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With Adrian Fenty’s message to supporters on Sunday announcing his new campaign headquarters, and with Vince Gray for Mayor surfacing on 6th Street NW, the major candidates in this year’s race have staked out their turf. Why would they choose these locations? Consider:
FENTY HQ, at 5929 Georgia Avenue: The spacious former car dealership has floor-to-ceiling windows, broadcasting the kind of transparency that’s been missing from much of his mayoralty. It’s located in friendly territory, his former Ward 4 stomping grounds. It’s also conveniently situated across from a McDonalds, a laundromat, and #1 Beauty Supply. As Kriston Capps notes, it’s a bit of a hike from the Wilson building, but he can always stop at his brother Shawn’s place on Crittenden Street. in between.
Fenty’s choice, however, may also have had something to do with what was supposed to happen to that space. In 2007, longtime Chevy dealership owner Dudley Dworken announced that he would partner with Rockville-based Foulger-Pratt Development to build rental apartments, affordable housing, and retail on the site. About a week later, TIF funding became available for the Georgia Avenue corridor—with Fenty’s strong support.
Over the next two years, the project became snarled in historic preservation issues and a request for more review from the local ANC, before finally falling victim to the faltering economy. Meanwhile, the TIF funding went to other developments. Now, plans are presumably on hold until at least September (Foulger-Pratt and Dudley Dworken did not respond yesterday to requests for comment). Plus: Fenty may have some affection for the spot after the $1,000 that firm president Cameron Pratt donated to his reelection campaign in 2008.
Vince Gray HQ, at 1004 6th Street NW: Sure, it might be haunted by Patrick Mara’s doomed campaign for an at-large city council position last cycle. And compared to Fenty’s home base, it’s tiny. But what this narrow storefront lacks in size, it makes up for in location: Just north of bustling Chinatown, it’s got Lux Lounge around the corner and a politically active crowd at Busboys and Poets across a parking lot.
Again, though, let’s look at the money. The property is owned by local real estate mogul Douglas Jemal, whose political preferences since 2004 could be broadly characterized as “anybody but Fenty.” While he supported Fenty’s council campaign in 2004—with a relatively tepid $500—he then turned around in 2006 to donate two grand each to Vince Orange, Marie Johns, and Michael Brown. In that same cycle, he shelled out $1,500 to Gray for Chair. It’ll be interesting to see, once the second campaign finance report rolls in, how much Gray is paying in rent.
Alexander HQ, at 1444 Whittier Place NW: We musn’t forget Leo Alexander, whose purple signs have a much wider reach than his cash on hand would seem to justify. He’s running his campaign out of his house, purchased in 2006, which also serves as the offices of his business consulting firm, Alexander Solutions LLC.
Photos by Lydia DePillis.