East Side News - August 2017

WMATA’s new look for the Union Station entrance. Photo: WMATA

Mount Vernon Triangle Is for the Dogs

The Mount Vernon Triangle Community Improvement District (MVT CID), in partnership with Spot on Training, held a special event for man’s best friend, in conjunction with the weekly farmers’ market. Catering to the four-legged population of MVT, Milian Park was transformed into an obstacle course where dogs could jump, catch, and run through tunnels into their owners’ arms.

This was the fourth annual Doggone Fun Day, and Spot on Training and its affiliate Anytime K9 have helped host the event since the beginning. They provide all of the agility equipment and the trainers to teach the dogs to use it. Agility training helps a dog focus on specific tasks while increasing its confidence. Though most dogs present were new to the agility structures, many were jumping the bars with ease after a little guidance.

“By stimulating conversation and contact between strangers and triggering positive social interactions, pet dogs serve an integral role in contributing to a vibrant, healthy MVT CID community,” explains Kenyattah Robinson, president and CEO of the MVT CID. With MVT’s increasing dog pup-ulation (apologies), businesses and local organizations have to cater to a new demographic of the canine variety. Many area restaurants have outdoor seating that allows for dogs, and provide water and treats to the pets. Most if not all the residential buildings are pet-friendly, and there are small businesses that thrive offering services to dog owners.

The MVT CID believes that the increase in canine companions is a sign of people putting down roots in the neighborhood and contributes to neighbors getting to know each other, helping each other out, and engaging in conversation while walking.

After exercise at the Doggone Fun Day event, dogs were provided house-made treats from local bakery/cafe A Baked Joint, and dog parents were given the chance to enter a raffle for a doggie gift basket courtesy of Fifth Street Ace Hardware.

Sunshine at Tropical Smoothie Cafe

Tropical Smoothie Cafe (TSC), located at 425 Eye Street NW in Mount Vernon Triangle, hosted National Flip Flop Day on June 16. The holiday has no federal designation but was started by TSC’s corporate headquarters to promote a national campaign to raise money for Camp Sunshine, a program that assists families affected by life-threatening childhood illness. TSC asked customers to come wearing flip flops, get a free 16-ounce Sunshine Smoothie, and express support to Camp Sunshine by writing their names on paper flip-flop cutouts marking donations for each customer. Many residents and workers stopped by to show their support.

At Camp Sunshine, families can receive psychological support from mental health professionals and from each other. The camp is designed to fit the needs of children with many ailments, while also focusing on the emotional needs of their families. It is located on Maine’s beautiful Sebago Lake and allows for a multitude of outdoor activities. Camp Sunshine relies on more than 2,500 volunteers annually, many serving as counselors and working in areas of the program including food service, arts and crafts, and at the waterfront.

TSC’s national campaign goal is a million dollars. Local franchise owner Oubab Khalil has personally pledged to raise $10,000 toward the campaign.

Modern Apartments with Historic Twist

The first of the month marked the opening of the 455 Eye Street Apartments in downtown Mount Vernon Triangle. The long-awaited project by Equity Residential is the result of a combination of market-driven developments and a deep understanding of the value of historic preservation. The Equity Residential team attempted to keep much of the beauty of the two historic structures they incorporated into their 174-unit residential property. But that doesn’t mean they skimped on the modern or luxurious.

The property takes up the entire half block between Fourth and Four and a Half streets and is a combination of four different structures, two historic and two built from the ground up.

The heart of the complex is in an old structure erected as a blacksmith shop by German immigrant William Beuchert in 1912. A two-story warehouse was added to house an auto repairshop a few years later. Equity Residential has kept many of the original features of the warehouse, including the blacksmith shop, now a communal living area with large TVs, a wet bar, and leather couches. Many of the brick walls that surround the apartment lobby and leasing office are hand painted by local artist Laura Harris. The upper floors of the warehouse contain loft-style apartments with large windows, in keeping with the industrial ambiance of the building.

The other historic structure, really structures, is two townhouses that lie adjacent to the warehouse. The middle townhouse, built by John Wyess in 1876, has the longest history. An artful “W” is still engraved above the front door. A close friend of Wyess fell so in love with the new 14-foot house that he decided to build one almost identical next door. Now the two are combined and house four apartment units designed to maintain that historic feel. They have a separate front entrance from the rest of the building to help maintain their authenticity, but renters have access to all the building’s amenities.

Two new structures were built to add even more capacity to the small block, bringing a lot of diversity to the layouts and sizes of the apartments offered.

Equity Residential commissioned work from local artists to increase the historic authenticity and modern feeling of the communal spaces. Local artist James Kerns salvaged century-old wood and freight elevator parts to create furniture and fixtures throughout the lobby. Graham Caldwell created an eight-foot-tall glass droplet fixture in the larger, more modern lounge adjacent to the courtyard, and Emilio Perez has been commissioned to create multimedia art for the walls.

MVT CID’s Robinson explained what the project means to the neighborhood: “455 Eye is a building that I’ve literally watched rise, brick-by-brick, from the back window of my office every day for more than a year. It represents the absolutely stunning preservation, transformation, and adaptive reuse of formerly non-contributing historic structures into what are now tremendous assets for our community.”

The 455 Eye Street Apartments include a state-of-the-art fitness center, 24-hour concierge, bike room, and a roof deck with pool. The amenities match what a high-end renter would expect from a beautiful downtown building, but once inside the apartments there’s an instant sense of history.

Taylor Barden Golden is a real estate agent with The Stokes Group at McEnearney Associates. A former Hill staffer, Taylor lives in Brentwood with her husband, two dogs, and a cat. She’s always on the lookout for new places to explore and ways to spend time outside. Get in touch: taylor@midcitydcnews.com; @rtaylorb.