Thursday, December 30, 2010

Few Commitments Made by Bowser at Meeting with Ward Four Thrives

Four representatives of Ward Four Thrives met today with Muriel Bowser to discuss Thrives' opposition to a Wal Mart in Ward Four and strategies for community-led development.

Spokespeople Gerri Adams-Simmons and T.A. Uqdah and Thrives' members Rebecca Mills and Virginia Leavell communicated the groups unmoving commitment to community-led development in our neighborhoods, insisting on stringent review of the Large Tract Review process, which is the only process at this point that the city can impact, and movement on requiring third party environmental and traffic studies. While Councilmember Bowser assure Thrives that "the large tract review process is not one to be poo-pooed", she could make no promises that increased traffic or environmental problems would stop a Wal Mart development.

Bowser agreed with Thrives' over parking, traffic, jobs, and a negative impact on surrounding businesses. Thrives does not believe community input on the design of the Wal Mart is relevant, as Wal Mart's employment and economic impact, as well as physical imposition into the neighborhood are by and large the primary concern to residents.

Bowser made no commitments to the Thrives representatives, save for keeping in touch over the large tract review process.

Ward Four Thrives, as neighbors committed to responsible and diverse business development, argue that Wal Mart it not right for our community, that there are alternatives, like an entertainment complex or more diverse approach, and that the development of the Curtis-Chevrolet site must be more community-led.

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Wal Mart's fans don't want one in their neighborhood

A recent NY Times article on, well, folks who love Wal Mart, don't want it as their corner store.

“There is a finite amount of shopping dollars out there, and if Wal-Mart is absorbing a huge percentage of them, they aren’t left for the other retailers,” said Richard Lipsky, a lobbyist for local businesses who is fighting Wal-Mart. “If you want a bargain, you get in your car and you go to the bargain. You don’t ever want to bring the bargain into the neighborhood.”

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Latino Economic Development Center survey

Last week LEDC surveyed businesses on the Georiga Avenue corridor about how they predict Wal Mart will impact their business

This past Saturday, the Latino Economic Development Corporation surveyed 25 small businesses along parts of the Georgia commercial corridor to understand what they thought of the proposed Walmart store at the intersection of Georgia and Missouri avenues in Northwest DC. These businesses were scattered south of the proposed site, between Missouri Avenue and Emerson Street, along and near Georgia Avenue.
The surveyed businesses on average have been around for more than 10 years. The average number of jobs represented per business for those who agreed to provide information regarding employment equals around 4 jobs.
Businesses surveyed included small grocers, liquor stores, auto part stores, dine-in and carry out restaurants, nail and hair salons, bakeries, a florist, dry cleaners, and the Peabody Commons Flea Market.
Here are a few findings from our survey:
• 26 percent of small business owners hadn’t previously heard about Walmart’s plans to build a store in Ward 4 (23 respondents).
• None had previously participated in any community input meetings with Walmart or Foulger Pratt regarding the proposed development. (23 respondents)
• A clear majority of respondents – 69 percent – said they were either unsure or neutral as to the possible impact of a Walmart store on their small business. (23 respondents)
• A small minority – 13 percent of respondents – believed a Walmart store would have a positive impact on their small business.
• A small minority – 17 percent of respondents – believed a Walmart store would have a strong negative impact on their small business.
• Of those respondents who shared thoughts on how a Walmart would potentially impact the larger community– irrespective of its impact on their particular business – 57 percent cited a negative impact on the community and 29 percent cited a positive impact on the community. (7 respondents)
• When asked to identify the most important areas where their small businesses need support, an overwhelming majority of respondents – 72 percent – cited needing help with marketing; 50 percent of respondents cited a need for loans; 44 percent cited need for help with financial management; and 44 percent cited need for help with storefront façade improvements. (18 respondents)
• The Peabody Commons Flea Market – the only flea market in Ward 4 – resides on the development site. The market’s owner believes the market will either shut down or try to look for new space. The owner wants to stay on Georgia Avenue and they have accommodated as many as 50 vendors during the busy months.

Wal Mart's Social Impact

For an academic paper on Wal Mart's impact on not only mom and pop stores, but the broad network around them - transportation, local advertizing, etc.- check out this study:

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Why No Wal Mart? Resident Reason # 5


Firstly, On a most basic level, I object to the mall-ization, the exurban-ization, and the
homogenization of the city. Would those who have written to endorse
Wal-Mart¹s move to Georgia Avenue be as enthusiastic if Wal-Mart proposed
to settle in on Connecticut Avenue, NW, elbowing out the independently owned
toy store, children's clothing shop, liquor store, movie house, café, etc.,
that currently do business there?

Secondly, Wal-Mart does not pay a living wage to most of its workers,

Thirdly, the low cost to the consumer comes at a high cost in the bigger
scheme of things. Once upon a time, Wal-Marts hung banners in their stores
proclaiming that their products were made in the U.S.A. Now we'd need to
read the labels on the $8 jeans, etc., to confirm that most of what they
sell so cheaply is made in factories located across the planet. That's bad
for the ecosystem and it's bad for the economy.

