Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Manna Seeks to Buy Land, Under Their Building

Non-profit developer of affordable homeownership housing, Manna is trying to buy a parcel of land from the District of Columbia, but it doesn't need a real estate agent to find it. The land sits beneath the historic Whitelaw Hotel at 1839 13th Street NW, which Manna purchased back in 1991. The Whitelaw Hotel is a significant landmark described as a former "haven for African American entertainers, civil rights leaders and entrepreneurs." Manna has been renting the land since, and now the District is pondering whether to sell the land outright.

The DC Department of Housing and Community Development (DHCD) will hold a hearing tonight prior to submitting the proposed transfer of ownership to the City Council for review and approval. The current deal would sell the land to Manna for $427,500.

The transaction is part of the Land Acquisition for Housing and Development Opportunities (LAHDO) process by which the District leases land and sells any improvements to developers in order to rehabilitate the space and, in the case of the Whitelaw, to maintain the property for affordable housing. Under a LAHDO agreement, a developer leases the land from the district and within 5 years of the property being "placed in service" can choose to exercise an option to proceed with the land acquisition.

According to DHCD Project Manger Jim Thackaberry, Manna purchased the Whitelaw and began leasing the land in December of 1991. The Whitelaw was put into service in 1994 as a rental property providing hosuing for lower-income families in the Shaw/U Street community. In 1999 the developers began a series of negotiations with the city in hopes of purchasing the underlying land.

The hearing with begin at 6:30 PM and will take place at DHCD at 1800 Martin Luther King Jr. Ave SE.


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