Wednesday, September 03, 2008

Considering The Shell Station

I received an email today from someone whose parents have owned and operated a few gas stations over the past several decades. At least one of these stations was located in a transitional neighborhood in a major urban center on the east coast. This individual has been watching the debate over a station on Maryland Ave with great interest. I thought I'd go ahead and re-post the email because the author 1. clearly researched the issue a great deal, 2. has no real horse in this race, and 3. is in a position to know about the economics and everyday realities of owning and running such a store. Brackets indicate editing on my part. The thoughts and opinions below are those of the author, not mine. So here you go-

1. [Residents of the immediate area have a] vested interest in keeping out a 24/7 gas station that will have its lights on all the time. But lights are necessary to discourage crime. Of course, it doesn't actually stop it from happening all the time.

2. More gas stations in the area introduces price competition, which means cheaper gas for everyone. I don't understand why gas is so expensive in DC. It's always much cheaper to buy it outside of the city. Situating a gas station means clustering for better price competition which is ultimately best for the consumer. Another gas station in the area will actually likely be a good thing for gas pricing.

3. If the existing gas stations have a problem with crime, they need to speak to the police department and get a larger presence there. Post signs that say no parking for longer than 30 minutes for non-employees or something like that. Regular visits by policemen do make a large difference in loitering and robbery. Police cannot be everywhere at once, but a regular presence does make a difference. As far as some of the statistics cited for crimes at gas stations on the protest site, what kind of theft? People not locking car doors and having something lifted? (Their own carelessness.) Or people driving off without paying for gas? (Which is extremely common.) Or do they mean an actual mugging? Sorry to sound like I'm splitting semantic hairs here, but theft from a vehicle shouldn't happen if people lock up. Was it from a parked employee car or at a pump under the canopy light? Or in a parking lot behind the station?

4. Crime only happens if you tolerate it. If the existing gas station franchisees have a problem with crime and you as a consumer will not shop there, write to the gas company they represent and tell them why you won't shop there. Yes, they care. They send out secret shoppers to monitor their stations. Be a proactive consumer and complain. It will get back to the franchise owner. Believe me. It does and they do get dinged for it when it comes time to buy other franchises or by scores and incentives for a regional area.

5. Most gas stations are franchises, though I hear in DC-proper that's not necessarily true. The cost to develop the land is almost always borne by the gas company and then rented back to the franchise owner at a very high price. You can complain to DAG all you want. When they give up, the gas company will find another franchisee to take the spot. It's DAG now, but Shell Corp most certainly is backing them up on this and if it's not DAG later, it will be someone else.

6. Retail gas in DC has approximately 10% margin on gas, which is atypical. In most other areas of the country, it's about 3-5%. Because there is a lot of government/business reimbursement for fuel here, they can jack up the price. The gas as loss leader model does not hold up here, but convenience store sales are gravy on top.

7. I am a little confused about where tax incentives are to the gas station (Someone mentioned this in the comments). From what I saw on the protest website and the Examiner article (Which was a little thin) there wasn't anything about tax breaks. Gas stations pay quite a lot in taxes as do most businesses. Do you want the tax revenue to DC or not? As a city park, there is no revenue being generated by that land. (Nor does languishing undeveloped property bring in much.)

8. Example of costs in running a gas station:

-Good faith money to the gas company: $200K+

-Start up costs to staff, train, uniform employees


-Payroll taxes

-Taxes on the gas

-Cigarette, snack and beverage taxes (where applicable)

-Rent on the gas station (Easily in the low $10K's per month, but that's just a guess, and an indirect property tax paid)

-Multiple phone lines to run the credit card lines, phone line, fax line, lottery, ATM machine. (That's at least 5 lines all paying telecom taxes)

-Electrician for extra wiring for ATM, lottery machines and phone lines

-Utility bill for running lights and refrigerators 24/7/365

-Business taxes, licensing
-General insurance policy of at minimum probably about $2 million
-Trash disposal (minimum of a 4yd)

-Alarm system for fire and robbery

9. To address the environmental issue someone mentioned, there would be double hulled tanks and testing wells sunk in to the ground some distance away from the property to ensure there is no leakage from the tanks. These monitoring wells will be about a foot wide or less and situated in varying distances away from the stations. As far away, or further, as across the street. I don't know what DC has in terms of oversight, but that's what it's like in PA. (We're talking "across the street" as in a 4 lane road.) Residential property owners around the station may also have a well sunk onto their property.

