At their meeting on Jan 24th, ANC4B Commissioners gave their approval (6-0) to a resolution urging the DC government to take a stronger role related to the development of the theatre property. The Conservancy sought ANC and the city’s support citing the deteriorating condition of the theatre building. The resolution introduced by Commission Wheeler (4B02) notes the recent actions by DC’s Department of Consumer & Regulatory Affairs to fine the owner for failure to rectify conditions identified in a building inspection. The approved resolution reads(in part):
“ANC 4B urges the District of Columbia to take a leadership role in exploring options for development for this key property that will enhance and strengthen uses consistent with economic development, its status as a contributing structure in the Takoma Park Historic District, and especially community needs and desires, including a community cultural arts and education center providing programs, training and services for Wards 3, 4 and 5.
“Cognizant of the profound sacrifices and funding delays that many programs and projects are experiencing during the District’s fiscal crisis, ANC 4B asks that the District of Columbia consider the capital budget requests for this purpose [as it becomes feasible to do so and] in respectful regard for funding priorities of the Executive Branch and the Council of the District of Columbia.”
Councilmember Muriel Bowser hosts community meeting on Takoma Theatre maintenance issues.
At a public meeting convened by CM Bowser, DC Department of Consumer and Regulatory Affairs (DCRA) reported on recent inspections of the Theatre to concerned theater neighbors and community members. Following an inspection of the Takoma Theatre the agency served the owner with a Notice of Violation relating to the condition of the shuttered building. Under the Notice the owner, Mr. Milton McGinty, has 30 days (until Nov 22) to abate the conditions. The inspection conducted by DCRA officials with Mr. McGinty, found that two corrective items would be required: to fix the holes in the leaking roof, and to paint the currently peeling façade areas.
Following questions from the audience, DCRA officials outlined the processes to follow the Notice. If the owner complies, no further actions would be taken. If the conditions are not abated, DCRA will file a Notice of Infraction. The owner will then have 15 days to appeal to the Office of Administrative Hearings. If an Appeal is filed, the process then moves to the Court system. If no appeal is filed, the owner would be subject to a series of progressively increasing fines for not performing the corrective actions.
Community members had expressed concerns about the deterioration of the building, a contributing structure in the Takoma Historic District, and a circulating letter from Mr. McGinty stating he would no longer maintain the facility. Participants suggested that the owner might be exercising “demolition by neglect.”
CM Bowser advocated continuing to seek a working solution with Mr. McGinty that would not be round-after-round of fines and taxes, while acknowledging that the DC government with its economic shortfalls could not be the prime funding agent of that solution.