Ad

Thursday, July 14, 2011

OTR Agrees to Wells' Request to Aid Small Biz on H

OTR has agreed to Councilmember Tommy Wells' pleas to postpone the tax sale of numerous properties on H Street that are home to small businesses. This will provide time for the property owners to resolve tax issues, and for small businesses to obtain aid from the $723,000 Streetscape relief fund. Press releases from CHAMPS and Tommy Wells after the jump.

OTR Agrees to Councilmember Wells’ Request to Help H Street NE Small Businesses

On Thursday, July 7, CHAMPS Executive Director Julia Robey Christian and H Street Main Street Executive Director Anwar Saleem testified at a DC Council public round table in support of legislation that would deliver $723K of funding for a Streetscape Relief Fund -- to provide assistance to small businesses during a streetscape project. Many businesses have struggled during the reconstruction of H Street, NE and this funding would provide the assistance needed to ensure their survival.

Following that roundtable, Councilmember Wells, seeing the immediate need for assistance, made a request to the Office of Tax and Revenue to postpone the July 18 tax sale of several buildings that are home to small businesses on H Street NE. On June 12, DC Council approved the final budget pieces needed to start the Streetscape Relief Fund. Today, OTR agreed to Councilmember Wells' request, a move that will provide additional time to resolve tax issues and give the Streetscape Relief Fund a chance to offer the needed assistance to help these businesses.

Ward 6 Councilmember Tommy Wells

Immediate Release Contact: Charles Allen
1350 Pennsylvania Avenue, N.W., Room 408 (202)724-8072
Washington, D.C. 20004 www.TommyWells.org


OTR Agrees to Councilmember Wells’ Request to Help H Street NE Small Businesses

Streetscape Relief Fund Passes Final Council Hurdle

(Washington, DC) – On Wednesday, July 13, 2011, Councilmember Wells received news that the Office of Tax and Revenue has agreed to his request to postpone the tax sale of several buildings on H Street NE that house small businesses.

Councilmember Wells stated, “Businesses like George's Place and Mason’s Barber Shop are long-time businesses on H Street NE and institutions on this corridor. There's no doubt the long construction schedule hurt their business and the extra time and relief fund are needed to assist these stores and protect the historic fabric that makes up the H St NE corridor." Wells added, “I will continue working alongside Mayor Gray and his team on H Street NE and appreciate his partnership protecting our existing small businesses and recruiting more neighborhood-serving retail to the area.”

The move will provide additional time to resolve tax issues and give the Streetscape Relief Fund a chance to offer assistance to help these businesses. It was also noted that properties on the tax sale deemed vacant, blighted, or vacant lots were not postponed.

Previously, on Tuesday, July 12, 2011, the Council approved the final budget pieces needed to start the Streetscape Relief Fund created last year for small businesses negatively impacted by long street construction projects. The streetscape relief fund will make approximately $723,000 available to small businesses for assistance. The Mayor's office will be implementing and administering the relief effort.

20 comments:

andrew said...

Which businesses/buildings are eligible? I'm kind of afraid that this is going to allow some of our blighted/abandoned buildings to languish even longer.

(And, seriously, if Doug Jemal gets a penny of this, I'm going to scream)

Dave B said...

Are these businesses the owners of the buildings or renters.

If the former, then it makes sense to let them make some money and pay their taxes later.

If they are renters, why can't someone else buy the building (I'm assuming on the cheap) with the condition they keep the current tenants for the remainder of the lease.

Austin said...

This is a joke. Anwar Saleem two of the properties scheduled to be auctioned off. The first property is 1005 H St, and the second is at 1017 H st. Can you say conflict of interest?

Austin said...

Sorry, I accidentally omitted the word "owns" from the second sentance in the above post.

PT said...

Agreed that this is disappointing. You only get the tax sale list by not paying your taxes for the a couple years. If you look at the list of H St properties, it's littered with vacant properties, like 1005 H St, 914 H St, 523 H St, 337 H St. Unfortunately, only a few of those properties are recognized as vacant by DCRA. Even if the properties were listed, if the owners paid off their back taxes within a year, they'd keep their buildings. Too bad DCRA hasn't gotten more serious about addressing vacant properties. Now that H St has gotten hot, there's little excuse for it around here.

Anonymous said...

This is great work by Tommy Wells. OTR has authority to auction after one year of delinquent taxes. Many of those businesses that have been around for years rely on feet traffic. Many of the small businesses that were around the old convention center died because of little feet traffic when the new convention center was builded and increased taxes. Those old businesses belong on H Street just like the new one!
Edith

Anonymous said...