10. As the question of people's livelihoods, I can tell you that a franchisee (DAG) with over 30 gas stations in operations is likely doing quite well and deserves no sympathy.

11. As to the question of livelihood for store employees, it's a minimum wage job with a shift differential pay for nights and weekends (maybe). It's transitional work for college kids and new immigrants. No one stays for long, nor should they. There's no health insurance or retirement for employees. It's a tedious job and no smoking allowed.

12. FWIW, DAG is African-American owned. His political contributions, clearly Democrat


Anonymous said...

All these are good points but (no disrespect to your friend) some of his comments seem to be more broad and not really specific to the actual location in question. Will this station provide some price competition? Possibly. But there are about 7 stations by my count within the immediate area and more than a dozen if you expand out in mile radius or so. Plus, since I and most of my neighbors rarely drive, saving 3 cents a gallon isn't exactly a selling point.

Also his thoughts on the crime issue seem a little naive. The stations in this area are a magnet for a lot of the negative quality of life issues, not just crime. How do you remove loiters? MPD? Will this station be different, possibly, but the residents opposing this really can only rely on the existing examples from other stations, and it ain't good. We as residents can be as intolerant to crime as we want but believe it or not the criminals seem to care little for our indignation. Also if the station owner isn't responsible in keeping the station clear of loiters and suspicious activity, or cleaning up trash then what? We start a yeoman's effort at a crack down? Sure, but I'd rather just nip a potential problem in the bud now before it's even allowed to blossom.

Also, a point that seems to get lost in this is that the stretch of Maryland ave. from the starburst down to the capital (in my opinion) is one of the most beautiful streets in the city. Yes it looks a little rough between 15th and 14th st but that is even more reason why I would like to see the location at 14th used for something else a bit more aesthetic and fitting with the look of the rest of that stretch. I know that's not much of a economical/business argument, but it's just how I feel.

one of my objections has always been that this station (given its location) seems less likely to serve the needs of a community trying to rebuild itself and more to as a pit stop for Maryland commuters. Most of my focus with regard to this area is on more services and amenities for the community first and secondly to attract dc residents from other parts of the city to come down and see what we have to offer. A gas station doesn't really fit with that. That's my opinion. My vision. And I have every right to make myself heard before they plop this thing down on the corner. This is how community works.

Anonymous said...

Someone mentioned something about a garden center, or was I just thinking about it. I really can see a lively Garden Center that would be opened all year round and would become a stopping point for MD drivers (plus others) in our neighborhood. Am I alone on this?

Anonymous said...


those arguments don't change my mind.

you could use the same arguments for a mcdonald's.

the only "competition" they would provide (in terms of gas prices), is negligible. basically, they'd be cashing in by establising a station in dc, as opposed to the cheaper locations in the burbs. why do you think they want to locate there? silly. 2 cents less a gallon is not competition, it's 9% margin instead of 10%. still beats the burbs, still doesn't do anything for the neighborhood.

oh, and the person contradicts him/herself. 24 hour lights combat crime, but yet the other 24 hour gas stations that have light on are a magnet for crime. then the person talks about getting MPD support for these 24 hour gas stations if there is crime.

ergo, lights don't do crap. if the station comes, we'll have yet another crime magnet that will disperse mpd forces even thinner.

the station is a bad idea. wrong place, wrong time, with no community support.

kind of a no brainer, no?

OH, DAG are democrats. big whoop.

dems and repubs are all out for themselves. this is about community, not party affiliations.

if it's good for the 'long term' us, then it's good - regardless of the party affiliated scoundrels.

good points, but very naive.

Anonymous said...

A garden center in that location would be awesome!

Has DAG made gas prices lower at any of it's other DC gas stations? I think not. Besides, the profit at gas stations these days is in cigarettes, chips and soda, not gas.

Anonymous said...

If you want a garden center contact Joe Carmack at Garden District on 14th. If you want to attract MD drivers to buy plants bad idea. NY Ave is littered with these places.

