Neighborhood Groups Oppose Luxury Hotel In Adams Morgan

The Issue as told by the Washington Post in their article Developer Seeks to Give Adams Morgan a Taste of Luxury with Hotel Project:

First Church of Christ at Euclid & Champlain Streets in Adams Morgan.

For the past six years, developer Brian Friedman has been pushing a complex project that he says would reinvent Adams Morgan as a bustling attraction at all times of day, not just in the evenings. He has proposed transforming a historic church, formerly the First Church of Christ, Scientist, into a 174-room luxury hotel. His plan calls for preserving the church building and constructing a 10-story connecting building behind it, where there is now parking.

And he is asking for the city’s help, suggesting that the new hotel not be required to pay property taxes for 15 years after opening. The problem as defined by the Champlain Street Neighbors: We are largely immigrant families who have invested blood, sweat, and tears to make Adams Morgan the hip spot it is considered today.

We have lived through the rough times of this neighborhood and persevered despite crime and poverty so to forge a foundation of diversity and vitality that very few, if any other DC neighborhood possesses. Yet, despite our rich history and investments here, we have been left almost entirely out of the process and discussion of one of the biggest projects in recent Adams Morgan history. Whether purposely or not, our voices have not mattered to local decision makers at all.

The treasured diversity of Ward One and Adams Morgan has already been under attack, but now this luxury hotel project will be take displacement issues to new heights, literally, with a proposal which seems to defy logic for a residential community and threatens our very existence in the neighborhood we helped to build.

There are countless problems with a project of this size and of this proposed use for our families, some of whom have lived here for thirty years.

A luxury hotel will increase our rents or put pressure on our landlords to evict us and sell their buildings. It will bring traffic of major proportions to a street full of kids who attend the two local schools within two blocks. Taxis will be streaming up and down our narrow residential street effectively reducing pedestrian safety while giving rise to more exhaust pollution as vehicles idle at the hotel entrance on Champlain Street. Hotel waste will pour into our collective sewers and other hotel uses will seriously tax our residential water, gas, and electric utilities. The small businesses we patronize will face increasing rents and taxes, forcing them to close and be replaced with chain stores. The noise of the 18th Street Party Zone will come further up into our residential community and hotel rooftop shenanigans will keep our families up at night. The multi-year construction will literally shut down our street and disrupt our lives in a major way — essentially harassing us out of our homes with nasty construction noise and dust.

We do not want this luxury hotel which has been discussed without any heed of the concerns for our families which will be directly impacted.

We need help! We want to protect what affordable housing and diversity we have left. Can you help us?

Adams Morgan Residents for Reasonable Development Protest the Proposed Luxury Hotel at Unity Park Chanting, “Comunidad Si, Hotel No!”

The local organizing group Adams Morgan for Responsible Redevelopment asks, “why has Jim Graham pushed through a $46 million tax gift for a luxury hotel, while small businesses get no help and social services are cut?!” Their list of concerns is even more extensive than Champlain Street Neighbors’. According to Adams Morgan for Responsible Development the proposed hotel:

Won’t create jobs that pay a living wage and won’t afford workers enough money to actually live in Adams Morgan, let alone raise a family. Won’t bring the day-time foot traffic being touted by developers–wealthy tourists won’t likely patronize mos neighborhood-serving ‘mom and pop’ retail and commercial stores. Won’t provide enough revenue from hotel guests to outpace increases in commercial rents and increasing costs of goods. Will increase residential rents and property taxes–eliminating what is left of affordable housing in Adams Morgan. Will displace families and residents living in affordable rental units in proximity to the proposed hotel location. Will significantly increase traffic and noise and pollution on residential streets_impacting pedestrian safety, especially the safety of our kids. Will bring the weekend party atmosphere . . . → Read More: Neighborhood Groups Oppose Luxury Hotel In Adams Morgan

Covering Education: Tucker vs Nnamdi

Having had parents who put a premium on education and having a daughter myself who is in DCPS, I try to follow what’s going on with the public schools. I have to admit being greatly disappointed every time Michelle Rhee makes an appearance on WAMU’s Kojo Nnamdi show. She was on again this last Friday August 28, 2010. You can find a copy of the transcript at the following link – A lot of what she says sounds great, but if you’re looking for specifics, you have to wait for a knowledgeable listener to make it on the air with a question.

Michelle Rhee's Great Disapearing Act

For example, when Rhee was asked what she would do to improve special education in DCPS she gave a two paragraph answer, but the only specifics she gave came in these two sentences: “We spend upwards of $90 million a year transporting our students to a lot of private schools throughout the region. And we really need to look at what we’re doing to build the capacity within DCPS to serve a lot of those students better, so that they can attend their neighborhood schools.” So hopefully, Rhee is gonna ask her people to “look at what they’re doing,” with regard to special education. That’s reassuring, I guess.

Another caller asked about the drop in AYP test scores, which much of her reform was designed to improve. Rhee said that despite the fact that test scores have dropped, the huge gap between black and white student achievement has narrowed, has in fact narrowed significantly at the secondary level. But after looking at the statistics provided by Epsilon, the caller who posed the test score question, I’m wondering how she defines significant. According to Epsilon, “the most recent scores that came out for AYP shows that 88 percent of the schools in Ward 3 made AYP while 86 percent of the schools in Ward 8 failed. The achievements gap between blacks and whites is even more telling. The lowest achievement level for whites is at Watkins on Capitol Hill, which was 83.78 percent and then it goes up to 95.69 percent at Murch. While in Ward 8, we have Stanton School with the achievement of black — I mean, the achievement level for blacks is 12.72 percent. At Terrell, it’s 28.23 percent. At Savoy, a brand-new school, is 21.62 percent.”

I’m wondering how bad the gap was before the “significant” improvement. I also wonder if the gap wouldn’t have narrowed further and perhaps without the pain of school closings and teacher firings if Michelle Rhee and the Fenty Administration had taken a look at the funding gap between low-income schools and wealthier schools. I know that schools in DC are funded on a per pupil basis, but some pupils cost more to educate than others. No doubt, a look at the individual school budgets will verify this. Special education and special needs students, as Rhee herself seems to be aware, cost the city a significant amount of money in transportation alone. So what does it mean when these students attend low-income schools at a higher rate than wealthier schools? As far as I know, DC public schools don’t get more money for students that require specialized instruction.

How the city deals with special education students isn’t the only thing that contributes to the achievement gap between black and white students, but it is one thing that Rhee doesn’t seem to know a whole lot about. What else is she missing? Kojo Nnamdi and his guest analyst Tom Sherwood seemed more concerned about whether or not Rhee would stay on the job if Mayor Fenty loses his re-election bid. (Sounds like the answer is no by the way.) Neither of them questioned her about the controversies at Bruce Monroe or Hardy Elementary Schools. They praised the physical renovations taking place in schools on Capital Hill, but no mention was made of other schools, like Parkview Elementary (which currently houses students from the recently demolished Bruce Monroe) continue to deal with rodent infestations in the food supply. Rhee’s answers sounded like those of a politician, rather than an educational professional with an intricate understanding of the system she hopes to reform.

On the other hand, if you do in fact want to hear an educational professional willing to give detailed analysis and an honest assessment of the DC public school system, the place to turn would have to be WPFW. Reporter Pete Tucker interviewed . . . → Read More: Covering Education: Tucker vs Nnamdi