Housing Complex

UHOP Looks to Consolidate Hold on 7th Street Block

Last month, the city held a pre-bid conference for people interested in Parcel 42, the key chunk of land at 7th and Rhode Island Avenue NW that's now on its second trip through the public disposition process. There was a good showing of local small developers: Redbrick, Neighborhood Development Company, Altus Realty Partners, The Community Builders, Wall Development, CSG Urban Partners, and Four Points Development all sent somebody, along with a smattering of architects, contractors, and consultants.

By far the biggest attendance, however, came from the United House of Prayer for All People—15 people signed in with that affiliation, at least. Although he hasn't yet returned my call, UHOP real estate maven Apostle Green spoke at an Advisory Neighborhood Commission 2C meeting back in April about the church's desire to develop the property, emphasizing the need for more market rate housing in the neighborhood (the previous iteration had been all affordable, and the developer gave up when the numbers didn't pencil).

The corner lot would sure be attractive to the real estate-minded church, which has developed apartments all around its national headquarters at 6th and M Street NW. It owns nearly all of the frontage on the block of 7th Street north of Rhode Island, and is just finishing up apartments at 625 Rhode Island Avenue; Parcel 42 looks like a big missing piece.

Of the other folks, CSG Urban Partners and Altus Realty said they wouldn't be responding to the request for proposals, while Four Points (which is doing Progression Place a couple blocks north) and Georgia Avenue-based Neighborhood Development said they would.

  • Hillman

    How does the tax exempt status of the church work here? Do they get to avoid taxes on all these developments?

  • Wrack

    That is an excellent question. If the units are market-rate, i.e., profit-generating, instead of affordable, why the hell should the church get tax breaks? It's just a front for a real estate business at that point, isn't it?

    Isn't that basically tax fraud? Why should taxpayers pay for this?

  • Lydia DePillis

    @Hillman @Wrack

    Calm down, folks. Their residential and commercial projects are on the tax rolls.

  • Sally

    On the tax rolls....for now. They've gotten some freebies in the recent budget.

  • Bob

    Please no more UHOP development with that horrible Suzanne Reatig architecture in Shaw...she's done enough damage to the landscape already! And she seems to be UHOPs sole source for building...

  • Clarence

    This church claims to build affordable housing when in fact the rates are sky high. Don't believe the hype. Those older buildings are cheaper but the new ones they develop are going at rates the average community citizen cannot afford.

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  • Notagain

    Marion Barry GAVE UHOP several parcels of land by the convention center years ago and right on top of the METRO! The church also owns NUMEROUS properties all over the United States as well as prime real estate in Harlem. On closer examination, it can be ascertained that the dealings of these people is highly questionable and unethical. Their underhanded modus of operandi is shrouded in a fake religion to hide the unscrupulous manner in which they operate. The District government should no longer allow itself to be ripped off by these imposters.

    i

  • Also Shaw

    I do not trust UHOP. Their presentation the February (?) ANC meeting to transfer subsidized apartments from the new building on Rhode Island to one of their older buildings on 7th street was fundamentally disingenuous. It was a reasonable business decision--designed to maximize profit--but was couched as the choice of a community service organization. You cannot have it both ways--and UHOP is trying. They should bid like everyone else, but should receive no favors because of their status as a religious organization.

    Also, Lydia: can churches with Real Estate holdings in the District use profits from those projects to support church infrastructure, salaries, etc? I don't have enough knowledge to make a judgment, but it seems shady as hell.

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