City Paper Widget

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Park at 14th Owner: ANC2F Agreement "Handcuffs"

Mark Barnes, co-owner of The Park at 14th Nightclub (920 14th Street NW), compared his settlement agreement with Advisory Neighborhood Commission (ANC) 2F/Logan Circle to handcuffs and "an electric collar". He wants it terminated. He made the comparison at ANC2F's monthly meeting on October 2.

The request was the subject of a September 25 SALM blog post.

ANC2F listen to Mark and Ann Barnes
Barnes makes his case

Barnes, appearing with his wife and co-owner Ann Barnes, told the committee the club had a long track record as a reliable member of the community. He feels the club is no longer an unknown quantity.

"The neighbors said they didn't know who I was," Barnes said. As a result, he "had to wear an electric collar for six years".

Meanwhile, Barnes continued, his club had generated $6 million in revenue for DC and had not one liquor-license-related violation within 1000 feet of the club.

"We don't think there's a reason to have an electric collar," he said. "Everything we can do, we do."

As an example, Barnes said his staff washed his and neighboring buildings every night, to counteract the effects of public urination, even though there are  neighboring clubs that contribute to the problem but do nothing. This is because the neighboring clubs were not obligated to enter into settlement agreements.

Later in the meeting, ANC2F Chair Matt Raymond (district 07) said it had been the ANC's practice for several years to allow bars and restaurants in the downtown business district (below M street) to operate without settlement agreements. The rationale is there are no residential neighbors to be bothered by late-night noise and other by-products of liquor-serving establishments.

ANC Commissioners asked Barnes if there were specific provisions he objected to.

"No, I don't like handcuffs," Barnes said.

The third party to the agreement

The third party to the settlement agreement is 1400 K Co, LLC, owners of the abutting property. They were represented at the meeting by John Patrick Brown of the law firm of Greenstein DeLorme & Luchs.

"My clients are opposed to terminating the agreement," he said.

Brown went on to say the agreement covers important issues. The most important of these was the "cure provision", which outlined the process by which the two parties can resolve disputes.

"I disagree with the handcuffs of Mr. Barnes," Brown said.

Brown said there had been 25 "investigative incidents" connected with the club in the last six years.

"This includes four assaults on police officers," Brown added.

"This had nothing to do with me," Barnes replied.

Following this exchange, there was some discussion between Barnes and ANC Commissioners. Barnes said he had been a good neighbor. As an example, he said he sent staff out to wash the dumpsters daily.

ANC Commissioner Walt Cain (district 02) noted this practice was specifically called out in the agreement.

"If the settlement agreement is lifted, would your practice change?" Cain asked.

"No," Barnes replied.

In conclusion, Barnes said the settlement agreement had already cost him $50,000 in lost revenue during the last Presidential inauguration, because he could not stay open as late as his competitors.

"We've proven we're model," Barnes said.

Further negotiations

The ANC voted unanimously to send the matter back to ANC2F liquor licensing affairs committee for further negotiations, but not before a member of the community in the audience made an accusation.

"What I hear is bias against Mr. Barnes," she said.

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