Monday, October 27, 2008

To Answer Your Questions

About 1840 14th Street, 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, 'For Lease' signs appeared. (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 will be displaced by Room and Board coming in.

It appears that my opponent, in his reference to displaced businesses, is talking about 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) and told the community that they were amidst lease negotiations and alcohol license applications for the location. When we didn't hear back from this group, I talked with the owner of the yoga establishment who told me that lease negotiations were still underway. More recently, I learned that the building was for sale.

Now, it has been reported that the owner of the building has accepted a purchase contract by Room and Board . And with this news, I've been receiving messages from nearby residents that they are elated that the building will be restored and occupied. I have also talked with the owner of the building who confirmed that the building has been sold and that it will be restored in keeping with its historic character. This is great news for the community and is in keeping with the ArtsOverlay.

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. However, my opponent's assertions that ANC 2B disapproved plans by the group are simply untrue. Neither I, nor the ANC, had any control over leasing arrangements or whose contract was accepted by the owner. I wholly support our local businesses and will continue to support, facilitate and recruit local businesses to our neighborhood. However, in this instance, the current owner of the property is DC-based and has signed a contract with Room and Board, a nationally known furniture company, which has resources 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.

And, despite my record of serving to bridge constituent interests and local businesses, "undoing" a contractual agreement, as my opponent is suggesting, is NOT a role of a ANC Commissioner. My role is to represent constituents of ANC2B09, who have expressed overwhelming support for Room and Board coming to this location.

My opponent continues to mischaracterize my record as part of his campaign. He also contradicts his claim that he is representing your views for more development at 14th & U by attempting to foil the prospect of Room and Board's purchase of 1840 14th Street, NW. It is truly unfortunate that the local businesses, to which my opponent refers, were unable to lease or purchase the building; however, at this juncture, it would probably be more productive to assist them in finding another space in the neighborhood.

If you have questions or comments, please feel free to contact me: