Real Estate Spotlight
Isabel Ernst: Developer
Polo Match Caps POLO! for Sporting Library
Nico Dodd • August 15, 2013
The National Sporting Library and Museum in Upperville, Va., hosted the 2012 Benefit Polo Match and Luncheon Sept. 23 as the cap to its POLO! Weekend.
On Sept. 22, the library hosted a symposium, “The Evolution in Polo in America,” which featured prominent experts in the sport. Panelists included H.A. Laffaye, Michael H.S. Amato and Charles Muldoon.
Sunday’s main events were a benefit luncheon and polo match at the Virginia International Polo Club in Upperville. A two-course luncheon was paired with Dusky Goose Pinot Noir, donated by Rambouillet Vineyard in Oregon. The match was between Beverly Polo club and Right At Home polo club and was officiated by German Noguera.
In addition to the polo match, festivities included a parade of the piedmont foxhounds, a performance by the Washington Scottish Pipe Band, a ladies hat contest and a release of doves. An awards ceremony followed the match. The event was chaired by Jacqueline B. Mars.
The art exhibition, “Chukkers, The Sport of Polo in Art,” runs through Sept. 30 at the National Sporting Library and Museum. The exhibit is free and open to the public.
To learn more about the The National Sporting Library and Museum, click here. [gallery ids="100999,132985,132992,133000,133007,133016,133023,133032,133040,133046,133054,133061,133067,133074,133083,133090,133097,132979,132971,133130,133125,132878,133119,132888,133113,132897,132904,132912,132919,132928,132934,132942,132949,132957,132964,133105" nav="thumbs"]
AIA-DC Celebrates 125th Anniversary
Nico Dodd • June 18, 2013
On Nov. 2, AIA-DC celebrated its 125th anniversary with a party and award ceremony at its offices at 421 7th St., NW. The Washington Chapter of the American Institute of Architects is a professional organization for architects that was founded in 1887 by Glenn Brown. Brown is known among architects for works around the District, and Georgetowners are probably familiar with his work here. Brown was the architect of the Dumbarton Bridge, which, flanked by bison statues, brings Q St. from Dupont Circle into Georgetown.
Anyone who has visited a D.C. Zoning Board meeting knows how important architectural details can be to people, but Washington was a very different place in 1887. AIA-DC’s executive director Mary Fitch described how little planning went into the design of the late 19th-century District.
“Washington and the mall don’t look like they did in the 1900s,” said Fitch. “It had a very different look. We had train tracks across the mall, a big market where the monuments are.”
Today, with a new home and educational programs for both architects and members of the community, AIA-DC’s goal, as Myer puts it, is to “try to get more people involved in the architectural scene in D.C.”
“The first chapter had 70 architectural firms listed in Washington in 1892,” said Fitch. “Now there are many, many more than that. We have about 2,100 members now.”
“There are certainly a lot of associations are inwardly focused on their members,” said Fitch. “One of the big differences about our chapter is that, over the last few years, we have created an outward focus. We have moved into this new center which has a very public purpose.”
A recent architectural issue in Washington, D.C., has been questioning about the District’s unique height-limit law.
“We’re in on that discussion,” said Fitch. “We don’t have a position at this time. We’re talking about whether that is an option or an opportunity or not.”
“The subject has just been put on the table, so nobody has really had a chance to think about it carefully.”
At AIA-DC’s anniversary party on Nov. 2, things were a little more collegial. Myer showed up to assist in emceeing the event dressed as Glenn Brown himself.
“He looked like he was from the 1890s. So, it was very cute,” said Fitch. [gallery ids="101063,137121,137102,137116,137108,137114" nav="thumbs"]
Advice for Newlyweds, First-Time Homebuyers
Buying a home can be a daunting prospect. For newlyweds, it can be a challenging, new experience for couples making a serious financial commitment together. We asked three real estate brokers to share with us their advice.
What advice do you have for first-time homebuyers?
