Monday, April 03, 2006

Candida's Needs Your Help

For those who attended LCCA's Diversity Dinner in February, you'll remember the powerful remarks of our neighbor, Candida Mannozzi, owner of Candida's World of Books, when she reminded us of the value of diversity through language and culture. Now Candida has asked for our support, and has sent us the following open letter to post:

Dear LCCA members, My Neighbors and Friends:

I'm sorry to have to share this news with you, but I'm hoping you will agree to support me in my current predicament:

I'm facing a very serious situation with the builder next door, one that risks putting me out of business, if they're allowed to go through with the sidewalk and street closures they say they have obtained permits and ANC approval for

I found out Friday (03/31) morning from Holladay Corp., builders of the "Matrix" site (1529 14th St. NW), that they have a permit to close off the sidewalk, a curb and a traffic lane (i.e. sidewalk, plus 2 of 3 car lanes) for the next 2-3 months NONSTOP, in order to carry out heavy duty work on their construction site.

Every time they block the sidewalk and the street off to operate their crane or larger machinery (which they have done for 1-2 days at a time in the past months), my sales take a nosedive, because all pedestrian and car traffic to the store are severely impeded.

The prospect of making this a permanent situation for 2-3 months, without any passage for pedestrians, even when Holladay is not working there (evenings and weekends) means my business will be in jeopardy. I have asked Holladay to at least work with me and other businesses/residents by re-opening a passage for pedestrians on evenings and weekends, and they are not cooperating.

There are precedents on this very street, in fact on this very block between Q and P Streets, with other builders providing at least a jersey-barrier protected passage for pedestrians, a passage that was available at all times, not just on their off-time. Holladay tells me they can't do the same on their site. I find this hard to believe, considerig what I (and most of us in the neighborhood) have witnessed at other construction sites here over the past two years.

I have called the City government to see if this is an acceptable situation and an inspector is coming on Monday (April 3) to take a closer look at their permit and what exactly Holladay is doing. To the City government, I've also mentioned that with 2 of 3 traffic lanes blocked and no access to the sidewalk, people are getting on & off the bus (there's a bus stop right outside my bookstore, SE corner of 14th & Q) in the leftmost traffic lane of the street, as the buses can't pull into the stop. The lady I spoke to at the Office of Infrastructure Oversight said this closure sounds wrong. We shall see what, if anything, gives.

In the meantime, I wanted to share this alarm with you.

I am working with the wonderful folks at the ANC and LCCA to get Holladay to redress their current plans. It seems Holladay Corp. may not have been as forthcoming with this dire situation to the ANC (when they applied for ANC approval of the closures and how this would be executed). The attitude I encountered talking to Holladay this past Friday is very different from the spirit of cooperation promised to me and to the ANC.

I'm sorry to be breaking this news to you, but my bookstore is truthfully facing a threat to its continued viability.

I hope that I can alleviate the situation. If I have to move on to signature-collection or petitions, I hope I can turn to you for support.

I'm trying my best to get to a solution without having to bother all of my wonderful neighbors and supporters. I'm hoping that inspectors and public officials can see the need for a more moderate approach to these closures. This is not just a question of the bookstore's viability, it's also a question of public safety and public access that affects all of us as we move between Q and P Streets: with our heavy shopping bags, strolling our pets, navigating our strollers, etc.

If my current efforts don't work, you will hear from me, as I will have to ask for additional public support.

Thank you,

- Candida Mannozzi -

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I am too lazy to email you guys about this site, but I thought it would be great if you would post a message about this to Logan residents.

The site is called, "Solving DC Problems." I first heard about it on DCist, but thought you guys might tell people that only look at this site.

Here is the link: