Stop Trying to Buy Us Off

Instead of accepting offers to relocate their project, Shakespeare Theatre is renewing its efforts to buy off the neighbors around 501 Eye Street SW by hosting a community benefits meeting on Thursday, May 19th at 6:30pm at Amidon-Bowen Elementary School. We don’t want their “community benefits.” We want 501 Eye Street SW construction of within-zoning housing for families who want to live in Southwest D.C.

But Shakespeare Theatre still isn’t listening. They’re still trying to buy off the neighborhood by building a high-rise apartment that isn’t in keeping with the character of the neighborhood.

Shakespeare Theatre’s first foray into buying off the neighborhood occurred on September 17, 2014. At that time, Shakespeare Theatre agreed to pay a Southwest organization $60,000 to withdraw their historic preservation application for  501 I Street SW as part of a package of “community benefits.”

Leaders of the Southwest organization that accepted the funds subsequently resigned their positions.

The neighborhood, local officials, and many others have tried to help Shakespeare Theatre understand how inappropriate their proposal for the 501 Eye Street site is. It remains a mystery why Shakespeare Theatre is continuing to pursue its zone-busting apartment tower in a 3-story townhouse neighborhood that abuts a 2-story elementary school property.

Other more appropriate development sites for Shakespeare Theatre exist in Southwest and near-Southeast. Those are sites already zoned for what Shakespeare Theatre wants to do. Some of those spaces are already built. Instead of continuing to pursue plans opposed by the neighborhood, Shakespeare Theatre could sell the 501 Eye Street property and get started consolidating their administrative operations elsewhere.

The United Neighbors of Southwest commissioned a study showing that building townhouses on the 501 Eye Street SW site still makes money for a developer. Other developers are interested in purchasing the site and putting townhouses there. The solution is not only clear, but it’s also feasible: Sell the property to a developer with plans that don’t change the zoning.

For some reason, Shakespeare Theatre is choosing not to pursue the clearest, most feasible way forward.

Instead, Shakespeare Theatre’s actions beg numerous questions such as…

  1. Why isn’t Shakespeare Theatre selling the 501 Eye Street property at a profit?
  2. Why isn’t Shakepseare Theatre putting funds from a property sale into a move-in-ready  site already zoned for what they want to do?
  3. Why does Shakespeare Theatre refuse to admit that the only thing the neighbors want for the 501 Eye Street site is construction within the current zoning?
  4. When is Shakespeare Theatre going to stop trying to buy off the neighborhood?
  5. How much D.C. taxpayer money accepted by Shakespeare Theatre over the years is now being used to hire public relations firms and law firms to fight those same taxpayers? 
  6. Is D.C. taxpayer money being used to subsidize Shakespeare Theatre’s “community benefits” offers?

 

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