Housing Complex

Court Rules Against Ralph Nader Group in Library Fight

Picture 4An effort organized by a group founded by former presidential candidate Ralph Nader to stop the redevelopment of the West End Library was rejected by the D.C. Court of Appeals this morning. The project, which includes a new library, a new fire station, and more than 200 residential units, is now likely to move forward, as first reported by the Washington Business Journal.

The D.C. Library Renaissance Project, founded by Nader in 2002, sought to halt the development, alleging that it violated affordable housing guidelines, undervalued the land, and didn't conform to the city's Comprehensive Plan. The court rejected those arguments, siding with the Zoning Commission and developer EastBanc.

Nader has argued that the project represents a "giveaway" by the D.C. government to EastBanc, while some West End neighborhood groups have supported the project.

Rendering from EastBanc

  • The Java Master

    Nader was right all along: we have entered a corporatist era where business considerations and private interests, aided and abetted by government agencies, trump all other interests, whether at the community, state or national level. He has been saying this for forty years, how come no one listens or cares?
    And what's so funny about peace, love and understanding anyway?

  • http://www.tinyurl.com/westend-vid DC4RD`

    The West End deal is a terrible public property, an absolute public property giveaway. See the linked video for how bad it is.

    The Zoning Commission is supposed to be a independent agency that balances the positive and adverse impacts of any give development plan. By the City giving up public land worth up to $100 million dollars for reconstruction costs of a library and firestation worth $20 million dollars, one must question why the Zoning Commission chooses not to challenge these public property giveaways.

    The Court decision misses the critical fact that since the public is giving so much up in land value that the City then ought to demand much more affordabile housing in the deal. In fact, the Zoning Commission brazenly gave EastBanc a complete waiver for the affordable housing requirements.

    Terrible decisions across the board -- by the City Council (Jack Evans), by the Mayor's planning agents (Harriet Tregoning and Victor Hoskins), the Zoning Commission, and now the Court.

    This is a massive public giveaway of some of the most valuable public land -- Public-Private partnership at its worst.

  • Typical DC BS

    The usual liberal nonsense - the land is NOT worth $100 million. At the time of the project's AWARD (try reading the article that Aaron Weiner referenced), the no-bid award was overturned and public bidding was done, which was won by Eastbanc. Second, the only ones parroting this $100 million figure for the land are mental midgets who can cite NO reputable appraisals. The ORIGINAL appraisals cited the FACT that the renovation costs for the fire station and the library would approximate the value of the underlying land.

    Of course, the commenters all know better than the judges in the Court, as well as all the government officials. Oh, and by the way, there is no "right" to affordable housing.

  • Frank

    Ralph Nader and Ron Paul were both right about the corporatist and big banks era.

  • Jes’ sayin’

    Ralph Nader and Ron Paul are proof that the far left and the far right do actually meet - somewhere over the cuckoo's nest.

  • https://twitter.com/ShawingtonTimes/status/333396630097248256/photo/1 Addicted Gas Guzzler

    @ Frank
    Exactly, thanks.

  • https://twitter.com/ShawingtonTimes/status/333396630097248256/photo/1 Psittacines

    There's a reason the Post loses so much money: It stopped being relevant to residents; every snewsmedia outlet these days and "reporters" are just mouthpieces pr depts for the govt and developers trying to sell ads (to said developers) to stay afloat.

  • anonymous

    You need to READ the DC Court of Appeals decision to see that the judges said NOTHING about the actual dollar value of the land nor the inequity (not to mention iniquity) of the whole deal.

    In fact, the judges' arguments contradict each other and are clearly bogus--just like the Zoning Commission (ZC) decision. For example, the judges state that valuation of the city land gifted to EastBanc does not fall within the ZC's purview while simultaneously stating that EastBanc's construction budget on the other side of the ledger warrants the ZC's granting of relief from obligations of inclusionary zoning (IZ).

    In other words, the judges say the ZC doesn't have to examine the assets granted to EastBanc (or any developer) in its deal with the city (the taxpayers), only its liabilities, reducing the Planned Unit Development process to a sham.

    As far as the actual value of the property, there are quite a few numbers in various places of the public record. There was a ZC case dealing with property on that same library square wherein appraisers for land use lawyers from Holland & Knight produced the approximate value of $493 per square foot for the Gibson condominiums. That was in 2004--nine years ago.

    In November 2011, the DC Real Property Assessment database noted the parking lot that will be absorbed into this deal was sold to EastBanc for $568 psf (and reliable sources have indicated $700 psf was the actual price).

    Further, working back from the Chief Financial Officer's yearly forgiveness of the Deed & Recordation taxes--a percentage of the total value of the 3 public properties--until project completion, puts the value at $100+ million.

    As many others have indicated, no matter how you slice this deal, it amounts to a lotta baloney--with the public paying pate de foie gras prices.

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  • Immortal_Rabinowitz

    This country was not built by Ralph Nader. All developments are guided by business considerations and private interests. In the end, most of the private wealth goes back to society in the form of libraries (Carnegie), foundations (Gates), etc. And if they pass a part or all on their kids, it's their choice because they create, not loot. If you do not like it, pick your favorite skin colour and get out to Venezuela, or Zimbabwe, or Belarus.

  • Immortal_Rabinowitz

    This country was not built by the likes of Ralph Nader. All developments are guided by business considerations and private interests. In the end, most of the private wealth goes back to society in the form of libraries (Carnegie), foundations (Gates), etc. And if they pass a part or all on their kids, it's their choice because they create, not loot. If you do not like it, pick your favorite skin colour and get out to Venezuela, or Zimbabwe, or Belarus.

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