(Updated at 12:40 p.m.)
H Street Streetcar Update — Streetcars on H Street NE are “months away” from carrying passengers, District Department of Transportation director Leif Dormsjo said yesterday. [WAMU]
Former Capitol Hill-Area Teacher’s Sex Abuse Charge Dropped — A former substitute teacher at Options Public Charter School is no longer facing a first-degree sexual-abuse charge in connection with an incident at the E Street NE school. Symone Greene, 22, was arrested in October and charged with having oral sex with a student. Prosecutors have since dropped the charge. [Washington Post]
Start Over on Hill East Redevelopment Plans — The D.C. Department of General Services has thrown out proposals to transform the former Eastern Branch Boys and Girls Club building and will restart the planning process, after redevelopment plans faced opposition from Hill East residents. [Capitol Hill Corner/Charles Allen]
A Look at Starburst Plaza’s ‘Twilight Farmers Market’ — Frozen Tropics has photos of the inaugural “Twilight Farmers Market,” which is slated to run every Thursday from 3 to 7 p.m. until mid-September at the Starburst Plaza. [Frozen Tropics]
(Updated at 11 a.m. Wednesday) Hill East residents are trying again to overhaul plans to develop the former Eastern Branch Boys and Girls Club building, despite the District’s opposition to starting anew.
A group that calls itself “a concerned coalition of the Hill East Community” sent a letter to Mayor Muriel Bowser today, asking her to work with the neighborhood on new plans for the building at 261 17th St. SE.
The coalition, like ANC 6B, is seeking “more potential uses and flexibility” for the dilapidated building.
Hill East resident Denise Daniel, who helped write the letter, said it won’t be easy to convince Bowser’s administration to change course on the development. Last month, the interim director of the D.C. Department of General Services wrote a letter to the ANC saying D.C. won’t start from scratch on the building as the group requested.
“We took this positive route and positioning because we feel Mayor Bowser’s administration’s approach to gathering community input and [cleaning] up of city processes is good for the people of the District,” Daniel said today about her letter. “And a restart could prove just that.”
During months of community review, DGS offered a 25-year lease for use of the 31,000-square-foot-facility, which is two blocks west of the Stadium Armory Metro station.
Century Associates, a developer that proposed market-rate units for seniors, said that lease term will make it nearly impossible for them to secure financing for the project. The second bid for the space, from Dantes Partners, proposes affordable units for seniors.
Daniel surveyed several Hill East households on the proposals this year, finding that only 17 percent supported the Dantes bid. More than half favored the Century Associates proposal.
The survey reached 268 households, 81 of which responded.
Neighborhood leaders asked D.C. government to reissue its request for proposals for the development of 261 17th St. SE, the former Eastern Branch Boys and Girls Club building. But the interim director of the Department of General Services says that won’t happen.
“DGS cannot address the request for a longer lease term,” Jonathan Kayne wrote in a letter to ANC 6B.
During months of community review, DGS offered a 25-year lease for use of the 31,00-square-foot-facility, which is two blocks west of the Stadium Armory Metro station. Century Associates, a developer who proposed market-rate units for seniors, said that lease term will make it nearly impossible to secure financing for the project. In response, ANC 6B asked DGS to offer a 99-year lease for the space.
“We feel that the short lease length unnecessarily limited the number of proposals the agency received and has resulted in a process that has led to one proposal,” ANC 6B Commissioner Brian Flahaven wrote on his blog, where he published the letter.
The second bid for the space, from Dantes Partners, proposes affordable units for seniors. Both proposals are still in the running.
The District should reissue its request for proposals for the creation of senior housing at 261 17th St. SE, the ANC 6B planning committee said at a meeting this week. The group has “serious concerns” about the process by which the D.C. Department of General Services has selected a developer, ANC 6B chairwoman Kirsten Oldenburg wrote in a letter to DGS interim director Jonathan Kayne.
DGS offered a developer a 25-year lease for use of the 31,000-square-foot facility. Representatives of Century Associates, one of two developers who submitted plans for the building, told neighbors last month that a 25-year-lease “adversely affects equity investor and lender interest,” making it virtually impossible for the company to build 25 market-rate units for seniors there.
The ANC 6B planning committee wants DGS to instead offer a 99-year lease. The current lease offer, Oldenburg wrote, unfairly puts Dantes Partners in the lead for the project. Dantes Partners would create 49 affordable units plus community space, according to their response to the request for proposals issued in September.
