Proposed site of hotel, courtesy of shinichi (Flickr)

Proposed site of hotel, courtesy of shinichi (Flickr)

PoP has the scoop on the proposed hotel on 13th and U that would replace the building that houses Rite Aid, that nail salon, the dollar store, and I believe, Creme and Al Crostino. Honestly, I’m a little confused about where the building would be, would the entrance be facing U street or facing 13th street? It seems like it wouldn’t fit facing 13th street, but the description of the building the hotel would be replacing only includes Rite Aid. So, color me a bit confused.

Cardozo Shaw Neighborhood Association has all of the details about the proposed hotel:

  • 250 guestrooms, 4,500 square feet of meeting space and 23,000 square feet of retail space;
  • A signature restaurant, a rooftop bar and swimming pool;
  • A rotating art exhibit which will all be open to the public (I dig this);
  • The retail component will be composed of the existing Rite Aid (in a new space) and a diverse mix of retailers, restaurants and local or small business space (does this include Creme and Al Crostino?);
  • possible LEED certification from the U.S. Green Building Council.

I’m not totally for or against the project, I feel like I need more information. Al Crostino and Creme are two of my favorite restaurants in the U street area, and I’d hate to see them go or have to temporarily close because of this construction. And, being a curmudgeonly U street resident, I don’t really want more tourists in the neighborhood. I still find it weird when I’m walking around and I see someone who’s clearly a tourist walking around staying dumb things about how dangerous a neighborhood they’re in. And Ben’s line is too long already. It will be good for the retail scene on U street, but it’s not exactly struggling, even with these tough times. Sure, there are more empty storefronts than I’d like, but we’ve had the Gibson, Ben’s Next Door, Yes! Organic Market, Georgetown Valet, and Posto (I guess that’s more Logan Circle) all open in the past few months and all done well.

Line out the door at Ben's 1/20, courtesy of Andrew Bossi (Flickr)

Line out the door at Ben's 1/20, courtesy of Andrew Bossi (Flickr)

After a year and a half of living around the corner from Ben’s Chili Bowl, I’ve only seen a line out the door and in the alley a handful of times. The first time was their 50th anniversary celebration in August of 2008, and all of the subsequent times have been in the past week. It’s insane. In a given day, I walk by Ben’s a few times getting to and from where I need to go, and nearly every time I’ve walked by since last Saturday, there’s been a line out the door. I thought it had finally gotten less busy on Friday when around 8 pm there was no line out the door, but today when I walked by around 2 pm there was a freakin’ line out the door AGAIN.

What gives? I know that Barack Obama’s visit has risen the profile of Ben’s, but surely all of the inauguration tourists have headed home by now. And it’s not like Ben’s was unbusy before President Obama visited, but you could go in at say, 5 pm on a Tuesday and have 2 people in line in front of you instead of 300. I don’t really understand where all of these people are coming from, did people who live in the area decide it’d been too long since they’d been and all head out at the same time? I don’t know.

I just hope that these long lines will dissipate and that people from the ‘hood like me can still go without waiting for 2 hours on a random afternoon. I’m glad Ben’s is doing great business (can you imagine how much money they’ve made in the last week?) but I do hope it dies down a bit so when I have a hankering for a half smoke or chili cheese fries I don’t have to wait outside in the cold for hours to get it.