Wednesday, December 9, 2009

ANC2F Notes: Contentious Liquor License for Estadio; Church to Lose Tax Break?

A bit late on the follow-up to last week's ANC2F meeting, I know, but better late than never I suppose. The most contentious issue of the evening dealt with the liquor license for the forthcoming Estadio at the corner of 14th and Church Streets. Estadio, you may recall, is the new restaurant from the team at Penn Quarter wine bar Proof.

Surprisingly (or not), the residents of the building in which Estadio will be located are not thrilled with the idea of a liquor-serving establishment opening beneath them--and they came to the ANC meeting to make this point. Now, I can understand the concern--this is, after all, the former location of the Garden District, which is about as benign a neighbor as you are going to find. So it's understandable that concerned residents would want to ensure that a strong voluntary agreement is put into place to address issues such as noise, operating hours, trash removal and so forth.

However, the aim of the residents was, apparently, to see to it that the ANC not "grant" the license to Estadio. Never mind that the ANC has no liquor license-granting authority. In the end, the issue was resolved in the way these issues typically are--both parties agreed to sign a voluntary agreement that will be negotiated by the ANC. So, wine lovers, never fear...Estadio will be coming. And residents of the neighborhood, plan to enjoy what will most likely be a fabulous establishment opening up near you, and be thankful that we've got paying tenants willing to lease all of this commercial space in this market.

Also on the docket was a liquor license for local chocolate confection purveyors ACKC. The ACKC team plans to introduce wine tastings and similar fare to their location near 14th and Q streets. The ANC also agreed to enter into a voluntary agreement with ACKC; hopefully amaretto-infused hot cocoa is on the way. Mmmmmm.....

Finally, we've received some inquiries regarding the status of the Vermont Avenue Baptist Church property issue; specifically, the revocation of the church's vacant property tax exemption status for the property they hold at Vermont and Q streets. The Church has owned the property for some time, and throughout that time the property has been a dilapidated eyesore. The District has a way of incentivizing owners of blighted properties to either improve the property or sell--the vacant property tax rate.

Basically, if your property gets hit with this tax rate--which is $10 per $100 of assessed value, or 10%--it's bad news for you, because you're going to be paying a lot of money to keep your property in crummy condition. The Vermont Avenue Baptist Church had received a vacant property tax rate exemption for its Q and Vermont property because, it claims, it had started work on rehabbing the structure. However, the Church has run into some economic difficulties, and thus renovating the property has been placed on the back burner. Which brought us to last Wednesday's meeting.

At the meeting, the ANC voted to send a letter to Consumer and Regulatory Affairs (DCRA) withdrawing its support for the continuation of the vacant property tax exemption for the Church. This now places the matter in the hands of DCRA, which will need to determine whether the Church has met the criteria to obtain the exemption for another year, or whether it has forfeited it.

Without the ANC's support, the Church faces an uphill battle in maintaining its exemption. Then again, a certain church in nearby Shaw has managed to avoid the vacant property designation for numerous properties it owns, so maybe the guiding hand of the Lord will steer DCRA towards a favorable decision for the VABC.


Anonymous said...

The vacant property rate is no longer $10 per $100 assessed. The City Council got rid of it in the September budget.

Now the only way a property is assessed at $10 is if it's determined to be vacant and blighted. Otherwise, it's taxed at either the normal commercial or residential tax rates. So, basically, the exemptions no longer matter because they're not tied to the $10 tax rate.

Mr. Other Upper NW said...

Anon - My understanding is that the Church's property has been declared blighted, and thus would continue be subject to the 10% rate. They're currently on a Class 3 rate exception, but as I outlined there's a good chance that will be rescinded. The 2010 assessed value of the property is $661,000, so clearly we're talking about a sizeable bill.

Saltk006 said...

You can't beat Shilo...ever.

Anonymous said...

You're all wrong - the 10% vacant/nusiance proerty tax rate was completely repealed in July 2009! Councilmember Bowers (ward 4) is trying to get a compromise before the end of the year.

Contact your councilmember and tell them to bring the higher vacant property tax rate BACK!

Mr. Other Upper NW said...

The vacant property tax was repealed, but the blighted property tax remains in place, as per DCRA's website:,a,1342,q,644822.asp

bad apologies said...

Do you have information (or did I just miss it) on the two restaurants/food establishments going in next door, at the old Metropole sales office?

[Commentary: Soooo happy to have fewer sales offices and more food options.]

Mr. Other Upper NW said...

Yep...Cork and Form isn't a restaurant, they're a wine retail store that has other locations in MD and VA. Expect a store serving higher end wine and accompanying food, along with wine tastings and similar events.

The other space is being occupied by the Homemade Pizza Company, a DC-based take-and-bake pizza chain.