Posts Tagged Economic Development

Before build-out, Busboys & Poets applies for ABRA license

Old Bowling Alley Facade -- no more plywoodBefore the re-zoning and build-out of the otherworldly hyped Anacostia franchise of Busboys & Poets begins, an ABRA license has been applied for by Busboys of Anacostia, LLC for an American Bistro planned to service “290 patrons and total occupancy load of 325.”

The initial hearing was last week with a protest hearing date set for May 27, 2015. Full info below …

In related news, the plywood covering the first floor facade adorned with banners announcing Busboys & Poets’ imminent landing has been gone for a number of weeks now. The wind gusts that crumbled 1909 – 1913 MLK Jr. Avenue are the reported culprit.




Posting Date:                          January 16, 2015

Petition Date:                          March 2, 2015

Hearing Date:                          March 16, 2015

Protest Hearing Date:             May 27, 2015



License No.:                            ABRA-097639

Licensee:                                 Busboys of Anacostia, LLC

Trade Name:                           Busboys & Poets

License Class:                         Retailer’s Class “C” Restaurant

Address:                                  2004-2010 Martin Luther King Jr. Avenue, S.E.

Contact:                                  Stephen O’Brien: 202-625-7700



WARD   8                ANC 8A                     SMD 8A06


Notice is hereby given that this applicant has applied for a new license under the D.C. Alcoholic Beverage Control Act and that the objectors are entitled to be heard before the granting of such license on the hearing date at 10:00 am, 2000 14th Street, N.W., 400 South, Washington, DC 20009.  Petitions and/or requests to appear before the Board must be filed on or before the petition date.  The Protest Hearing Date is scheduled for May 27, 2015 at 1:30 pm.



American bistro with full entree menu serving breakfast, brunch, lunch, and dinner. Background music and live entertainment will be provided to include, but not limited to, poetry reading, occasional showing of films, and a pianist. No nude performances. Seating for 290 patrons and total occupancy load of 325.



Sunday through Thursday 7 am – 2 am, Friday and Saturday 7 am – 3 am



Sunday through Thursday 8 am – 2 am, Friday and Saturday 8 am – 3 am



Sunday through Thursday 11 am – 2 am, Friday and Saturday 11 am – 3 am



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What will it take for Busboys & Poets to open in Anacostia?

Now that Busboys & Poets has announced plans to open a restaurant in Anacostia in the spring of 2016 the hard work begins. At last month’s announcement few intimate details of the deal were shared, leaving many familiar with neighborhood development to question the project’s timeline.

Busboys & Poets plans to open an outlet in Anacostia in 2016.

The Far SE Family Strengthening Collaborative, which has owned the vacant building at 2004 – 2010 Martin Luther King Jr. Avenue SE since late 2012, is primarily a case management social service provider without a record of development experience. The non-profit will most likely have to rely on a series of substantial city funds from the Department of Employment Services, Department of Housing and Community Development, Deputy Mayor for Planning and Economic Development and others to make the project possible, according to a developer who spoke on condition of anonymity.

Perry Moon, executive director of the Collaborative, says the community should prepare itself for a “long process.”

What will that process entail? That process will include forming partnerships with a development team and culinary training team and securing financing, none of which appear to be in place.


In late December 2012 the Collaborative purchased the former bowling alley and furniture store for $2.195 million. According to tax records, as of May their outstanding mortgage stood at more than $1.7 million. With a reported revenue, mostly in the form of city grants and case management government transfer payments, after expenses of nearly $0.54 million the Collaborative faces significant capital shortfalls to finance the development.

Since their purchase the property has remained vacant, generating no revenue. Nearly five years ago Unity Healthcare and the DC Primary Care Association identified the building for a new health facility. The neighborhood organized opposition and Unity eventually built a complex adjacent to the Frederick Douglass House.

At the announcement Andy Shallal, founder of Busboys & Poets, indicated he would be signing a 20-year lease. Moon declined to name the conditions of the lease. The Collaborative currently rents offices in the Anacostia Professional Building across the street, and, according to neighborhood sources, plans to relocate at the end of 2015. These present tight deadlines to make a deal.

“They didn’t announce the lease in clear terms,” says Rev. Oliver “OJ” Johnson, a former board member of multiple community development corporations in Anacostia, who began his activism during the administrations of Mayor Washington and President Nixon. “I haven’t seen a prospectus of an agreement detailing what Busboys will or will not contribute to the build out. There’s no evidence there’s any money in this. In order for any bank to underwrite a loan they have to see funding feasibility, the sources of expected grants and other planned revenue streams. There’s nothing here.”

