CM Jim Graham Updates Us on, “A Hotel for Adams Morgan”

Dear Friends,

Residents have contacted me regarding the Adams Morgan hotel project at Euclid and Champlain Streets. Opinion appears to be divided but, overall, people are anxious for more information.

I authored the tax abatement bill in order to make this project a reality. The bill proposes to abate property taxes for up to 20 years beginning October 1, 2014, capped at $46 million.

This is a chicken and egg situation– we need to offer this tax relief in order to get this property on the tax rolls (including sales tax, hotel tax, income tax for jobs, parking tax, and ultimately, real estate tax). The DC Chief Financial Officer has certified that–without this tax relief– the project is not feasible and will not proceed. With this relief, DC will net about $5 million annually in revenue.

Thus, through this abatement, we restore to productive use a currently vacant historic church building, insure a development that will create jobs, add district revenue, and increase daytime commerce in a neighborhood where this would dramatically improve business and public safety. Daytime commerce is a key issue: It will more balance for what is now a very heavy reliance on nightlife. In consequence there will be more daytime retail opportunities.

Plan B?—Continued deterioration of this vacant historic church, no tax revenue for the district, no new jobs, and nothing contributed to the surrounding neighborhood. The very tiny church congregation (under 20 members) cannot afford to either maintain or use the building.

There has been extensive community discussion about this project including more than 25 meetings over a period of years with the ANC and community organizations. The Council held a public hearing on my bill on October 7.

There is still another opportunity for community input at an ANC Forum to be held on December 16 at 7pm. (The location will be announced soon.) A Council vote on a tax abatement might occur after this forum, possibly as soon as December 21.

And then there will be more comment–Should this project go forward, the District’s land use planning process (planned unit development (PUD)) will offer further, extensive opportunity for community input on issues such as height, density, parking, design elements, community benefits package &c.

Regarding the tax abatement, the Chief Financial Officer has reported that it will have no negative fiscal impact.

Some have suggested that the Developer would go ahead with or without a tax abatement. As I mentioned earlier, the Chief Financial Officer has done an analysis based on the costs and revenue of this project and has determined that the project would not proceed without a tax abatement.

Yesterday, the Council was expected to take the first vote on the bill that I introduced. However, for procedural reasons, the Council was not permitted to take this vote. The bill was temporarily held-up in the Committee on Finance and Revenue in order to gather additional information. Once the Committee finally voted to support the bill, it was too late to meet the notice requirements to get on the agenda for the Council meeting.

Do you think a tax abatement for this proposed hotel is a good idea?

Anyone know how long this building has already been vacant?

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