Anonymous said...

- Very helpful points made by the guest expert. Worth respectful consideration. I am going to offer rebuttals. All are to the issues from a member of the community's perspective - none directed personally to the individual that provided a respectful and knowledgeable contribution to ensure we all understand other perspectives on this issue.

- Once a gas station is there, it’s there for 10 years, plus or minus. Let’s have something else, since there are already 3 gas stations in a few blocks. Our only chance to stop is now. This is the point. Once that happens, the other points raised by the gentleman fall away.

- The Children’s Museum Condos no longer have a gas station at the top of H Street. Why must this side of H Street accommodate one when we have 3?

- Stand on the corner and judge for yourselves. The street configuration is such that cars won’t be popping in and out, but must traverse around blocks to get back where they were going.

- Another gas station doesn’t mean cheaper gas – yeah, a few cents savings if you catch it that day within a timeframe of a few hours – but during the lifetime of the station, no. Did you save money at that gas station you visited in 1996, and if so, does it matter now? You only have once choice of fuel. Are you saving money with your cell phone carriers? DirectTV versus Comcast? Isn't it essentially a wash, ultimately? So, will you be saving money in 2015 from that gas station, if it’s built? And is that reason enough to have 4 rather than 3 gas stations?

- Would this be where you get gas for savings?

- Not locking car doors means our own carelessness for crime is the same argument made about assaulted woman wearing “a sexy dress” (by absolutely no means suggesting equivalency of heinousness, just the argument basis). Enough. We cannot blame victims for crime. Most all of us take precautions and yet crime finds us regardless.

- Crime does not only happens if you tolerate it. None of us tolerate it, yet it happens. So if there is potential, start now, at the roots, before we all are told it's our own fault.

- If a larger police presence is required for the gas station, then without the gas station no extra police presence is required. Solved.

- It’s not about notifying the franchise owner if there are problems. We’ve tried that with Checkers. This is a different case? Unlikely. After all, already DAG has proven unresponsive to our concerns.

- It is not inevitable that without DAG, another gas station will take the spot. What’s inevitable is our success in stopping this station.

- The affiliations and background of the owner or company are irrelevant. The issue is whether a gas station should be in this spot, and the answer is no.

Hillman said...

If complaining residents are successful in blocking this gas station then I don't want to hear you EVER complain about crime or other issues relating to the other gas stations in the area.

You can't block new competition that may actually drive some of the admittedly crappy existing gas stations out of business, then complain about the status quo.

Anonymous said...

mr. heelman,
It's not only NE gas stations having problems with crime, but your own Capitol Hill gas stations on Pennsyvania SE, are having problems with robberies. MPD has posted huge warning posters at least two stations over there... so no way that you can argue that bright lighted gas stations prevent crime.

Anonymous said...

Did anyone see the H street NE ad in the September Hill Rag? It looks awesome.

Hillman said...

I'm not arguing for the gas station per se, as some of the arguments made against it seem sound, but this whole 'gas stations create crime' argument is stunningly stupid.

Criminals create crime.

ALL businesss on H Street have problems with crime.

I myself have been accosted repeatedly outside banks on H Street. Does that mean we should ban banks?

Yes, individual businesses can either be proactive against crime or they can, like many, just ignore it.

And some actively encourage it, including those that sell singles of beer, create a 'social' atmosphere that encourages drug use, etc.

Yet I don't see many in the community willing to take those businesses on.

From what I've seen this gas station developer at least says he'll work with the community on crime prevention.

Maybe he's lying. I don't know (but apparently everyone here has automatically assumed that). But automatically blaming him for crime (even though is business isn't even built yet) is unfair.

Singling gas stations out and blaming them ALL for crime is just stupid, especially when everyone else gets a free pass on the issue.

It's your weakest argument.

Anonymous said...

Replace 'gas station' with 'chinese take out' in the OP, and I doubt that even the OP would support a new chinese take out there.

The OP logic works against them anyhow, in the same breath they say that more gas stations = increased competition/lower prices, but then goes on to say that gas stations in the district have no real incentive to lower prices because of the federal purchasing.

