New York-Based Company to Buy Latham Hotel

October 15, 2015

Thor Equities, a New York City-based real estate development and investment firm, is under contract to purchase the Latham Hotel property at 3000 M St. NW from SB-Urban for roughly $53 million. The move marks Thor Equities first acquisition in the D.C.-area and fits into the companies real estate portfolio, which includes properties along popular shopping thoroughfares like Fifth Avenue in Manhattan and Market Street in San Francisco.

“3000 M Street’s location in the heart of Georgetown benefits from the large volume of tourists, students and other pedestrians who regularly visit the neighborhood to shop, eat and play,” Joseph Sitt, CEO of Thor Equities, said in a press release, adding, “We look forward to enhancing this property to maximize the area’s exciting growth opportunities.”

The Latham Hotel micro-unit project was one of three that SB-Urban is developing in Northwest Washington targeting affluent young people with small but well-furnished apartments located in desirable neighborhoods. The company’s two other developments, slated for Blagden Alley in Shaw and at 15 Dupont Circle in the historic Patterson Mansion, are still a go, with plans to begin construction on both this year.

SB-Urban bought the Latham Hotel building in November 2013 for $45.4 million. After the purchase, the company went through a number of regulatory hoops, gaining the approval of the Old Georgetown Board and the Board of Zoning Adjustment to renovate the space into a development consisting of 140 units with 330 square-foot floor plans.

According to Urban Turf, Thor Equities is likely to redevelop the building into some combination of residential units, a hotel and a “premier flagship” retail operation.

Warby Parker Lands on M Street

It’s official: Warby Parker is no longer a start-up.

The eyewear brand officially opened its brick-and-mortar doors at 3225 M St. NW on Saturday, Sept. 26. The company was founded in 2010 as an online outlet for vintage-inspired (read: hipster) eyeglasses and sunglasses but has expanded its presence in major cities with stores in New York City, San Francisco, and Los Angeles in recent years.

The company’s new Georgetown location (which a representative for the company said they “couldn’t be more excited about”) looks like any other glasses store from the outside with rows of frames and plenty of mirrors, but the inside shows a keen attention to design and detail. For example, the books that sit atop the glasses cases are coordinated by size, color and font, and charming wallpaper near the back depicts a cartoon man in glasses doing an array of made-up yoga poses including the “Moderate Beyonce.” (The cartoons were drawn by an in-house designer, and some books, from Warby Parker’s “favorite independent publishers” are on sale at the store.)

The new store offers Warby Parker’s full collection to try on, same-day purchases for non-prescription glasses, progressive lenses, frame adjustments and optical measurements, though no on-site eye exams. (Warby Parker’s store in Shaw, set to open later this year, will offer eye exams.)

The company was founded in 2010 with a business model based on undercutting designer brands’ prices by designing and selling frames under one roof. At first, sales were online only, with Warby Parker giving customers the ability “Home Try-On” by shipping them up to five pairs of glasses to test out before buying one. Sunglasses and eyeglasses, even with prescriptions, start at $95 at Warby Parker and for each pair purchased, the company buys a pair of glasses for someone in need through partnerships with VisionSprings and other eye-focused non-profit organizations.

Community Rallies Around G.U. Linebacker During Recovery

October 1, 2015

Ty Williams, the Georgetown University linebacker who broke his neck in a brutal hit during the team’s Sept. 5 away game at Saint Francis University, is reportedly in stable condition and showing signs of improvement, according to the Washington Post.

A first-quarter hit left the Georgetown junior and Gaithersburg, Md.-native with five fractured vertebrae. Immediately after sustaining the injury, Williams was transported to the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center at Altoona. He reportedly underwent over nine hours of surgery.

A week after the incident and subsequent surgery, Williams’ cousin Monica Cochran told the Post that doctors are “optimistic” that Williams will recover from the injury. In addition, she said Williams is determined to walk again and that he has been able to move one of his knees, his right foot and his left toes. WUSA 9 reports that Williams moved to a rehabilitation facility in Atlanta earlier this week.

The day after the game, Lee Reed, the Georgetown University director of intercollegiate athletics, said in a statement, “Our thoughts and prayers are with Ty Williams and his family. The coming days will be very important and we will be here to support him and his family. We ask our fans and the entire Georgetown community to believe and pray for Ty as he begins the recovery process.”

