Advisory Neighborhood Commission (ANC 6C) voted unanimously to protest a liquor license for ‘Town 2’, a new home for LGBTQ nightclub Town Danceboutique, earmarking $10,000 for potential legal counsel at their monthly meeting Sept. 11.
The Washington Post first reported in August that, after searching for two years for a new location, Town Danceboutique had found a new home in the former home of St. Philips Baptist Church (1001 North Capitol St. NE). The church was sold to Douglas Development in 2017. The original Town Danceboutique (2009 Eighth St. NW) closed in June 2018 after the building was purchased by a developer planning to build luxury apartments.
On August 9, Town 2 submitted application for a Class C Nightclub license with an entertainment endorsement, including DJ, dancing and drag shows. The application includes total interior occupancy of 524 and 125 outside, with hours from noon to 4 a.m. Sunday to Thursday and noon to 5 a.m. Fridays and Saturdays.
It's true. pic.twitter.com/DUCduK8QWz
— Town Danceboutique (@WhatsUpAtTown) August 7, 2019
The building selected for the nightclub is mere feet from the John and Jill Ker Conway Residence (1005 North Capitol St. NE). That residence was constructed in 2014 in collaboration between a developer and non-profit Community Solutions to create housing for people, at low-income levels.
At the meeting, Community Solutions Representative Chapman Todd said that the 124-unit building houses 68 formerly homeless veterans who are on average about 66 years in age. He said the group had heard about the project when it was reported in the Washington Post, but had since met with the applicant and had seen preliminary designs.
Todd said that as each Conway apartment has operable windows, the impact of club noise on residents is a major concern. “Knowing how this process works, we have no choice but to oppose this to have any meaningful conversation,” said Todd. “We know that the church wall is a layer of one brick and it’s literally right next to our building, and the idea that a club would work there and not impact our residents in noise and quality of life is… complicated.”
Nightclub owner John Guggenmos acknowledged that the pursuit of a Settlement Agreement was inhibited by the fact that design and engineering for the club had not been completed at this early stage.
“I get it: it’s the science. Can we not impact your residents? There is no disagreement and no surprise,” added Guggenmos, who himself is the Vice-Chair of ANC 2F.
“Either we will be confident, or we’ll withdraw the application,” he said.
Guggenmos said that the club would be designed to inhibit noise transmission, describing the club itself as having air space between the interior and exterior walls. “If you just think of building a room inside a room, you’re actually taking about 18 inches off the floor, two-hour drywall and the best noise-absorption fiberglass.”
Guggenmos said this construction would insulate all sides of the building from noise. He said that the terms of the lease also require work to the exterior structure of the historic building, helping to restore the building and to improve acoustical integrity.
He said that the team was still working on plans, but added that they wanted to work with the community. The club owner said he was slated to meet with Todd and Community Solutions on Sept. 19. “We heard. We want to work with you,” he told the ANC.
Commissioner for the area Drew Courtney (6C06) said that he did not think the issues with the application could be resolved by a Settlement Agreement (SA). He recommended the ANC earmark funds for legal advice, saying that he thought the conversation could grow complicated.
“In general, I think bringing in new business and entertainment establishments is great for our neighborhood, and I like the creative re-use of buildings,” Courtney said, “and I want to name that I think it’s important that there are LGBT spaces in our neighborhood and in the District. But, as Chapman alludes to, there are really specific problems with this kind of establishment in this kind of location that I think are beyond what we can reasonably accommodate with a Settlement Agreement.”
Courtney said that while he thought the community could reach accord with the business on some issues, he did not see a way to reconcile concerns about noise, especially in light of concerns with District enforcement of noise ordinances. Courtney acknowledged the gracious cooperation of Guggenmos, saying he was open to continuing the conversation on the issue but even if an SA was reached, he wanted further community engagement.
Calvin Johnson lives in the Conway Residences. He said that building amenities for the veterans include resources such as on-site representatives of the Veteran’s Administration (VA), a nurse and social workers.
Johnson said that living in the apartments gives many of the residents, including himself, a chance to renew themselves and make their lives better. Many, he said, have struggled with homelessness, substance abuse and alcoholism.
“The veterans do not need to be placed near a location that serves alcohol,” he said, speaking at the September meeting of ANC 6C. “I truly believe that.”
“Now, people come and say that, ‘we appreciate your service’,” he told commissioners. “I’ll put it like this: if you appreciate our service, let the veterans there at 1005 know that you appreciate it by not okaying this. That’s all I have to say.”
Learn more about the John and Jill Ker Conway Residence by visiting https://www.kerconwayapts.com/. Learn more about ANC 6C by visiting http://anc6c.org/. Reach ANC Commissioner Drew Courtney by email at 6C06@anc.dc.gov.