Friday, January 11, 2008

Update on the Old Firehouse Restaurant Development

The following is a message from Konrad Schlater in the Office of the Deputy Mayor for Planning and Economic Development concerning the firehouse located at 1626 N. Capitol Street N.W. (see also this background article from July 2005).

From: Schlater, Konrad (EOM)
Sent: Wed 1/9/2008 7:29 PM
Subject: RE: Old Fire Station Update


We had hoped to close on the sale of the fire station to NextGen Development by the end of the 2007. Unfortunately, due to lack of performance by the developer under our sale contract we did not proceed to closing on the sale as planned.

The developer has been spending a lot of time, money, and effort to push this project forward. However, the developer has failed to execute an agreement and lease with a restaurant operator - a necessary pre-condition for our sale of the building. As you may know, the original proposed operator, Mike Benson, moved back to North Carolina and abandoned the project a little over a year ago leaving the developer without a restaurant operator. Over the past two months, NextGen has been in serious negotiations with Twyla Garrett of IME Services, an LSDBE firm headquartered on North Capitol Street, to act as the restaurant operator. Ms. Garrett is just now preparing to open a restaurant with a very similar restaurant concept in Cleveland, Ohio. I have spoken with IME Services and they are very serious about this project.

Due to NextGen's failure to meet their commitments to the District under the sales contract, we have notified them that they are in default of our contract. The developer has 30 days to cure its default under the agreement. If the developer is not prepared to close on the sale, the District will have the option to terminate the agreement, restructure the terms, or find an alternative solution. It is our sincere hope that we can proceed to closing on the sale with the developer shortly. Brian Brown of NextGen Development has already completed designs for the project, obtained permits for the exterior work on the building, and lined up the necessary financing - and we are tantalizingly close to starting construction work on the firehouse. A deal between NextGen Development and IME Services represents the best hope for a prompt and successful development of the firehouse.

I can assure you that the Deputy Mayor's office along with Councilmember Thomas and his staff have been giving this project close attention and we will not take our eye off the ultimate goal, which is removing the blight of the abandoned building and replacing it with high quality neighborhood-serving retail.

I'd be happy to provide ANC5C with an update any time. Please give me a call if you have any questions about this email or the project generally.


Konrad Schlater
Special Assistant
Office of the Deputy Mayor for Planning and Economic Development

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