Monday, October 27, 2008

What's really going on at 14th & T Streets, NW

Several neighbors have called asking about a flier that was placed in their mail slots by my opponent for the ANC2B09 seat. On both his flier and on blogs, my opponent talks about the purchase of 1840 14th Street, NW by Room and Board and suggests a detrimental effect on the community and local businesses because it “will push out several local business owners.”

So, what is this all about… ? Yes, the subject is the large, yellow brick building at the southwest corner of 14th and T Streets, with the graffiti around the perimeter, which has stood empty for a couple of years since the plans for a mixed use condo project were abandoned, with 'For Lease' signs posted. (See my earlier post on the building's history and developments over the years.) Yes, the building is still empty - unoccupied, not leased - so no businesses are being displaced from the building by Room and Board coming in.

The displaced businesses mentioned in the flier and on blogs refer a group of several local business owners who presented a concept plan to the ANC this summer (for a 24-7 diner, comedy club, yoga and dance studio). Since then, we were told that the group was still in the process of lease negotiations. More recently, I learned that the building was for sale.

It is unfortunate that the local business group was unable to lease or purchase the property. And, contrary to some rumors being disseminated, the ANC was not involved in any of these matters. In fact, because there was no lease, nor ABC applications, the matter never came before the ANC for any approvals. And, despite my opponent's suggestions otherwise, it is not the role of the ANC Commission to undo contracts. It's too bad that my opponent chooses to mischaracterize the situation and my record in his attempt to promote himself. I can assure you that I'll continue to bridge constituent concerns and business objectives in our area and I'll continue to support, facilitate and recruit local businesses to our neighborhood.

Everyone wants to see this property improved and occupied and the DC-based property owner tells me that the building will be renovated in keeping with its historic character. This is great news for the community and is in keeping with the ArtsOverlay. Since this news was reported, I've been receiving messages from nearby residents that they are elated that the building will be restored and occupied.

The particulars of why the local business group didn't finalize the signing of a lease, or ultimately purchase the building have not been reported. The building owner did confirm that Room and Board is in a position to move forward. And, as has been the case in our neighborhood and in other neighborhoods across the city, adding a national entity with resources to improve historic buildings and create additional activity has shown to enhance and complement the local business scene. We saw this happen with the additional of Whole Foods on P Street, NW.

At this at this juncture, it would probably be more productive to assist the businesses, which were vying for the location, by suggesting other possibilities for space in the neighborhood.
There are many spaces for lease along the 14th & U corridor.

Thanks for your time. Feel free to be in touch 202.412.9434 or