Georgetown Football head coach remarked, “Ty is one of our leaders on and off of the field and is a very important part of the Hoya Football Family.”

Cochran set up a GoFundMe to provide financial support to Williams and his family. The page has nearly reached its goal of raising $40,000 to help pay for Williams’ family’s medical and travel expenses. Cochran wrote on the page, “The communities as a whole — Georgetown Univ. & alumni, Quince Orchard, St. Francis Univ., UPMC Altoona Hospital, Penn State Athletic Department, the many NFL players sending Ty well wishes an prayers (Thank you Mr. Wingo) — have been outstanding! The support is so appreciated. Thank you all so much!”

During the Hoya’s Sept. 12 home game, the team wore Williams’ number, two, on their helmets in a show of solidarity, while members of the crowd wore pins on their shirts that read, “Pray for Ty.”

With Pope Francis in D.C., Expect Major Road Closures

Anticipation is high for the Pope Francis’s arrival in Washington, D.C., tomorrow, but worries over traffic may be running higher. With a three-day schedule that includes visits with the President and Congressional leaders, a Papal Parade along Constitution Avenue, a mass at the Shrine of Immaculate Conception, and more, the Pope’s visit will bring large segments of the city to a literal stand still on parts of Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday.

The pope arrives Tuesday at 4 p.m., and while the Secret Service warns of road closures starting Tuesday, Pope Francis does not have any events scheduled until Wednesday morning, when he will be welcomed at the White House by President Barack Obama at 9:15 a.m.

Then, at 11 a.m., the Papal Parade will begin, travelling along Constitution Avenue and 15th and 17th streets NW, shutting down all roads surrounding the White House.

At 11:30 a.m., the pope is scheduled for a midday prayer with a gathering of U.S. Bishops at St. Matthew’s Cathedral on Rhode Island Avenue, south of Dupont Circle. This event will shut down segments of Rhode Island Avenue, Connecticut Avenue, M Street and N Street from 12 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Wednesday.

Next up, Pope Francis heads to the Shrine of the Immaculate Conception at Catholic University for the Junipero Serra Canonization Mass at 4:15 p.m. Mass is expected to shut down all major roadways near Catholic University. Avoid this area, as if your soul depends on it.

On Thursday, the Pope is set to address a joint session of Congress around 9:20 a.m. In addition, Pope Francis may make an appearance at the West Front of the U.S. Capitol, according to House Speaker John Boehner. Expect road closures – and gridlock – all around Capitol Hill on Thursday.

For a more comprehensive guide to road closures during the Pope’s visit, check out this joint press release from Secret Service, the Mayor’s office and a number of other relevant government agencies.

One Liquor License Up for Grabs in Georgetown

September 22, 2015

Starting at 8:30 a.m. on Sept. 15, restaurant owners in Georgetown and other interested parties can put their hat in the ring to obtain the last of 68 liquor licenses allowed in the neighborhood. According to the D.C. Alcoholic Beverage Regulation Administration, the license became available after a liquor license application for a restaurant in town was withdrawn Sept. 9.

Applications must be submitted in person to the Frank D. Reeves Municipal Center at 2000 14th Street, NW, Suite 400 South, and will be reviewed on a first-come, first-served basis.

Georgetown’s Cat Café Boosts Prices, Changes Policies

September 18, 2015

After instigating more than 23 cat adoptions, changes are coming to Crumbs and Whiskers, the cat café at 3211 O St. NW that opened two months ago.

First, the price of admission has been increased from $10 to $15. On the bright side, Crumbs and Whiskers will now offer customers complimentary coffee and tea, with the option to buy pastries, prepared off-site by Pâtisserie Poupon.

To reduce overcrowding, the café will now limit the amount of customers allowed inside from 37 to 24. New seating is also available inside.

Despite the changes, cat cafes remain popular. There is now a fundraising campaign to start one across the river in Alexandria, Va.

Capital Bikeshare to Begin Adding 60 Locations This Fall

September 17, 2015

Capital Bikeshare is set to expand even further this fall with new bikes, and docking stations in 60 new locations. The expansion comes after a number of delays caused by the 2014 bankruptcy of Montreal-based bicycle manufacturer Public Bike System Co., Capital Bikeshare’s main supplier. New equipment, most of which will be deployed in the District proper, comes from Motivate, a New York-based manufacturer. Previously, the Capital Bikeshare system was buying used equipment from the City of Ottawa to meet the Washington’s voracious demand for biking.

