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A Wave of New Activity Coming to Long-Neglected North Capitol Street

by Shilpi Paul

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1626 North Capitol Street. Courtesy of Farragutful.

Right now, the section of North Capitol Street close to Bloomingdale, Truxton Circle and NoMa is not too inviting. For many, a drive-by shooting last spring at the corner of North Capitol and New York Avenue serves as the most vivid illustration of the atmosphere on the corridor.

But a few imminent openings have UrbanTurf wondering if North Capitol Street will soon have very different street activity. The stretch of North Capitol Street between R Street and P Street, including the intersection with Florida Avenue (map), has several intriguing items in the pipeline.

First, several restaurants may be opening up in the near future.

On Thursday, Prince of Petworth confirmed that restaurant and bar Pub and the People will be coming to North Capitol and R Streets NW. Pub and the People has working social media pages, and a peek in the windows reveals a renovation that is actively underway.

Around the corner, at 1626 North Capitol Street NW, the Washington Firehouse Restaurant has begun planning for their extensive, multi-story restaurant and bar. They recently applied for a liquor license for the establishment, which, according to current plans, will have a seating capacity of 347. A cigar bar, Washington Smokehouse, will be located at the rear of the 3rd floor, and a summer garden would have seating available for 85 patrons until midnight during the season.

The redevelopment of the Firehouse has been touch-and-go for the last few years, and some are skeptical that this plan will come to fruition. However, the Firehouse seems to be moving forward this time; their Facebook page is chock full of photos from the renovation, complete with firehouse-style detailing, and the owners appear to be waiting for the issuance of their liquor license and services from DC Water and Sewage Authority before announcing an opening date.

We also noticed the first luxury establishment to come to the strip: Fiddleheads, a hair salon with prices reaching $75 per cut, opened up a few months ago on the northwest corner of the intersection of Florida Avenue and North Capitol Street.

Additionally, a few chefs and bakers who were initially attracted to the low rents available on the stretch have or are considering opening up their storefronts. As we wrote about last summer, Uncle Chips has been serving up cookies and sandwiches for the past couple of years out of their space at 1514 North Capitol Street, which initially served as an affordable location from which to bake cookies to send all over the country. And Revive, currently a catering service working out of a space at 8 Florida Avenue NW, is rumored to be starting a take-out service soon.

As housing prices rise in Bloomingdale and Eckington, and residential buildings keep going up in NoMa, new and old residents are itching for new establishments to take root in the area. As the long wait at Red Hen and the elbow-to-elbow atmosphere at Big Bear and Boundary Stone indicate, the population to fill these restaurants exists.

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Current rendering of 1600 North Capitol Street.

Besides the retail scene, the city is also paying targeted attention to the area through a Small Area Plan, which launched in April. The Office of Planning and the District Department of Transportation have been meeting with residents to figure out what’s going on in the neighborhoods surrounding North Capitol, and to come up with potential solutions to walkability and livability roadblocks. They will be making formal recommendations to the Council next year, and some residents are holding out hope for something as ambitious as decking over a section of North Capitol Street to add green space and to improve the connection between the east and west sides of the street.

Finally, a long-stalled residential project at the intersection of Florida Avenue NW, Q Street NW and North Capitol Street seems like it may be moving forward. As the Washington Business Journal reported last summer, developer Joe Mamo is seeking approvals for a 85- to 95-unit residential building at 1600 North Capitol Street, after a six year hiatus.

Readers, what do you think? Will residents be flocking to North Capitol Street in a year or two?

See other articles related to: truxton circle, north capitol street, noma, eckington, bloomingdale

This article originally published at http://dc.urbanturf.com/articles/blog/a_wave_of_new_activity_coming_to_long_neglected_north_capitol_street/7681

19 Comments

  1. Karen Sibert said at 11:26 am on Friday October 11, 2013:

    Washington Firehouse is at 1626 No. Capitol Street, not R.

  1. Shilpi Paul said at 11:28 am on Friday October 11, 2013:

    Hi Karen,

    Thanks, we made the correction.

    Shilpi

  1. Jim said at 2:11 pm on Friday October 11, 2013:

    I believe North Capitol to be the next logical commercial/retail corridor to expand.  Very much looking forward to all the new development.

  1. Deborah Crain Kemp said at 2:40 pm on Friday October 11, 2013:

    Visit OP staff during “Office Hours” for the Mid City East small area plan.

    The purpose of “Office Hours” is to take comments, discuss elements of the recommendations and/or summarize our findings for the Mid City East study area . Please see the schedule below;

    10/15-  Northwest One Library
    155 L Street NW
    Washington, DC 20001
    Office Hours:    6:00-7:30pm

    10/17-  Big Bear Café
    1700 1st Street NW
    Washington, DC 20001
    Office Hours:    6:00-7:30pm


    Best,

    Chelsea M. Liedstrand
    Citywide Planner
    DC Office of Planning
    1100 4th St SW, Ste. E650
    Washington, DC 20024
    v 202.724.4314 f 202.442.7638
    .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)

  1. Northeastern said at 2:57 pm on Friday October 11, 2013:

    I do not believe North Capitol will come to bear real estate investors the fruit that many other DC neighborhoods have.  There is one glaring reason for this - the massive amount of project housing in and around the north capitol area.  Concentrated poverty, crime and low literacy rates have been a factor in this area for many years and this does not look to change under the current DC government.  In high-return areas like H st, Logan and Mount Pleasant, you had lower income renters and homeowners partaking in the free market housing system.  When prices rose, these individuals either sold their houses and cashed out or were unable to stay due to rising rents. A few restaurants opening, maybe even a condo or two squeezing in isn’t going to fundamentally change the character of NoCap and investors will be very hesitant to put their money in this area.