And what I still don't understand is why it's so damn important for some people to have a gas station that close to them. You're in a damn car, so what the hell is the problem driving 1/2 mile to nearest station??

It's one thing to argue about neighborhood grocery stores, since that impacts the entire population of the neighborhood, but a 'neighborhood' gas station makes zero sense in a place where most people actively avoid driving, or have moved to the area specifically to avoid it.

Anonymous said...


On Wednesday members of the ANC 5B10 community valiantly defended our right to a safe, orderly and peaceful community by protesting the liquor license renewal of Jimmy Valentine's Lonely Hearts Club, located at 1103 Bladensburg Road, NE. Google Jimmy Valentine's Lonely Hearts Club and you will find references to "...a dive located in a hood called Trinidad..." along with an ode to a dead drug dealer "Goon" and other indications that the establishment is not a family oriented business.
The business (and I use the term loosely because I presume they pay taxes) has no identifiable signage, a cracked window facade and has been observed to have trash strewn in the front and rear of the location on numerous occasions. On August 31, 2008, a Great Dane eating food trash in front of the establishment deterred some patrons from entering the establishment. The unleashed dog went inside the establishment after eating the food trash. The police have responded to the establishment for apparent violations of the law. Further, a sworn member of the Metropolitan Police Department testified at yesterday's hearing that the owner of the establishment Mark Thorp confronted him in an angry and aggressive manner when said officer (who has since been promoted to the rank of sergeant) examined a parked vehicle with Maryland tags and a missing window. The vehicle in question belongs to Mr. Thorp, who identifies himself as an ardent supporter of the police.
The business has negatively affected the peace, order and quiet of our community by operating outside of their stated business hours of 4:00p.m. to 2:00 a.m. Sunday through Thursday and 4:00 p.m. to 3:00 a.m. Friday and Saturday. Neighbors have heard loud music emanating from the establishment at approximately 6:00 a.m. and several patrons were observed noisily congregating in front of the establishment early on a Sunday morning. Further, the owner provided limousine service to the club until said limousine was ticketed, booted and towed for violating residential parking restrictions and street cleaning posted signs. According to Chapter 4, section 400.1 (b) of the General Licensing Requirements "The establishment will not have an adverse impact on residential parking needs, considering available public and private parking and any arrangements made to secure such parking for the clientele of the establishment;"
Finally, one board member presiding over the protest hearing asked witnesses whether the business looked as bad as or worse than existing businesses in the area? Another asked would you rather have an empty building or one with a cracked facade and no signage? The location 1103 Bladensburg was vacant before opening as a a tavern/dive. It appears that law-abiding citizens acting in good faith to protect their communities from negative elements that adversely affect the peace, order and quiet have an uphill struggle to protect the community. Increasingly, this community which is partially located in Trinidad, has endured horrific levels of violence, forcing our police to respond strongly and often. We believe the police cannot fight crime alone and we must address all elements that contribute to crime and disorder, including protesting alcohol establishments that operate contrary to the law. I would be interested in hearing if other communities have experienced similar difficulties in protesting similarly situated establishments. Please respond here or feel free to contact Commissioner Henderson and I if you support our efforts to protect our community. Mr. Thorp stated on the record that he actively sought and received support for his establishment from Councilmember Thomas. The majority of the ANC 5B10 community does not support this establishment.


Anonymous said...

There is no way this is pro-community. It is strictly pro-commuter.

Candace said...

These arguments don't change my mind, either.

I'm not concerned about a "gas station" per se, it's just that I'd prefer something else to be there.

I doubt that having a gas station will really introduce THAT much price competition because as well all know, gas isn't the cash-cow for gas stations anyways, and the price of crude oil doesn't fluctuate enough and isn't cheap enough for a huge profit margin. Moreover, gas is cheaper in our area than it is in most other areas of the city already - so how much further down can it go?

Regardless, it's about building a community. Let's put in something different like a restaurant, community organization, cafe, retail store, or something else other than an unsightly gas station.

Anonymous said...

Re: Jimmy Valentine's,

Um, have you ever BEEN to Jimmy Valentine's??? Have you seen who their patronage is?? The hipsters hanging out there are NOT the ones causing the violence in Trinidad. And there's NOTHING around that area in the way of actual housing, so I don't get the noise complaints. BOO on you.

