City Paper Widget

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Howard Theatre Plans Weekend Summer Events in Ellington Plaza

Roy "Chip" Ellis, a trustee of the Howard Theatre (620 T Street NW), came before the liquor-licensing affairs committee of Advisory Neighborhood Commission 1B/U Street April 16 to brief about a new plan to use outside space around the theater on the weekends, starting in June. The plan includes a summer beer garden behind the theater. As the plan stands now, the beer garden will be open Saturdays and Sundays until 11pm.
Howard Theater in 2013 (Wikipedia)
Ellis said the Howard Theatre would be working with the non-profit organization Shaw Main Streets on a concept called "Made in Shaw". As currently envisioned, the section of T Street in front of the theater will be closed off. Local artists will display on the closed street and on Ellington Plaza, a pedestrian area near the front of the theater.

However, there will not be alcohol service on the area in front of the theater, Ellis said. The beer garden behind the theater has a projected capacity of "less than 200". There are no plans to have outside concerts, Ellis told the committee.

"We might have one person playing the guitar," he said.

There will also be food service. Ellis did not talk about the menu for food or drink, but he did say: "We have Right Proper Brewery right next door."

Liquor license aspects

The plan means a "substantial change" to the Howard Theater's liquor license. Any substantial change to a liquor-license must be placarded for 60 days placarded for 45 days, per D.C. Code 25-101 (41). "Made in Shaw" may wish to open while the placarding period is still in process. To do so, the Howard Theater will also need a stipulated liquor license, which will allow the beer garden to operate while the D.C. liquor-licensing bureaucracy processes paperwork.

There was no vote by the committee. The Howard Theater will be back in front of ANC1B to request both to endorse its substantial change and to grant a stipulated license. A stipulated liquor license is one of the few powers an ANC has that is more than advisory in nature.

Liquor-licensing committee chair Nick Baumann asked Ellis to make sure the residential neighbors were consulted.

"We plan on knocking on every door," Ellis said.

Public space aspects

Another committee member asked if there was a traffic plan. She said valets from Howard Theater were parking customer vehicles in nearby residential alleys.

"Your valets are filling up the alleys," she said. "Do you have any plans to make it better?"

"When we come back, we will have a traffic plan," Ellis said.

The project may also require a public space use permit from the District Department of Transportation (DDOT). ANC Chair James Turner (Commissioner for district 09) asked Ellis to call on ANC1B's Transportation Committee to talk about public space aspects of the plan.

Ellis is also CEO of Howard Theater developer Ellis Development Group.

Thanks to Brain Molloy of the DC Liquor Law Blog for setting me straight on the length of the protest period (corrected above).

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