Friday, December 17, 2010

Dozens protest Foulger Pratt at Dick Knapp's Home

Despite the usual protest-killing snow fall, dozens converged on Dick Knapp's Woodley Park home to protest the development of an unpopular Wal Mart in Ward Four.

Chants included "Keep DC Wal Mart Free", and police apparently eventually showed up on the scene.

Video of protest here

and see pictures here

and, finally, Washington Post coverage here

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Letter from Andy Shallal of Busboys and Poets

Wal-Mart Coming to DC… STOP!

Here we go again. A city in dire straits for jobs and revenues and a retailer offering millions of dollars in taxes and hundreds of jobs. What is there not to like?

Politicians are tripping over themselves to hail this newest big box retail darling – Wal-Mart. Think of the jobs, they tell us. Think of the cheap products. Think of the development and tax revenues.

But just scratch the surface and you can see serious flaws in this mindset.

Take the jobs for instance - its small business that overwhelmingly outpaces big boxes and large retailers for job creation. Furthermore they provide a diverse workforce that can withstand economic downturns and wholesale layoffs.

When it comes to tax revenues, small business comes out ahead once again. Small business generates the majority of the business tax base for this city. Furthermore, local dollars stay in the community. Local businesses hire local architects, local contractors and local lawyers.Revenues don’t leave the community; they are reinvested over and over again creating an economic multiplier.

As consumers we have become accustomed to demanding cheaper products. However, cheap products come at a cost. Those products that fill the shelves at Wal-Mart and other big box retailers with “impossible to beat” prices have a cost that most Americans, once informed, would not want to subsidize.

Organizations like Global Exchange have been working hard to inform consumers about these hidden costs. Their business plan requires that every product they sell be “fairly traded”. When you buy a scarf or a shoe at Global Exchange you know that the product has been certified as “fair trade”. You know that the workers making these products are paid a fair wage, have fair housing opportunities, have running water and toilets. It is these practices that create a safer world where we don’t have to depend on slave labor to satisfy our unrealistic and unsustainable expectations that “cheaper is better”.

Years ago when I was first starting my restaurant business, I was approached by someone who pulled up a truck at my back door and offered me cases of tomatoes, lettuce and other vegetables at impossibly low prices. I was tempted to buy the products before realizing that these were stolen products. For me to accept them would amount to being an accessory and would create a market situation that is unsustainable. I recognized the hidden cost that such a transaction would entail. I refused them.

The next time you find a pair of shoes for $5 at Wal-Mart or another big box retailer, ask yourself the question: What is the real cost of this shoe?The reality is that without slave labor, this shoe could not have been possible at that price.

I know that poverty in this city is undeniable. However, you cannot fix a right with a wrong. Using Wal-Mart as an argument to provide cheap products for poor people in this city, as some politicians have suggested, is abdicating the responsibility and the role of government to its citizens.We cannot rob one community to feed another.

Its time to put and end to this economic myopia and look ahead to a more sustainable approach to development in DC.

Andy Shallal

Owner, Busboys and Poets

Chairman, Think Local First DC

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Dear Mayor-Elect Vincent Gray

December 14, 2010

Mayor-Elect Vincent Gray

Council Chairman-Elect Kwame Brown

Councilwoman Muriel Bowser

We, as residents of Ward 4, have not been adequately represented regarding the issue of the development of the site of the old Curtis Chevrolet dealership in Ward 4.

On November 17, 2010, we were made aware that Wal-Mart intends to build a store at the aforementioned site on Georgia Avenue, which is owned by Foulger-Pratt. Most people in Ward 4 are still not aware of these actions.

All Ward 4 residents should have been mailed a notice from our Councilmember that indicated Wal-Mart was interested in this location. A date should have been set for the entire community to meet with Wal-Mart and Foulger-Pratt, the owner-developers, to determine if our residents were open to this type of development. We vote to elect persons who are supposed to represent us in an intelligent and responsible manner, and pay them from our taxes to act on our behalf in a way that would place our interests first.

We pay taxes and this is our community. No company should be allowed to invade our community and decide what would be best for our community without our input.

Wal-Mart is not appropriate for Ward 4 or the city for the following reasons:

  • Wal-Mart presently has a case in the Supreme Court accusing them of employment discrimination.
  • Wal-Mart has a record of depressing the retail wages in a community, and studies have found that Wal-Mart actually reduces the number of retail jobs in an area by causing other stores to close.
  • The small businesses in the Georgia Avenue retail corridor are at particular risk by the addition of Wal-Mart to the area.
  • We are concerned that the presence of a Wal-Mart in the neighborhood will prevent further economic development along Upper Georgia Avenue. Our goal is for Upper Georgia Avenue to thrive, not to become a sea of abandoned buildings with a Wal-Mart at the center.

We, the residents of Ward 4, demand that our representatives support us in keeping Wal-Mart out of our community and in initiating a community-led process for determining the best use of the site. We ask you to communicate this to Foulger-Pratt and Wal-Mart, and to use available zoning, large-tract review, and traffic and environmental impact review processes to halt forward movement on building of a Wal-Mart store in Ward 4.

