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”
Good questions. Hope he answers.
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
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?
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.
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.
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!
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.