Matthew Melzer said...

Like many others, I'm all for a more productive use of the space than its abandoned state. In fact, the entire short block of 14th between Maryland and H is shoddy and needs revamping.

If there's no market for any other type of business there but an ugly, out-of-neighborhood-character gas station, DC should purchase the land and put a park there. Fantastical on my part, sure, but we need more green, open spaces.

Presuming the gas station is fait accompli, DC should slap requirements on the owners to subsidize the following mitigatory amenities:

1) New, ADA-compliant sidewalks for x-hundred feet on either side of the gas station, with trees and/or planters and streetlights.
2) New bus shelters for the nearby B2 and X8.
3) A SmartBike DC station.
4) A Zipcar space.
5) An MPD crime camera.

I know the bus shelters and SmartBike are normally funded by Clear Channel, so there would need to be cooperation there, but it's doable. I don't think community demands such as the above would be out of line.

Anonymous said...

Is that Jimmy Valentine's comment for real? Apologies if I am missing something. I have only been once so far since moving to the hood but loved the place and I really hope there aren't any issues with their liquor license. It is ridiculous to claim they are contributing to crime in the area and I agree with the other commenter that noise couldn't possibly be an issue.

inked said...

The Jimmy Valentine's comment appears to be a re-posting of an email written by former ANC Kathy Henderson [her daughter is the current ANC]. Ms. Henderson is leading an ongoing protest against the tavern. I can't say that I personally believe her comments to be representative of the majority of local residents.

There is housing nearby the tavern. I haven't noticed any noise issues, or crime/disorder issues related to the tavern. As mentioned in the comment, there was an ABRA hearing on the issue yesterday and it reportedly dragged on for several hours.

Anonymous said...

The gas station emailer did a great job laying out some good points, but I'm not persuaded that it's a good thing. The supposed price competition *might* save me a couple of dollars over the years but I'll take the increased property value any day from having something else in that site that's more attractive. In my view a gas station equals blight equals lower property values.

DCJaded said...

As I understand. The Protest against Jimmy Valentine's is a personal crusade of a deposed former ANC representative who is simply using this as a way to maintain what little power she has through her 19 year old daughter whom she got elected to her old ANC seat.

Jimmy's is one of the ONLY businesses on that street. The location is extremely acoustically insulated. As a patron of Jimmy's AND a environmental noise engineer working for the government, I can tell you that the bar does not exceed DC noise regulations, period. I encourage anyone who's ever been to Jimmy's to write to the ANC5B to support the business.

Anonymous said...


Do you know the identity of the e-mailer? I ask because that e-mail doesn't strike me as something written by someone with "no real horse in the race." I don't want to attribute ill motives unfairly, but I can't help but wonder if that e-mail was written by someone working for DAG.

- 14 Pl

Anonymous said...

"10. As the question of people's livelihoods, I can tell you that a franchisee (DAG) with over 30 gas stations in operations is likely doing quite well and deserves no sympathy."

This seems like they have a vested interest here??? Sounds exactly the opposite to me.

inked said...

The emailer definitely does not work for DAG. The person works in an entirely different unaffiliated field.

Campy said...

Jimmy Valentine's is an awesome bar that is in no way connected to violence in its community.

What a horribly misleading post that was.

Anonymous said...

- This is not about Hillman, but the points raised, which are totally valid. This is a just one dissent to those points, for readers' consideration.

- That gas stations equal crime is irrelevant. Crime isn’t the main issue for this proposed site. The issue is that once a gas station is there, its there for 10 years, plus or minus. A sub-issue is whether there is need – which there is not. A related sub-issue is whether there are alternative sites – which there are. Right now, there are 3 gas stations near. Since there is no need for a gas station at this spot, plus alternative, better sites, then let’s keep this site open for other options. Once a station is done, it's done.

- Complaining about crime at other gas stations is invalid to this issue. The issue is whether a gas station is needed at this site, which it is not.

- Driving other stations out of business is irrelevant. There is no station here, and opportunities exist elsewhere.

- Whether other stations are crappy is irrelevant. This is about whether this site is a worthy location for new station, and it is not.

