40 Comment

  • Don’t we have only (at most) one more month of patio weather anyway?

  • How much “pedestrian flow of traffic” is on this weird little corner? Is there really anything to impede?

    • This corner is essentially a dead-end, with very little vehicle traffic, let alone “heavy pedestrian use” clogging it up.

    • Tsar of Truxton

      Basically, only DoL employees going somewhere during lunch and kickball players who are likely headed to Alibi (if it is anything like My Brother’s Place was). That said, it does seem like a raw deal for the new owners who just opened the place, to have the city do this now. Probably should have done it before it was sold. Who were the old owners paying off?

  • Because SO many people crowd that sidewalk… Seriously, Alibi has been a great bonus to the area, and the amount of work they’ve put in restoring that place is unbelievable. I didn’t know this was an issue, especially with My Brother’s Place being there – let alone something DDOT would take action on. How about they focus on all the sidewalks/bike lanes that aren’t given safe alternatives due to all the hazards of construction around town?

  • Damn. It looked like they put a lot of blood and sweat into this place. I work around the corner, there is absolutely nothing impeding the sidewalk. It’s a dead block.

  • I don’t know the history here at all, so pardon if this is a silly question – but was this previously used as open outdoor space? And did they have a permit before they enclosed the space?

    • I’ve worked in the area for 5 years, and it’s always been enclosed.

      • Yes, it’s definitely been enclosed for at least a decade. Strange that it’s an issue now.

        • That is what I wonder. If this was something new I would wonder why wasn’t this caught earlier in the permitting process – though I suppose the same question could be asked if it was done 10 years ago.

          I looked at street view (done as of 5/2014) and that side is rather closer to the curb than a permanent structure generally are (table seating but with no structure for the nearby businesses are different) but still why is this an issue now and not when it was originally done.

    • Google street maps has photos of the area being enclosed back to at least 2008.

    • I recall this space being enclosed when I went to law school in the area in the mid ’00s.

    • I partied there in the early 1990’s when it was My Brother’s Place and the space was enclosed then. My parents actually held my surprise 21st birthday at the bar, where I was already a regular. The manager just winked when my mom called about my “22nd” birthday.

  • Did they ever get their liquor license issue resolved? Last I heard, they were not serving any booze which is unfortunate for a pub.

  • Truly ridiculous move by some busybody over at DOT trying to justify their job. This structure has been like this for years and the corner is pretty much devoid of pedestrian traffic anyways. Plus, the sidewalk isn’t really that small. Old cities like Boston and Philly have tons of tight spots that get a lot more foot traffic than this little corner will ever see. Maybe this technically violates some sidewalk ordinance. But, this is what zoning variances are meant for.

  • west_egg

    I was under the impression that things like this were grandfathered — there are numerous other examples of encroachments like this that would never get permitted today, but are allowed to stand since they were built so long ago.

    • It’s probably now being questioned because they are making changes (albeit not to the footprint).

      • It was probably non-conforming, but then in the course of renovations they hit some trigger that either deemed it an expansion of the non-conformity or something that otherwise required its removal. The whole point of non-conformities is at some point they need to go away.

  • The new director ([email protected]) at DDOT seems to be making changes, not all of them make sense. He is over all sides of DDOT. Matthew Marcou does public space above ground. This goes for changes in construction as well, and affects our work in the street.

  • When the enclosed patio was originally built no one actually got a permit for it. That was close to 40 years ago.

  • There is more to this story. Was it build illegally? You have to go through public space. Did they buy the property knowing it wasn’t legally permitted? Did they build it themselves without a permit. I know people thinks its just DDOT/DC gov bureacracy and granted things could run smoother. But public space permitting is important. Otherwise you end up with a ton of clutter, and limited access for people with disabilities. Honestly, when I read this my thought is that the business effed up but dc gov is the easy scape goat.

    • ^This. It reads to me like this was not a legally permitted public space (whether or not it was legal before the new operators) and they’ve been caught after they skipped the application process.

      • When buying a property one uses a title company to check the boundary of the property and what is public space. When the ownership changed, the purchasing party would have known that the patio was in public space.

        • Agree about the title company — the owner’s should go back to the title company (i.e. the title insurance) that didn’t clear the title before they bought the place! Also, if the owner who built the patio over 40years ago didn’t have permission to build, true or not, I would say the point is moot because the city doesn’t keep 40 year old permit records (statute of limitations).

    • Looking at the DC zoning map, that entire enclosure is in public space. I don’t see how DC can make an exception for something that. If they did, I could just build an extension to my house and claim that DC applies the law unfairly if they were to try to stop me. You can’t pick and choose where you apply the law.

      I feel bad for the business; I’m sure they went about things the right way and this got flagged when they got the the public space permitting process at DCRA.

      The best solution I can see is if the business razes the structure and applies for outdoor seating permit. It’s a seasonal hit, but they’ll probably get more people heading their way during the good weather months.

  • I assumed this corner was a dead end. I had no idea there were those cute little house around the corner.

  • anonymouse_dianne

    I wouldn’t call it an enclosed patio – its more like a Pop Forward. When I worked at DOL My Brother’s Place was the go-to place for birthday lunches – at least as far back as 1988 when I started to work there. This is were the Bikers for Jesus sang Happy Birthday to me, so its something of a tourist draw as well. That’s really a shame that DDOT is after them for a false flag type of issue.

  • My rugby club, the Washington Irish, used to live in MBP for years beginning in the early ’90s. We had 3 St. Patrick’s Day block parties there where we shut down the street on a Saturday. It was great and because those little town houses next door are just offices, no one ever complained. Its location close to the Mall is a great thing too. I used to take visitors by there for a nice lunch after visiting museums etc….It was also vacant for a while too. It’s a shame they can’t reach some sort of compromise.

  • WAIT…..My Brother’s Place closed?!?!?!?!!!! That place was a staple when I was a yoot! And I’m sure I celebrated at least one birthday there….in the ‘illegal’ enclosure….as a 20-something year old House staffer (which was in the `90s….for those not clear on *at least* how long that patio/enclosure has been there)….

  • I believe the current owner — a Brit — was one of the partners in My Brothers’ Place, and that he bought out the others to open The Alibi. They put in a TON of work, you would not recognize the place if you used to go to MBP. Also, still no liquor license, though on their twitter page they say that the hearing on it was supposed to be last week.

    The Alibi is great if you haven’t been yet. Worth trying the food… before DDOT closes the place.

  • The city can take back any structure in public space. Even the projecting bay of a rowhouse if they wanted to. That’s why the building code doesn’t allow stairs or plumbing in projecting bays (don’t want to lose those if the city takes off the projecting bay.

  • I work near here and there’s a rumor that Alibi, and My Brother’s Place before it, faced constant harassment from a lawyer’s office that wants the space/wants the restaurants gone. I bet the complaint about “pedestrian flow” originated there.

  • Looks like it does impede pedestrian traffic, oh well.

Comments are closed.