Project involving mayor’s son is denied liquor license

November 15, 2013

The Riverfront at the Ballpark project was planned for the former Florida Rock site on the Anacostia Riverfront. (Katherine Frey/The Washington Post)

Back in August, a group of investors went before the District’s Alcoholic Beverage Control Board to make their case for a liquor license for a massive and novel project: turning the riverfront site of a former concrete plant adjacent to Nationals Park into sprawling entertainment complex featuring kickball, bocce, live music and more.

Among those behind the Riverfront at the Ballpark project is Carlos Gray, the 37-year-old son of Mayor Vincent C. Gray — a fact that raised eyebrows among the neighborhood activists who opposed the project.

Unfortunately for Gray and his partners, together known as Dos Ventures, the ABC Board has denied their liquor license application. In an order dated Wednesday, the board unanimously found that the project “will have an adverse impact on peace, order, and quiet and pedestrian safety in the neighborhood.”

Among other worries, the board said it was concerned that Dos Ventures is “not prepared to manage the potentially large crowds that could be attracted to the venue.” The maximum occupancy of the property is more than 12,000, and the board said it is “not convinced that the venue is safe for patrons or the community.”

The order also cited noise concerns, given that the property is an “undeveloped lot that lacks any noise mitigation or soundproofing features,” and worries about pedestrian safety — particularly the dangers posed to patrons forced to cross South Capitol Street. All of those concerns had been raised by neighbors of the site, as well as the D.C. police.

The board said it considered approving the liquor license with conditions, but it concluded it could not: “Based on these issues, the Board lacks confidence that any conditions that the Board could impose would ensure the proposed establishment’s peaceful coexistence with surrounding residents and the safety of patrons and pedestrians.”

Carlos Gray, reached Friday, said he was unaware that the application had been denied and declined to comment on the decision.

Dos Ventures has 10 days to ask the board to reconsider its ruling; it can also appeal to the D.C. Court of Appeals.

Mike DeBonis covers local politics and government for The Washington Post. He also writes a blog and a political analysis column that runs on Fridays.
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Mike DeBonis | November 15, 2013