2515Re: [WardOneDC] Re: [Mintwood-place] Question of Adams Morgan Changing
- Jan 5, 2006
When it comes to creating a climate that is healthy for community and small businesses growth and development we are our own worse enemies. In a Ward that should become a show case of small business creativity, variety and vibrancy we are headed toward a multiplicity of sameness. Primarily, because we sold our entrepreneurial souls to the devil looking for a short cut to urban blist. And now we stand at the crossroads, reaping.
The devil in this case is the marriage of government regulation/help and culture war politics. Even in the best of circumstances government involvement is the death knell of the entrepreneur. Then you heap upon this the new urbanist attempts to use the regulation of business as a way to ensure that only the "right" people patronize their neighborhood, you end up with a "culture war tax" that is just too high. The problem is not as much the cost of real estate as that the "culture war tax" limits the up side potential for retail businesses while dragging creativity. Usually, working against the market like this instead of leveraging the market to achieve quality of life goals back fires.
Next you get politicians drafting counter-productive legislation such as the so called "Ben's Chili Bowl" bill to cover up bad policy and business conditions they helped to create. They are not alone of course, selfish business boosters in the Ward pushed with counter-productive approaches by pushing parochial "my corridor" against others instead of a Ward wide approach. There is on way to achieve a health retail mix in the Ward unless there is stragetic collaboration and friendly competiton between Adams Morgan, Mt. Pleasant, Columbia Heights, U St, Georgia Ave. and lower 14th cooridors.
Is it too late to save our souls, No.
1. Get the politicians out of the middle of things. If we are going to keep the pandering politicians, that we have then we need to move them way to the sidelines. They have a role, but when in the middle of things they always do more harm than good.
2. Request a one year truce in the "Culture Wars" and Ward neo-colonial policies. The drains away too much energy. Plus this in itself will stay the interfering hand of the politicians.
3. Adopt a regional forum and approach which are designed to leverage the opporunities of all of our commercial districts.
4. Bring in some one like the NCRC to be our quasi-governmental partner. After years of fumbling in the dark, they are starting to get it. Let make the best of this agency.
5. Adopt approaches that leverage the market, let the market work for us. BTW, the market is not at the Wilson Building.
Remember, there are not short cuts. Stop looking for them. The Devil always wants his/her pound of flesh. The approach needs to change if our goal is not a multiplicity of sameness. It is foolish to continue to do the same thing over and over agian and expect a different result.
I wrote an offered a reduced moratorium at the ANC that would have allowed new ABC establishments to be created on Columbia Rd. between 16th and before 18th streets, but no new ones on 18th Street or west of Columbia Rd. It also would have limited the number of CTs (taverns) in Adams Morgan to fewer than 10.
I thought it was the sensible compromise to the Pro and Anti moratorium camps…. But it was procedurally replaced on the floor by the chairman and so in the end I voted for the more restrictive moratorium that lost 4 to 3.
BUT….. I don’t think that the moratorium or lack there of, is the cause of closing of small businesses in the community. I think it is new property owner greed.
None of retail places that have closed (or that will close) in the last year will be replaced with an ABC establishment. They will most likely be replaced with chain retail --- como “Bubbles”--- who can afford huge rent ceilings.
Doug Bell, former owner of 1808 Adams Mill, did not have to sell his building to Douglas Jemal. A non-profit and the current business owners had a counter-offer and backing to buy the building. Doug Bell went with the security of Doug Jemal.
Lisa Drazin did not have to rent Comet to Bubbles. Bill Thomas of Bourbon and Blue Room wanted to put a "Comet Bakery and Wines" into that space, and another well established business owner in the neighborhood wanted to put a butcher shop there. Lisa went with the security of a franchise.
I am not sure what you mean by my stance on "Adams Morgan business/businesses in general"...... every part of my Christmas shopping was done in the community and I have great relationships with Phil and Jan Fenty (Fleet Feet), Kathy Atkinson (All About Jane), and Shafika Kurt (Little Shop of Flowers) --- and I played on the Pixie’s/Wonderland softball team.
On the flip side I have had a serious run in with a property owner/ business owner over a residential property ---- where a group of long time residents were being evicted---- that resulted in him threatening to take me to court.
I guess if you are asking what kinds of businesses do I want to see, I would rather see small businesses like “Little Shop of Flowers” than FTD.
During my time on the ANC I think any commercial property owner who comes seeking a variance to build up or more dense knows (or should know) that I am going to require affordable retail space with a long term lease, or affordable housing for almost any serious variance that is requested.
I hope that answers some of your questions…
If not call me and we can talk.
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