Housing Complex

Developers See an Ally in Bowser


There's arguably no class of people more divisive in D.C. than developers. While some residents support the growth of their neighborhoods, a more vocal contingent objects to the added density caused by new projects, the noise and nuisance of construction, and especially the sweetheart deals the critics see the city giving to leading development firms. And they frequently vow to give their elected leaders the boot and replace them with people less likely to be under the sway of developers.

Yet if the attendance at Muriel Bowser's election party last night was any indication, we're not about to see any backlash against developers in a Bowser administration.

Stan Voudrie of the development company Four Points was among the early arrivals at the party. Vicki Davis, the president of Urban Atlantic, followed. Chris Donatelli, the president of Donatelli Development, was in the front row as the returns came in, decked out in Bowser green.

There's reason for all of these developers to back Bowser. One of Four Points' big early projects in D.C., The Hampshires, is located in Bowser's home Ward 4. Donatelli has been active in Petworth, also in Bowser's ward. Urban Atlantic was chosen last year to be a partner in the redevelopment of Walter Reed, the Ward 4 mega-project that's long been a priority of Bowser's.

But Bowser was already a favorite of developers before the mayoral campaign began. According to a tabulation by WAMU a year ago, Bowser had received $131,626 in donations from developers who had gotten city subsidies in her time on the D.C. Council—more than any other current member of the Council had received in the past decade.

"I think that she's pro-developer," Donatelli said at the party. "She's always been pro-developer. She sees the benefits of development, but she also appreciates balance in development."

Photo by Aaron Wiener

  • I Miss Fenty

    Yay! It's time to say goodbye to Vince & Marion & Uncle Earl. They're like a dreary 1980s rerun.

  • Not a fan of Fenty Clone

    Well Surprise Surprise Bowser is in the hip pocket of some of the biggest most influencial Developers in DC. Yay just what this city needs more overpriced Condos for Hipsters.

  • Mario

    If she handles development and city contracts like Fenty did, she'll be out on her ass just as he was. I hope she chooses to be way more transparent but it's hard to imagine. Also hard to imagine a person could give away precious city land resources for as little as $130K, but that's happened before.

  • Alf

    I agree with Mario. While Fenty did a lot of good things, it's hard to top the giveaways and near giveaways of city property to favored developers. Remember the Janney School debacle? Recall where the price of modernizing one of the highest performing, highest enrolled DC schools was to take a good chunk of the schoolyard and build multi-story condos on it, together with the Tenley library? The suggestion that a "public private partnership" was the only way that modernization could be funded? Recall that the Janney property was the one that just had to be developed when there were a number of vacant or unimproved (think Dominos on Wisconsin) privately held properties ripe for development? Good thing that this deal was exposed and shut down, because Janney is now onto its second expansion in less than 8 years. If the PPP condos had been built, there would hardly be any school yard left.

  • stick2yourguns

    of course they backed her as they did fenty...cause now they can get whatever they want build whatever they want get away with everything they want...

  • StringsAttached

    Did someone say 'Ethics'?