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April 2010 Issue of The Thomas Connection Newsletter

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     The Thomas Connection
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       The Thomas Connection
      April 2010                                                                     Volume4, Issue 4

      Building Bridges, Finding Solutions, People First

      In This Issue...
      Financing Closed for Rhode Island Station
      Ward 5 Expo Highlights Opportunities for Supermarkets and Local Businesses
      New DC Women's Business Center Opens in Ward 5
      Thomas Reaffirms Support for Funding of Gage Eckington Park
      Harry Thomas, Sr. Recreation Center Reopens
      Thomas Thanks President Obama for Declaring February Snow Storms a Major Disaster
      ri stationFinancing Closed for Rhode Island Station
      Urban Atlantic and A&R Development Corp., national leaders in real estate development and investment in urban markets, have closed on the financing of Rhode Island Station, Ward 5 Councilmember Harry "Tommy" Thomas, Jr. recently announced. The project is a $107 million public-private, mixed-use, transit-oriented development that will bring 274 Class A apartments, 70,000 square feet of main street retail, and a new Metro commuter garage to the Rhode Island Avenue Metro Station. To ensure community retailers are included, the development team designated 10 percent of the retail to be leased to local entrepreneurs. Construction is scheduled to begin soon.

      Councilmember Thomas played an instrumental role in moving legislation through the Council to provide the project with $7.2 million in District of Columbia revenue bond financing and a sales tax exemption of $2 million for building materials used in the construction of the project.


      Rhode Island Station is also a precedent-setting public-private partnership.  It is the first mixed-use residential and retail development in the nation to combine U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) multifamily financing with U.S. Department of the Treasury New Markets Tax Credit equity.


      "Our community has been looking forward to the new restaurants, shopping, housing, business opportunities, and jobs that Rhode Island Station will deliver," stated Councilmember Thomas. "The project exemplifies how government, communities, and developers can work together to achieve major community development goals. I look forward to working with the development team to connect local residents to the job opportunities that this important project will create," said Thomas.
      ward5expoWard 5 Expo Highlights Opportunities for Supermarkets and Local Businesses
      On Saturday, March 6, 2010, Councilmember Thomas held his 3
      rd Ward 5 Expo. This year, the event was held in the Kellogg Conference Center at Gallaudet University and featured a morning session on opportunities for supermarkets in Ward 5 and an afternoon session showcasing the unique and varied businesses that call Ward 5 home. More than 200 residents attended the event. Council Chairman Vincent Gray and At-Large Councilmembers Kwame Brown and Michael Brown also attended, providing welcoming remarks.

      The session on opportunities for supermarkets in Ward 5 included comments from retail experts Keith Sellars, Senior Vice President at the Washington DC Economic Partnership; Charles Phelps, President of Paraclete Realty; and Carla Merritt, President of LeDroit Park Development Company. The panelists agreed that Ward 5 is underserved and that demand exists for more grocery options, especially with the recent closure of the Safeway in the Edgewood community. Currently, Ward 5 has five grocery stores serving a population of more than 76,000 people, only two of which are full-service stores that include bakeries and pharmacies. Ward 5 residents spend an estimated $24 million annually purchasing groceries outside the Ward. On average, Ward 5 residents must travel more than one mile to reach a grocery store; only 30 percent live within a 15 minute walk of a grocery store. Councilmember Thomas expressed his commitment to increasing grocery opportunities for residents.


      Morethan 60 small Ward 5 businesses participated in the first-ever Ward 5 Small BusinessShowcase, held from 12 noon to 2 pm. The small businesses included various eateries, bakeries, cafes, art galleries, graphic arts firms, firms specializing in relaxation and beauty treatments, as well as several fitness centers. The purpose of the showcase was to highlight the wide range of products and services that can be purchased in Ward 5, and encourage residents to "Buy Local."

      Toencourage the larger institutions in the Ward to "Buy Local," the Expo also included a speed networking session for the small businesses with the larger institutions in the Ward, including National Children's Medical Center, Catholic University, Trinity University, Gallaudet University, Goodwill, and Fort Myer Construction, and Howard University from adjacent Ward 1. The small businesses, in pairs of two, rotated among the larger institutions.


      "In addition to promoting Ward 5 as an ideal location for new retail, we must also bolster our small businesses, especially during trying economic times like this," said Councilmember Thomas. "I urge Ward 5 residents to support our Ward 5 businesses and buy local as much as possible."




      dc wbc ceremonyNew DC Women's Business Center Opens in Ward 5 
      Ward 5 has been selected as the location of the US Small Business Administration's new DC Women's Business Center (DC WBC). The Center's offices are located in the Peoples Building, 64 New York Avenue, NW, in the Eckington community. Councilmember Thomas participated in DC WBC's grand opening celebration on March 23, 2009.
       
      DC WBC is funded in part by the US Small Business Administration and operated by the National Community Reinvestment Coalition (NCRC).  It will provide service in five key areas: business assessment and referral, training, counseling, access to capital, and procurement.  More information about the center can be found by visiting www.dcwbc.org.
       
