Sunday, September 21, 2014

Eagle seems on track to re-open in NE Washington; I take an auto tour of the area

I made a little “field trip” to the site of the new “Eagle” on Benning Road, NE in Washington DC after church today.
The Washington Blade this weekend has good news, that the DC Liquor Board has ruled in favor of the Eagle and against the shopping center opposing the license, story here. But a drive-through of the area shows that the “real problem” has little to do with the idea of a gay bar in the area or alcohol itself.  It has everything to do with gentrification and real estate development in the area, which is slowly driving the poor people out.
I got lost driving there.  I took Florida Ave. down and didn’t realize that H Street NE becomes Benning Road.  I wound up going through other areas of NE.  The crime reports in the media are horrific, but the area looks a lot better than it used to. 
But people walk across the street, deliberately challenging cars to stop.  The people look ragtag and often overweight and in poor health.  The area is a mixture of old industry, pawn shops, and then clusters of nice new townhomes just down Minnesota Ave, and a new high rise office or condo building near the site of the bar.  The area is definitely changing. Prices will go up, and tensions will increase. I did see a variety of community activities.  I passed what looked like a Fire Dept. sponsored youth gathering in a nearby park. 
When the bar-disco opens (still not sure of the date), Metro Transit Police will have to beef up security at the nearby Minensota Ave (Orange) and Benning Rd and Capitol Heights Stations (Blue and Silver).  DC Police will need to patrol the blocks between the stations and the place.  There seems to be a lot of parking behind the buildings, but it will need security, which means it will need to charge fees.  The actual building seems impossible to see from Benning Road (due to the complexity of the bridge and intersection with I-295) but I think you can see the building from Dix Street, which leads to the shopping center and various parking lots. In general, I'm reminded of the area around The Gold Coast in Detroit (covered Aug. 7, 2012). 
I look forward to the place.  But it can work only if the neighborhood around it improves and is kept secure enough.  This area of Washington DC is changing rapidly. 
One interesting possibility is that the Olympics comes to DC in a years and that RFK Stadium, not far away, is rebuilt.  Imagine the real estate development then.

Other clubs in DC curiously haven't announced their October events yet -- yet Halloween and High Heels are coming soon.
Last picture:  New street cars on Benning Road, coming soon.

Note, also.  There is a "Stonewall Kitchen" at National Harbor.

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