Conservancy testimony expresses concern about lack of enforcement of Demolition by Neglect regulations.
In testimony before the DC Council’s Committee of the Whole Oversight Hearing on the Office of Planning (OP) and Historic Preservation Office (HPO) , Conservancy President Loretta Neumann, urged continued support for OP/HPO. She also expressed concern that HPO had not yet developed regulations to implement the DC Historic Preservation Act’s “Demolition by Neglect” provisions, which is now a decade old.
The Conservancy brought the deteriorating condition of the historic Takoma Theatre and lack of maintenance by the owner, Mr. Milton McGinty, to the attention of HPO. Because no regulations had been developed HPO was unable to act. Ms. Neumann urged the Council to support the development of these regulations by HPO.
Testimony by Ms. Loretta Neumann, President of the Takoma Theatre Conservancy to the DC Council’s Committee of the Whole Oversight Hearing, February 16, 2011
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.
Conservancy President Loretta Neumann Receives the Takoma Foundation’s Azalea Award
At a ceremony on April 17, Takoma Theatre Conservancy President Loretta Neumann received one of the “Azalea Awards” sponsored by the Takoma Foundation and Takoma Voice newspaper.
Hers was the annual “Takivist” award for someone who “exemplifies Takoma-style civic leadership.” In accepting the award, Loretta stressed that the award was not for her personally, but also for the Conservancy and its board, members, volunteers and donors, who have helped in saving the Takoma Theatre from demolition. She stressed that the goal is to revive the theatre as a vibrant cultural arts and education center for the benefit of the entire community.
Conservancy Receives certified Clean Audit for FY 2009
Farmer & First, CPAs of Warren, RI, conducted an audit of the financial position of the Takoma Theatre Conservancy. They found that “…the financial statements present fairly, in all material respects, the financial position of Takoma Theatre Conservancy as of December 31, 2009. The change in its net assets and cash flows for the year then ended in conformity with accounting principles generally accepted in the United States of America.
The architecture firm of Westlake Reed Leskosky (WRL) has joined the Conservancy advisory and study team.
The Conservancy has enlisted WRL, a nationally recognized firm in the design of performing and cultural arts facilities, to develop conceptual options for revitalization of the Takoma Theatre facility. These studies, which include benchmarking alternatives from area theaters, are being conducted during spring, 2010.
Conservancy Receives certified Clean Audit for FY 2008
Farmer & First, CPAs of Warren, RI, conducted an audit of the financial position of the Takoma Theatre Conservancy. They found that “…the financial statements present fairly, in all material respects, the financial position of Takoma Theatre Conservancy as of December 31, 2009. The change in its net assets and cash flows for the year then ended conform with accounting principles generally accepted in the United States of America.
Forrester Construction joins the team of professionals advising Conservancy Board
Forrester Construction Company, one of the area’s major commercial general contractors, has agreed to assist the Board and its architectural consultants identify and estimate options for renovations of the theatre. Their most recent project includes completion of the renovation of Ford’s Theatre — a project that won multiple awards. Teaming with Martinez & Johnson, the company also completed the local historic renovation of the Takoma Park Library — the first branch library(1911) in DC’s system. Forrester is noted for its commitment to energy efficient solutions and sustainable building practices.