“While ANC 6B and our constituents appreciate and support the city’s efforts to quickly redevelop the building, it must be done in a proper manner,” Oldenburg wrote. “Moving forward with one proposal based on an unnecessarily restrictive [request for proposals] is not in the best interests of the neighborhood and city.”
ANC 6B’s planning committee approved the letter by Oldenburg. All of the group’s commissioners are expected to vote on the letter at the group’s full board meeting March 10.
Photo via Google Maps
Plans are advancing for the construction of affordable housing for seniors in the former Eastern Branch Boys and Girls Club building, and ANC commissioners say the city is rejecting the proposal that’s most popular with neighbors.
The D.C. Department of General Services — which accepted bids for redevelopment of the 261 17th St. SE building — released more information this week on the final two companies vying for the space. A proposal by the firm Dantes Partners would create 49 affordable units and add two stories to the long-closed city building, as Hill Now previously reported. A competing bid from Century Associates would create 25 market-rate units and maintain the building’s height.
A new District law requires developers to designate at least 30 percent of units in city-owned buildings as affordable, which eliminates the all-market rate Century proposal. And the newly released documents show that DGS is still planning to issue a 25-year lease for the property, which Century president Joel Kelty previously said will make it impossible for him to get financing for his project.
DGS officials said they want to find a solution pleasing to everyone.
“Our goal has been to provide great latitude to the proposers, and to positively reactivate the site,” DGS planner Stephen Campbell wrote in a letter to ANC 6B commissioners Brian Flahaven and Denise Krepp.
Flahaven said he was frustrated by the latest news from DGS.
“Instead of providing additional flexibility in the [best and final offer responses], DGS essentially doubled-down on their original [request for proposals] terms, including the ridiculously short lease requirement,” he wrote on his website. “I’m extremely frustrated that this process has led to a choice of one.”
Flahaven and Krepp requested specific financial information on each proposal and were told by DGS that that information cannot be provided to ANCs.
“While the ANC is an advisory body, it does not participate in the deliberative process,” DGS management analyst Melissa Millar wrote in an email to the commissioners.
“The ANC’s role is certainly to provide comments to which the District is obligated to give ‘great weight’ to decisions affecting its boundaries, but this is limited to areas that directly affect the ANC and its constituents, such as advising on the appropriateness of a facility, whether it supports the health and well-being of a community, and does not run counter to or disrupt community goals,” she continued.
Krepp argued that ANC 6B is entitled to detailed information on the senior housing development plan.
“Essentially, according to DGS, we are an useless entity that the agency does not have to listen to. Appalling,” she wrote.
A poll of 81 people who live within two block of the Boys and Girls Club site found that 51 percent of people prefer the all-market rate Century proposal, 32 percent preferred neither proposal and 17 percent preferred the all-affordable Dantes proposal, Capitol Hill Corner reported.
ANC 6B commissioners will discuss the project at their planning and zoning committee meeting 7 p.m. Tuesday at St. Coletta of Greater Washington (1901 Independence Ave. SE).
Snow Total — Capitol Hill got 4 inches of snow, according to Ward 6 Councilman Charles Allen’s measurement. Another local measured 5 inches of accumulation. [Twitter/Charles Allen; Twitter/LBFindMyStrong]
CSX Tunnel Lawsuit to Be Heard Today — A District Court judge will hear a petition today to stop the $170 million Virginia Avenue tunnel project. ANC 6B Commissioner Kirsten Oldenburg said she hoped the litigation would not delay the project. [Washington Post]
Quaker House Fighting D.C. Tax Office — The William Penn House, the Quaker center at 515 E. Capitol St. SE, may be forced to close because of a battle with the D.C. Office of Tax and Revenue. The city considers the house of worship a hotel — not a tax-exempt church — because they rent beds to people on educational or ministry trips. [NBC Washington]
Eastern Branch Boys & Girls Club Update — ANC 6B commissioners and locals were critical at a meeting last week of both plans to create senior housing in the long-closed Eastern Branch Boys & Girls Club building at 261 17th St. SE. [Capitol Hill Corner]
Photo via Twitter/Charles Allen
Developers presented two bids last night for the creation of senior citizen housing in the former Eastern Branch Boys and Girls Club building, but to-be-determined District rules on affordable housing creation will determine the exact makeup of the project.