Johnson also questioned the decision making process narrative advanced by the Collaborative. “There’s been no public hearing process or community meetings. There was one or two invite-only meetings. Not one 8A Advisory Neighborhood Commissioner spoke at the press conference. They haven’t been given notice of what their script is. Last [month’s] event was improvised to the fullest.”

Asked if partnerships with area culinary schools, Marriott Hospitality High School and others are being pursued to open a culinary institute, Moon said, “We’re looking at all options.”

“There are no current plans for funding for this redevelopment because none has been applied for,” wrote Marcus A. Williams, Community Outreach Director for DHCD. “However, DHCD has had ongoing conversations with both the Collaborative and Busboys to discuss what subsidies the Department might be able to offer through an open and transparent competitive process. The developer is welcome to submit a proposal to request support for this project next spring when the Department releases information about the 2015 funding competition.”

Summing up sentiments of both the neighborhood and city officials Williams said, “We are excited to see interest in development in Ward 8 and specifically in revitalizing Historic Anacostia.”

Build Out

The proposed build out of 2004 – 2010 Martin Luther King Jr. Avenue SE.

The two-story building was constructed in 1940 as a bowling alley and has most recently served as a Masonic lodge and furniture store. Its current space of 20,848 square feet is not enough to house Busboys & Poets on the ground floor and the administrative offices of the Collaborative and a culinary training school on the 2nd floor. Plans to add a third floor and build upon the rear one-story wing passed Historic Preservation Review Board earlier this year and are incorporated into design drawings. Construction would add 7,000 – 10,000 additional square feet.

“The build out will start immediately to bring the building into code and then it will be turned over to Busboys and Poets for our fit out,” Shallal wrote in an email.

A look at the interior of the future Busboys & Poets.

According to a Historic Preservation Office staff report by Time Dennee, the building “has hallmarks of the Art Moderne style: uniform light-colored brick, a curved northwest corner, and streamlining suggested by the contrasting, projecting brick flanking the windows and the simple continuous projections above the storefront and as a schematic cornice.”

An addition brings the building’s total height to 45 feet, making it the tallest building within the Anacostia Historic District. Most of the building’s structure – column, beam and slab construction with brick-faced block exterior walls – would be retained and used. The roof and one-story rear wing will be lost with the proposed addition. A storefront in the first-floor facade will also be added.

Signature project for Mayor Bowser?

The lone city employee to speak at last month’s event was the late Councilmember Barry’s chief of staff. The absence of mayor-elect Bowser (who was announced to speak) was telling, according to a number of developers and neighborhood activists in attendance.

Perry Moon of the Collaborative addresses the crowd at last month’s announcement.

“Most likely no current agency director will be around when this project gets started. Nobody can make a promise or a hold a commitment right now. This will have to be a signature project for Muriel’s administration. They’ll have to wait for her to settle in which will take time,” says Johnson.

A developer who spoke on the condition of anonymity offered, “Did you hear Shallal with the one-off applause line, ‘I should have been Mayor!’? Muriel doesn’t want to share the stage with him.”

With Moon giving duplicative answers to a series of questions, including, “How is this really going to happen?” he closed our phone interview by saying, “This will be a long process. We’ll work to see that the community remains excited and enthusiastic and stays with us.”

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ANACOSTIA ALERT: Mayor Gray to Provide Update on Affordable Housing Progress [October 8, 2014 – 10:30am – 11:30am]

2200 block of MLK - parking lotWHAT/WHO:   Mayor Vincent C. Gray and Department of Housing and Community Development (DHCD) Director Michael P. Kelly will provide an update on the administration’s efforts to produce and preserve affordable housing for District residents. Director Kelly will also announce the 2014 Notice of Funding Availability awardees.

The announcement is part of Mayor Gray’s regular Biweekly Press Briefing. 

WHEN:                        Wednesday, October 8, 2014


WHERE:                       Future site of the Four Points Development Project; 2255 Martin Luther King, Jr. Avenue SE 

BACKGROUND:           With the District’s population continuing to grow at a rate of more than 1,000 net new residents per month, Mayor Gray’s administration has sought innovative approaches to generating quality affordable housing and has leveraged as many resources as possible to boost the District’s supply of affordable housing. Mayor Gray revived the Housing Production Trust Fund Advisory Board, created the Comprehensive Housing Strategy Task Force and announced an ambitious and unprecedented goal to produce or preserve 10,000 affordable units by the year 2020.

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New Anacostia Cafe Opens Monday [Washington Post, 30 Sept., 1993]

WP_9.30.1993 _ New Anacostia Cafe Opens MondayMore than two decades ago …

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