

    I have no idea of other MPNA members who do not live in Mt. Pleasant. I do know members of Hear Mount Pleasant, Main Street, and the Business Association who are members of these groups and DO NOT live in Mount Pleasant. Have they decided to join their own groups in their neighborhoods? –I don’t know–you need to ask them. But hey, it’s all about me, right?

    Nope, I won’t be there on Wednesday–feel free to go–you have my blessing…:().

    xoxo, Laurie Collins

  • Laurie- If this is true, do us all a favor and contact the city paper for a follow up article. Im thinking front page. Tell them you no longer have ANY dealings in MTP. Do that and I bet the old super saver gets snatched up the following week. Would make a great restaurant with the parking lot transformed into a garden patio.

  • Neener, what you posted about me makes me think that it might be YOU who is completely insane and maybe YOU should seek professional help.

  • agree with anon 2:40. You may have left Laurie but what good is it if nobody knew. You need to go public with this great news. You have hurt our property values long enough. time to breath some new life into the strip. and the news of your departure could be just the ticket!

  • I’m sorry, who besides my friends, relatives, neighbors, local organizations in numerous neighborhoods, the DC Government, Mayor’s Office, DC Council, all local newspapers political reporters, couple of radio stations, schools, DMV, and my family should I tell?

    As to property values….hmmm…really? Obviously you haven’t lived there long enough to see property values increase 5-7x what most people paid.

    As to breathing some new life into the strip–GO FOR IT—I can’t wait to see the outcome.

  • hmm. Laurie you kicked me off the Mount Pleasant Forum like 7 months ago. And have posted there more recently than that. But I digress. If all the commenters here still see you as a threat. I am sure the investors who considered but then abandoned plans to open on MTP still think you are as well. The owner of Room 11 used your name specifically for why they opened on 11th st. So it would have been good if you had let them know your plans to step down. I sure would have loved a place like that a block from my house. And of course home values have done well here as they have all over DC. but you are fooling yourself if you think they wouldnt be even better if we had a thriving commercial corridor

  • “Most of the Hispanic community has contributed nothing to Mt Pleasant either economically nor socially.”

    Is this a serious comment? What a horrible and completely inaccurate comment if it is indeed serious. Not a good way to start building consensus on changes needed to be made.

  • You know, since moving to Mt. P two years ago I have been alternately amused and frustrated by the neighborhood in-fighting. And yes, my impression is that Laurie and MPNA in the past have had quite a strong influence over the neighborhood, and I also generally do not agree with her. However, I’m not sure what is accomplished by vilifying her on this blog. How about we actually focus on what the neighborhood needs, rather than calling each other names and blaming each other for the continued stagnation of our main street?

    I’m thrilled that DCOP is finally doing a planning study of the neighborhood. Hopefully something good will come out of it. @mphs – the state of Mt. Pleasant Street is most certainly a planning issue. Planning is about a lot more than urban design – economic development is very much a part of planning. Government investment and incentives can be powerful tools towards revitalizing neighborhoods.

  • a second run-artsy-fartsy movie house would be a really cool addition to Mt-P.

  • I apologize for my post of what was definitely a hurtful message. Just because you decided to air your dirty laundry in public does not somehow make me look good by commenting on it.

    As long as you really have taken a look at your personal actions I will not comment on your situation in the future and apologize for the post above.

    I did not name names.

  • I second Esmeralda’s remarks. Let’s get off this obsession with Laurie Collins. It’s a distraction.

  • Back to the original question, my wishlist would have to include a furniture/home accessories store, a children’s book store, a deli, and a 24-hour diner.

  • How interesting that some of you think (1) I shouldn’t post on any public forum; (2) I shouldn’t attend public meetings (3) others who live outside the neighborhood are allowed to participate in any MTP organization except for MPNA…and now (4) I should have told (or even known) unknown investors abandoned their plans to open on MTP Street that I had plans to step down when (a) I don’t even know these people, (b) these guys never contacted me or the association to discuss or present their plans; or (c) they would base their decision on hearsay. Really? Personally, they’re probably doing a lot better where they are, especially in a neighborhood where they live as well.

    You guys expect so much from me, yet I don’t see any of you doing anything to improve the commercial strip yourselves. It’s very easy to blame someone–but harder to pull up your sleeves and work to make it better.

    Where were all of you, huh? And what are your plans to improve the commerical strip now?

    Maybe you can start by joining Main Street who is supposed to be taking care of and promoting the vitaility and life of the commercial strip in the first place.

  • I have not been involved at any point, in any way, in the Laurie Collins/ANC/Hear MtP etc etc etc disputes. I just have one thing to say, guys:


  • I think that Mt Pleasant could easily support a higher-end grocery store/wine store and a number of finer dining options.

    I think, though, the first priority should be simple broken windows stuff, like cleaning up the garbage on the streets and sidewalks and cleaning up the Deauville. Even if emminent domain can’t be declared, there are a number of smaller issues that are making MtP look (and smell) terrible, such as the drainage problems and that port-o-potty. These should be simple fixes that would really help.

  • I have it on good authority that Laurie Collins’ favorite fast food chain is Arby’s.

  • two words: wine bar!

  • Two minutes into this meeting and some (seriously) is “distugusted”! that the planners didn’t provide headsets with insta-tranlating capability. I couldn’t make this up. This is the moment I am no longer a liberal. The fucking balls on this prick!

  • Yuppies go home!

  • Ballslightning, now you know why nothing gets done in MtP. It’s a maelstrom of Marxist and nimbyist activism, with residents caught in the middle.

  • define yuppie (other than the objective view: everyone on this site with varying shades of self image)

  • I’ll take the theories of Karl Marx, Friedrich Engels, and Vladimir Lenin over self righteous high end fashions anyday, throw in a little of East Berlin too!

  • Can someone fill us in on what happened at the meeting?

  • What about a bowling alley?

  • bowling alley!!!!! Great. Tear down Bestway /expand the park!!! Add a fountain!!!!Great. Childrens bookstore (I would not wish that on any owner) . Jewish/Lebanese Deli with magazine&gun rack YES!!!!
    Community toilet with full time concierge. ABsolutely. !!!! Bring back Marco (the best street sweeper ever) &Bonnie (best cross over cop) Yes!!!! Bring back the cross town nightly. Yes!!!!

    Laurie Collins……..Did a lot of damn good things in this neighborhood!!!!!! YES!!!!

    But here it is, yuppie investers with their money on the sidelines….Arena Football/community owned (like the GB Packers.) Keeps rents down; allows survival….
    Well, maybe not football, but an out door restaurant at the old Church’s Chicken lot. with Saturday flea market. Title held as a tontine trust!!!!Yes!!!!YES!!!!

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