After announcing yesterday that a decision on the year-old Florida Avenue RFP would not be forthcoming, WMATA's Board of Directors met today in a closed-door session and selected a development team. The decision regarding three lots adjacent to the Shaw-Howard Metro had been held off since May of last year, when bids were submitted, and WMATA Media Contact Angela Gates had prognosticated that a decision would not be made "for another six months." In a surprise decision, WMATA officials today gave its staff permission to negotiate a Development Agreement with Banneker Ventures LLC, Metropolis Development Company, LLC, and District Development Group, LLC. The transit authority did not formalize terms of an agreement, so today's announcement opens negotiations between the winning bidders and WMATA to come to agreement on development of the site, but no final plan is certain.
The contest for the site had been between nine submissions in response to last year's RFP, and had been winnowed down to three as of yesterday. WMATA's press release stated exuberantly that "the team has the experience to complete the project," though cited only Metropolis Development's experience, pointing to its completion of Langston Lofts, one of the DC developers earliest projects. The 80-unit condominium was built by MDC above a Metro line, requiring coordination with WMATA to produce caissons to straddle the existing tunnel.
According to WMATA's Board Action/Information Summary, "The developer provided a better financial offer than its closest competitor and the same type of development - four to five stories of residential units over a ground floor devoted to retail and arts uses...The third competitor did not meet appraisal benchmarks."
Despite the surprise timing of the decision, Merrick Malone, principal and Executive Vice President of Metropolis was upbeat about the project: "Metropolis has proven demonstration to build on top of the Metro tunnel, we know how to go through this process."