Housing Complex

More Dirt on MidCity Branding Initiative

We knew back in September that the MidCity Arts District branding process wasn't going over very well: Artists and businesses felt like they were being branded by a small clutch of neighborhood activists, rather than participating in an organic process that they chose. Part of the discomfort was the fact that the MidCity Business Association thought Councilmember Jack Evans' office had supported the $200,000 grant thinking that it would be going at least in part to their organization, when in fact the MidCity Residents Association would be in control of the funds.

Today, TBD's Sommer Mathis treats us to the whole sordid story. The worst part: The MidCity Business Association has had to lay off its executive director Natalie Avery, who has been donating much of her time to the small association, and making strides with things like trash pickup and special events. Is it Carol Felix and Andrea Doughty's fault? Not directly, and I don't believe intentionally–the MCBA hoped to secure other funding through the Department of Small and Local Business Development, and the earmark ban just made that pretty much impossible. But the consequences of giving the kind of money to a branding initiative that only parts of the neighborhood really want, when it could have instead sustained an ambitious local group for another four years, are pretty disheartening.

As far as the "conflict/confluence of interest" that TBD earlier raised, I'd say it's more of a difference in philosophy for the corridor than pure self-interest. Felix, whose husband Wayne Dickson is one of the area's primary commercial real estate brokers, thinks 14th Street needs a brand to bring in more outside investment. In a hearing on the zoning text amendment that would lift the cap on bars and restaurants within the ARTS Overlay, Dickson even expressed the opinion that the neighborhood couldn't really support soft goods in the online-shopping era, and the only way to pay high rents was to have a liquor license. That rankles the MCBA people, who think the city should instead be investing the existing local retail scene, to keep it vibrant and diverse.

Anyway, what's done is done, and the branding initiative grinds on: Proposals have been submitted for the street banners, and the winners will be unveiled November 1st. Meanwhile, you can still vote on what you think the Arts District's name should be. The current leader? The Mid City Arts District–exactly what Felix said should probably be ruled out.

  • blue penn

    This was an entirely confusing article for those not on the inside! Couldn't make heads or tails of it.

    Can you redo it?

  • ThomDC

    Let me get this straight! Carol Felix, in league with her co-conspitrators, Deputy Dawg Dicksen and Presa Canarios Doughty, pocketed 50 thousand dollars for rendering some signage that is unlikely to survive the winter. In the meanwhile, an ongoing, successful, enterprise with a community buy-in was starved into insolvency so that it had to furlough its Director who was actually doing some work and making things better. Priceless, this is pure Carol Felix.

    How sad that true stalwarts like Mary Brown and Sherri Kimbel, not to mention the dearly beloved and departed Connie Maffin, find themselves sullied in the process. Bob Maffin must be going addle brained because Connie would certainly have known to cross the street and walk the other way if she saw that pack approaching.

    Well, if Felix's past brilliant branding endeavors are any guide I guess we can all look forward to a holiday season marked by glaring banners telling us to all
    "DROP DEAD."

    Kudoes to Kwame Brown for sensing that something was rotten in this particular quadrant of Denmark. My guess is the other 150 thousand will go or was to go to implement the outrage through "vendors" allowing Felix to kick back and let that all come full circle.

    If there is any way to cut this faucet off until this can be better sorted out I would suggest yesterday wouldn't be too soon.

  • just sayin’

    What ThomDC said. What a waste on "branding" and what a loss to an exisitng, hard-working neighborhood organization. Mid-City Business Association is still here and kicking anyway.

  • Wassup

    Its funny but Felix, Dicksen, and Doughty have never been particularly supportive of the arts in their own neighborhood but now they are heading an arts district. I've never seen any of them at an opening, etc.

    This is about money for consulting fees, power lust, etc. This is a jobs program for Felix, Dicksen and Doughty.

    Wayne Dicksen is a "primary commercial real estate broker" in the same way Tareq Salahi is a president of a polo organization.

  • ted

    "Kudoes to Kwame Brown"

    1) you spelled "kudos" wrong.

    2) kwame is a fool, soon to be ever so evident.

    3) this is a NON story. my god - in this town, folks will find ANYTHING to bitch and moan about! get a life, people!

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    Love the main page. Will it always be this way?

  • Andy

    How much is Ms. Doughty being paid?

    Any chance you can tell us the breakdown for how the NIF money is supposed to be spent? Why isn't this info posted on the group's site?

    It's rumored that the grant money was the Logan group's reward for supporting Evans over Cary Silverman during Evans' last race.