Dispatches from the Village of Anacostia

Renderings of the Anacostia Arts Center. Photo: Courtesy of ARCH

Anacostia Arts Center Opening in Spring 2013

ARCH Development Corporation (ADC) announces that the Anacostia Arts Center will open in spring 2013 in Historic Anacostia. Serving both as a community gathering place and a regional cultural facility, the Center will add approximately 10,000 square feet of creative commercial space to Good Hope Road SE. Conveniently located at the south end of the 11th Street Bridge between Martin Luther King, Jr., Avenue SE and 13th Street SE, it will bring independent creative projects together under one roof. 

The Anacostia Arts Center will occupy the street level of 1231 Good Hope Road SE, formerly the ARCH Training Center. The property is divided into spaces connected by a main hall, with common lounge areas in the front and rear of the building. Currently under construction, the space will include the following: 

  • A dance and theater rehearsal space that can serve as a small performance venue
  • the American Poetry Museum Reading Room
  • a short-term creative rental facility called Blank Space SE
  • a coffee shop and juice bar
  • three new galleries 
  • two new boutiques
  • a small wellness center for yoga, meditation, and related activities

Duane Gautier, CEO of ADC, explains his vision for the center: “This project will assist in transforming the Anacostia neighborhood into a place people recognize as an arts destination.”

Anacostia Arts Center will provide opportunities for entrepreneurs in the creative economy to open brick-and-mortar retail operations in the Anacostia Historic District and join the list of existing arts resources, which include Honfleur Gallery (opened in 2007) and Vivid Solutions DC Archival Print Lab (2009), followed by the accompanying fine art photography and digital art exhibition space, The Gallery at Vivid Solutions. 

The first large-scale community arts festival, known as LUMEN8Anacostia (which began in 2012), is scheduled for June 22, 2013. Festival activities will include Anacostia Arts Center programming. 

In addition, with the opening of the Anacostia Playhouse (formerly the H Street Playhouse), slated for May 2013, the Anacostia Arts Center will gain a new 150-seat black-box theater providing much needed performance rehearsal space just two blocks away. ANC Commissioner 8A06 Kendall Graham calls it a “natural addition to an already flourishing art culture” in Anacostia, and predicts that it will be a destination for residents and nonresidents. “The establishment of the Anacostia Arts Center, along with the opening of the Anacostia Playhouse and second annual LUMEN8Anacostia festival, will only add to the momentum of Anacostia’s renaissance.” 

ADC’s Director of Business Development, Nikki Peele, pointed out that the location of the Anacostia Arts Center directly above The HIVE 2.0 will be mutually beneficial to both projects. She said, “The HIVE 2.0 is about providing an environment for innovators, visionaries, and entrepreneurs to collaborate and thrive. Having the Anacostia Arts Center in the same building as The HIVE 2.0 is a huge asset in making our space more attractive, more dynamic, and more cutting-edge for the entrepreneurs that call our small business incubators home.”

Uniontown Bar & Grill Update

It is official: Uniontown Bar & Grill has a new owner. Gabriel Tripodo, a former Java Port City coffee shop employee, has signed a lease on the property located at 2200 Martin Luther King, Jr., Avenue SE and has applied for the relevant permitting. At the time of this writing the owner intends to turn the space into a sports bar serving drinks and bar fare. He has also expressed an interest in expanding the bar into the second floor, which was used as an office by the previous tenant. This expansion would almost double the space.

The Uniontown Bar & Grill name will remain, the sign will hang out front, and the menus will bear the iconic name. Patrons can expect to see service begin this spring in the street-level portion of the space; no timeline has been given for the upstairs expansion.  

Anacostia Business Improvement District 

Historic Anacostia has a newly formed Business Improvement District, or BID. Local business owners and residents make up its board.

The BID’s first billings will be going out next month along with the business property taxes. These billings will allow the organization to perform essential functions like those of other DC BIDs such as trash collecting, funding festivals, improving streetscapes, and other activities that will benefit the Good Hope Road SE - Martin Luther King, Jr., Avenue SE business corridor. The BID hopes to begin programming this spring after the billings are levied.

At-Large Council Member David Grosso Visits Big Chair Bar & Grill

On the morning of February 21 At-Large Council Member David Grosso and Chief-of-Staff Aaron Pritchard joined residents and business leaders for breakfast at Big Chair Bar & Grill. A group of roughly a dozen residents, mostly from Ward 8, discussed topics that affected their particular neighborhoods or businesses.  

The first topic centered on healthcare, in particular patient outreach. A doctor from the Greater Southeast Hospital pointed out that while healthcare facilities exist in Wards 7 & 8, many residents do not take advantage of these programs and use the emergency room as their primary source for healthcare. The next topic was raised by a resident who described a recent uptick of crime near her home and identified the need for a greater police presence in her neighborhood. The topic of economic development and business opportunity came up near the end of the meeting. The group discussed what impact the redevelopment of Saint Elizabeth’s would have on the surrounding areas and how East of the River businesses could take advantage of the growth.

Councilmember Grosso took note of the residents’ concerns. He proposed an ambulant system that could target neighborhoods where people tend to use emergency rooms for their primary care. In response to crime, Grosso mentioned that the Metropolitan Police Department has begun hiring new cadets and that a portion of the city’s budget would go to replenishing the police force, which has seen a loss of personnel as a result of recent retirements.

Despite the cold, breezy weather, the councilmember then toured Anacostia, including the site of the future Anacostia Playhouse, the future Anacostia Arts Center, and other local establishments like Grubb’s pharmacy, which recently expanded into the area from Capitol Hill.

Phil Hutinet is the Chief Operating Officer at ARCH Development Corporation (ADC). ADC is a 20-year-old 501[c][3] not-for-profit community-based organization founded on the belief that arts and the creative economy can be employed as part of a comprehensive, synergistic approach to community revitalization in the Anacostia community of Washington, DC. Visit them online at archdevelopment.org.