Three years after being heralded as one of the country's best new restaurant finalists, Timber Pizza Company in DC might be felled by a loss of emergency egress.
Around the corner from the Upshur Street restaurant, the owner of 4202 and 4204 8th Street NW (map) is expanding those properties into four-unit buildings. ROK Development also plans to reclaim a rear walkway in the process, fencing it off to privatize the backyard — a plan that Timber Pizza co-owner Andrew Dana claims would severely impair his business.
The Upshur Street restaurant (map) has been using the walkway, which leads directly from its emergency exit to the alley, to accept supply deliveries and take out the trash. It is Dana's understanding that the walkway has been used similarly for decades, and without access to it, the only means of egress would be the front door. Since the pizza oven is between the back-of-house and the front door, the loss of egress appears to be a fire hazard.
"I certainly hope [losing access to the walkway wouldn't force the business to close]; we put a lot of love, sweat and tears into that place," Dana told UrbanTurf. "But it would be absolutely detrimental to our operation." Dana took to Instagram this week with a plea for support, stating that the developer responded to their concerns by "flippantly [telling] us to build stairs over the building."
Since the public appeal for support, many in the community have offered help and advice (including in the Popville comments section), and the Advisory Neighborhood Commission plans to intervene with the Department of Consumer and Regulatory Affairs to ensure the restaurant's continued access to the walkway. Ward 4 councilmember Brandon Todd has also reached out and is scheduling a visit from the fire marshal to assess the situation.
Meanwhile, building permits for the properties on 8th Street were granted earlier this year and demolition work is already underway. UrbanTurf has reached out to the developer and will update the article if we hear back.
This article originally published at https://dc.urbanturf.com/articles/blog/will-timber-pizza-be-tumbled-by-adjacent-development-reclaiming-its-walkway/17191.
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