The wig shops (and some other H St. businesses) aren't suffering because of construction, they're suffering because the market for their products is changing. Let them close so something more profitable can come in.

Gonzo said...

Can someone clarify when these properties would be tax sold in the future if they do not meet obligations? I agree with Anonymous 9:19 that many small businesses are just not viable, so they should not be rescued from their market failure (plenty of businesses flurished during construction). And it would be a pity to see vacant buildings with not value to the community left standing.

But if a business is local and vaible and could spring back, perhaps they deserve a chance.

Is there a more in depth article about this?

Anonymous said...

OK to save White Banks but not OK to send a little
Something to small Black businesses that are suffering because of construction???
Edith

sa said...

edith,
thanks for making it a racial issue. you win.
btw, how do we know the race of the people that own the buildings in the tax auction? or do you just assume they're black owned?

sa said...

also edith,

all the banks that were "saved" are publicly traded. buying into them is easy, and quite cheap. Citibank is only 38/share. bank of america is dirt cheap at 10/share.

Anonymous said...

Sa,
It became racial with the wording of; "The Wig
Shops." That's code for Black Businesses! I could
Hide behind "Code Language" however I am a
Straight Shooter!
Edith

hmph said...

Edith,

Thanks for being racist! I agree black folks shouldn't have to pay taxes over here! Your business model is a sure winner: piss off the neighbors with money and don't adjust to make them happy at any costs.

emo said...

Agree that the wig shops comment was a bit much. Also is the market for wigs really changing? Demand seems pretty strong to me... ;)

Anyway I think you could have gotten the point across perfectly well by saying that the neighborhood is changing rather than picking on one particular line of business. (Imagine what the other side would say if councilmembers were calling for a tax on skinny jeans or guyliner).

Anonymous said...

"small businesses negatively impacted by long street construction projects"

Can you people read? Why are you trying to make this about "the neighborhood clientele changing" (i.e. white people coming) when that's not what it's about? Have you been to H street before 8 PM? It's still a huge shopping destination for the old-school customer base, but the construction has made it difficult (not to mention recession/unemployment) -- just as it has for restaurants and bars. H street is still diverse and should remain that way, but you people turn it into self-serving reasons for the historical inevitability of pushing out anyone not pulling in 6 figures. As if filling H street with overpriced Disneyland kitsch bars/restaurants with tired gimmicks is any more sustainable/diverse/desirable.

These "wig stores" (clearly a racist potshot -- great neighborly behavior!) are beauty supply shops with lots of interesting inexpensive goods. For example I can get a bandana in practically any color or style for my dog.

Salamander Jones said...

All I need to know about Anwar Saleem I learned from the Informer article Inked linked to back in March:
http://www.washingtoninformer.com/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=5645:h-street-revitalization-hits-a-snag-&catid=50:local&Itemid=113

The guy is a joke and his misleadingly named "organization" represents himself and a handful of resentful, rent-seeking biz owners who are uninterested in or incapable of adapting to meet new market conditions. Is CHAMPS the best/only counterweight organization able to effectively represent the newer economic interests on H St.?

Saleem is of course free to champion his cause and seek handouts from his longtime cozy corrupt pals at DCRA. Par for the course during the Marion Barry era. I just hope the newer businesses on H (and those yet to arrive) can collectively outmaneuver him and his ilk now and in the future. Otherwise, I fear H St. development actually will hit a snag.

Anonymous said...

Anon 10:07, you buy your dog products at wig stores? That's pretty racist... Although if you've got a black lab, then it may not be. I'm actually not sure how to score that so we'll just err on the side of bigotry to be safe.

Liz said...

The New York times has an article on H St.

oboe said...

I think you could have gotten the point across perfectly well by saying that the neighborhood is changing rather than picking on one particular line of business.

Agreed.

(Imagine what the other side would say if councilmembers were calling for a tax on skinny jeans or guyliner).

What other side?

Anyway, councilmembers aren't calling for a tax on wig shops...the city is asking people to pay the f-ing taxes they owe on their properties. Many of these property owners haven't paid taxes in *years*.

Were they witholding tax payments all through the years leading up to the H Street construction to save money for the "lean times" ahead, or something?

White, black, plaid: pay your damned taxes.

Anonymous said...

I hope that the first person to ever get a check under this program makes it public.
We can celebrate their good fortune while watching pigs fly over the Auto Zone parking lot.
Then take a ride on the streetcar to where the tracks end in the middle of Benning Road by the golf course.

P.S. The million bucks and 10-yr tax abatement that Steuart got don't count.