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The Current



Wednesday, May 15, 2013


Council’s ‘historic music’ bill would help financial issues for Blues Alley By ELIZABETH WIENER Current Staff Writer

Helping “historic music cultural institutions� 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 “provided� by Blues Alley, the owner of the venerable Georgetown jazz club said at a hearing last week, but takes a “broadbrush approach.� 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 city’s budget watchdog. The bill would, in essence, exempt “historic music cultural institutions� from real property taxes for 10 years, and from any transfer or deed recordation taxes, if they purchase or lease space with the “goal of expanding public live music and cultural entertainment and employment opportunities� 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 venue’s new hires must be District residents. And the total tax abatement — for all who qualify — would be no more than $2 million. Schnipper of Blues Alley offered a compelling case for tax relief. “America’s oldest continuing jazz supper club� 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 — the

Smithsonian, the Kennedy Center and the Washington Performing Arts Society, all presenting jazz among other offerings — “suddenly we became an anomaly.� Now, he said, most of his competitors get “preferential tax rates.� And with the rising cost of rent and property taxes in Georgetown, the survival of Blues Alley is under threat. “Does Blues Alley have the ability to compete? I don’t know,� Schnipper told Evans’ 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 “Meet the Press 2013,� a discussion with local journalists on what’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. ■The Cleveland Park Citizens Association will hold a forum on “Solid Waste Solutions: From Incineration to Zero Waste� at the Cleveland Park Library, 3310 Connecticut Ave. NW. The association’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 mayor’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 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 or call 202-482-7200.

Tuesday, May 21

The National Park Service will hold a community meeting on “DC Neighborhoods and Your Local National Parks.� 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. ■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 Guapo’s, 4515 Wisconsin Ave. NW. Admission is free; RSVP at or 202-675-0016, ext. 123. ■ 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 “nonmotorized boathouse zone� 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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