Thursday, September 19, 2019

Ward 5 Report: Keeping our Legacy Businesses in Place in DC

From: Councilmember Kenyan R. McDuffie
Sent: Thursday, September 19, 2019 12:46 PM
Ward 5 Report: Keeping our Legacy Businesses in Place in DC


On Tuesday, I introduced the “Protecting Local Area Commercial Enterprises Amendment Act of 2019” or simply the Affordable PLACE Act. The ‘Affordable Place Act’ seeks to address the problem of long-term local businesses being priced out of DC. Many of these businesses are owned and operated by people of color. Since the early 2000s, the District of Columbia has experienced a significant increase in our population which has led to gentrification among both our residential neighborhoods, as well as business corridors. The unfortunate reality is that thousands of residents have been displaced, so too have many of our legacy businesses that have helped shape the culture of DC.

Businesses that you and I have grown to love and are intrinsically interwoven into the very fabric of DC have been forced to close or facing severe economic hardship. Businesses such as Cheers at the Big Chair, Uprising Muffins, Bazaar Spices, and many others have closed their doors due to rising taxes and increasingly unaffordable rents. Legacy businesses such as Sankofa Video Books & Café, who faced a 25% increase in their tax burden over the past couple years and Florida Avenue Grill whose owner testified to experiencing a 400% increase in property taxes are among the few businesses that have this far avoided displacement.

This legislation builds on my commitment and numerous public statements to put forth a comprehensive approach to this issue. This legislation takes four critical steps to support legacy businesses, including.
  • Establishes the Legacy Business Program within the Department of Small and Local Business Development (DSLBD) to create a register of legacy businesses, promote and raise awareness of legacy businesses, and provide assistance; 
  • Grants DSLBD the authority to issue financial and technical assistance to legacy businesses and to issue business improvement and stabilization grants of up to $50,000 per year;  
  • Provides landlords with an opportunity to receive a tax abatement provided they enter into a lease with a legacy business, and pays for the program by directing any revenue collected by the Discount Fee to be directed to the Legacy Business Program rather than to the general fund. 
  • Legacy businesses will be required to attend technical trainings, business workshops, and demonstrate the financial need to become eligible to receive financial assistance.  
The time is now for the Council to step up and provide a comprehensive approach to address this serious problem. Local businesses create jobs, provide goods and services, help maintain a vibrant economy, and importantly build community. I will be in touch with you as soon as a hearing date is scheduled. I am asking everyone to rally behind this bill.

In service,


Legislative Update

Councilmember McDuffie Introduces Introduces Certified Business Enterprise (CBE) and First Source Bill to Address Transparency, Accountability, and Compliance

With introduction of this legislation, Councilmember McDuffie said:

“Since becoming Chair of the Committee on Business and Economic Development in 2017, I have provided much needed and focused oversight over the Department of Small and Local Business Development including numerous roundtables and public hearings regarding DSLBD’s performance—particularly as it relates to enforcement of CBE participation requirements.
Despite these efforts, public confidence in the Department’s ability to fulfill its compliance and enforcement functions continues to erode. In hearing after hearing, and in my numerous interactions with CBE owners, a common theme emerges: when it comes to compliance, the CBE program is broken.”

Councilmember McDuffie Introduces Bill to Help Long-Term Businesses Stay in DC

Kenyan in the News

Kenyan in the Community

Welcome Back to Providence - September 21

Fort Lincoln Park & Recreation Center Meeting - September 24

Nightlife Active Shooter Workshop - September 24

Parent & Family Engagement Summit - September 28

Tenant & Tenant Association Summit - September 28