ANC 6C to Protest Pupatella Pizza

ANC 6C July Report

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Advisory Neighborhood Commission (ANC) 6C met virtually via WebEx July 13. Commissioners Christine Healey (6C01), Karen Wirt (6C02, Chair), Jay Adelstein (6C03), Mark Eckenwiler (6C04), Joel Kelty (6C05) and Drew Courtney (6C06) were all in attendance.

Commissioners voted unanimously to both protest the application for a Class C liquor license and potentially ask the District Department of Transportation (DDOT) Public Space Committee (PSC) to delay the hearing for a sidewalk cafe outside Pupatella Pizza (301 Massachusetts Ave. NE). The two main concerns raised with the proposal were neighborhood disruption and the storage of trash and grease.

The hours currently proposed for the interior space are Sunday through Thursday 7 a.m. to 2 a.m and Friday and Saturday 8 a.m. to 3 a.m. The hours for the proposed 130-seat sidewalk cafe are Sunday through Thursday 8 a.m. to 11 p.m. and Friday and Saturday 8 a.m. to 12 a.m. The application also includes a proposal for live entertainment inside the premises from 10 a.m. to 11 p.m. daily.

Commissioner Jay Adelstein (6C03) said neighbors are concerned about late night noise. At the meeting, a community member echoed Adelstein’s comments, saying she was excited for the restaurant but also apprehensive about implications for neighbors.

“We do want Pupatella, we just don’t want those very late hours that are going to have such an impact on a residential street,” she said. “It’s not the same as something like Union Pub [201 Massachusetts Ave. NE] —sometimes it’s open till 2 and 3 a.m., but it’s a world of difference when the noise is absorbed by Massachusetts Avenue.”

Michael Berger, Chief Operating Officer (COO) of Pupatella, told commissioners he is hopeful about reaching a settlement agreement (SA) with the commission, adding there are no specific plans for live entertainment. Berger emphasized that while he is not looking to “disrupt the neighborhood” his team has worked hard on plans to mitigate challenges in a difficult situation. “It’s a really difficult building to make work and it’s been sitting vacant for four years,” Berger said.

Kelty acknowledged that the space presents challenges but noted that it’s “not [ANC6C’s] problem that it’s a tough building.”

Joel Kelty (6C05) and Drew Courtney (6C06) encouraged Berger to amend the application to reflect the lack of plans for live music. Courtney emphasized the willingness of the ANC to work with local businesses to make changes once they are operating and mutual trust has been established.

If an SA is in place with the establishment before July 28, the ANC plans to send a witness to the PSC hearing to outline the concerns of the committee. The commissioners unanimously agreed and authorized Commissioner Karen Wirt (6C02) to serve as a witness if needed.

Parking Concerns on Florida Ave. NE
Commissioners voted unanimously to support, with conditions, a Planned Unit Development (PUD) from NRP Development for an all-affordable unit residential building at 301 Florida Ave. NE and to authorize Eckenwiler to testify on behalf of the ANC at the hearing before the Zoning Commission.

The building is a mixed-use 12-story development with 115 units plus penthouse. Half of the units will be available at 30 percent AMI and half will be available at 50 percent AMI. 2,873 square feet of ground level space will also be dedicated to a non-residential use. The building has been reviewed by the ANC several times. Concerns remain about the applicant’s proposal for a curbside loading zone on the north side of N Street NE and what commissioners termed the “cascading consequences” of cars and trucks parked in the middle of the street.

NRP representatives discussed changes made to their proposal after discussion with the ANC including a 50 ft. truck size restriction in the loading zone, requiring six-day trash collection and providing one free Capital Bike Share membership per unit. The only condition that the applicant did not meet was the condition to bar tenants, by penalty of lease termination, from applying for a Residential Parking Permit (RPP).

But Courtney for one was perturbed, “I continue to be really excited about this project moving forward,” Courtney said. “I have to say, without undercutting the committee, I’m a little less concerned about the idea of the RPP parking and terminating the lease —that actually does make me a little uncomfortable. I wish we had better tools. I’m not sure I want people losing their leases over that kind of misbehavior.”

Kelty expressed disagreement and said enforcement of RPP is crucial to the surrounding neighborhoods.

“We had a number of residents in the affordable units (elsewhere) who were illegally obtaining parking permits to park on Fifth Street,” Kelty said. “Once that lease termination provision was brought to their attention, those vehicles miraculously disappeared.”

Kelty also noted the proximity of the building to public transportation and a grocery store in addition to the transit subsidies that NRP plans to provide.

The Commission Voted Unanimously To:

  • Adopt the Transportation Public Space (TPS) Committee recommendation to amend and approve a construction permit application at 1150 First St. NE for a new curb cut on Pierce Street NE to a private alley. This application was amended to include the curb cut, and all other improvements were previously approved.
  • Adopt the TPS committee recommendation to request that the District Department of Transportation (DDOT) postpone the public space committee hearing for the property at 1325 Second St. NE until the committee can meet with the applicant in September. The application is regarding shrubs, ground cover, lead walk specialty paving, planters and a water feature in public space. The applicant also plans to refinish the existing canopy with new material.
  • Adopt the Planning, Zoning and Economic Development (PZE) Committee recommendation for an application at 1109 Congress St. NE for a modification of consequence to a previous zoning commission order, new developer doing affordable units at 605 MFI, supports this application and is going to zoning commission review on July 28.
  • Adopt the PZE committee recommendation to support the application, with conditions, of the Hillsdale College Capitol Hill Campus 227-239 Massachusetts Ave. NE. Conditions include reducing the entrance column in the front on Massachusetts Avenue and reducing a nailhead column that sticks out of a planter bed.

Additional Items:

  • The Alcohol Beverage Licensing (ABL) Committee recommended taking no action on the new license application for a class C liquor license for Hersha Hospitality Management at 22 M St. NE.
  • The ABL also recommended taking no action on the following license renewal applications: The Hyatt Regency Washington (400 New Jersey Ave NW), Po Boy Jim (709 H Street NW), DC Harvest (517 H Street NE), Butter Chicken Company 3 (601 Second Street NE) and The Little Grand (808 7th Street NE).
  • Commissioners voted unanimously to protest the renewal application of Cane (403 H St. NE) in order to address community concern about delivery vehicles blocking the alley and the neighbors around the property being impacted.
  • Commissioners voted unanimously to send a letter to the Historic Preservation Review Board (HPRB) noting summary opposition to a preservation application at (203 Third St. NE) as the applicant has been “indecisive” about specifics of their application. Commissioners say the application is too vague for the ANC to proceed.

ANC 6C will be in recess for the month of August. The commission will meet again on September 14 via WebEx. You can learn more about the commission and register to attend the meeting here. Note that ANCs do not generally meet in August.

Sarah Payne is a general assignment reporter for Capital Community News. She can be reached at sarahp@hillrag.com.