Housing Complex

City Solicits Developers for 27 Vacant Properties

A string of vacant lots, plus one vacant building, at Florida Avenue and Q Street NW are up for bids from developers.

A string of vacant lots, plus one vacant building, at Florida Avenue and Q Street NW are up for bids from developers.

In its largest disposition of city-owned property in recent history, the Department of Housing and Community Development offered up 27 vacant properties across six sites for development this week.

DHCD is aiming to convert all of the properties, which consist of 23 empty lots and four buildings, into mixed-income housing. For most of the properties, the agency specifies a desire to maximize affordable housing beyond the minimum requirements of D.C.'s inclusionary zoning law, and to include "family style affordable dwelling units" of two or more bedrooms to compensate for developers' increasing propensity to build studios and one-bedrooms that don't suffice for most families.

The exception is a cluster of properties at Florida Avenue and Q Street NW, arguably the most valuable site in the disposition. It lies at the border of Bloomingdale and Truxton Circle, neighborhoods whose housing prices have risen rapidly in recent years. Here, the allure of revenue may have proved too great to demand an abundance of affordable housing, although DHCD still wants a mix of incomes.

DHCD Director Michael Kelly called the disposition a "very proud moment for DHCD" in a statement. "To finally be able to show the city, region, and country the fruit of our labor is a very rewarding moment,” he said. “When these properties and lots are developed it will eliminate blight, revitalize neighborhoods, increase tax revenue into the local economy, [and] create jobs and housing for residents and families of all income levels, suitably bolstering mixed use, vibrant, and diverse communities throughout the District.”

DHCD's Property Acquisition and Disposition Division put its acquisition of properties on hold in order to focus on returning this group of sites to productive use. That pause has taken a toll: As I reported last year, the city has hundreds of vacant or blighted properties whose owner can't be found or whose taxes have exceeded the properties' value, leaving them to languish. DHCD could have purchased some of those buildings to rescue them from their mire of taxes and blight, but instead worked on clearing its backlog of properties. According to DHCD spokesman Marcus Williams, DHCD has now resumed its acquisition of properties, with the most recent acquisition taking place last month.

Here's the full list of properties included in this week's disposition:

1. Amber Overlook: four vacant lots in Marshall Heights (Ward 7), totaling around 37,000 square feet. DHCD previously financed the development of the Amber Overlook/Woodson Heights project, the first two phases of which were completed. This portion, the third phase, which was supposed to consist of 32 townhomes, was never completed.

2. 8th and T streets NW: a vacant lot in Shaw (Ward 1), just over 5,000 square feet. DHCD is seeking to turn this site into a residential or mixed-use development.

3. Florida and Q streets NW: seven vacant lots and one vacant building in Truxton Circle (Ward 5), totaling 12,000 square feet. DHCD is seeking to turn this site into a mixed-use development.

4. 2200-2210 Hunter Place SE: an empty lot abutting Fort Stanton Park in Anacostia (Ward 8) of 23,000 square feet. DHCD seeks a residential project.

5. Halley Terrace: three vacant buildings in Bellevue (Ward 8), totaling about 10,000 square feet. One building was previously converted into five condo units.

6. Minnesota Avenue and 27th Street SE: a vacant lot in Twining (Ward 7) of nearly 20,000 square feet. DHCD seeks a residential project.

Interested developers have until October to submit proposals for the sites.

Photo by Aaron Wiener

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