Developer Baron Stark has six weeks to show City Hall he can follow through on aging plans to renovate the former A&W Family Restaurant on Ellis Boulevard NW and a commercial building at 1501/1507 C St. SW in Czech Village.
Both flood-damaged buildings were slated for demolition back in the summer of 2011 when Stark of Stark Real Estate Holdings Inc. stepped forward to save the two properties. Both have been acquired by the city as part of the city’s property buyout program.
On Wednesday, though, the council’s Development Committee voted to end its development agreement with Stark rather than extend it again. Stark has not arranged financing for the building renovations and has not set aside money in escrow to demolish the properties if he can’t renovate them, city officials noted.
The committee’s action will go to full council on March 12, and if the council agrees to end its arrangement with Stark, Stark still will have 30 days to cure the problem by obtaining financing and putting money in escrow.
Stark on Wednesday told the committee that he intended to complete both projects. He said he was close to securing financing on them, and he said that A&W now had agreed to continue to allow the A&W name to be used on the restaurant. He said it had been difficult to secure financing for the restaurant without the A&W support.
Council committee members Monica Vernon, Pat Shey and Scott Olson noted that the federal government’s program that pays to demolish flood-damaged properties is coming to an end this year and it was important to get work started on the C Street SW and Ellis Boulevard NW properties.
Olson said the city did not want a bunch of boarded-up buildings standing in place after the federal funds ended that would drive down property values around them.
Shey said it was closing in on time to fish or cut bait.