Housing Complex

Morning Links

edgewoodD.C. files suit against troublesome house flipper. [WAMU]

Has Arlington, once a pioneering urban suburb, lost its way? [Washingtonian]

Borderstan is back (on June 1). [Borderstan]

A D.C. archaeologist looks back. [OPinions]

How bikes balance. [CityLab]

Today on the market: Edgewood 2BR condo—$295,000

Scaled-Back Brentwood Overhaul Draws McDuffie’s Support, Tenants’ Opposition


A project that could transform the Brentwood neighborhood is up for zoning approval tonight after being scaled back significantly. But current residents of the Brookland Manor complex, fearing displacement, are opposing the plans, setting up a fight for the Zoning Commission to resolve.

The Mid-City Financial Corporation, based in Germantown, owns Brookland Manor, a low-rise apartment complex with 525 units spread over nearly 20 acres just off Rhode Island Avenue NE. The apartments, 373 of which are subsidized by the federal government through the project-based Section 8 program, date back to the Great Depression. They're not in good shape. The complex has become a crime hotspot. And with development and dollars spreading eastward along Rhode Island Avenue to nearby Brookland, Mid-City has an opportunity to turn an aging property into a lucrative opportunity.

As Mid-City frames it, though, the project is a legacy-building one for the company's 85-year-old founder, Eugene Ford Sr., who started the firm in 1965. Rather than scrapping its Section 8 contract with the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development and building entirely market-rate units, Mid-City has chosen to keep 373 of the new apartments under Section 8, while adding 1,273 market units by building higher and denser.

"You know the Museum Square story," says Mid-City Executive Vice President Michael Meers, referring to the embattled Mount Vernon Triangle building whose owner has sought to demolish it and displace the Section 8 tenants in order to build luxury apartments and condos. "We’ve taken the position that it needs to be safeguarded."

When Mid-City pitched its plans last fall, some residents were cautiously supportive. "I believe that’s a good idea," Minnie Elliott, president of the Brookland Manor/Brentwood Village Residents Association, told me then, referring to an overhaul of the complex. Her only fear, she said, was that "we don’t want them to displace the people that live here." And if Mid-City's commitment to minimizing displacement waned, she said, "we’re going to make noise."

Now they're making some noise. The tenant association will speak in opposition to Mid-City's plans tonight before the Zoning Commission, which will rule on Mid-City's application for a zoning change to allow for the increased density on the site.

Read more Scaled-Back Brentwood Overhaul Draws McDuffie’s Support, Tenants’ Opposition

Most-Used Bikeshare Station Gets 1,000 Times the Traffic of Least-Used Station


The Capital Bikeshare station at Massachusetts Avenue NW and Dupont Circle gets a lot of love. In an average month, 9,751 people start or end trips there.

Six-and-a-half miles east, not far from the Maryland border, the Bikeshare station at 49th Street NE and Nannie Helen Burroughs Avenue isn't quite so popular. In a typical month, just nine people use the station.

In other words, Bikeshare's most-used station gets more than 1,000 times the usage of its least-used station.

A recent Bikeshare survey showed that its users are becoming whiter and wealthier. But the per-station usage numbers, from the Office of Revenue Analysis' District, Measured blog, suggest that's less a factor of availability in poorer, majority-black parts of town, and more the result of lower usage in those areas.

That shouldn't be surprising. Given the city's topographic-bowl formation, outlying areas of the city tend to be higher and hillier. Neighborhoods east of the Anacostia River are particularly hilly and difficult to bike around without breaking a sweat. There's a clear correlation between topography and ridership. Here are the 10 stations that are the most likely to be the start of trips, rather than the terminus:

Read more Most-Used Bikeshare Station Gets 1,000 Times the Traffic of Least-Used Station

Local Governments Partner With D.C. Tech Incubator to Make Cities Smarter


A woman is biking north on 15th Street NW on a recent afternoon, in front of the Loews Madison Hotel. Suddenly, a taxi driver heading the other way U-turns into her, knocking her to the ground. A few passersby and the hotel doorman quickly help her up, and the driver gets out of his cab to check on her. She appears to be OK. Information is exchanged. The driver leaves; the cyclist lingers a while, then leaves, too.

A few minutes later, Dan Hoffman arrives at a coffee shop across the street, 15 minutes late for a meeting. He has just come from Capitol Hill, he says by way of apology, where he briefed Rep. Darrell Issa (R-Calif.) and several congressional staffers on the “Internet of Things”—a future of networked devices and systems that communicate with one another. When told of the incident that just occurred, he cuts in with a vision of the future, when sensors and “vehicle-to-infrastructure technology” will prevent such occurrences.

He lays out the scenario. “Someone’s in the bike lane. Someone’s pulling around. Car senses that that’s a bike lane, shouldn’t be going there. Or car senses biker. Car stops.”

Hoffman thinks he can help get us to that future. As Montgomery County’s first-ever chief innovation officer, a job he’s held since October 2012, Hoffman is responsible for bringing creative and efficient new approaches to the county government and its technology efforts.

Put another way, he’s the grown-up supervising the county’s tech playground. And the sandbox at the center of the playground is the Thingstitute, an innovation lab that the county opened in January in a historic Rockville courthouse. The Thingstitute serves as a test bed for local entrepreneurs to experiment with new technology, with the goal of getting a jump on the Internet of Things and incorporating it into the county’s development. The Thingstitute’s cornerstone project, the Safe Community Alert (SCALE) Network, builds sensors that can send automatic signals to first responders when they detect, say, hazardous gases at a senior housing facility.

