What….you are asking? Shariah law in Washington, D.C.? How can that be?
Apparently, Qatari petro-dollars talk and the U.S. Constitution walks and noone wants to talk about it much. The following are two articles on CityCenterDC in Washington,D.C.:
The first is from the ground-breaking in April, when the Washington Times suddenly discovered the terror-incubating oil country was fronting millions for the downtown redevelopment and also discovered …….noone really wanted to talk about it much.
The second article is a column where the author has gleaned from a “glowing” New York Times article what exactly a “shariah” real estate project means.
This is not a “harmless” set of rules for just one building. This is a dangerous legal precedent, and ……..just like that, we have shariah law in a neighborhood of Washington, D.C. not far from the White House. This is very, very significant symbolism to Islamists.
“An investment arm of oil-rich Qatar is putting up the equity needed to fund the massive CityCenterDC project, officials said moments before breaking ground Monday at the site of the old downtown convention center six blocks from the White House.
The Qatari Diar Real Estate Investment Company supplied $700 million to finance the project, intended to bring retail, apartments and office space to a 4.5-block parcel bounded by New York Avenue and 9th, H and 11th streets, NW, officials said.
A spokeswoman for developer Hines/Archstone declined to comment Monday morning on when funds from the tiny nation on the Arabian peninsula were secured, citing the upcoming ground-breaking.
Qatar’s Barwa Bank put the funding in place. Its vice chairman and manager director, Mohammed Al Saad, said of the project: “Its ambition, scale and profile are commensurate with its status as Qatar’s first major real estate investment in the U.S. , and one which I believe will mark the beginning of a long and successful U.S.-Qatari partnership in premium real estate investment and development.”
Mayor Vincent C. Gray has touted the project in public comments and press advisories, saying it is “believed to be the largest downtown development currently underway in any U.S. city.”
He has said the project will create 1,700 construction jobs and 3,700 permanent jobs. He also estimated $29.8 million in annual tax revenue, $112 million in retail annual sales and $9.4 million in retail tax revenue.”
“The New York Times’ profile of the CityCenterDC project has mostly nothing new in it if you’ve been following the huge downtown project at all. But it does include this fascinating nugget about the requirements of its Qatari investors:
Even before the Qatari investors became involved, Hines and Archstone determined that leasing to banks would not help them create lively shopping streets, Mr. Alsup said. But as it happened, their hesitancy on bank branches meshed with the policies of their financial partners, who adhere to the restrictions of Shariah, or Islamic law, including the ban on collecting interest. Restaurants will be able to serve liquor, but retailers whose primary business involves selling alcohol will not be allowed, Mr. Alsup said.
In their marketing materials, Hines and Archstone say they intend to provide “an authentic place for urban residents to socialize outside their homes.”
So, no bars or banks for the biggest downtown construction project in recent memory! As Bill Alsupalluded to, banks aren’t all that great for a city streetscape, and it’s admirable that they planned to forego such a dependable and high-rent-paying tenant. It’s less advantageous, though, to not have business devoted primarily to selling alcohol.CityCenterDC is unlikely to be plagued by liquor stores, but it could definitely use a few places to be out at night drinking without getting a full dinner. Could Qatari money turn CityCenterDC into more of a black hole than the last piece of the puzzle in a living downtown?
(Also, I’m really sick of seeing the word “authentic” used in marketing and branding materials—and using it for a brand-new commercial development is particularly meaningless).”