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Navy Yard bar says DDOT wants its streetery taken down during Nats games

The owner of Walters Sports Bar said his business got a notification from D.C. officials that his streetery was a 'safety concern'.

WASHINGTON — Some popular Navy Yard bars have been ordered to take down their popular outdoor streeteries during games at Nationals Park, according to one business owner.

Walters Sports Bar owner Jeremy Gifford said the District Department of Transportation (DDOT) informed him Tuesday afternoon that both his bar and Mission Navy Yard next door, would have to deconstruct their streeteries due to concerns over public safety.

Gifford says the streeteries, which sit on N Street SE, across from Nationals Park, have existed since D.C. adopted restaurant and bar pandemic precautions in 2020.

Gifford showed WUSA9 the notification a DDOT agent handed to him. It makes two demands.

“Remove all streatery materials and components from curb lane of N Street SE three hours before and two hours after home games,” the DDOT notification reads. “Must have all compliant materials inside streatery.”

Gifford said his streetery cost more than $40,000 to build. It has electricity and televisions. On Tuesday, he even bought hundreds of dollars of flowers to place inside the structure.

He said it cannot be removed and put back up again at a moment’s notice.

“I built the nicest thing that I could with the money that I had to make it a nice space so that the city wouldn’t see it as an eyesore,” he said.

Both DDOT and the Office of the Deputy Mayor for Planning and Economic Development have yet to respond to requests for comment as to why the streeteries have been ordered to be removed during games.

Councilmember Charles Allen said in a tweet that he spoke with DDOT's director and asked them to find a solution.

"Businesses like these have already made staffing & ordering decisions for Opening Day Weekend well before 48 hours from first pitch," Allen said.

The District’s Streatery program was originally supposed to end in February, but lawmakers have allowed them to exist beyond that. On Tuesday, the DC Council discussed legislation that could effectively keep them around the District until the end of 2023.

Gifford said he cannot understand why the District is making requests of his business now, two days before Opening Day in Navy Yard.

He said it is one of the busiest days of the year for his business and that his streetery has yet to cause any accidents in the neighborhood.

“Forty-eight hours before first pitch, I’m told my streetery has to go away,” Gifford said. “It seems very much that someone dropped the ball that should’ve come two months ago to have a conversation with us.”

Two parking spots and a right turn lane existed in the lane the Mission Navy Yard and Walters steeteries sit in prior to the pandemic, according to Gifford.

He said his streeteries have helped Walters weather the pandemic for the last two years. Gifford said anywhere from 125 to 150 people are served in his streetery before games at Nationals Park.

“Not only do the eight people who work out here need it for employment, but this revenue helps pay the people who work in the kitchen,” he said. “We hired an extra manager because of the revenue we expected.”

For now, Gifford said he is not planning to make any changes to his streetery. He said he is hopeful he and the District government can come to a resolution on how to solve the issue before Thursday.

Management of Mission Navy Yard confirmed to WUSA9 Tuesday night that they have also received a notice to remove the on-the-street tables just as Walters Sports Bar did.

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