The saga continues for Engine Company 12. After a few rounds of not getting anywhere the General Manager for the project, Steven May, wrote an open letter to the community saying he wasn't getting as much support as he needed from local civic associations and the ANC to facilitate obtaining an alcohol license and as a result the restaurant's opening would be delayed at least until September. Then a few people from those civic associations wrote responses and now Steven May has responses for the responses. See his thoughts after the jump.
In response to the Bloomingdale Civic Association`s letter I have the following concerns.
First, the Bloomingdale Civic Association should understand it is imperative for organizations seeking a stipulated ABRA license (ANC Stipulated) to garner as many letters of support from local area civic associations, area leaders, and residents as humanly possible. For anyone who has worked their way through the ABRA licensing procedure before can tell you, working towards a stipulated license vs. a standard issue license cuts the wait time from 90 to only 45 days. Thus ensuring an opening of Engine Company 12 by July 1, 2011.
From day one our intent has been to get the first floor restaurant and outdoor cafe online by July 1, and bring the the subsequent floors online slowly throughout the summer. It has become virtually impossible to meet this date with the bureaucratic stagnation involved in getting this project's ABRA license support letters secured.
I initially visited the Bloomingdale Civic Association on February 28, 2011 with Brian Brown, and we presented and updated the association as to our progress and notified them that we would be requesting a letter in support of our application in the following weeks. Throughout March I personally attended numerous neighborhood association meetings and held several meet and greets with local residents and gave tours of the building to anyone who wanted to view its progress or discuss any possible concern. I have consistently made myself available days, nights, weekends,etc to meet with anyone who had a concern about the project.
The list below is a snapshot of the outreach I have done;
February 26, 2011 Bloomingdale Civic Association Meeting
March 9, 2011 North Capitol Main Street Board Meeting
March 16 & 17, 2011 I walked door to door on Quincy and R Streets talking to residents who were outside passing out business cards and discussing concerns
March 19, 2011 Tours for North Capitol Main Street Board and several local residents
March 21, 2011 Bloomingdale Civic Association Meeting
April 19, 2011 ANC 5C Meeting Present and Update
April 23, 2011 Meet & Greet AME Zion Church for local residents followed by a tour
Most recently I emailed the Bloomingdale Civic Association on April 14, 2011 asking permission to not just present but to request a letter of support for their April 18, 2011 meeting. This email was merely a follow up since I had already notified them I planned to ask for the letter of support at their February meeting and verbally on several occasions.
The Bloomingdale Civic Association responded that they did not feel they would have enough time to get it scheduled for their April meeting and that I should present yet again and wait until the May meeting to request the letter. In May I emailed the Bloomingdale Civic Association again asking to come to this months meeting and request a letter of support I was told as long as I had filed my ABRA application with ABRA by Friday May 13, 2011 it would be acceptable to come to the meeting and request the letter. Then on May 11, 2011 I received an email from the Bloomingdale Civic Association stating that they didn't feel they had enough time to properly digest our application and I would only be allowed to present at this months meeting as well.
In my opinion it is this type of bureaucratic stagnation that is killing the more rapid revitalization of the Bloomingdale community. I have the luxury of managing two projects in two different wards in Washington,DC. The difference in community support, leadership, and communication between the civic associations and civic leaders in Ward 2 (Shaw's Tavern) vs. Ward 5 (Engine Company 12) is night and day. I believe this is clearly reflected in the shear number of commercial projects revitalizing Ward 2 that are virtually non existent in Ward 5. The jobs alone created by these projects should dictate a more rapid review and response time by Ward 5 Civic Leaders, not to mention the increase in tax base, the positive impact of thriving businesses vs. large scale vacant buildings that knowingly attract nefarious activity.
I have made the same statements over and over again on the specifics of the firehouse, when approached by an area resident about my hours of operation I met with her discussed the issue and modified the hours of operation to accommodate the resident. A copy of the speaking points (ABRA License Application Responses) is available to anyone who wishes to review it,I have handed it out at several meet and greets and at the ANC Meeting on April 19, 2011. Other than the modified hours of operation to accommodate the local resident not one item of our operations has changed since February.
As always I am dedicated to getting this project off the ground, I am more than the Project Manager and General Manager for Engine Company 12, I am a resident of the neighborhood and I am committed to having a viable neighborhood where I can work and walk around with my children safely.
Thank you for your time and thank you to those of you who have worked to support our project.
Steven Michael May Jr.
Project & Property Management