Housing Complex

Greenleaf Redevelopment Could Be Delayed as D.C. Misses Cut on Planning Grant

This Housing Authority map shows Greenleaf in red. Existing developments are numbered.

This Housing Authority map shows Greenleaf in red. Existing developments are numbered.

In May, the D.C. Housing Authority applied for a federal planning grant to begin the process of redeveloping the Greenleaf public housing complex that occupies four blocks near the Waterfront Metro station. On Friday, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development announced the nine winners of the 2013 Choice Neighborhoods Planning Grants—and D.C. wasn't among them.

Greenleaf—which totals nearly 500 units in the heart of the Southwest quadrant, divided between between Greenleaf Gardens, Greenleaf Senior, Greenleaf Extension, and Greenleaf Addition—was built in the 1950s and 1960s. Its aging apartment buildings stand out in a rapidly transforming neighborhood; just around the corner, developers are putting the finishing touches on a former Environmental Protection Agency office building whose apartment rents will exceed $3,000 a month. Much as the Housing Authority has done for the nearby Capper/Carrollsburg public housing complex (a process that's still ongoing 10 years later), the agency is hoping to convert Greenleaf into a denser, mixed-income community, with a one-to-one replacement of affordable units.

A Choice grant would have given the Housing Authority up to $500,000 to "support the development of comprehensive neighborhood revitalization plans which focused on directing resources to address three core goals: Housing, People and Neighborhoods," according to the HUD website. Now that the city missed the cut for a Choice grant, the Housing Authority will seek other funding sources for the planning of the redevelopment; if no others come through, the agency may reapply for a Choice grant next year, says Housing Authority spokesman Rick White. The setback is likely to delay the process, but not to derail it entirely, he says.

The winners of the 2013 Choice grants are: Baton Rouge, La., Denver, Los Angeles, Meriden, Conn., New Bern, N.C., Philadelphia, Sacramento, Wellston, Mo., and Winston-Salem, N.C.

Map from the D.C. Housing Authority

  • I’m JK

    I'd really hate to see the wonderful folks of Green Leaf go. You know, with all the amazing culture and activities they provide the neighborhood. Not to mention how safe and connected the street grid is with Green Leaf. Who needs K and L St's SW anyway. Going around is just better exercise! Don't go GREEN LEAFFFFFFFFFFF ;)

  • I’m JK

    *Greenleaf

  • Brahmin

    The fact that HUD is within the same foot print as the Greenleaf development could only be the reason they didn't get it.

  • wd

    I don't understand why any public money needs to be used for this. These parcels are prime real estate and I imagine a private developer could redevelop the area to include a high percentage of low-income properties and still come out fine.

  • crin

    @wd, see Southwest Urban Renewal, 1949-1972. Urban renewal combined the eminent domain power of government and the market forces of private developers and finance. The promise was more efficient land-use and no displacement of current residents. Government did its part. It used eminent domain to take all the land, then cleared it and offered it to the private market for development. Developers came in with their numbers, bids and promises to keep the current residents while making a modest profit. But as they financed, delayed, planned, partially built, replanned, refinanced and built a little more, the developers' numbers changed. They had to raise rents to make money, so they raised rents and the promise to keep residents was thrown out the window.

    "The Market" has no commitment to affordable housing and will lawyer their way out of it at any opportunity. For a current version of the same tale, see Inclusionary Zoning.

    Also note that Greenleaf, although in Southwest, was not part of urban renewal. Happened at the same time, but Greenleaf was built by the DC Housing Authority without the private developers. So while Urban Renewal areas of Southwest displaced all the poor residents in order to preserve profit margins, DCHA built Greenleaf and kept their units for their planned purpose: affordable housing.

  • http://urbanplacesandspaces.blogspot.com Richard Layman

    Instead of spending money to replace working trash cans (http://urbanplacesandspaces.blogspot.com/2013/11/starting-new-sustainable-waste.html) the city could save a couple million dollars, which could have been made available to a project like this. Wasteful spending does have consequences.

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