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Breakfast links: Blame it on the alcohol

Photo by wjserson on Flickr.
Closing time: A DC Council committee rejected longer bar hours in favor of a higher alcohol tax in order to raise revenue. The longer hours could come back into the bill later this month. (Post)

A dryer U St.?: A new group is calling for a moratorium on liquor licences around U Street. Though other solutions might be better than a moratorium, the group's leader is skeptical. (City Paper)

Where the bars are: Ward 2 leads DC with 40% of all liquor licences, followed by Wards 1 and 6. ANC 2B near Dupont Circle has more liquor licenses than than five of the city's wards. (borderstan)

How to succeed in coffee: Independent coffee shops can have a tough time, but there are ways to increase a shop's chance of success, including quality, holding events, and getting a license to sell alcohol. (City Paper)

Good and bad for WMATA transparency: WMATA brought back daily Metrorail service reports, adding transparency. But Board chair Cathy Hudgins asked the Inspector General not to speak to the Riders' Advisory Council at the last minute. (TBD)

Watch out for the tracks: Mary Cheh wants DDOT to look into making streetcar tracks safer for bikes and educating riders to the dangers of riding into them. (DCist)

Arts District tops: The mixed use Art District Hyattsville was named the best economic development project in Maryland this year. The Route 1 development is "creating an economic renaissance in Hyattsville." (Patch, Scott)

Gas mileage performance parking?: A planned parking lot in Boston will give a 10% discount to hybrid and electric vehicles and charge 10% more for cars with poor gas mileage. It only has 12 spots total, though. (Co.Exist)

And...: The Mall design contest has winners. (Post) ... Alexandria wants to transfer road money to study the Potomac Yard Metro. (Examiner) ... Higher parking rates are likely for Montgomery County. (Examiner) ... Trees make a comeback in Adams Morgan. (The 42)

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Steven Yates grew up in Indiana before moving to DC in 2002 to attend college at American University. He currently lives in Southwest DC.  


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RE: Liquor license, let's put things in perspective. What is the breakdown by class and the balance between A/B and C by ward? Ward 7 may only have 3% of all licenses, but with the exception of 2 restaurants (Wah Sing & Rays the Steaks), our liquor licenses are all Class "A" or "B", which are the run of the mill liquor stores. We have no class c to provide balance. Ward 8 has the same issue.

by Veronica O. Davis (Ms V) on May 3, 2012 8:53 am • linkreport

That $497 million cost for the Potomac Yard Metro station is a lot higher than I've seen before. Anybody know what that includes? If that's only for the station / track routing, that's awfully expensive, and hard to justify for an infill station -- particularly with the planned, parallel streetcar going in.

by Arl Fan on May 3, 2012 9:07 am • linkreport

another cryptic number from the Examiner. I'm guessing thats the estimate for the costliest of the alternatives, and is conservative at that.

by AWalkerInTheCity on May 3, 2012 9:38 am • linkreport

@ ArlFan:hard to justify for an infill station

What do you based that on? No pun intended, I just always wonder why people think certain things are (too) expensive.

For instance, can anybody compare that M$497 to the cost of comparable stations? What did the NY Ave station cost (the last infill, if I'm correct). What do the new Silver Line stations cost? How much of the cost is due to the fly over that needs to be built to get over the CSX tracks.

by Jasper on May 3, 2012 9:40 am • linkreport

Agreed on liquor - the ward by ward breakdown isn't all that interesting without more information.

Are these retail licenses or on-premises licenses? Liquor, or just beer and wine? Etc.

That breakdown would be far more illustrative. Otherwise, the observation that Wards 1, 2, and 6 have the most licenses doesn't really show much - they're the densest parts of the city.

by Alex B. on May 3, 2012 9:41 am • linkreport

If Adams Morgan gets any more liquor licenses it will become another 14th Street.

by Tom Coumaris on May 3, 2012 9:49 am • linkreport

I'll bet that Potomac Yard station cost number is the total estimated finance cost, amortized out over the years to factor in all of the borrowing costs. It doesn't necessarily represent the actual construction cost.

However, it's awfully deceptive to use that number as the 'cost' in a news article, particularly without explaining where it comes from.

by Alex B. on May 3, 2012 10:03 am • linkreport

While the Potomac yard number is likely high, I find everyones trust in metro to do it cheaper pretty cute.

This in an age when ~50 million dollar two block long bike trails are considered, and metro hemmed and hawed about the ADDITIONAL 350 million it was going to cost to simply bury the Dulles metro station.

They NY Ave station ended up costing 104 million in 2004 dollars. Of course, that was up from the 75 million approved for the project and sold to the public in 1999 (39%).

This station should be just about the easiest ever to build. At grade, on a long straight stretch of track. This too will get built but it will, like all public transit projects go substantially over budget and schedule and the people in Alexandria funding it will scream for years about it.

by MetromakingitRAIN on May 3, 2012 10:18 am • linkreport

I say hogwash to the residents who have benefited from their n'hood becoming a go-to destination and now think the amount of liquor licenses granted has led to more...people/noise/trash etc.

