A profile in The Washington Post’s Business section last weekend of well-known D.C. developer and longtime Rappahannock County weekender Jim Abdo caused a bit of a stir this week among those who weren’t busy with their first hay cutting.
In it, Abdo revealed his vision for the small town — Washington, the Little — where he or his partners have come to own 10 properties worth more than $2.6 million in less than two years’ time. It included news that in addition to Abdo’s White Moose Inn and the Red Truck Bakery, D.C. chef Dan O’Brien would be moving his operation here, as well as several furniture and design names that are well known in Washington, the Big.
Locals have objected, via social media, web comments and a local email list-serv that shall remain nameless (okay okay, Rappnet), largely because The Post’s nearly three pages of coverage included repeated statements, from Abdo but also others, that there wasn’t much to do in town outside the renowned-for-three-decades Inn at Little Washington.
“I wonder if . . . any of the part-time or full-time city dwellers truly realize that is the exact charm of this town,” wrote Mary Maree on our Facebook page Monday. “That there is indeed not much else to do. The chaotic, fast pace of a metropolitan area does not, thankfully, exist here. It is indeed one of the reasons that has attracted so many folks to this beautiful town year after year . . . . What is wrong with living in a town . . . described in this article as ‘quaint, quiet and sincere’? That sounds heavenly to me.”
As the Rappahannock News went to press Wednesday, a WJLA-TV7 reporter and camera crew were interviewing Ben Jones, who’s become Abdo’s and Washington Mayor John Fox Sullivan’s harshest critic since The Post story appeared, on the steps of Stonyman Gourmet on Gay Street. (As the station’s two-minute report turned out, WJLA didn’t use any of Jones comments.)
Jones’ column is among a diversity of opinion about the issue on today’s editorial page.
It seems clear there is much more to say. And since your hometown newspaper believes that it should be said while everyone’s in the same room — unlike, say, on Rappnet, or social media, or the web, or even on the pages of this or any other newspaper — we are hosting a community forum at 5 p.m. next Thursday (June 19) at the Theatre in Washington.
We have promises from Abdo, Sullivan and others that they’ll be there; the full details are here.
Stay tuned — or, better still, connected.