Everyone in DC seems to know the Burger King at Van Ness more for its rock ‘n roll and 80’s movie decor than for its food.
By this time next year, the restaurant’s Capital Theater sign, the ET kids and the Kindergarten Cop poster will be gone, and so will the Burger King restaurant and building at 4422 Connecticut Avenue, NW. Going up in its place, says ANC 3F Commissioner Malachy Nugent, will be a new building housing a different restaurant: Chick-fil-A.
The Burger King is within single member district ANC 3F06, which also includes Bread Furst, Days Inn and some high-rises and single family homes west of Connecticut. 3F06 Commissioner Nugent has been collecting feedback from constituents about the Chick-Fil-A plans. He answered our questions.
What is the plan?
Nugent: The plan is to demolish the old Burger King building at 4422 Connecticut Avenue and replace it with a new brick-and-glass structure that will house a Chick-fil-A restaurant. The footprint of the new building will be essentially the same, with the drive-through going up one side and down the other, but the front will be opened up with the addition of patio seating and some new landscaping. All of this is contingent upon Chick-fil-A receiving the necessary permits from the District Department of Transportation (DDOT), of course.
What is the closing date for Burger King?
Unclear at this point.
Has Chick-Fil-A presented you with its timetable?
The engineers are still preparing the schedule, but they told me they expect to begin construction next summer and complete it within roughly three months.
When and how did you learn about Burger King closing and Chick-fil-A moving in?
We [ANC-3F] first heard about a possible change in mid-October, when DDOT notified us that applications had been submitted for work at 4422 Connecticut Avenue. Those first applications were withdrawn for technical reasons, however, and corrected versions were resubmitted at the end of October. I received those corrected versions [last week].
What is the ANC role in Chick-fil-A moving in?
The ANC’s role is to support or object to Chick-fil-A’s permit applications, which we do based on our judgment of the public impact. DDOT, which grants the actual permits, makes its final decision after giving “great weight” to the ANC’s view.
What issues particularly concern you?
Off the top of my head, I’ll want to look at issues surrounding traffic congestion (both on Connecticut Avenue and in the alley, during construction and afterward), noise issues (both during construction and afterward), pedestrian safety (where the drive-through crosses the sidewalk), and environmental stewardship (storm-water run-off, landscaping). I’ll also want to pay close attention to any plans to close the public sidewalk or travel lanes on Connecticut and the alley. Other issues will undoubtedly arise as well.
What is the timetable for its consideration before the ANC?
I will offer a formal resolution at our next public meeting (November 17) to support or oppose Chick-fil-A’s permits. We’ll debate the issues and hear public comments, and then the Commission will vote. I will then convey the ANC’s position to DDOT before the end of November.
Why such a quick turnaround for a decision by the ANC?
That’s the deadline given to us by Public Space. We get 30 days from the Oct 27 postmark, which takes it to around December 8. We could probably push it to after our December 15 meeting but I prefer to keep that as a fallback rather than default option.
What is matter of right for Chick-fil-A and what issues will ANC be able to weigh in on?
We will weigh in on anything that we feel impacts the neighborhood. Not every issue will be a matter for formal ANC consideration, but I will remain actively engaged in the process before, during, and after construction. I’ve already been in touch with the property manager, engineering firm, and the residents and businesses on that block, and I’m confident we will be able to work together to address any concerns that arise.
What have you heard from your constituents?
I have heard from a few constituents who are disappointed to see Burger King replaced by another fast food restaurant, and a few who have expressed dismay with Chick-fil-A itself; others have written to say they’re thrilled with the change. However, most of the comments have been about potential impacts from the construction: noise, traffic, safety, etc.
What would you want at this location – any particular type of building and business?
I’m just thrilled to see another business making a substantial, long-term investment in Van Ness. It’s yet another sign of confidence in the future of our neighborhood!