- Whether this is about station competition, or status quo, is irrelevant. There are 3 stations, so competition exists. The issue is whether this site is appropriate for a station, and it is not.

- Crime, traffic, smell, fumes, etc. - - are irrelevant. Is a gas station needed at this site? No.

- If there was a gas station that existed at this site, like the recently closed station at 11th and M SE, then we’d have a tougher argument. But this is a blank slate. And we have a choice.

- Suspecting the motives of the anonymous contributor that started this blog commentary are irrelevant. It was just commentary for consideration and thought. Who knows who it is - but it was still worth reading.

- Should there be a station at this site? Shell-no.

Hillman said...

"If there was a gas station that existed at this site, like the recently closed station at 11th and M SE, then we’d have a tougher argument."

For 20 of the last 30 years this site was in fact a gas station, according to the developers.

"Since there is no need for a gas station at this spot, plus alternative, better sites, then let’s keep this site open for other options."

See, now, you don't own this site. So it's a bit presumptuous of you to be saying it's up to you to 'keep this site open for other options'.

That's quite a cavalier way to treat someone else's property.

Anonymous said...

Hillman -- check the mirror, your bias is showing!

You shill for the developer on crime ("From what I've seen this gas station developer at least says he'll work with the community on crime prevention.") when we have empirical PROOF from the buildings this guy runs on Bladensburg that he's a terrible, terrible landlord. He has no interest in helping the community whatsoever, only in putting on a show for the gullible and overly optimistic.

Then, you swallow their crap again! ("For 20 of the last 30 years this site was in fact a gas station, according to the developers.")

No. It wasn't. Ask anyone who has lived here.

Score so far: 2 lies from developer. 2 blissful regurgitations of them by Hillman.

Just because a developer says so doesn't make it so.

Hillman said...


Please don't say I'm a shill for anyone. That sort of unfounded charge isn't conducive to actual discourse.

If you've got some proof of that, please pony it up. Otherwise, please stop it.

So that site has never been a gas station?

Anonymous said...

That corner hasn't had a gas station for at least 40 years. The gas station was at the Checkers corner.

Anonymous said...

FYI - I've written a bunch of the dc govt people listed on the "shell no" website. the dep. mayor for economic development replied and said he "shared my concerns" and that he has notified the "approving authorities." so thats good.

-transplant from philly (TFP) (and new home owner in the area)

Anonymous said...

Let me apologize for my earlier tone. I didn't mean to attack Hillman's integrity in any way. I don't think he's on the take or anything.

I just think his arguments on this issue showed a clear bias toward swallowing the lines coming from the developers. On that issue, I "ponied up" with two examples.

But I don't want to just devolve into personal attacks, because this issue is a really big deal for the area. So I am sorry.

I understand Hillman's willingness to give business owners the benefit of the doubt. Entrepreneurs are critical for developing the area. But I think this particular owner has lost all credibility -- after two years of sitting on an abandoned site, having an unlawful business there earlier (Carlink), and running shitty properties on Bladensburg (ask Bill Schultheiss about Empire Leasing).

Hillman, even if you think there is NIMBY-ism going on here, there are legitimate causes for concern.

I sincerely hope you will take a closer look at this and join almost all of your neighbors in skepticism of this project.

Hillman said...


No problem. I've gotten quite used to being attacked gratuitously on Frozen Tropics. It's sortof what our neighborhood is becoming known for.

To reiterate, I'm not in favor of the station. I just find the crime and other arguments most passionately argued here to be unpersuasive.

Anonymous said...

I have stopped reading any of Hillman's comments.

Hillman said...

"I have stopped reading any of Hillman's comments."

Ah. There's that new H Street openmindedness and inclusion that we're all seeing more of these days.

Seriously, people. Yes, I often take a view different from yours. But I'm always polite about it. I simply have different views.

H Street really is getting a reputation for it's residents being generally unpleasant and often quite unrealistic in what they demand from businesses considering the area.

I had a fairly long conversation a month ago or so with a guy that wanted to open a business in the area (some sort of card/gift shop.... I was a little fuzzy on the concept). He told me he considered H Street, but after investigating the neighborhood (including Frozen Tropics) he decided to invest elsewhere.