Please..give me a freakn break!

DDOT should've been studying how to make the tracks safer before laying them in the first place. I'm hoping this has already been done and Cheh's efforts are only repeats.

by HogWash on May 3, 2012 10:19 am • linkreport

@Jasper: Compare the cost to the Silver Line estimate -- $2.7B for 6 new stations (i.e. less than $500M per station), and 11+ miles of system extension that includes numerous bridges, etc. That's why I'm surprised by the price tag. (Also, the actual construction cost for the NY Avenue infill station was about $100M, after cost overruns. 5x the cost for Potomac Yards. Sure, we've had 10 years of inflation, but... really?).

As for why, at that price, we might doubt whether it's worth it for an infill station, I'll freely admit that it's just a gut reaction -- I haven't priced out costs and benefits. But Potomac Yard is only a mile and a half from the existing Crystal City and Braddock Road stations. For half the $497M cost estimate, there would seem to be many alternative, non-automotive transit options to consider -- most of which would provide more mobility to much of the walkshed of that new Metro station because they would have more access points. I mentioned before the already-planned Arlington-Alexandria streetcar. $250M (i.e. half the infill station price) would go a long way towards making that a reality sooner -- and to the extent funds for the streetcar have already been identified, could be used to increase the number of cars & frequency of service, the quality of the stops, the ability of disabled riders to access it, etc. Or that money could be used to flood the area with CaBi bikes and stations. Heck, it could be used to make CaBi a comprehensive, regionwide system -- if Bixi could build enough ($200M = 2000 new, full-size stations plus 10,000 bikes plus 5 years of operating costs for those bikes). Or you could create "Capital SegwayShare" as an intermediate transport-sharing option that would probably be a huge hit with tourists. Or you could build a huge number of pedestrian/bicycling enhancements and crossings for the Jeff Davis highway corridor that would solidly link the neighborhoods on both sides. And you'd still have the other half of the project cost left over to help with other regional transit projects, like streetcars (wasn't the last estimate for the total cost of the Anacostia & H Street lines about $200M) or enhanced bus service, or new escalators for Metro.

by Arl Fan on May 3, 2012 10:27 am • linkreport

@ Arl Fan: Thanks for the answer. It provides good context. says that M$100 in 2004 dollars is M$121 in 2012 dollars.

by Jasper on May 3, 2012 10:37 am • linkreport

Again, I don't think that $497m number is a construction cost estimate, but rather the total cost inclusive of financing costs.

If you buy a $100,000 house with a 30 year mortgage, by the time the mortgage is paid off, you've paid more than $100,000, since you have to add in the interest.

Again, if this is the case, it's irresponsible for the Examiner to drop this number into their article without context.

Go to slide 34 of this presentation:

The construction cost is $240m, same as has always been reported.
Capitalized interest is $35m.
Debt service is $221.6m

by Alex B. on May 3, 2012 10:40 am • linkreport

"Again, if this is the case, it's irresponsible for the Examiner to drop this number into their article without context."

In other shocking news about media outlets, the NYT has lately been pretentious, Fox has been rightwing, the WSJ has printed lots of long stock tables, CNN headline news has focuses on juicy crime stories.

by AWalkerInTheCity on May 3, 2012 10:43 am • linkreport


As Alex B. noted above, the Potomac Yard price estimate per the Examiner may be more than just the construction costs. I do think $500 million is a lot. But, a station at Potomac Yard makes a lot of sense. I'd hope that the construction cost would be 2/3 or so of what the Examiner has noted.

by Vik on May 3, 2012 10:46 am • linkreport

@Alex B: Thanks -- that shows the estimates are still the 2010 numbers. I agree that it's a surprising choice to highlight the $497M number -- although it appears that it is Alexandria, rather than the Examiner, that was first too do that. With more than half of the cost as interest, they better get that money borrowed while rates are still low.

I can't find the $240M number in the Feb. 2010 study, although it falls within the cost ranges for the D option ranges there. It's not the midpoint of anything, either, so there's obviously some analysis that went into it.

by Arl Fan on May 3, 2012 10:59 am • linkreport

Just to add: what I worry about when I see a substitution of the all-in price for the capital cost as the "headline" number is that someone foresees a big jump in the capital number, and is trying to soften the blow by raising the general cost expectation.

If that wasn't Alexandria's intention, I hope they will push back on the Examiner for highlighting that number, but it is the headline number in the slide Alex B. identified.

by Arl Fan on May 3, 2012 11:06 am • linkreport

they were comparing a stream of costs to a stream of financing, without discounting the outyears. They showed the development proffers and the stream of taxes in TOTAL - NOT an annual inflow vs an upfront cost to calculate an ROI. For what they were doing, it was appropriate.

