Friday, November 8, 2013

Note from Bens Chili Bowl re construction of new H Street Ben's posted to

The following comments came from Nizam Ali of Ben's Chili Bowl on  Ali was responding to a question about the razing of the building at 1001 H Street NE, which has drawn a significant amount of interest in the neighborhood.  Ali explains that the razing was not the intended result and that the materials will be reused to restore the building as much as possible to its original state. 

Let me first say thank you for welcoming us into your neighborhood and for giving us the benefit of the doubt regarding the building construction.  So as you know, our family and Ben's is all about history, and about preserving what we can physically, as well as keeping the memory, stories and history of both U ST and our great city alive for visitors and new residents.  So from the beginning we charged our architect with essentially replicating the look of existing building and keeping the historic characteristics of it. So the cornice design, the brick detail coming down and the brick detail over the windows will be a part of the reconstructed building.  All of this is an added expense but it keeps the character of the building and of H ST so it was important.  I think you will like it and we hope the community does as well.  
The plan was to keep part of the existing facade up during the construction through it was going to be challenging and of considerable expense because the whole first floor of the building along H ST and a portion that wraps around to 10th ST is a bump out window system left from the former retail store George's Place. The problem was that when we got into the building and began construction we discovered significant water damage, crumbled brick, falling brick, and deteriorated wood and grout.  The back wall of the building already had a brace in it and was leaning.  So then it became a safety issue and we couldn't risk the building falling on the sidewalk.  Because of this we went back to the city and proposed a preservation plan so to make a long story short, we removed the front facade brick by hand and salvaged it. We will reuse all of the brick that is undamaged and safe to use as well as some of the timbers that we salvaged as well.  I think you will be happy when its all completed. 
As for being good neighbors we are trying our best. We went to the ANC on a few different occasions (and will be at the next one) in the beginning to share our plans and to get feedback and hear their concerns.  We finalized the plans incorporating their wishes and that of the community as regards to our entrance, the sizes and design of our windows, and we even set the trash containers within our space at the rear and will have a gate that encloses them within the rear of the building.  We also have designed the rooftop deck with walls to the south to abate any potential noise issues. So please know that we  are working hard and will continue to do all that we can to be good neighbors.  

Note the Ben's will be at the next ANC6A meeting on Thursday, November 14.  Last we heard, they had not yet signed the standard voluntary (settlement) agreement with the ANC, so the hours of operation of their roof deck and other matters that relate to the impact of the new business on the surrounding community remain unresolved.

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