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Bourbon Stirs as DCRA Attacks

Nothing motivates a business owner quite like the slap of a vacant property sticker. Such an action by the DC Department of Consumer and Regulatory Affairs (DCRA) nearly triples the property tax for a commercial property owner. Wical LP, the owner of the property occupied by the Glover Park Whole Foods, was slapped last month with the vacant property tag and they were hit with nearly $300K in additional property taxes (see prior article). If they let the lawsuit drag on, that could double by the end of the year. By the way, last week DCRA denied their appeal of the vacant property tax - the lawsuit does not meet any exemption criteria. If they think their attorney fees are high, just watch how vacant property taxes, penalties and interest rack up by the hour. Will this hasten a settlement of the lawsuit? We'll see very soon.

The Bourbon building was hit with the cancellation of their vacant property tax exemption as well. Owner Bill Thomas has been putting off the inevitable with repeated confirmations of exemption over the past two years as 2348 Wisconsin Ave - former home of Bourbon - has sat vacant and dilapidated (see prior article). DCRA canceled the exemption in December 2018, though Mr. Thomas has appealed it, and the appeal is pending. In the meantime, the initiative to get a new restaurant open has begun in earnest. Though building permits from last year have expired, new construction inspections of the property are filed with DCRA and underway. Whiskey Phoenix LLC has submitted a petition with the DC Alcoholic Beverage Regulation Administration for substantial changes to it's liquor license at 2348 Wisconsin Ave. See the Public Hearing Notice summarized below:

  • Name change from Bourbon to Rosebud

  • Increase Allowable Occupancy from 74 to 307

  • Add a distillery pub endorsement (allowing the sale of sealed bottles of spirits)

  • Add live entertainment

  • Add five outdoor seating areas, including a roof deck

  • Change hours to 7am-3am Fri/Sat and 7am-2am Sun-Thurs

  • End outdoor live entertainment at 9pm

Neighbors and the public are welcome to offer their opinion as follows:

  • Protest petitions due 7/15/19

  • Roll call hearing 7/29/19

So, here are two case studies in the power of tax policy to shape behavior. For the better in both these cases I think. If you have seen a vacant property that concerns you (residential or commercial) did you know you can report it and DCRA will investigate?


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