Proposed banquet-hall expansion gets Germantown community support, heads to ZBA next week

Germantown residents voiced their support for a banquet-hall proprietor on Thursday night by not opposing a plan to bring entertainment and other attractions to the Germantown Avenue business corridor.

Speaking before Germantown Community Connection and G’Town Restoration CDC, Daniel Ramsey presented his plans for Treasures, a banquet hall and nightclub that he hopes to formalize at 5549 Germantown Ave.

Under his proposal, the first floor of the building would be used for family-oriented functions during daytime hours, and cabaret-style entertainment offerings on weekend evenings.

Currently, the building is zoned for mixed-use commercial, which does not permit nightclubs except by variance, which Ramsey is now seeking.

While his zoning application describes the intended space as banquet hall and nightclub, Ramsey, a resident of West Oak Lane, said that he neither plans to serve food nor seek a liquor license.

“Ultimately, I want to make this business something that everyone likes,” said Ramsey.

Ramsey’s pitch

On Thursday, Ramsey told the capacity crowd in attendance at the site that efforts have been underway for nearly a year to get the project up and running. However, he was hampered by various business dealings that went awry.

Ramsey, who said he rents the first floor of the building from Iron Stone Strategic Capital Partners, said that has the support of the property owners.

As he had no documentation to that effect on Thursday evening, he was advised by community leaders in attendance to have this information in writing prior to his upcoming ZBA hearing.

Residents spoke to Ramsey’s character and the need for family-oriented banquet hall in their community.

However, despite the personal and professional testimonials, some residents in attendance were concerned that allowing a nightclub variance would allow future tenants of the building to operate a taproom or similar enterprise.

Betty Turner, president of Germantown Community Connection, noted that the zoning code was ambiguous about the exact definition of nightclubs.

Despite the concern about future usage and precedent, the consensus in the room on Thursday was to avoid letting perceptions about the future unduly influence current decision-making.

Support from an elected official

Stacy Wright, chief of staff for state Rep. Stephen Kinsey, said that Kinsey’s office “definitely supports” the project, and noted that Ramsey had undertaken the various steps necessary to become a legitimate proprietor of the facility.

“We have every reason to think that he’s going to run it the way he has,” said Wright. “We support businesses as long as you comply with zoning and you’re being a good neighbor.”

What’s next?

With political support and community backing obtained, Ramsey said he will go before the ZBA at 9:30 a.m. Tuesday.

Should he receive approval from the city, he told NewsWorks after Thursday’s meeting that he will begin operations immediately.

“I’m excited,” he said. “I’m going to do a lot in the community.”

Want a digest of WHYY’s programs, events & stories? Sign up for our weekly newsletter.

It will take 126,000 members this year for great news and programs to thrive. Help us get to 100% of the goal.