Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Walk around the block, Bloomingdale

Bloomingdale.....N. Capital Street, on a nice day, it is a great street. The other day, as I waited for the light to change, I ran into T, the fellow who wanders around aimlessly. He asked how my husband was, I asked him how his morning had been... a white car pulled slowly up to the curb and with his hand low by his side, T motioned, rapidly waving back and forth. The car turned onto Quincy. Then Tony abruptly said ...got to go. Hmm. A close friend.

The other night my husband and I had dinner with a friend of ours who is a banker. She has worked closely with a number of developers. I told her our ideas to help N. Capital Street...perhaps neighbors could form an LLC and purchase a building and fix it up. Perhaps businesses on N. Capital could partner with Catholic Univ School of Architecture to help design new enticing facades, or perhaps we, as a neighborhood, could court deep pocket investors.
She felt that an investor or developer would not be interested in purchasing a single building, but rather a block. I indicated that I did not think we wanted big development like 7th street, but rather something more small-business oriented, like 14th street. Admittedly, this is my preference.

On a lark, I decided to do some investigating. I found a building between R and Quincy NE on N. Capital with a wrinkled, crumbled, hidden Caldwell-Banker FOR SALE sign. What if we could entice a developer with this block. So I walked around the block and took some pictures. My next step is to meet the current business owners and find out if they would be interested in selling, or if they would prefer to stay, and if so, would they like some help to improve the facade of their building.

My idea is to provide a short report to anyone interested on just this block....the current buildings, the status of those building, and what they might become...perhaps with renderings of how fabulous building in lovely Bloomingdale, with a glimpse of the Capital and thousands of cars driving by each day could be....does anyone know of an artist or draftsperson who would like to help?

But Bloomingdale, what do you think? Is this a good idea, should I even be trying to pull in a developer, what do you think? This is our neighborhood...and it is a good one....but I think N. Capital needs a hand. Neighbors and I are meeting on Tuesday, March 25th 7:00 at Nellie’s Sports Bar. Can you join us?

Take a walk around the block with me. Think about it.


Anonymous said...

The view of the Capitol from the Rotunda of the Flea Market must be a good one.

The vacant building between Super Liqours and the Flea Market (the building with the green bay windows) is a gem waiting to be polished.

The "Bobby Fisher Memorial Building" on the other side of N. Cap. must go. It is a monument to grafitti.


Anonymous said...

I personally support art galleries in our 'hood, especially subversive or strange ones. Makes us like Brooklyn in the '90s! Viva Bobby Fisher Memorial Building!

IMGoph said...

interesting ideas, but to nitpick, your work on the other side of north capitol would be in eckington, not bloomingdale... :)

Anonymous said...

but to nitpick, your work on the other side of north capitol would be in eckington, not bloomingdale... :)

Really? Ask He claims that Big Bear is in Eckington, not Bloomingdale.

Anonymous said...

Google Maps claims the entire triangle defined by RI Ave NW, FL Ave NW, and N. Cap St. as being "Eckington".



IMGoph said...

well, google maps could claim that everything north of the 30th parallel is part of mexico too.

just because a map says something doesn't make it true. trust me here, anon, you're talking to a person with a masters in cartography.

Anonymous said...

Yes, N. Capitol NE is definitely Eckington. But..... and this is where it's complicated... Eckington and Bloomingdale overlap. Just like the northern part of Bloomingdale also overlaps with LeDroit Park. I live in that triangle south of Rhode Island and north of Florida and while my deed says Bloomingdale, the city says Eckington.

Bloomingdale = N Capitol NW to 2nd, Florida to the Michigan.

The portion of Bloomingdale also in Eckington is N Capitol to 2nd, Florida to Rhode Island.

IMGoph said...

anon: the area between north cap, florida, and RI is not in eckington. that only exists as part of a tax classification scheme. the city has a limited number of "assessment neighborhoods", and bloomingdale, for better or worse, isn't one of those. eckington is, and the city lumped the south end of bloomingdale in with eckington for those tax record purposes.

it's like how there's an 'old city 1' and 'old city 2'. those aren't neighborhoods, and if you stop and understand what they exist for, you'd never claim that they are. they just exist for the city to lump together a few disparate neighborhoods into something that can be used for tax purposes.

eckington is east of north capitol street, and is not west of north capitol at all. when eckington was platted out more than a century ago, it was all east of north capitol. the overlap you speak of exists on a paper, but not in reality.

i'm not trying to be an ass here, but my original point stands, and it boils down to "don't believe everything that you read."

Sean Hennessey said...

i do believe that the original bloomingdale development included the triangle of lincoln ne and north capitol. this was before north capitol continued on past the old soldiers home. and certainly well before the trench was dug.

i certainly know that i'm neighbors with them, regardless of what they call the neighborhood.

my deed says "bloomingdale, eckington subdivision". or something like that.

