Housing Complex

Another Chunk of City Land Back Up For Grabs: 7th and Rhode Island

Gradually, gradually, the city is scrapping Adrian Fenty-era-and-earlier plans for redevelopment projects on government land—either killed by the economy or fumbled by the last administration—and throwing them back out for bid. Up this week: Parcel 42, otherwise known as the big empty lot on the northeast corner of 7th and Rhode Island Avenue NW, kitty corner from the Shaw Library.

Back in 2008, the city made a deal that entailed not only giving the land to the developer, but also about $10 million worth of subsidies, allowing all of the 94 rental units to be affordable for people making less than 60 percent of the area median income. As the economy tanked, the Fenty administration tried to back off that ambitious goal, spurring a tent city protest on the site.

The Office of the Deputy Mayor for Planning and Economic Development killed the deal entirely last spring. This time around, the city isn't offering anything in subsidies besides free land, and can't make any promises about how affordable the apartments will be—very likely, developers will want to go as market rate as possible. "I can't make the project any more feasible than it is," Deputy Mayor Victor Hoskins told Advisory Neighborhood Commission 2C this evening. Developers are still asking for money to do the project. "I'm not even going to tell you how much they told me they needed to develop this site," Hoskins said.

They expect to issue a request for proposals next month, it'll take 90 days to get responses back, another three months to make an award, and a few months after that to get it past the Council and go through any zoning procedures. In the mean time, probably nothing will happen on the site—the proposed angelic art project was pushed off until next year.

Image from last year's tent city on Parcel 42, by Lydia DePillis.

  • Drez

    Surreal.
    Property in a city with some of the highest land values, with increasing rental costs, and with one of the most stable real estate markets needs a subsidy to be developed?
    Where do I sign up to bid on the parcel, and how do I complete the LSDBS paperwork?

  • http://marketurbanism.com Stephen Smith

    Wait, why are they giving away the land for free? Why not just rezone it for density and then auction it off to the highest bidder, using the extra funds to close the budget gap or fund schools or whatever?

    Oh, right – because then none of the politicians would get any favors done directly for them by the developers. The way it is now, they get two chances to bleed the developers for whatever they want (which will most likely be affordable housing, or as politicians like to call it, "guaranteed votes") – both during the land "sale" (if you can call it that), and during the PUD process.

  • http://www.ccca-online.org/CityMarketFinancing CCCA Prez

    The parcel is in Shaw in CM Jack Evans ward, he gets no votes out of this since he wont be Shaw's CM after 2012 and needn't bother campaigning among people who can't vote for him and don't have as much money to send him off with as foks in G'town.

    The city will get tax revenue from the $8M "give away"; once the project is in a developers hands they will immediately be paying tax on $8M + whatever the estimated value of the project will be, possibly $28M or up. Right now, the city is making zilch on Parcel 42.

    Math isn't that hard.

    Let's just hope that in the meantime ONE DC doesn't build another shanty town on the site and abandon it so the city will have to spend -- WASTE -- more precious tax dollars to clean it up again.

  • LongTimeRez

    "Where do I sign up to bid on the parcel, and how do I complete the LSDBS paperwork?"

    You could just give Keith Lomax a little ringy-dingy and get his guidance. He was so good he made $11+ million on contracts with his LSDBE and it wasn't even a DC business.

  • Skipper

    This city generally sucks at making land deals that make sense for anyone other than the politically-connected developers.

  • RT

    The only reason it needs a subsidy is because the poverty pimps want it to become low-income housing. New construction costs more or less the same amount if it's low income or "luxury" housing, so the gap needs to be made up in millions of public money. If it's a tax abatement (ie abatement on future taxes that wouldn't be generated anyways without the abatement and subsequent improvements), then it's not a big deal at all because the city coffers will be the same as pre-abatement. However, if it's public money going in as debt or equity ("grant"), then it is an insane waste of taxpayer resources at a time when the budget is in dire straights.

  • RT

    That said, Hoskins has exactly the right reaction to this. You can't make a project more feasible than it is. I have to say, I've been somewhat impressed by him. He's by no means a visionary, but he seems professional and realistic. It seems like he is prioritizing resources to get the best projects off the ground, versus trying to tackle all simultaneously.

  • http://www.ccca-online.org/CityMarketFinancing @CCCAPrez

    September 8th, 2011, 12:12 am
    "Your comment is awaiting moderation."? Why the delay, WCP? Censoring public comment again?

    The parcel is in Shaw in CM Jack Evans ward, he gets no votes out of this since he wont be Shaw's CM after 2011 and needn't bother campaigning among people who can't vote for him and don't have as much money to send him off with as folks in G'town.

    The city will get tax revenue from the $8M "give away"; once the project is in a developers hands they will immediately be paying tax on $8M + whatever the estimated value of the project will be, possibly $28M or up. Right now, the city is making zilch on Parcel 42.

    Math isn't that hard.

    Let's just hope that in the meantime ONE DC doesn't build another shanty town on the site and abandon it so the city will have to spend -- WASTE -- more precious tax dollars to clean it up again.

  • Sally

    Good lord Marty! Do you have any other setting other than whine?

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