Questions to the Councilmember

Yesterday, I sent the following questions to Councilmember, and newly appointed head of the Committee on Economic Development, Harry Thomas Jr. If there are other questions you would like to ask, please do so in the comments and hopefully our Councilmember will take the time to interact with his constituents.

1. Where is the Rhode Island Ave Great Streets program? If it is not moving or stagnant, why?

2. What is the plan to redevelop RIA when there are so many store-front churches and liquor stores taking up valuable commercial space?

3. Why isn’t there a Neighborhood Commercial Overlay district being considered for the parts of RIA from 18th-24th Streets, which claim to be the “Main Street” part of the Great Streets program, to encourage the type of neighborhood-friendly retail/restaurants?

4. Are you associated in any way with the owners of DC Star, Lace, or any other late night club or establishment in the area? There are stories being circulated by residents that you are.

5. How and why are there so many nightclubs in this quadrant given that these are neighborhood areas next to them?

6. How will you usher in the redevelopment along Rhode Island Ave NE as Chair of the Committee on Economic Development?

7. I have personally spoken to two restaurant entrepenuers that have respectable establishments in other prominent areas of the City who have interest in Rhode Island Ave NE (between 18th and 24th) but have not seen the activity or motivation from City leaders to move forward to redevelopment along RIA. What do you say to them?

8 thoughts on “Questions to the Councilmember

  1. Also, since Harry Thomas lives so close to the Great
    Streets area of RIA, when can we get regular meetings going on for
    business owners, residents, commuters, etc. to discuss their
    support and concerns about RIA development? These types of meetings
    should continue whether Great Street has funding issues or not.
    From the responses on this blog it seems that local residents are
    interested in establishing businesses along RIA. Bloomingdale,
    along with its free wi-fi, is a great model that should be followed
    in bringing success to potential businesses along the RIA Great
    Streets corridor. Already, a coalition of Latino Business Owners is
    providing consulting and funding to help businesses along RIA get
    established and become successful. More potential business owners
    for RIA need to be informed of how they can use this groups

  2. Great questions!

    Slightly off topic, but still feel this is relevant to the overall revitalization of the area. I heard there was a dogpark going into Langdon park November 2010… even the Councilmember mentioned that a dog park was being built there. Any news on when/if that development is still happening?

    1. The Langdon Dog Park is still a go! DPR has to deal with
      some drainage issues. So, once those issues are tackled the Langdon
      Dog Park will be built. DPR just completed the Dog Park on Upshur
      Street in the Petworth area. There is a Brookland Dogs Yahoo Group
      you can join that often gives updates on the status of the Langdon
      Dog Park. As with other Dog Parks in the city, they seem to draw a
      lot of people. Pet owners in general have disposable income. A pet
      store and cafe/eatery would be great potential retail that could be
      added to the mostly vacant, liquor store and store-front church
      corridor of RIA. Many of the kinds of stores people want, used to
      be available on RIA between 18th & 24th Streets, including
      shoe repair, bakery, cleaners, etc. that people of every diversity
      could go to. There were even grocery stores! We really need to
      bring this kind of health back to RIA, through econonomic
      revitalization of the corridor.

      1. Thanks for the info Woodie! I agree with all your comments. We’ve been here a year and a half and LOVE the area, but would definitely like to see RIA restored and redeveloped.

  3. I would dearly love to have some businesses on that 18th to
    24th street stretch. I’d also love for Harry Thomas’ office staff
    to answer any one of these questions, or to give us any idea of
    what we can do to make our desires known about the kinds of places
    we would patronize enough so they might flourish. We certainly need
    far more restaurants/cafes/coffeehouses–not Soul Food, or if Soul
    Food then some super healthy version of it, not churches or
    religious establishments, but antique stores and healthy
    restaurants and salons that do hair for all races, no nails places
    (there are already at least two on 12th) but a good watch repair or
    shoe repair shop would help. We have a great little PO and library
    combo there–add some high quality old town style retail like they
    have in Takoma Park, and you will start to get a community of
    residents who know each other and have reason to leave their sweet
    little houses on foot. Put up some gorgeous historic street lights,
    connect some facades, white wash some bricks, add some plantings
    and a few low retaining walls, control a few permits, and people
    will take note, have hope, and get out to I Ave more often, and
    maybe even work on improving their houses and yards…or at least
    some residents will! Mt. Rainier is going to be cuter faster than
    DC on RI Avenue/Baltimore–Hyattsville is way ahead of us!

  4. As a small business owner myself I wonder if Council Member
    Thomas can finally enact some policy reforms that would actually
    help small businesses as apposed to letting DCRA continually make
    our lives worse and infinitely more complicated. In December, Inc.
    Magazine reported DC to be the most hostile place in the country to
    be a small business owner.
    Until someone steps up and champions small business (yes Mr. Thomas
    I would like that person to be you from your new bully pulpit) RIA
    and other areas with great potential will remain stagnant.

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