KMK: The most important step is to choose an agent and broker that you can trust and one that has a track record in your target areas and price range. The number of homes and condos on the market is about 40% less than last year, so it is critical to work with someone who is “ahead of the market” and who can tell you about properties before they go into the MRIS.
You should determine your ideal price range and comfort zone by meeting with a reputable, local lender. Working with Internet lenders can be extremely challenging. It often causes great frustration and can put your escrow deposit at risk. Getting a sense of what interest rate you qualify for will give you a concrete sense of you monthly mortgage payment amount. Also think through, once you buy, what sort of cash reserves would you have on hand.? Can you afford to buy something that needs cosmetic work? Or would you be better off mortgaging a bit more for something more renovated? That will bring additional focus to your house hunt.
Good friends that have been happy with a recent real estate transaction can also be a good source of agent and lender referrals.
RH: First time homebuyers should find an agent whom they are comfortable working with. Asking a friend who has recently purchased property for a recommendation is a good way to start. If they’re moving to a new market, it may be a good time to begin their search online. All good real estate agents post their biographies on their company’s website. Always interview an agent, and try to meet them in person before you make a commitment. Also, every first time homebuyer should meet with a mortgage lender before they begin their search. They are often surprised by how much house they can easily afford with today’s historically low interest rates.
RV: Work with an experienced buyer’s agent, one that understands a competitive market. I would recommend this to all homebuyers, not only first-timers.
How should a newlywed couple begin their search?
KMK: Keep your lines of communication open. Don’t get frustrated by differences of opinion when it comes to home-buying. The important thing is to work with an agent that you both trust and have faith in. Often, I have my clients devise a priority list and weight the items of most and least importance. Then, I suggest that they honor the priorities that the two of them most heavily weigh and always be ready to compromise on the less important items. It is a great feeling when I find the “right” place for them – they know instantly – “this is the one” when they first see the property.
RH: Newlyweds should begin their search by talking with each other. It’s often surprising that new couples have very different ideas of the house of their dreams. They should sit down together and formulate a list of their wants, including style, neighborhood, layout, etc.
RV: Get qualified for a loan. Being prepared and educated about making an offer in this market is imperative, and should always be the first step in searching for a home. Buyers sometimes miss out on a property because they are not prepared to make an offer. You sometimes have to put an offer together within hours of viewing a property. Waiting to get your finances together adds unneeded stress. Getting financially prepared for the process will make it easier when it comes time to decide about financial decisions like price escalations, property inspections and the like.
How should first-time homebuyers figure out their priorities in their search?
KMK: It is a great idea to talk through your list of “must have” and “nice-to-have” attributes of property, and what you are willing to compromise on. It is important to realize that no property is “perfect,” no matter the price. Real estate is an exercise in trade-offs. For instance, to get more space within your budget, you may have to rethink location. Or, if you are set on a premium location, you may have to give up on square footage preferences to stay within the prescribed budget. So, try to keep an open mind, and be realistic.
RH: Figure out your priorities by looking at the way you live in your current house or apartment. Do you ever use the yard or terrace? Is it necessary? What type of kitchen is important, or do you regularly eat out? Prioritize the features of your future home.
RV: If not familiar with the market, their realtor should take them on a tour of target neighborhoods. The buyers should also make a list of features for their ideal property – like distance to the Metro, parking, washer and dryer, then compare. Share the combined lists with their realtor. The buyers should try to be realistic about their buying power in the market.
Do you have any advice for couples moving in together for the first time?
KMK: Be prepared to take a lot of deep breaths and exercise you best patience skills. Also, be prepared to compromise and not have things always be the way you may be used to. It is important to maintain your outside friends and interests, as it will keep your relationship fresh and interesting.
RH: Yikes, I think I should stay away from this one, but it’s probably a good idea to take a good look at your partner, figure out their daily habits and realize that you have to choose your battles carefully. It’s more fun to live with someone than to live alone. Remember this when you’re thinking of starting an argument….by the way I live alone and my dog doesn’t argue.
