Housing Complex

Wells: Affordable Housing Must Be Part of D.C. United Deal

IMG_0920The city's effort to complete a deal to swap public land for the site of the proposed D.C. United soccer stadium at Buzzard Point is already well behind schedule, and it's not getting any easier. Both Ward 1 Councilmember Jim Graham and his challenger Brianne Nadeau have pushed for an office use rather than the expected residential development at the site currently occupied by the Frank D. Reeves Municipal Center, which the city is likely to trade to developer Akridge, in order to boost daytime population in the nightlife hotspot of U Street. Now Ward 6 Councilmember Tommy Wells is adding his own demands, arguing that affordable housing should be part of the new development.

"Whenever we use public assets, the No. 1 priority should be that they’re leveraged to create more affordable housing," says Wells, who isn't yet sure whether he'd vote for a stadium deal that didn't include affordable housing. He thinks the Reeves Center site, at 14th and U streets NW, would be an ideal location for affordable housing, given the increasing affordability of the neighborhood for working-class residents and the over-concentration of low-income housing in wards 7 and 8.

Akridge, which owns a parcel of land at Buzzard Point that the city needs to obtain as part of its deal with D.C. United, is likely to want to build an apartment or condo building at the Reeves Center site, given the desirability of the neighborhood and the spate of high-end residential developments that have recently been undertaken nearby. Wells says that if Akridge can't profitably build affordable housing on the site on its own, the city should be willing to chip in money to make it happen. "If we need to put some money in, so be it," he says. He expects a housing use—as opposed to office—to generate more revenue for the city in the long run because new residents contribute income, property, and sales taxes, which he calls "the trifecta."

Wells' desire for affordable housing as part of the deal, which he's expressed to City Administrator Allen Lew, who's negotiating the deal with D.C. United, dovetails with a recent bill introduced by Ward 5 Councilmember Kenyan McDuffie. That bill would require the creation of affordable housing when the city sells or leases public land for residential development. Wells says he supports McDuffie's bill, but in its absence, he wants to ensure that affordable housing is part of the stadium deal.

Separately, Wells is pushing for the Circulator bus service to be expanded to Buzzard Point in order to serve the soccer stadium, until the streetcar line there is completed.

Photo by Aaron Wiener

  • Chris hauser

    I suggest it's the "increasing unaffordability."

    I think the city's dc united counterparty is going to end up being the non-performer.

  • Retiredcop70

    Affordable housing for whom? $400 - $600,000 is not affordable housing!

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  • Ward 1er

    The Reeves site is huge. Everyone seems to think its either X or Y, but in reality it should probably be some mixed use office-retail-affordable housing-market rate housing development.

  • Native Tongue

    First I'm glad to see this buildinig, Dunbar and Woodson High Schools go they all looked like DC jail.

    Build a performing Art School for Duke Ellington on this site is not U street the performing Art District. Retrofitting an old building is a waste.

    Keep the post office on the main floor.

    Affordable housing the remainder of the building.


    Real affordable public housing.

    Post Office stays

  • Affordable Housing

    You gotta love the naked pandering politicians do to get a certain demographics vote. Beating the "Affordable Housing" drum is always good for a few votes.

    The real question is, how much affordable housing do we really need. The District has ~42,000 units of affordable housing. The District owns 8,000 of them which are classified as low income housing. Of all the housing units in the District, almost 15% are set aside for affordable housing.

    The median household size in the District is 2.17 people per household, the housing is generally enough for 91,000 people. Do we “really” need more?

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  • Eric Ward VI

    Did he just say "affordable housing"? I guess I know who I'm voting for!

  • SEis4ME

    @Affordable Housing, I agree.

    Look at how all the panda bears talk about transit and other quality of life issues. Why in the world would they even consider pandering to people who like "those" sort of things?

  • SEis4ME

    Oh and don't forget the "tax" demographic. Pity the politician who's interesting in catering to the demands of those who want to upgrade our tax policies.

    Just the mere thought of that makes me cringe....Ugh!

  • http://los-angeles.localmart.com/apartments-for-rent/ Rachel

    As far I know, Tommy has won support throughout Washington for his fundamental goal that is creating a livable and walkable city for all. He brings the skill to forge the kind of collaboration that translates great ideas into real improvements. But the reality is that people can’t even afford new housing offered at levels that are “affordable to households making between $45,000 and $65,000 annually”. You know what else would help create affordable housing? Not giving away millions in tax breaks to a soccer team.

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