      The  services of DC WBC will enable women entrepreneurs to grow their businesses, which can lead to job creation," said Councilmember Thomas. "And I am especially pleased that DC WBC is a Ward 5 asset, adding to the unique and diverse mix of organizations and institutions that call Ward 5 home" said Councilmember Thomas.
      Thomas Reaffirms Support for Funding of Gage Eckington Park
      At the Council's March 2, 2010 legislative session, Councilmember Thomas, Chair of the Committee on Libraries, Parks and Recreation, reaffirmed his complete support for funding to create the Gage Eckington Park at the site of the former Gage Eckington Elementary School in Ward 1 and steps away from Ward 5.

      CouncilmemberThomas had introduced a disapproval resolution to halt the Executive's reprogramming request to fund the Gage Eckington Park project by shifting $1,500,000 from the Department of Parks and Recreation (DPR) and the Department of Transportation (DDOT) to the Deputy Mayor for Planning and Economic Development. "This was not a political debate but about oversight," stated Councilmember Thomas. "The disapproval resolution was a procedural matter to ensure that the funding of the Gage Eckington Park is consistent with the Deputy Mayor's recent testimony that funds for this park would not be taken from other projects, and that funds are properly identified."


      As Chair of the Committee on Libraries, Parks and Recreation, Councilmember Thomas has a fiduciary responsibility to ensure that DPR funding decisions are made in a financially sound and fiscally prudent manner. The Executive's $1.5 million reprogramming request-$865K from DPR and $635 from DDOT-did not provide any details as to which and to what extent existing DPR projects will be impacted by the shift in funds.

      "Because we have many parks projects underway and planned for future years, it is absolutely essential to know how the reprogramming request affects them," said Thomas. Councilmember Thomas has worked to establish funding not only for Gage Eckington, but also for the New York Avenue Playground, the park at First Street and Florida Avenue, the Harry Thomas, Sr. Recreation Center, the EdgewoodRecreation Center, the Langdon Park Recreation Center, and the Arboretum Recreation Center, among others throughout Ward 5 and across the city.

      "We do not want to put communities at odds with each other over funding," commented Thomas. "We need to ensure that funding for other parks is not jeopardized and that the vital parks in all of our neighborhoods receive the capital dollars that have been allocated to make improvements."

      HarryThomas, Sr. Recreation Center Reopens
      CouncilmemberThomas' family joined with Mayor Adrian Fenty and Department of Parks and Recreation (DPR) Interim Director Jesus Aguirre on March 22, 2010  to celebrate the completion of renovations at the Harry L. Thomas, Sr. Community Center, located at 1743 Lincoln Rd., NE. Councilmember Thomas is Chair of the Committee on Libraries, Parks and Recreation, which has oversight of DPR, including all capital improvements. 
       
      The project, which had a budget of $2 million, includes interior and exterior renovations. The work makes the center more accessible for seniors and enhances the quality of its programs. Interior renovations include: upgrade of the restrooms to ADA standards; renovation of the kitchen and locker rooms; installation of new computer workstations; painting of the entire facility; installation of a new boxing ring; renovation of the game room, including a new pool table, foosball table, bumperpool table, and new board games. Exterior renovations include resurfacing of the tennis courts; installation of a new brick welcome panel wall, fencing, and landscaping at the entrance; and construction of a horseshoe pit.
       
      "I am pleased that we were able to deliver these much-needed improvements to the Harry Thomas, Sr. Recreation during my tenure as Chair of the Committee on Libraries, Parks, and Recreation," stated Councilmember Thomas. "The reopening of this center has special meaning for me." 
      ThomasThanks President Obama for Declaring February Snow Storms a Major Disaster
      Ward 5 Councilmember Harry "Tommy" Thomas, Jr. extended his sincere thanks to President Obama, who declared on March 24, 2010 that the snowstorms that occurred between February 5 and 11, 2010 created a major disaster in the District of Columbia, enabling Federal aid to supplement the District's recovery efforts. 
       
      President Obama's declaration follows the "Sense of the Council on Requesting Federal Disaster Assistance for the 2010 Snow Storm and Subsequent Damage Resolution of 2010," which Councilmember Thomas introduced at the Council's Committee of the Whole meeting on Tuesday, February 16, 2010.The declaration makes federal funds available to the District and certain nonprofit organizations for emergency work and the repair or replacement of facilities damaged by the snowstorms.  


      officialphoto.JPGHarry "Tommy" Thomas, Jr. represents Ward 5 on the Councilof the District of Columbia. Thomas chairs the Council's Committee on Libraries, Parks, and Recreation. He sits on four additional committees: Workforce Development and the Environment, Aging and Community Affairs, Housing and Workforce Development, and Public Services and Consumer Affairs.

      Office of Ward 5

      Councilmember Harry "Tommy" Thomas, Jr.
      Wilson Building - Room 107
      1350 Pennsylvania Ave., NW
      Washington DC  20004

       Tel: 202/724-8028  -  Fax: 202/724-8076
      Email: hthomas@...


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