RV: Patience and consideration. Most cohabiting difficulties are pretty minor but tend to get blown out of proportion. I recommend that people consider shelving their first disappointments, like a wet towel on the bed. Ask yourself, “Is this really worth arguing?” Plan a time to discuss once a week and write down agenda items. The discussion should take place calmly over a coffee. If these items of consideration are handled in a calm manner hopefully the resolution will be swift.
How should couples best take advantage of this real estate market?
KMK: With inventory being so low and demand relatively high, be prepared. Have your finances organized, lender pre-approval in hand, and work with an agent and broker that has a strong footing in the market and can give you advance notice of listings before they actually go onto the public market.
RH: Prices remain at the lowest levels seen since 2002 across most of the country and inter- est rates currently remain at the lowest levels in our lifetimes. This is a great opportunity to enter the market. However, in Washington, inventory is extremely low and a well-priced property will sell within days and often with multiple offers. Be prepared to make an attractive offer if the property you want surfaces. Have your financing in order, your down payment funds available, and be prepared to act quickly. It sometimes takes a new homebuyer losing a deal before they realize the urgency our current market dictates.
RV: Lock in a great interest rate. If not planning to have children in the short term, live somewhere fun. Take advantage of the time you have together before expanding your family and enjoy your free time the way you want. If you run, live somewhere good to run. If you go out, live fairly close to bars and restaurants.
What was your experience buying your first home?
KMK: I was very fortunate to have my real estate agent also be my sister, Eileen McGrath. It was a great experience and she guided me through a successful transaction.
RH: I bought my first home when I was 22. It was a great experience. I renovated a little row house with a lot of blood sweat and tears…liter- ally. But, that little house helped put me through law school when I sold it.
RV: I have bought and sold several properties in competitive markets and my first home was no exception. It was the third house I made an offer on and I got a good deal on an estate sale. My second home had multiple offers, but was still a good deal, and I ended up having to escalate 10% over list price to win. [gallery ids="101163,141677,141674" nav="thumbs"]
Hardy Middle School Chooses New Principal After Revolving Door of Administrators
Nico Dodd • June 12, 2013
This Friday, Hardy Middle School announced in a letter that a new principal has been selected. Dr. Mary Stefanus comes from St. Louis, Missouri, where she was principal at Hixson Middle School in Missouri for 11 years, according to Georgetown Patch. She has more than 30 years of experience in education and a track record for success.
Dr. Stefanus will be the fourth person to serve as Principal at Hardy in just over a year. At the end of the 2010 school year, Principal Patrick Pope was removed by then Chancellor Michelle Rhee and replaced by Dana Nerenberg. Nerenberg was removed at the end of this January after reports of increased fighting among students and disrespect to administrators by Acting Chancellor of DC Public Schools Kaya Henderson, and replaced by interim principal Daniel Shea.
Vornado Realty Trust flexes its muscles at Georgetown Park
After six months of renovation and only five months of business, the National Pinball Museum in the Shops at Georgetown Park will be closing this July. According to a letter from Executive Director and Curator David Silverman, mall owners Vornado Realty Trust informed him on May 18 that he has 60 days before he and his pinball machines must vacate the premises.
Silverman says he spent $300,000 renovating the space, which included a custom dinosaur mural and nine-foot flippers in the 14,000 square foot space. The museum contains hundreds of pinball machines and displays chronicling the history of the game.
Before moving his collection to Georgetown Park, Silverman’s pinball machines were kept at his home in Silver Spring. Silverman has amassed a collection of over 800 machines over the past 15 years.
For now, the museum is located on the third floor of the Shops at Georgetown Park, formerly occupied by FAO Schwarz. Silverman is determined to find a space to move his collection, and is looking as far away as New Mexico. The museum is also accepting donations. To encourage visitors, the museum has lowered its admission rate from $13.50 to $3, and has implemented new summer hours. The museum will remain open through July 4.
Potomac River Rescues
During the past few days, Washington D.C. Fire and Rescue crews have been busy with a series of rescues from the Potomac River. This Tuesday, a man fell into the river from a ten-foot ledge at Georgetown Waterfront Park. The man was reportedly taking photos over the ledge, fell into the water, and was unable to climb out by himself.
According to Pete Piringer, a spokesman for the D.C. Fire and Emergency Medical Services Department, a call was made around 9:15 p.m. The District’s Fire Boat rescued the man from the water. After being evaluated by EMS at a nearby boathouse, the man was found to be uninjured.
The second rescue occurred on Sunday night, when three teenagers were rescued after trying to swim across the Potomac. DC Fire-EMS and U.S. Park Police crews used thermal imagery to find two of the teens on Theodore Roosevelt Island, where they were hiding. One male was found by the Georgetown waterfront and treated for hypothermia. The others, a male and a female, were transported. The teens may face charges, as swimming is not allowed in the river.
According to Georgetown Patch, three people drowned in the stretch of the Potomac from Great Falls to Georgetown last year.
Second District Crime Sees Sharp Increase from Last Year
According to Second District Commander Michael Reese, burglaries and automobile related theft rates rose in the Second District during May. Four burglars have been arrested, though, and Reese expects to see a decrease in the number of burglaries, according to Georgetown Patch.
Property crime was up 5 percent overall in the second district in May compared to last year, but violent crime was down 29 percent. The overall crime rate has increased by less than 1 percent.
Four burglars have been arrested recently, and the Commander expects to see a decrease in the number of burglaries.
Ward 2’s Boundaries Change with Redistricting
With the release of the 2010 census, the District government has had to change the wards’ boundary lines. Each Ward’s population must be within 5% of the average.
The ward redistricting committee has released a map and a report that makes a number of changes to ward boundaries, including moving Shaw east of 9th St. from Ward 2 into Ward 6, excluding the Convention Center, and putting Penn Quarter back in Ward 2.
According to Washington Post blogger Mike DeBonis, a public hearing on the plan is set for 6 p.m. on June 1 at the John A. Wilson Building.
Annual National Cherry Blossom Festival Brings Multitude of Events
Those were, in fact, snow flurries this morning, but the National Cherry Blossom Festival coming March 20 to celebrate spring, cherry blossoms and the culture of Japan from March 20 through April 14 at festivities throughout the city. The list of events is very large, so the Georgetowner has selected some of its favorites.
Overtures: S&R Foundation Artist Concert Series
Experience award-winning artists at Overtures: S&R Foundation Artist Concert Series. Overtures is a unique series that features world-class performing artists at the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts and Evermay. The performances will showcase each artist’s perspective of the National Cherry Blossom Festival – be it springtime, friendship or love of country – through their instrument and music.
March 21: Ori Kam, Viola, at Terrace Theater, Kennedy Center ($30)
March 31: Andy Akiho, Steel Drum, at Millennium Stage, Kennedy Center (Free)
April 1: Yu Kosuge, Piano, at Terrace Theater, Kennedy Center ($30)
April 4 : Keiko Matsui, Jazz/Trio, at Evermay ($50)
April 7: Urban Tango Trio at Millennium Stage, Kennedy Center (Free)
May 17 & 24: Soichi and Kaori Muraji, Guitar Duo, at Evermay ($50)
May 29: The Overtures Chamber Music Project, at Evermay
May 30: The Overtures Chamber Music Project, Kennedy Center Family Theater
May 31: Ryo Yanagitani, Piano, at Family Theater, Kennedy Center (Free)
National Cherry Blossom Festival Opening Ceremony
Kick-off the 2013 National Cherry Blossom Festival with local and national entertainment. Guests will experience the story of how Japan’s gift of cherry trees has developed into a great springtime celebration, as told through a series of traditional and contemporary performances.
The National Cherry Blossom Festival Opening Ceremony with be held on March 23 from 5 p.m. to 6:30 PM at the Warner Theatre, 513 13th St., NW, Washington, D.C., 20004.