Pepco Merger Rejected by District Commission

The D.C. Public Service Commission, a regulatory agency in charge of overseeing electric, natural gas and telephone companies, among others, rejected Exelon’s proposal to buy Pepco in a $6.6 billion bid on August 25.

After examining seven “public interest factors,” like the effect on ratepayers, competition in the market and the environment, the Commission concluded that, “taken as a whole, the transaction as proposed by Exelon and Pepco is not in the public interest.”

Mayor Muriel Bowser responded to the decision, saying, “I support the decision against the proposed merger. Moving forward, we want to ensure that DC utility ratepayers receive quality service, that we maintain and grow jobs in the District, and that we keep DC on our continued path toward sustainability.” The decision was also supported by POWER DC, a coalition formed against the merger.

Pepco and Exelon released a joint statement in response to the decision, saying, “We are disappointed with the Commission’s decision and believe it fails to recognize the benefits of the merger to the District of Columbia and its residents and businesses.” The release goes on to say that the two companies “continue to believe our proposal is in the public interest and provides direct immediate and long-term benefits to customers, enhances reliability and preserves our role as a community partner.” They said they “will review our options with respect to this decision” to figure out a path forward.

Trump, Cruz, Palin Speak Out Against Iran Deal at U.S. Capitol

Presidential hopefuls Donald Trump and Senator Ted Cruz (R-Texas) appeared at a rally opposing President Obama’s nuclear deal with Iran alongside former vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin, conservative radio personalities Glenn Beck and Mark Levin, and Phil Robertson of “Duck Dynasty” fame.

“I’ve never seen something so incompetently negotiated — and I mean never,” Trump told the crowd in his signature businessman bravado. Cruz, on the other hand, warned that the deal could lead to an Iran developing a nuclear weapon that could “kill millions.” The two have become allies of sorts and didn’t dig at each other, despite being opponents in the GOP’s presidential primary. Trump remarked, “Ted Cruz was out there and he really backed me very strongly, and I always respected that. He asked me to come along, and I guess he figured we’d get a big crowd and we certainly have.” [gallery ids="102309,126901,126909,126916,126923,126929,126937,126945,126952,126894,126888,126959,126964,126849,126976,126860,126867,126873,126881,126970" nav="thumbs"]

Parkour Enthusiasts Spotted on Georgetown Rooftops

August 31, 2015

Last week, Georgetown resident Shelley Clark and her cat were startled when they heard scampering on her rooftop. Clark rushed outside her home on 29th and Dumbarton streets NW to determine the cause of the commotion, expecting to find a large critter on her roof. Instead, she looked up and saw the faces of two local parkour enthusiasts who, she learned after her partner Andy Leddy confronted them, were using her and nearby residents’ rooftops to practice their jumps, vaults, leaps and flips.

Clark and Leddy’s neighbor wrote a post on the neighborhood’s public safety messaging board on GroupMe to further illuminate the situation. “A neighbor on 29th street called 911 last week to report 3 young men on the roof of a home on Dumbarton. After calling 911, the neighbor confronted the men on the roof who explained they’re Urban Roof Runners and using our neighborhood as an obstacle course,” she wrote, adding, “please we aware of this trending activity and call 911 should you see anyone taking part in this dangerous practice.”

Leddy called the police but by the time officers arrived on the scene the roof runners were gone. According to NBC 4, police have seen an uptick in roof running in Georgetown recently, and those caught participating in the activity “could face charges.”

According to Wikipedia, “parkour is a training discipline using movement that developed from military obstacle course training. Practitioners aim to get from point A to point B in the most efficient way possible without reverting back to point A. This is done using only the human body and the surroundings for propulsion, with a focus on maintaining as much momentum as possible while still remaining safe. Parkour can include obstacle courses, running, climbing, swinging, mantling, vaulting, jumping, rolling, quadrupedal movement, and other, similar movements depending on what movement is deemed most suitable for the given situation.” Participants usually perform the activity in urban spaces.

However, “you don’t want people running around on your roofs,” Clark told NBC, “these are historic houses.” Old and aging rooftops may be a cause for concerns for parkour enthusiasts, too.

So urban runners, beware. Not only are Georgetown residents and police now on the look out. Aging rooftops could give way, leading to serious injury or worse.

It started with a post on neighborhood public safety mes