Anonymous said...

and so....more to the bloggers question...do we think development along N. Capital is a good idea....yes! yes! and personally, I would also like to see galleries...and good food. mmmm...wish I could walk over there tonight for a pizza and a beer. thanks

Sean Hennessey said...


i'm curious about your ideas of neighborhood delineations ans origins of names.

you seem to say that the government shouldn't impose neighborhood names, nor should developers ( ie.. NoMa), but in this thread you seem to be also saying that individual neighbors shouldn't pick up on imposed names. Where should names come from?

( bloomingdale, eckington, ledroit park,trinidad were all named by developers. Even capitol hill was once called jenkins hill. who changed the name?)


Anonymous said...

I wish N. Cap was pleasant, safe, and full of prosperous indie businesses too. I would love a Red Rocks or a good American contemporary restaurant on N. Cap. The only place I can buy a burger is at Wendy's, Mickey D's or at Burger King, and they suck beans!

Anonymous said...

We pay top prices to live int this city and we deserve some quality amenities within walking distance. Why are we spending $400,000 and more for homes that are not near anything? What is the point in living in the city when your neighborhood lacks basic urban amenities within walking distance.

Anonymous said...

Imgoph -- Whether you mean to be or not you kind of are being an ass. If it's not the city government who decides names then who the hell is it?

And don't say "history" because there are plenty of examples of places that have changed their names and no longer use "historic" names. The city has designated that the area I described west of N. Capitol IS Eckington. Who are we to say that they are wrong?

IMGoph said...

anon (there are 9 of you here, so i don't know which one(s) i am addressing) - i'm not being an ass, i'm being pedantic. but this is the internet, and there's unlimited space and time for someone to be pedantic, so if you don't want to debate something, just don't reply.

i'm officially declaring the area between first and north capitol as east detroit. who is anyone to say i'm wrong?

my point is that, sure, there's no official person or group who gets to rule from on high what the names and extents of neighborhoods are. but there's general consensus, and that's a good enough arbiter for me.

if you ask people who live in the area that we're debating about, the majority will tell you they live in bloomingdale. if you ask stu and lana at the big bear what neighborhood their coffee shop is in, they'll say bloomingdale. if you talk to the bloomingdale civic association if the area in question is in bloomingdale or eckington, they'll say bloomingdale.

outside of the office of tax and revenue and a poorly placed label on a map that google published using navteq data, there's not a lot of push for that area to be called eckington.

history, future, and myself be damned, the majority of the people who are close to the situation on the ground call it bloomingdale. so will i.

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Anonymous said...

Goth-dude, your redeeming value is your devotion to the 'hood, in spite of your renter status.

Gulp some pop, such as Vernor's for me next time you're back in Old Blighty (America's High Five!)

IMGoph said...

chazu - i'm glad that you care about the hood. i realized after dropping that "i have a masters in cartography" line that it would come across as elitist, and i apologize to everyone for that. i just wanted to quickly give a reason why i felt i had a right to pontificate about cartographic design.

i wasn't aiming to impress you or anyone. your personal opinion of me doesn't matter, i guess.

(30 times further than me per ride, though, that's impressive. that's one heck of a commute!)

Sean Hennessey said...

i hope everyone is cool with this back and forth. i for one find opinions on this pretty interesting.

when i first moved to where i am now, i could find about three references to bloomingdale online: the ( now defunct)bloomingdale boys club website, which had a great history of the neighborhood on it, the bloomingdale civic assoc. and bloomingdaledc. thats it.

when i asked people as i walked around, everyone said its eckington, save three people. in fact the big bear market counter guy called it eckington. so did the guy buying his lottery ticket.

people that i knew that lived in eckington ( proper..?) called it eckington. the realtor selling the house called it eckington. i dont recall ever seeing a mls listing "bloomingdale" when i was looking for a house, just about five years ago.

the realtor that sold me the house,actually said , "bloomingdale? it hasnt been called that for 50 years." and she lives within blocks of me. or did then, anyway. the only physical reference i knew of "bloomingdale" was the liquor store sign.

perhaps the general consensus has changed in the past few years. i havent asked anyone in a while.

either way, if someone opens up a cool place in one of those buildings, i'll call it north north virginia if they want me too.
; )

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Anonymous said...

Something kind of sad about this exchange... the poster asked about how to bring retail into the hood and everyone just gets excited about the boundaries on some map.

Anyway, I personally think that North Cap is going to be a wasteland for some years to come. For one thing it is a major highway (albeit with stoplights) and a significant socio-economic dividing line. As such, there is little prospect for street life.

I think focusing on some of the properties along Rhode Island between N Cap and 3rd would be a better bet. I can see starting a coop to put in some quality retail (not necessarily another market, but a restaurant, book store or something else). A coop would keep labor costs down via volunteer staffing.
- JM

Anonymous said...

So this is where imgoph has been spending all of their time blogging. By the way, I live in DC.
Is the meeting still on for tonight?