  1. mona said at 3:11 pm on Friday October 11, 2013:

    Northeastern—A lot of people said the same thing about 14th st which had a lot of the same problems and it wasn’t even as wide a street as North Capitol. Now look at it. A lot of people said the same thing about the area where the Target and Tivoli theater are. They had huge numbers of low income housing through out the neighborhood. Now you can barely get into a decent house over there without paying 700k if not more.

    North Capitol has a lot of things going for it, the location and view from the Capitol and monument, wide accessible road, busy bus routes, and subway (NY and RI Ave) stops. On the east and west side of the northern part of N. Capitol are booming and affluent neighborhoods like Bloomingdale where they have had the sale of homes > 900k. Also with the development of the McMillian Reservoir it has huge potential even beyond H st and Logan.

  1. jtedc said at 4:25 pm on Friday October 11, 2013:

    Joe Mamo is a gas station owner. His revival of this project is simply to secure the land use entitlements at his cost and sell the property for more than he spent to secure the entitlements. If and when that property sells, then we can get excited because the new entity will do real design/development, secure permits, and build something. Until it sells, a building there is years away. I wish Mamo would just sell it now.

  1. Chris in Eckington said at 4:44 pm on Friday October 11, 2013:

    I live in Eckington and there’s not a lot of “housing projects” in the area.  Most of the Housing in Eckington, Bloomindale and Truxton are rowhouses and flats.  Some of these used to be Section 8 housing but as the 20 year contracts have expired, they have been converted to market rate rentals or sold.

  1. Justin S said at 5:04 pm on Friday October 11, 2013:

    Until someone figures out how to fix/destroy the local projects, it’s gonna be a pretty dangerous area. Also places like SOME figuring out how to offer services without ruining the neighborhood would help… but right now they’re giving out almost 1,000 meals a day to people who don’t have access to bathrooms. The result is literally poop on the sidewalks. It makes life sh!tty for us local residents who have to deal with the cleanup.

  1. Justin S said at 5:08 pm on Friday October 11, 2013:

    Chris, the projects in question are around N Cap between K and NY ave. (and since the shooting mentioned in the article was supposedly related to it, the slightly-less-nearby projects around Q & 3rd St).

  1. xmal said at 5:40 pm on Friday October 11, 2013:

    I don’t think the projects and homeless are as big a deal as people make it—-the 14th street examples show that once there is enough foot traffic these concerns fade into the background. And with the giant residential getting built on the other side in NOMA, they will.

    My bigger worry is the width and speed of North Capitol and that the noise and danger will keep people from strolling/dining/spending money there. That’s why I look forward to any decking and traffic calming proposals from OP/DDOT.

  1. rcn said at 6:04 pm on Friday October 11, 2013:

    Not sure I agree with the emphasis on the “projects” One mentioned is across the street from Big Bear Cafe- it seems to be doing ok. I am confident the neighborhood will support these new establishments.

  1. Adam L said at 1:44 pm on Saturday October 12, 2013:

    Biggest problem with North Capitol Street is the overall highway-esque feel. The underpasses below New York and Rhode Island avenues, especially the half-mile stretch between Randolph and W Street, really deaden the area. For whatever reason, similar set-ups on Connecticut at Dupont Circle and Massachusetts at Scott Circle don’t have the same feeling, though they’re by no means perfect. Perhaps it has to do with the green space and pedestrian-oriented nature of the area that make the difference but something has to change around North Capitol to make it a desirable street.

  1. Dno said at 7:20 pm on Saturday October 12, 2013:

    Decking over parts of North Cap would do wonders for its appeal and make it less of an open traffic sewer. It certainly couldn’t hurt.

  1. johnny12 said at 1:06 pm on Tuesday October 15, 2013:

    N. Capitol will develop into a major retail corridor in 5-10 years.  The trend of development moving east across NW DC is apparent to everyone, and anyone following development news can see the next wave coming over the next 5-10 years. Most of the largest projects are within 10 blocks of N. Capitol, so obviously there will be 10,000+ new residents and office workers in the near future. 

    In addition to new demand created by the development boom in the area, many small vendors are rapidly being priced out of 14th, U St, and H St.  N. Capitol is the obvious next step for major retail development.

  1. Mackey said at 3:43 pm on Tuesday October 15, 2013:

    Why on earth would Mamo sell it now?  He has the money to get the property entitled and create value for an end user.  There is way less value for him now and not many would buy it and assume the risk.  And if you acknowledge that the future is in its development, why would you care when he sells it?  Unless, you resent him making money, of course.

  1. david said at 3:49 pm on Tuesday October 15, 2013:

    Chris in Eckington, I agree with you.  I live in Eckington, between RI and T streets NE very close, but closer to RI ave, right off of it, but I noticed this summer, at least three section 8 house going to market close to my house and two already have sold!  I’m so happy.  Needless to say, those tenants in everyone of them where a “hot mess!”

  1. Dez said at 12:59 am on Wednesday October 16, 2013:

    North Capitol has hidden charm, engaged residents, and cool places:  Uncle Chips, Catania’s Bakery, Fab Lab DC, and around the corner, O Street Studios.

  1. Justin S said at 3:46 pm on Wednesday February 5, 2014:

    Sorry for being so late back to the party, but OMG:

    “rcn said at 5:04 pm on Friday October 11, 2013:
    Not sure I agree with the emphasis on the “projects” One mentioned is across the street from Big Bear Cafe- it seems to be doing ok.”

    I’ve seen not one, but TWO triple-shootings in that project walking between Big Bear and my home. Granted, the last one was on Easter weekend, 2012, but sorry… it’s not “too much focus” when one local can see that kind of gunfire more than once in the same location.

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