Monday, November 03, 2014

WCP | City Says Controversial Anacostia Development May Move Forward

The Advoc8te is neither surprised nor encouraged by this news. Once again, east of the river is used  to solve west of the river's problems, our own needs be damned.  There isn't a single non-income restricted, quality rental property in all of Ward 8 yet once again Ward 8 is asked to fill the affordable housing gap for west of the river. Once again the city shows their strong commitment to low-income housing by locating it in the Ward with the highest unemployment and least amount of resources.


Go HERE for the full article.

You can read the Mayor's Agent's ruling HERE

More than a year after the District's historic preservation authorities rejected plans for a controversial Anacostia development that would require moving two historic houses, the Gray administration has ruled in favor of the project, citing its "special merit" to the neighborhood and the city. 
The Big K site on Martin Luther King Jr. Avenue SE, nicknamed after the liquor store that once operated there, has sat vacant for years as the city mulled its development potential. Developer Tim Chapman was awarded the rights to the site, reportedly for $1, following a 2012 solicitation. Although the solicitation recommended that the site not include housing and the initial plan was for offices, Chapman later determined that the best use would be affordable housing. The current plans call for 114 income-restricted apartments, available to households making under 60 percent of area median income, and ground-floor retail. 
The shift has upset many neighbors, who argue that Anacostia and Ward 8 already have too much affordable housing, and that what the amenity-starved neighborhood really needs is market-rate housing that will attract high-quality retailers. But what truly threatened the plan was the preservation element: Chapman hoped to relocate two historic, if dilapidated, houses to a different site in the neighborhood to make room for the new development. And in October 2013, the Historic Preservation Review Board voted unanimously to reject the project. 
A proposal rejected by HPRB can still move forward, if the Mayor's Agent, part of the D.C. Office of Planning, deems it to have special merit. Last week, Mayor's Agent J. Peter Byrne made just that finding, ruling that the dearth of affordable housing in the city and quality retail in Anacostia make this a worthy project, even in the face of preservation concerns.


Anonymous said...

With all of the talk about affordable housing, the homeless, the lingering individuals at MLK and Malcom X why is anyone surprised. I think Ward 8 needs to get accustomed to this type of housing. The trick will be to ensure that the tenants are respon sible individuals to the community.

Rhett said...

Any word on which of the Chapman proposals are moving forward? Is it the orignal one or the revised lower massing one? Or do they pretty much get to build what they want now since its a special merit project and I'm guessing no longer needs to respond to historic preservation concerns.


h st ll said...

I'm actually optimistic about this one. Incomes will be higher than the current ones for the neighborhood and it looks like a really nice building.

Also in the article it mentions it will be the only class A (highest level) commercial space in the neighborhood.

The Advoc8te said...

h st LL

I love you but you are probably the only one optimistic about this.

At 60% AMI that leaves the income cap at $45k a person -- less than 60k for two people. Two people who make $30k each are going to be ineligible to live here. Once again, the higher incomes that Ward 8 desperately needs to try and attract some retail (and with it some jobs) are once again shut out. If you are single and make $50k and want to rent in Ward 8 in a nice building there is no place for you to go.

In theory this project sounds good but the reality (that those of us who live in Ward 8) know all too well is that this project is going to turn into yet another 100% voucher building. It may be skeptical but that is the reality. And as someone who lives in a neighborhood where every apt building is 100% voucher I can see the frustration here.

Anonymous said...

The comments by the mayor's agent makes it clear that the city is committed to building as much low-income housing as it can EOTR.

Mari said...

Maybe you should get a city-wide meme going. Something along the lines of "we have enough 'affordable housing' and it's on the other side of the river. So we're good. No mas, por favor." Because affordable housing advocates will clamor for more affordable housing units, city leaders will promise to create more and apparently the advocates are fine as long as the numbers are there, not caring about the 'where'.
The city is trying to put affordable housing units in NW (Shaw/ Petworth) by having developers on city land set aside a percentage of units for people making 30-80% AMI. You're not alone.

Time for a change said...

In essence, the majority voice of the community, the decision of the HBRB means nothing due to "special merit". This is ridiculous.

Anonymous said...

45k for a single person could be some young college grad working for a non-profit, a Univ, etc. Probably making more than 80% of the single people in W8 now. As much as people in a market rate building in W8 would get. The real problem for W8 is the lack of an upside - if the neighborhood turns soon, THEN there is a difference between this and what market rate would be.

BTW, from the city POV it makes sense to put AH wherever you can at lowest cost. The main reason to put AH WOTR, IMO, is to avoid reinforcing segregation of DCPS. But if these are mostly small units, that may not be such an issue.

Anonymous said...

You don't get market-rate housing just by wishing for it, the simple fact is that in scenarios like this it's far more profitable to build affordable housing. Making it affordable allows the developer to receive preferential treatment and subsidies upfront, allows one to build a less expensive building (affordable units rarely have the top-end finishes that new market rate units have), and the Section 8 or LRSP vouchers guarantee you'll receive a steady and fairly decent income stream. Compare that to market rate units in a marginal area, that will often spend a lot of time vacant. If you want to attract young, market-making professionals EOTR by building some low-cost, high-end market rate buildings (a risky proposition at best), you can't be competing with this guaranteed income stream.

Anonymous said...

Based on the last comment,(posted @11:01 am) I suspect that the city is, in fact, committed to putting as much low-income housing in Anacostia as it possibly can. As a market rate purchaser in Sheridan Sayles, I am, of course deeply displeased with such a prospect. Especially given the demand there is for metro accessible market rate housing. I fear that we will go through another slump while the city continues talk out of both sides of its mouth about economic development in Anacostia. What good is new retail space when few people with disposable income can even move into the neighborhood because they are capped out of every new development? Who is going patronize this new retail space anyway? I have disposable income; but when I want to go shopping (or need to spend money doing anything), I either get in my car or hop on the metro to points northwest. It is hard seeing that change anytime soon.

Anonymous said...

Why we only talk about affordable housing? How about making more money. I think that should be the goal. How about personal responsiblity? Are we leaving in a Comunist state - poor but equal and the Gov taking care of us? With the money my section 8 neigbors spend on beer and if one of them worked they could by a place EOTR already.
We should start calling the problems with their real names. I'm tired of complains.