Thursday, May 21, 2009

DHCD Seeks Developers for Vacant DC Properties

Washington DC's Department of Housing and Community Development's (DHCD) Property Acquisition and Disposition Division (PADD) has issued a Solitication for Offers for six long-neglected sites throughout the city with the intent of redeveloping them into a mix of affordable units and workforce housing. All of the residential properties are either vacant lots or dilapidated residential complexes: 3401 13th Street, SE; 4 -14 Q Street and 14-16 Florida Avenue, NW; 1715-1717 28th Place, SE; 1335 R Street, NW; 922 French Street, NW; and, lastly, 1713 New Jersey Avenue, NW – the latter being a site initially purchased in January's vacant property auction, but returned to DCHD after its would-be owner defaulted on the first payment.

"For some [of these properties], this isn’t their first showing. This isn’t the first time they’ve been out there. We’ve been looking for opportunities to…convert them into affordable housing…We’re stepping up our efforts to re-introduce these properties, so they don’t just sit and cost the city money to maintain,” said DHCD spokesman Angelita Colon-Francia, who also detailed for DCmud just how and why these six sites were selected from the District’s hundreds-strong catalogue of vacant properties.

“Some were eminent domain, some were tax foreclosures, some were inter-agency transfer of property, but, basically, these are properties that have been in our inventory for a long time…What we’re trying to do is to get them back into use and generate affordable and workforce housing out of them,” she said.

Prospective developers are welcome to bid on as many, or as few, properties as they see fit. The scope and size of the various revitalization efforts, however, will depend on area zoning statutes, as some sites are designated for single-family use, while others are zoned for multi-family development. The wide variety of locales and regulations governing the various sites hasn’t allowed DHCD to predict exactly how much housing will be generated after the projects are awarded – but nonetheless, they’re adhering to strict set of guidelines that makes a clear distinction between which will sites will be required to host affordable and/or workforce units.

“The bottom line is that all of them have a requirement that all buildings have 30% of the units identified as affordable at 60% or less of the Area Median Income (AMI),” said Colon. “There are two exceptions to that: the New Jersey Avenue property and the one on French Street. For those, we’re looking more at workforce. They’ll have to be at or below 120% AMI.”

As of Tuesday, 11 potential bidders have taken up DHCD on their solicitation and Colon encourages developers and non-profits “with the capacity and qualifications” to apply. To that effect, DHCD will be holding a pre-bid conference on June 8th to “fill in the blanks.” The meeting will begin at 2 PM at DHCD headquarters at 1800 Martin Luther King, Jr. Boulevard, SE.

In the meantime, the solicitation is available in hard copy format only and can be picked up at the DHCD offices. Final proposals are due to agency by 3 PM on June 24th. Colon-Francia says the selection process timeline will be contingent on the number of responses received.


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