The firm Dantes Partners laid out plans for 49 affordable units, 5,000 square feet of community space and two stories added to the long-closed building at 261 17th St. SE. A competing bid from Century Associates would create 25 market-rate units, 2 apartments for caregivers and 4,200 square feet of children’s play space to the building two blocks west of the Stadium-Armory Metro station. That plan would not add to the building’s height.
But new inclusionary zoning regulations expected from Mayor Muriel Bowser will determine how many units in the city-owned building will be rented at designated affordable rates.
Department of General Services planner Stephen Campbell said his office needed more information on whether rules in effect when the bid was issued, when it will be awarded or when permits are approved will apply.
“We will seek to have that clarity,” he said. DGS plans to award the project in February.
Century Associate president Joel Kelty said his proposal called for all market-rate units. “We didn’t feel, given the funding we had, that it was financially feasible,” he said.
Longtime resident Pat Taylor said she didn’t want an all-affordable building in Hill East.
“You’re coming into a mixed-use neighborhood. Why would you put a low-income building in our neighborhood?” she said, noting that she would prefer a mixed-income development.
ANC 6B may wait for more information from the District before the group advises selection of a proposal, vice-chair Brian Flahven said.
“I don’t want to recommend an option that is automatically disqualified,” he said.
Homes in the Dantes Partners development — which would be financed through federal Low-Income Housing Tax Credits — would be 600 to 800 square feet and cost about $1,000 per month. The Century Associates building would have units as large as 1,300 square feet each, with rent of about $3,000 per month for a two-bedroom.
The Boys and Girls Club was closed in August 2007 because of rising costs and low enrollment, officials told The Washington Post that year. The city bought the building plus two Boys and Girls Clubs in Columbia Heights and Georgetown for $20 million total, but later declared the building to be surplus property. The building in a prime location has asbestos and bird droppings inside, and it’s roof is leaking, Kelty said.
“Our whole goal is to get this building activated again,” Flahaven said.
Three separate plans for senior citizen housing in the former Eastern Branch Boys and Girls Club building were presented to Hill East residents Thursday night.
Representatives for two developers and a national nonprofit said they’re preparing bids to the city for the redevelopment of the 31,000-square-foot facility at 261 17th St. SE, two blocks west of the Stadium-Armory Metro station.
The first plan presented to the Hill East Task Force of ANC 6B would create a white, two-story addition on the reddish brick building, said Corey Powell, senior vice president of development for Dantes Partners.
“The intent is to preserve the existing building and simply add to it,” Powell said about the design (pictured) to create 49 units plus community space.
Dantes Partners’ development would cost more than $6 million to build and would be financed through federal Low-Income Housing Tax Credits, Powell said. Renters would pay about $1,000 per month.
Dantes Partners has created other city housing for seniors, including the fully occupied Hodge on 7th building at 7th and P streets NW.
The second plan, from Century Associates, would create 24 to 30 larger units for seniors. The project would not add additional stories, company president Joel Kelty said.
“I think the scale of the building is perfect for the neighborhood,” he said.
The larger units would appeal to seniors who live in Hill townhouses now but need one-story homes.
“They’ve got a lot of stuff and they don’t want to give that up,” said Kelty, who owns the CrossFit DC building at 1365 H St. NE and the 1101 Convenience Mart building at 1101 H St. NE.
The Century project — which would include children’s activity space — would be privately financed. Kelty declined to give projected dollar amounts for construction or resident rent.
The third plan presented at the pre-Halloween meeting in the Historic Congressional Cemetery chapel would create 39 units of senior housing, plus community space and offices for a nonprofit.
Mai Fernandez, a Ward 6 resident and the executive director of the National Center for Victims of Crime, said her organization wants to house seniors and help them cope with crime.
The think tank and training organization would teach seniors how to avoid becoming victims, Fernandez said. The group is seeking to partner with a developer, and is working with an architect and a development consultant. NCVC is seeking tax credits for the project, Fernandez said.
The NCVC development sets aside 3,000 square feet of community space that would double as space for the organization’s trainings.
The Boys and Girls Club was closed in August 2007 because of rising costs and low enrollment, officials told The Washington Post that year. The city bought the building plus two Boys and Girls Clubs in Columbia Heights and Georgetown for $20 million total, but later declared the building to be surplus property.
Bids are due to the city on Nov. 20 and will be subject to public comment.