Pay your respects while you still can. The bright building displaying the large Chuck Brown mural in Petworth is slated for demolition next summer — and the mural is going down with the building.
The mural, at the busy intersection of New Hampshire and Georgia avenues NW, was painted to commemorate the Godfather of Go-Go soon after his death in 2012. Artist Charles Jean-Pierre and the students at MacFarland Middle School painted the mural on the side of the beloved Caribbean restaurant, Sweet Mango Cafe.
But Sweet Mango Cafe closed in March, and the building was sold in April. Now, the building’s new owners, Rooney Properties LLC, have plans to building a five-story, 21-unit apartment building with retail on the ground floor. In the meantime, there are some short-term tenants occupying space in the building. Urban Turf first reported on the plans for the property.
Lex Lefebvre, director of development for Rooney Properties, said construction on the new building is scheduled to start, at the earliest, next June, and the group is working to preserve the mural.
“I love the mural,” Lefebvre said. “We obviously know the mural has a lot of significance in the neighborhood and so we talked about a couple of ways we can incorporate it into the new project.”
All the plans are preliminary, but Lefebvre says they’ve floated the idea of taking a hi-res photo of the mural and displaying it on or in the new building. One wall of the new building — the wall looking north on New Hampshire Avenue — will have no windows and could be suitable for the mural. But Lefebvre noted that the building’s neighbor is allowed to build against that wall, so the spot is not ideal. The mural could also be placed in the lobby of the apartment building or in one of the retail spaces.
“We are certainly looking at all options,” Lefebvre said.
Construction will not be completed until August 2017. And for those already missing the Caribbean fare at Sweet Mango, a jerk chicken shop, 3701 Jerk Station, opened for business in the building this week.