Housing Complex

City Opens Valuable Florida Avenue NW Parcel to Development Proposals

It may not look like much, but this is one of D.C.'s most valuable pieces of vacant land, and it's up for grabs.

This morning, officials from the office of the Deputy Mayor for Planning and Economic Development held a so-called preresponse conference on the vacant city-owned parcel at 965 Florida Ave. NW, a block north of the 9:30 Club and a short walk from the heart of the U Street corridor. The city issued its request for proposals on Nov. 16 and called developers to today's meeting to show them around the site and answer their questions.

The 1.45-acre parcel currently consists of an unused parking lot and a vacant building. To its north are Howard University dorms; to its east are Howard-owned parking lots that the university plans to develop into some combination of buildings and open space; and to its south is another vacant lot. But this lot might be the key to the parcel's future: It's owned by JBG Companies, and given the city's stated interest in a plan that combines the available lot with contiguous spaces, JBG is thought to have a leg up in the process. JBG is reportedly hoping to build a Harris Teeter on the site.

The site is zoned for a maximum of 90 feet in height as a matter of right, or for 110 feet in the likely event that the developer goes through the Planned Unit Development process.

"We're really indifferent to zoning stuff," Corey Lee, the DMPED project manager for the site, said today. "We assume folks are going to go with a PUD scenario."

Lee also said it's a priority that developers find funding sources that would allow them to work without subsidies from the city. "Any non-District sources you want? Have at it," he said.

Proposals will need to include an extension of Bryant Street NW between Georgia and Sherman avenues. (Howard is expected to complete the eastern portion of the extension as part of its campus development plan.) They will also need to meet inclusionary zoning standards, though additional affordable housing is optional. DMPED officials say they hope revenue from the project can be used to fund the Housing Production Trust Fund, which provides funds for affordable housing, although such a move would likely require Council approval.

Developers will file their proposals by Feb. 12, and a final selection of the development team will occur in May 2013.

Map courtesy of DMPED

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