- The Washington Times - Sunday, October 30, 2011

Numerous labels apply to D.C. lawyer David W. Wilmot: lobbyist, power broker, even land banker - for his long-standing financial stake in undeveloped New Jersey Avenue property in Northwest that his client Wal-Mart is developing along with his business partners in the Bennett Group.

But another label also may apply: parking mogul.

Although he is associated most commonly with gliding large-scale developments to approval in the halls of power, it is Mr. Wilmot’s interest in parking lots and garages that makes him an equity partner in such deals, and that has captured the attention of city officials who say they are investigating whether he is in violation of D.C. business licensing laws.

Mr. Wilmot, one of the most well-connected men in the city and a longtime friend and ally of Mayor Vincent C. Gray, is the director of AutoPark Inc., a company he founded in 1986 “to engage in the automobile and other vehicle parking business,” according to his articles of incorporation.

The Department of Consumer Regulatory Affairs (DCRA) website shows the company’s business registration as revoked, and documents on file with the agency identify the registered business address as a Vermont Avenue law office that is no longer occupied by Mr. Wilmot.

A profile on Manta, the online business aggregator, puts AutoPark at 1420 N St. in Northwest, but on a visit Friday, The Washington Times was told that the subbasement office condo under a 147-unit residential building off Thomas Circle serves as the offices for Individual Development Inc., a controversial nonprofit he founded in 1990 that provides residential services for people with mental retardation.

AutoPark, The Times was told by an IDI employee, “doesn’t have a specific office, there are locations all over.”

No telephone number is listed in the District for AutoPark Inc.Mr. Wilmot did not return phone calls or emails.

Yet AutoPark’s significance in the District should not be underestimated. Since 1986, the company has been “providing parking management services and consulting, and participating in the ownership in dozens of large scale development projects in the District of Columbia,” according to the website for the Hine School redevelopment project, in Ward 6 near the Eastern Market, which is to become a hotel, retail and office complex.

Mr. Wilmot is listed on the site as “Individual Team Member” in charge of “parking management.”

Among AutoPark’s parking and development interests is the West End Library project, headed by Eastbanc Inc. According to documents obtained by The Times, Mr. Wilmot is the managing member of the certified business entity (CBE) component of the project, which allows the joint venture to qualify as a small, local or minority-owned business.

Except neither Mr. Wilmot nor AutoPark is certified as a CBE, according to a website search of the D.C. Department of Small Local and Minority Businesses.

One of Mr. Wilmot’s other business partners is certified as a CBE, however, and coincidentally, it too is engaged in business activity related to parking cars.

As The Times reported last week, Mr. Wilmot has a financial interest in city-owned property at New Jersey Avenue and H Street Northwest that he and the Bennett Group have allowed to lay fallow for 21 years - renting it to the federal government as a parking lot for 18 of those years.

A spokesman for Wal-Mart, which is developing the site along with the Bennett Group and JBG Properties, confirmed Mr. Wilmot’s disclosure of his financial interest but referred questions to the Bennett Group, which has not returned The Times‘ calls.

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