It wasn't the crime, or even the stunningly inept DC government.

It was the residents themselves.

Sortof the same reputation Dupont is getting, except maybe worse.

Anonymous said...

Mr. Heelman.
It would be nice if you didn't find it necessary to comment your uninformed contariness on every blog in the city. It's just tiresome.

Anonymous said...

I highly doubt you were speaking to someone because that would require you to stop posting your high minded comments for that amount of time.


Unknown said...

RE: Jimmy Valentine's

I appreciate the comments on this blog that responded to Kathy Henderson's attempt to build community support in opposition to Jimmy Valentine's Tavern.

I responded to her post on the MPD listserve. I have decided to repost my response here as well:

How is this a relevant post to this listserve?

Your attempts to build community support in opposition to Jimmy Valentine's Tavern is based on your personal opinion. Now it is an obsessive crusade which has taken a great deal of our community's time and resources to have a legitimate business shut down. Can anyone from MPD provide data that directly links crime activity to the Tavern?

As it has been proven time and time again economic development decreases levels of crime. We have been watching it on H Street. Look at how economic development has improved U st. Economic development will move down Bladensburg. That is inevitable. Thus, the owners are already positively contributing to our community. By the way, the owners live in Trinidad, there is even more of an investment in our neighborhood.

Your continual exaggerated efforts to shut Jimmy's down are provocative attempts to get what you want they way you want it. Based from my conversations with our community, including several immediate neighbors of Jimmy's Tavern, there are no issues with the Tavern. This battle you are choosing to "valiantly" fight is not contributing positively to building a neighborhood. When individuals get to this point, they become detriment to the larger picture. To clear the record this is your battle. You have just convinced a few people the owners are bad and immoral people. I am not sure you are in place to judge anyone.

There are many things we need to do to make Trinidad safe. I think it would be outstanding if as a community we can address the core problems that lead to senseless killings and other crimes (ie gang prevention, substance abuse education, empowerment programs,etc). Not only address but implement sustaining action. We need more than vigils and walk throughs. I have to wonder if the family members of the individuals who have died are concerned about a bar that has clientele that are far from violent criminals.

Furthermore, community building is about what is best for the greater of the whole -it isn't about the individual needs getting met- the result is a peaceful environment where everyone is regarded and respected. Change in a community happens when there is will and motivation to create that change. This is an appropriate time for this plug: If you are a Trinidad/Ivy City/Carver Terrace resident- willing to role up your sleeve to make change happen our Community Work Group meets at the Trinidad Rec Center the Wed after our PSA mtgs @ 6:30.

My apologies for hijacking this listserve to respond to the original post. No means is it my intentions to fuel any fires- I am exhausted of this drama and think we need to move on and start addressing real issues.


Alan Page said...

the last two shots at hillman were totally unnecessary. please, no more personal attacks.

hillman and i have disagreed on issues previously, but i have to step in when i see blatant personal attacks that do nothing to move the discourse forward.


on topic, i don't feel like a gas station is the mix of retail we should be looking for, since we have several gas stations near that location already. perhaps some type of specialty retail? i really like to see each new business in the area add to the diversity of our retail mix. as such, i would have warmly welcomed the gift/card shop hillman mentioned.

Anonymous said...

With regard to the Valentine's issue - Ms. Henderson has seemed to make it her personal crusade to rid Ward 5 of any establishments that do not fit her definition of a proper establishment - I have personally tried to work with a establishent that wanted to move into Ward 5 but she did everything in her power to stop it from happening. Three locations were attempted and she stepped in stopping it at all three locations - her reasons were subjective and not objective. Had she had actually researched her claims she would have found them totally false and unfounded ... but that would not have advanced her cause or status as de-facto voice of the Ward.

Anonymous said...

re' Jimmy Valentine's
What do you really expect? The place looks like crap. You want to look and act like a illicit dive, but not take the consequences. Just because hipster white people go there, it does not improve the neighborhood.

Anonymous said...