We will not stand idly by while a billion dollar corporation destroys our neighborhood without providing us a real opportunity to have our voice heard. We live here and will determine our quality of life.

We thus call on you to work with Foulger-Pratt and the community with the goal of developing a project that will be healthy for Ward 4. We must warn you that if this does not happen and plans move forward to build a store, we are prepared to knock on every door in Ward 4 and escalate our activities as necessary to protect our community. We look forward to hearing from you in a reasonable and considerate time.


Gerri Adams-Simmons, Michele Baskin, Rebecca Mills

Ward Four Thrives

Please direct responses to:

Ms. Gerri Adams-Simmons

6409 13th St NW

Washington, DC 20011

Why No Wal Mart? Resident Reason # 4


1. No one asked us if we wanted Walmart

2. The so called council member didn't even warn the residents

3. Walmart doesn't treat their employees fairly

4. 18 wheeler's coming through our neighborhood

5. Underground parking lot leads to robberies going up with people shopping until midnight

6. A park is planned on-site for people to be robbed

7. No guarantee that the jobs will go to ward 4 residents FIRST.

Upcoming ANC meetings

(From the Brightwoodian)

ANC 4B will hold two meetings within the next week. The topic of both meetings will be how the ANC will proceed regarding the potential development of the Wal-Mart at the Curtis Chevrolet site at Georgia and Missouri Avenues NW. The ANC will plan the formation of committees that will address specific issues of concern to the residents of 4B (the immediate neighbors of the Curtis Chevrolet site). ANC 4B does not normally open planning meetings such as these to the public, but due to the impact that the development of the Curtis Chevrolet site will have on the community, all neighbors are encouraged to attend, discuss their concerns, and participate in the formation of the committees.

Times, dates, and locations are as follows:

First planning meeting:
When: Wednesday, December 15, 6:30pm
Where: Emery Recreation Center, 5701 Georgia Ave. NW (b/w Madison St. & Missouri Ave.)

Second planning meeting:
When: Monday, December 20, 6:30pm
Where: MPD 4th District Community Room, 6001 Georgia Ave. NW (b/w Peabody & Quackenbos Streets)

Why No Wal Mart? Resident Reason # 3


1) Walmart's urban marketing plan exploits issues such as "food deserts" and under-served neighborhoods by offering superficial solutions instead of genuinely healthier food alternatives and good jobs.

2) There are better options for the community that have not been considered for that site.

3) It would be a shame to destroy the small ethnic enclave up there- jerk chicken and currant rolls are good eat'n.

Monday, December 13, 2010

Why No Wal Mart? Resident Reason # 2

T.A. Uqdah

1. There are too many for one city. There are 3 other proposed DC locations.

2. The concept behind "to big to fail;" Meaning, after Wal Mart's completed local saturation of the metropolitan region, stores will inevitably close. Like Starbucks before them, the eminent failure or abandonment of a Ward 4 Wal Mart leaves 102,000 sf to fill, with what other single entity? No one else will fill their empty space.

3. There has been no "quid pro quo," no "take it or leave it;" just "take it;" There are no other alternative concepts being vetted.

Why No Wal Mart? Resident Reason #1

Ward 4 Resident Reasons


1. Upper Georgia Avenue is struggling, and the corner of Georgia and Missouri is the most important piece of commercial real estate in the corridor. I want to see something on that corner that will be an anchor for further business development not only on Georgia Avenue but on 14th Street, Kennedy Street, and other nearby commercial nodes. I remain unconvinced that Wal-Mart could be that anchor. Wal-Mart will hurt the businesses that currently exist on Georgia Avenue while preventing other businesses from opening there.

2. I live right around the corner from the site, so the site is *very* convenient for me. Whatever gets built on that site, it's safe to be that I *will* end up going in there from time to time, and I'd prefer that it not be a business that I would feel dirty spending my money in.

3. Some seem to think Wal-Mart will be the cure for what ails Upper GA Avenue, but it's a very short-sighted solution. Yes, it will create jobs, but at the price of losing jobs at the other businesses in the neighborhood that are likely to close

Wal Mart Free DC


Ally group Wal Mart Free DC is calling for a No Wal Mart on Georgia Avenue action on Dick Knapp's house this Thursday Dec. 16th at 6 pm. Meet at the Woodley-Park, Adams Morgan metro stop to march to 2731 Woodley Place, NW.

See website for details. Download flyer for distro here

Sunday, December 12, 2010

On Community-Led Development

Tonight brings the launch of a DC community response the proposed WalMart development in Ward Four. Ward Four Thrives is neighbors, business owners, and allies committed to community-led development in our neighborhoods. Together we will work to stop Wal Mart from moving in. There are alternatives, and we will work with the city to find one that will bring living wage jobs, responsible development, and just business practices to our neighborhood. Let's face it; Wal Mart does not care about our community, and we can do better.

Learn more about Wal Mart's employment practices and community impact here and here