Last month, Montgomery County took a step that Hoffman thinks will help get it to the smart-cities future he envisions. The county announced a partnership with 1776, the tech incubator that launched in downtown D.C. in 2013 and quickly became the epicenter of the District’s tech scene, with 285 member startups now. The arrangement is designed to give Montgomery County startups access to 1776’s resources and guidance, and to allow the county government to work with existing 1776 members to incorporate their technology into public infrastructure that could include everything from traffic lights to government buildings.  Read more Local Governments Partner With D.C. Tech Incubator to Make Cities Smarter

Morning Links

deanwoodEdens expands its Union Market empire. [WBJ]

How to take 100,000 cars off D.C.'s streets. [GGW]

Firefighter dies in Shaw apartment fire. [Post]

A new PAC challenges politicians who challenge D.C. [LL]

The proposed parking tax is basically a commuter tax. [GGW]

The story of the not-yet-extant Anacostia streetcar. [GGW]

Today on the market: House in Deanwood—$330,000

In a Changing Neighborhood, Whitman-Walker’s Move Means More Transparency—and Revenue


Just two blocks separate Whitman-Walker Health's old and new buildings on 14th Street NW, but they feel worlds apart. The squat, bunker-like two-story building at 14th and R looks like a vestige of tougher times on the once crime- and prostitution-riddled street. Its glistening six-story successor blends in seamlessly with the high-end apartments and condos that have sprung up along the corridor. But the main difference is the glass.

"There was an assumption that LGBT people would have to go to a seedier part of town to get care," says Shawn Jain, Whitman-Walker's director of communications. When the facility at 14th and R opened in 1987, the AIDS epidemic was in full force, and Whitman-Walker, which has catered principally to LGBT and HIV-positive patients, shielded its clients from the judging public with a building that was inscrutable from the outside. Now, both the clientele and the perception have changed, along with the neighborhood, and the glassy exterior of the new building is a reflection of that change. "Our goal with this building is to help people own their identities."

The new building, located at 1525 14th St. NW and nicknamed simply "1525," is scheduled to open for patient care on May 18. It comes courtesy of a $9.8 million build-out from Whitman-Walker. But in the long run, the nonprofit community health center expects the move to be a money-maker.

Read more In a Changing Neighborhood, Whitman-Walker’s Move Means More Transparency—and Revenue

Morning Links

kalorama11th Street Bridge Park group tries to avoid gentrifying nearby areas. [Next City]

A profile of a particularly bad house flipper. [WAMU]

In 2012-2013, 13 percent of D.C. students were suspended at least once. [GGW]

An interesting but impossible proposal for adding housing by narrowing streets. [Vox]

Muriel Bowser's attempt to rally support for 'Skins-to-D.C. backfires. [Post]

Hine School redevelopment will start this month. [UrbanTurf]

"Rain" is coming to a NoMa underpass. How about bike lanes? [GGW]

No shadow in my backyard: the latest twist in the development wars. [Post]

Car2Go is getting pricier. [DCist]

Today on the market: Kalorama 1BR—$399,000

Morning Links

u stMartha's Table plans to move across the Anacostia River. [Post]

The perils of buying a flipped home. [WAMU]

D.C. is America's second-worst city for driving. [NerdWallet]

The evolving plans for D.C.'s streetcar. [GGW]

Domestic tourism to D.C. has its fifth straight record year. [Post]

New renderings of a Navy Yard development set for 2016 delivery. [UrbanTurf]

Abandoned Columbia Heights apartment building finally gets rehabbed. [New Columbia Heights]

A 1968 brochure for the upcoming Metro. [GGW]

The number of Americans with severe housing-affordability problems is finally dropping. [Post]

Today on the market: 1BR co-op in U Street NW corridor—$340,000

Morning Links


H Street NE strip mall will become 420 apartments and retail. [WBJ]

A slimmed-down Dupont Underground is set to open in July. [Post]

Petworth funeral home could become 20 apartments and retail. [UrbanTurf]

How has Ben's Chili Bowl survived gentrification? Turkey burgers, apparently. [Post]

On Metro fare jumping. [WAMU]

In Palisades, park planning done right. [GGW]

Today on the market: Friendship Heights 5BR house—$1,700,000

With Prices Tripling, Homeownership Tanks Among Low-Income Washingtonians


Across America, home prices rose by an average of 45 percent between 2001 and 2014, according to data from the Federal Housing Finance Agency, compiled by the District, Measured blog from the D.C. Office of Revenue Analysis. In that same time period, prices more than tripled in D.C.

It's no surprise, then, that D.C. wasn't exempt from the decline in homeownership that affected the whole country. Nationally, the homeownership rate dropped from 70 percent to 67 percent over those 13 years; in D.C., the rate declined from 48 percent to 44 percent, although that drop occurred entirely between 2013 and 2014, according to the data.

But the decline in homeownership wasn't distributed equally across income levels. The highest-income 25 percent of D.C. residents saw a slight reduction in homeownership, from 77 to 72 percent. The middle quartiles actually stayed at the same homeownership rate of 43 percent.

Among the lowest-income 25 percent of residents, however, the drop was severe. In 2001, the share of those households that owned their homes was 31 percent. By 2014, that figure had dropped to 19 percent. And unlike the higher-income groups, this category of Washingtonians saw a steady decline over the 13-year period.

Read more With Prices Tripling, Homeownership Tanks Among Low-Income Washingtonians