Re: Jimmy Valentines

What is wrong with you people? Jimmy Valentines did an extraordinary job decorating their establishment. If you don't like the decor, then don't go. This is America and they can decorate however they like. Establishments such as this should be encouraged. They are creatively making use of space that wouldn't otherwise be used for anything. They aren't disturbing anyone on that stretch of road during their hours of operation. Don't kid yourself. Shame on you for unjustly trying to damage the business of the clearly hard working group of citizens that created Jimmy Valentines out of nothing. Stop your slandering and let others enjoy their lives.

Unknown said...

RE: Jimmy V's

Hi Anonymous,

I am surprised and confused by your characterization of Jimmy Valentine's Lonely Hearts Club, and by inference, their clientele. My friends and I have been frequenting Jimmy V's for over a year now, specifically because it is one of the few establishments in this city which isn't overrun by the sort of loud & obnoxious clientele found in other areas of the city. My group of friends are a rather small sample size, but you'd be hard-pressed to find a more educated, non-violent, respectful group of people in any bar in this city. Believe me, the clientele of Jimmy's are NOT in any way contributing to problems in your community. In fact, most of us are your new neighbors, buying & renovating homes in the area. We are the very change you've probably been wanting to see in your neighborhood for a long time.


Kevin Horgan

inked said...

Re Jimmy Valentine's-

Guys, I've read the entire 60 page ABRA inspector's report on Jimmy V's and it basically gives them a clean bill of health. Personally I think that spending this much time and money on inspecting what I feel, as the ANC right across the street from Jimmy's, a neighborhood resident, and a patron, is a legitimate business and a positive contribution to our neighborhood, is a massive waste of ABRA resources and taxpayer dollars.

FYI- the inspector checked them on 29 different occasions. Also, no MPD reports were EVER referred to ABRA regarding Jimmy V's [if there were issues it would be standard procedure to send the reports over]. I'm hoping we can get the entire report online soon so people can read it for themselves.

I've been to Jimmy Valentine's many times and I've never seen, or heard of, anything occurring there that I believe at all represents a risk or detriment of any kind to our community.

Anonymous said...

It's unfortunate that Ms. Henderson has chosen Jimmy V's as the target of her ire--reading a bit about her past efforts (a quick google search will pull them up), she appears to be someone that is very passionate about this neighborhood and wants to see it improve (less trash, more and better service from the District, etc.).

However, her jabs at Jimmy V's (and the Anon that supported her) are clearly misguided since YES---"white hipsters" are exactly who we want coming to this neighborhood--its an undeniable sign that it is getting safer and more desireable.

Now, of course it should go without saying that new vistitors to our area are welcome no matter what flavor they come in, but to single out white hipsters as being somehow "undesirable" -- that's ridiculous and, I felt, merited a response.

inked said...

because Ms. Henderson [the author of the original comment on Jimmy Valentine's] invited people to contact either her, or her daughter India [the current Commissioner], but seems to have neglected to include the email addresses I wanted to provide them here. -Kathy Henderson -Commissioner India Henderson

inked said...

To address a couple of the comments above-

When I've visited Jimmy Valentine's the clientele has been very diverse. Yes, there are some white hipsters, but that isn't the whole story. I've visited the tavern with/met there people of all ages, races, and types. I know some young guys who grew up in Trinidad and visit the place on a regular basis, so any suggestion that it is just a spot for white hipsters [I don't consider myself cool enough to be a hipster] doesn't really ring true to me. I think anyone is welcome there who doesn't bring problems with them, and is willing to pay their tab. It's a business. They cater to paying clients who don't bring drama.

Anonymous said...

First, let me just pose a question...Wouldn't it be better to have SOME kind of business at the Maryland Avenue site as opposed to a VACANT LOT?? Second, DAG does not OWN the lot at 1400 MD Avenue, nor does Shell...DO your research, it is public record. Third, DAG does not own the Bladensburg Road sites that you are referring to...again PUBLIC RECORD. DAG does operate several stations in the District...all of which are clean, well lit and have very little crime associated with them...AGAIN, research!! DAG contributes to MANY community events/associations in the communities they serve. This lot WAS a gas station for several years and then a car repair shop after that, but then it sat vacant UNTIL DAG decided to do something about it. Why not vent your anger at the property OWNER and NOT at the business that is trying to revitalize the lot into a viable business!??