Apparently three hours worth of a Zoning Commission hearing was not enough time for all interested parties to have their say about Skyland Town Center, a the proposed mixed-use residential and retail development. Neighbors showed up in force to voice their concerns and hesitant support for - or outright opposition to - the project set to bring 450-500 residential units and 315,000 s.f. of retail to the intersection Alabama Avenue & Good Hope Road, SE. The five-member development team, made up of the Rappaport Companies, William C. Smith & Co., Harrison Malone Development LLC, the Marshall Heights Community Development Organization (MHCDO) and the Washington East Foundation, has been working with the community on the plans for Skyland for 7 years. The December meeting ended with a "to-be-continued" status, set to finish (in theory) February 4, 2010.
Original plans called for 80% of the residential units to be condominiums, an obvious non-starter today. According to one resident who spoke before the Zoning Commission, the community first began pushing for new development in the town center area in 1989, in 2000 then - Mayor Anthony Williams' administration chose the current development team to plan and build the mixed-use center. The DC Council has already approved a Tax Increment Financing (TIF) package to provide gap financing for the project.
Residential units will be provided in three apartment buildings and approximately 20 townhouses. Developers hope the retail will include a big box retail store, multi-neighborhood retailers, and local retailers.
ANC-7B submitted a letter of support, but it listed approximately 20 concerns or items that needed further discussions, including concerns over traffic mitigation, litter control, and promised transportation enhancements. One group of neighbors, the Ft. Baker Drive Party, remains in complete opposition citing concerns over, naturally, the proximity of the planned development to their homes. Neighbors such as Tiffany Brown, a resident of neighboring Akron Place, said they opposed any type of development on the site that added housing to the retail mix, citing abundant housing already in existence.
After three hours of testimony from the developers and residents, the Zoning Commission set the schedule for February to hear the Office of Planning's report on the project.
Washington DC real estate development news