Tuesday, September 23, 2014

WBJ | Congress Heights project tweaked, still a massive neighborhood change

The two buildings that complete the Congress Heights Metro project from Sanford Capital and CityPartners. Residential is to the right, and office is to the left.

Go HERE to read the full article. If you recall a group of "community leaders" formed a group called ACCORD to negotiate a community benefits agreement from the developer of this project. 

What do you feel about community benefits agreements? Who should negotiate for them? What (if any) are reasonable requests? Who should benefit?

It was roughly three years ago when the joint venture of Sanford and CityPartners struck a $3 million deal with Metro to purchase three Congress Heights parcels totaling 41,068 square feet of land.  
The amended development blueprint calls for 208 apartments in one building, 230,000 square feet of office in another, 26,000 square feet of retail space “tailored and marketed to neighborhood-serving retail uses,” a “landmark gateway architectural place” at 13th and Alabama, and a new plaza at the Metro entrance. 
The revised design, from Maurice Walters Architects PC, features lower building heights (90 feet), red brick (to appear “more residential”), a relocated penthouse (to reduce visibility) and a developed facade (to add “residential character”).
The developer also has submitted a draft community benefits agreement, which is quite different from one drawn up in February by “A Community Coalition for Responsible Development,” or ACCORD. The community group’s CBE sought a minimum of $2 million in financial support for ACCORD, 1,000 square feet of free office space for the local advisory neighborhood commission, and much more. 
Square 5914 LLC isn’t going nearly that far. Among its CBE provisions: 
  • A revolving working capital fund in an amount no less than $200,000 to ensure subcontractors can cover payroll and other fixed costs on a weekly basis.
  • 500 square feet of office space for the ANC at a cost of $1 per month.
  • $2,500 per year for five years to Lead the Way Foundation and Higher Hopes Inc.
  • $5,000 per year for five years to the Congress Heights Community Association to help fund the annual Congress Heights Health and Community Day.
  • $5,000 per year for five years for the Ward 8 Council Against Domestic Violence.
  • $2,500 per year for five years to the Community Heights Community Training and Development Corp.
  • Two retail storefronts for small and local businesses.
  • Current tenants of the existing buildings are guaranteed the “absolute right to return” and rent increases limited to 4 percent annually
  • 8 percent of the total residential floor area will be set aside for units affordable to households earning up to 80 percent of the area median income
  • The developer will “endeavor” to have 30 percent Ward 8 participation in construction jobs, in addition to two paid internships for Ward 8 residents.

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