Shakespeare Theatre’s Agreement with SWNA: A History of Broken Promises

Three years have passed since the Southwest Neighborhood Assembly (SWNA) withdrew its historic preservation application for the 501 I Street SW site in exchange for a package of community benefits from Shakespeare Theatre and $60,000. A copy of that agreement is here. Shakespeare Theatre made many promises in the agreement and did not keep them. The number of promises broken continues to grow with the new PUD submission.

Below is a list of Shakespeare Theatre’s broken promises from the agreement and the reality of their conduct.

Section R5. …STC is committed to engaging with the Southwest Community as STC develops its plans for the Property…

Section R6. …In consideration of STC’s commitment to engage the Southwest Community in a collaborative process as STC develops its plans…SWNA is willing to withdraw the Nomination.

Status of R5 and R6: NOT DONE. STC continues to fail to engage fully with the community. Instead, communication over the last two years at public meetings has been led by Erkiletian Construction Corporation, staff from the numerous law firms STC and Erkiletian have hired, and a public relations firm. Often, when STC does engage the community, it is in a secondary capacity, and those STC representatives also sit on the Erkiletian Board of Directors. This happened most recently in the June 2017 public meeting.

Section 3. Demolition. …Upon issuance of the Raze Permit…STC shall coordinate with…immediate neighbors to minimize impacts of demolition on…residents. [Status: NOT DONE. No coordination with the residents occurred at all.]

Section 4. Security of Site, Cleanliness. Upon acquisition of the Property, and notwithstanding the demolition of the Existing Building, STC shall immediately secure the Property, remove all trash and debris, clean out landscaped beds, and maintain the site free of all trash and debris. STC shall monitor the property and conduct trash removal and/or repairs necessary to keep the Property secure and free of trash and debris on a bi-weekly basis throughout pre-development and construction of the Development. [Status: NOT DONE. In the last 3 years, immediate neighbors and even those farther away have had to contact the developer repeatedly to get them to maintain the site. Often, a month or more would go by without any maintenance being done on the site, including snow not being cleared from several hundred feet of public sidewalk. At times, the lack of maintenance has been a physical hazard to Southwest residents.]

Section 5. b. Off-Street Parking…A minimum of 70 off-street parking spaces shall be provided on the Property for use by STC and residents of the Development. Residents of the Development shall not be entitled to participate in any existing or future Residential Permit Parking program…[Status: NOT DONE. STC’s new PUD doesn’t include the 70 off-street parking spaces promised. No mention is made of trying to ensure residents of the proposed development will not be allowed to participate in the Residential Permit Parking program]

Section 6. a. Community Engagement. STC will be responsive to and communicate regularly with Townhouse Management III, Inc., and Townhouse Management I, Inc., and a recognized group of residents thereof who live in houses surrounding the Property…regarding all aspects of the development process that will impact the Townhouse Residents, including but not limited to the demolition and construction schedule. STC will also fulfill its promise to make available to the Townhouse Residents all studies commissioned by STC related to the Existing Building, Property, and surrounding infrastructure, including, but not limited to, goetechnical, shading, utility, and transportation studies…STC will continue to provide the Townhouse Residents with further studies as they are completed. [Status: NOT DONE. I am one of the people named in this section. Shortly after the SWNA agreement was signed, I stopped received communications from Shakespeare Theatre and Erkiletian. The other person named in the neighborhood also saw this promise broken.]

Section 6. b. Community Engagement. Within thirty (30) days of Effective Date [September 17, 2014], STC agrees to organize a charette with SWNA and the Townhouse Residents at which three-dimensional models of the proposed massing concepts for the Property will be presented and discussed with meeting participants (the “Charrette”). [Status: NOT DONE. Despite repeated requests for a three-dimensional model of the proposals, the community has never seen one for either PUD. At one point, the STC/Erkiletian lawyer and PR team told the community that 2-D renderings were what they meant. That is ridiculous.]

Section 6.c. Community Engagement. Prior to filing a PUD application, STC shall hold at least two community meetings open to the general public at which STC will share its plans for the Development and process/timeline for construction. These meetings shall be advertised…by direct e-mail notification to neighbors…[Status: NOT DONE. With the first PUD, STC’s architectural firm and PR firm held one meeting the day before the PUD was submitted, at which point they were not making any changes to the design. The second PUD was submitted a few weeks ago. No public meetings on the new PUD have been held. Neighbors were not directly notified of the new PUD.]

Section 6.d. Community Engagement. Prior to filing a PUD application and after the Charette, STC shall hold at least one meeting with the Townhouse Residents to present its Development plans and discuss impacts and concerns of neighbors in the respective adjoining and confronting townhouse communities. SWNA and STC hereby acknowledge that although one such meeting has already taken place, STC shall be obligated to hold at least one additional meeting in accordance with this Section 6(d). [Status: NOT DONE for either the first PUD or the second one.]

Section 7. c. i. B. Public Benefits…Beginning on the Effective Date [September 17, 2014] STC shall reserve tickets and gift certificates for adult Master Acting Classes and Camp Shakespeare for Southwest Community special events and raffles…[Status: NOT DONE until 2015 and then only in part.]

Section 7. c. i. C. Public Benefits…Beginning on the Effective Date [September 17, 2014] STC shall coordinate with SWNA and/or ANC 6D to distribute free tickets to Ward 6 Night Free For All performances at Sidney Harmon Hall. [Status: NOT DONE.  For the first time, free tickets suddenly appeared on Thursday June 23, 2016, for a Saturday June 25, 2016 production. Few in the community were aware of the opportunity. A Ward 6 Night Free For All performance has not been established.]

Shakespeare Theatre hasn’t kept the promises they made three years ago in the SWNA agreement. It’s little wonder the community has no faith in Shakespeare Theatre now.  

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