Wednesday, May 15, 2013
Councilâ€™s â€˜historic musicâ€™ bill would help financial issues for Blues Alley By ELIZABETH WIENER Current Staff Writer
Helping â€œhistoric music cultural institutionsâ€? survive, by offering public funds or a tax break? D.C. has done so with the Lincoln Theatre and the Howard. And now a bill introduced by Ward 2 D.C. Council member Jack Evans is aimed at easing the money woes of Blues Alley. The bill was â€œprovidedâ€? by Blues Alley, the owner of the venerable Georgetown jazz club said at a hearing last week, but takes a â€œbroadbrush approach.â€? Owner Harry Schnipper was
one of two witnesses to testify on the measure, which received a fairly neutral review from an aide to Chief Financial Officer Natwar Gandhi, the cityâ€™s budget watchdog. The bill would, in essence, exempt â€œhistoric music cultural institutionsâ€? from real property taxes for 10 years, and from any transfer or deed recordation taxes, if they purchase or lease space with theÂ â€œgoal of expanding public live music and cultural entertainment and employment opportunitiesâ€? in the District. There are many caveats. To be eligible, for example, the beneficiary would have had to operate for at least 45 years here, hosting a
minimum of 100 live performances a year. And the expansion must occur within a year before or within five years after the bill takes effect. At least 50 percent of the venueâ€™s new hires must be District residents. And the total tax abatement â€” for all who qualify â€” would be no more than $2 million. Schnipper of Blues Alley offered a compelling case for tax relief. â€œAmericaâ€™s oldest continuing jazz supper clubâ€? opened in 1965 in a former horse barn off Wisconsin Avenue and prospered in its early years, he said. Then in the 1970s, with the rise of nonprofit competition â€” the
Smithsonian, the Kennedy Center and the Washington Performing Arts Society, all presenting jazz among other offerings â€” â€œsuddenly we became an anomaly.â€? Now, he said, most of his competitors get â€œpreferential tax rates.â€? And with the rising cost of rent and property taxes in Georgetown, the survival of Blues Alley is under threat. â€œDoes Blues Alley have the ability to compete? I donâ€™t know,â€? Schnipper told Evansâ€™ Committee on Finance and Revenue. He cited the closings of Childe Harold, the Cellar Door, the Bayou and other commercial music venues See Blues Alley/Page 7
The week ahead Wednesday, May 15
The D.C. Department of Transportation will hold a public meeting on plans for a protected bike lane on M Street between 14th and 28th streets NW. The meeting will be held from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. at the West End Library, 1101 24th St. NW.
Thursday, May 16
The District of Columbia Bar will host â€œMeet the Press 2013,â€? a discussion with local journalists on whatâ€™s hot in D.C. politics, government and business and predictions for the upcoming year. The event will be held from noon to 1:30 p.m. at Arent Fox, 1717 K St. NW. Registration costs $15 to $25; call 202-626-3463. â– The Cleveland Park Citizens Association will hold a forum on â€œSolid Waste Solutions: From Incineration to Zero Wasteâ€? at the Cleveland Park Library, 3310 Connecticut Ave. NW. The associationâ€™s monthly business meeting will begin at 6:30 p.m., with the program scheduled to follow from 7 to 8:30.
Friday, May 17
The D.C. Council Committee on the Judiciary and Public Safety will hold a public roundtable on the mayorâ€™s plan for the D.C. Fire and Emergency Medical Services Department to redeploy ambulances to maximize availability during peak hours of service. The meeting will begin at 11:30 a.m. in Room 412, John A. Wilson Building, 1350 Pennsylvania Ave. NW.
Saturday, May 18
Connect.DC and the D.C. Office of the Chief Technology Officer will host the Spring 2013 Community Broadband Summit, featuring workshops for small businesses, residents and nonprofits. The event will be held from 9:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. at Turkey Thicket Recreation Center, 1100 Michigan Ave. NE. Admission is free; reservations are requested at 202-266-6328 or connect.dc.gov. â– The National Capital Planning Commission and the D.C. Office of Planning will host a public meeting on the master plan to study height restrictions in D.C. The meeting will be held from 10:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. at the Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial Library, 901 G St. NW. For details, visit ncpc.gov/heightstudy or call 202-482-7200.
Tuesday, May 21
The National Park Service will hold a community meeting on â€œDC Neighborhoods and Your Local National Parks.â€? Rock Creek Park superintendent Tara Morrison and C&O Canal National Historical Park superintendent Kevin Brandt will be on hand, along with officials from four other parks. The meeting will be held from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. at the Columbia Heights Education Campus, 16th and Irving streets NW. â– Ward 3 Vision, a smart growth advocacy group, will host a meet-and-greet with at-large D.C. Council member David Grosso and Ward 3 Council member Mary Cheh. The event will begin at 6:30 p.m. at Guapoâ€™s, 4515 Wisconsin Ave. NW. Admission is free; RSVP at bit.ly/w3vmeetgreet or 202-675-0016, ext. 123. â– The Crestwood Citizens Association will hold its annual election meeting and discuss building its neighbor network at 7 p.m. at the Grace Lutheran Church, 4300 16th St. NW.
Wednesday, May 22
The National Park Service will hold a public information meeting to present the findings from the feasibility study on a â€œnonmotorized boathouse zoneâ€? along the Georgetown waterfront. The meeting will consist of an open house with a short presentation; staff members will be on hand to answer questions. The meeting will be held from 6 to 8 p.m. at the West End Library, 1101 24th St. NW.
Thursday, May 23
The D.C. Department of Transportation and the Federal Transit Administration will host a public meeting to discuss the Union Station to Georgetown Premium Transit Service Alternatives Analysis Study. The meeting will be held from 6 to 8 p.m. at the Carnegie Library, 801 K St. NW. â– The Ward 3 Democratic Committee will hold its monthly meeting, which will feature a talk by Ward 2 D.C. Council member Jack Evans on the budget and other topics. The meeting will begin at 7:15 p.m. at the Methodist Home of D.C., 4901 Connecticut Ave. NW.
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