That the Examiner took it out of context is par for the course.

Of course you can't use it to look at what else you could afford to do in terms of LRT or CaBi or whatever, unless you include financing cost for those as well. But since the interest rates are likely the same, it would make more sense to just compare the upfront cost.

by AWalkerInTheCity on May 3, 2012 11:18 am • linkreport

This too will get built but it will, like all public transit projects go substantially over budget and schedule

True...but like most public transit projects the financial returns will likely be phenomenal. Here are the returns on NY Ave metro for the $104M construction cost (this is only through 2007. It's worth noting that most of the infill related development has actually happened AFTER 2007):

The project far exceeded the promise of 5000 new jobs and $1 billion in area investment upon the construction of the Metro station. Assessed valuation of the 35-block area increased from $535 million in 2001 to $2.3 billion in 2007. Over 15,000 jobs have been created since 1998 with $1.1 billion in private investment.

As for Potomac Yard, the station is expected to result in 7 million square feet of additional mixed use development. So, even if the project's cost doubles from its current $240M estimate, the overall return will still be great.

by Falls Church on May 3, 2012 11:35 am • linkreport

@ Falls Church:like most public transit projects the financial returns will likely be phenomenal.

If only politicians realized this. And this is not only transit. Virtually any infrastructure investment will pay itself back many times. Provided it is used.

Look, I am from a country where they created an entire province out of the sea.

It is a highly successful project, because there are now a half million tax-paying people living there, a whole bunch of farmers, and plenty of jobs.

Was it expensive? Ridiculously. But it is still a one-time expense in return for ever-lasting tax revenue.

Can infrastructure projects be wasteful? Sure they can. They're usually government controlled, hence the waste. But, once they're there and used as planned, it always works out.

by Jasper on May 3, 2012 11:52 am • linkreport

Does anyone really believe the Potomac Yards station will actually be the reason for an additional 7 million square feet of mixed use development?

by selxic on May 3, 2012 12:12 pm • linkreport

Does anyone really believe the Potomac Yards station will actually be the reason for an additional 7 million square feet of mixed use development?

The infill station is the ONLY reason why the additional 7 million square feet was permitted by the city. Ok, there are also some ped, bike, and bus improvements (BRT lane being planned for Rt. 1) that are also part of the equation but it's essentially all about the metro station.

Same deal at Tysons with the Silver Line stations and the upzoning of the land surrounding the stations.

by Falls Church on May 3, 2012 12:28 pm • linkreport

Yes. The Potomac Yard master plan only allows the additional increment of development if the station is built.

Still, that seems awfully expensive given that a new infill station in Chicago is opening soon at a cost of <$40M (granted, no track work needed).

by Payton on May 3, 2012 12:29 pm • linkreport

Here's what the Master Plan says:

The land use strategy capitalizes on the planned $220 to
$235 million (2015 dollars) investment in a new Metrorail
station and the additional investment in the planned
dedicated high-capacity transit corridor, local bus, and shuttle
service which will be provided for North Potomac Yard. All
of the proposed blocks are located within a ½ mile radius
of the Metrorail station, and more than half of the blocks
are located within a ¼ mile. The close proximity of these
blocks to the Metrorail station provides a unique opportunity
to integrate land use with transit to create a transit-oriented
development for Potomac Yard.

by Falls Church on May 3, 2012 12:36 pm • linkreport

Portland has these amusing signs along its streetcar tracks:

Always cross tram tracks at wide angles...

There's a rubberized "flange filler" that can be used, but only (a) on infrequently used tracks and (b) for heavy freight trains, not light streetcars.

by Payton on May 3, 2012 12:38 pm • linkreport

There is little that can be done to make streetcar tracks "safer" for bicyclists in their current configuration. Want to make a safer environment for the two to interact? Build separated bike infrastructure and build the streetcar tracks in the middle of the street.

There isn't any magic fairy dust that DDOT is going to be able to dig up for Mary Cheh. They'll just have to create a plan for bike lanes on parallel streets and be done with it.

by MLD on May 3, 2012 1:13 pm • linkreport

Streetcar tracks and bikes are a problem why?

View Larger Map

You only need to know now to bike parallel to the tracks. If you do, well, you'll do it only once...

Oh, and look at those hideous street car wires! Can't ... see ... the ... Rijksmuseum ... or ... the ... Van Goghmuseum ... gurgle ...

by Jasper on May 3, 2012 3:11 pm • linkreport

DDOT is all over street care track safety, they have already put up signs by the Anacostia Naval Annex warning drivers to "Watch for Streetcars."

Build it (the sign) and they (the streetcars) will come?

by dcdriver on May 3, 2012 6:47 pm • linkreport

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by (kscw|weinfurter|lobbying|us congress|federal government|public policy|government relations} on May 4, 2012 11:54 am • linkreport

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