Blossom Kite Festival
The annual Blossom Kite Festival presented by the National Cherry Blossom Festival showcases the creativity of kite makers and skill of kite fliers from across the U.S. and other countries through a variety of competitions and demonstrations including the popular Hot Tricks Showdown and the Rokkaku Battle. Bring your own kites or children can make a kite at an activity station (while supplies last) to fly on the Public Field.
The Blossom Kite Festival includes five areas to enjoy: the Competition & Demonstration Field, Family Field, Kite Club Display Area, Activity Tents and Public Field. To view a map of the areas, click here.
Official Japanese Stone Lantern Lighting Ceremony
Jointly sponsored since 1954 by National Conference of State Societies and the National Park Service’s National Capital Region, this venerable observance opens the NCSS Cherry Blossom Princess festivities. The ceremony features traditional Japanese music, the presentation of the 2013 United States and Japan Cherry Blossom Queens, along with the 2012 Cherry Blossom Princesses, and remarks by a number of dignitaries, including the Ambassador of Japan to the United States.
The Japanese Stone Lantern was carved nearly four centuries ago to honor the Third Shogun of the Tokugawa period. It stands 8.5 feet tall and weighs 4,000 pounds. In 1954, the lantern was moved from Japan and presented to Washington, D.C., as a gift commemorating the 100th anniversary of the first treaty between the two countries. Since then, the Stone Lantern has been lit once each year by the Cherry Blossom Princess representing the Embassy of Japan—and only during the National Cherry Blossom Festival.
Parking at the Tidal Basin is limited. The nearest Metro stop to the Lantern site is the Smithsonian station, just across the Kuntz Bridge. Seating for more than 500 will be available.
The National Conference of State Societies established the Cherry Blossom Princess Educational and Cultural Exchange Program for the first post-World War II National Cherry Blossom Festival in 1948. NCSS is the only civic organization that has sponsored National Cherry Blossom Festival events every year since then.
National Cherry Blossom Festival Parade
The 2013 National Cherry Blossom Festival Parade is Saturday, April 13 from 10 a.m. to 12 noon, rain or shine. One of D.C.’s largest spectator events, the parade runs along Constitution Avenue from 7th to 17th streets, NW, and is televised live.
Vibrant costumes and blossom-inspired décor create the look of nation’s premier springtime parade. The parade includes colorful helium balloons, elaborate floats, marching bands from across the country and other performers.
Al Fresco Dining
Nico Dodd • May 23, 2013
Like it or not, humidity is beginning to set in. Hey, it’s Washington, D.C. Enjoy eating outside after the rainy season and before it gets steamier than mussels. Let the selections below remind you to kick back at some old haunts al fresco. Cheers.
3315 M St., NW.
Beat the heat out of the sun in Cady’s Alley. Leopold’s also has great air conditioning if you choose to sit indoors. Two words: French fries.
1645 Wisconsin Ave., NW.
Cool, shady backyard to enjoy your iced coffee and croissant. If you’re lucky, Aspen the golden retriever puppy will be there.
1303 Wisconsin Ave., NW.
You think you know Paolo’s, but the Italian restaurant offers some great specials that you can find on their website at
1264 Wisconsin Ave., NW.
“Did you know that JFK proposed to…” Yes, we know, we know. If some restaurants are staples in Georgetown, Billy Martin’s Tavern is a cornerstone. Many bars are good spots to watch the Nats game, but none draw the regulars like Martin’s. Great potato skins.
3265 Prospect St., NW.
Sometimes, a Booey’s sandwich is all you need. Their deals on pitchers aren’t bad, either.
3206 N St., NW.
Neyla is one of the many outdoor staples in Georgetown. Footsteps from Wisconsin, Ave., Neyla’s menu offers a rich blend of Mediterranean cuisines.
330 Wisconsin Ave., NW.
An old favorite farther up Wisconsin Avenue. The baskets of chips are endless. Iced Margaritas, anyone?
THREE ROOFTOPS, THREE CHOICES
3139 M St., NW.
2444 Wisconsin Ave., NW.
1075 Thomas Jefferson St., NW.
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