Monday, March 15, 2010

M.M. Washington Goes to Urban Matters and Mission First


Today D.C. Mayor Adrian Fenty made the not-entirely-surprising announcement that the winning group to redevelop the M.M. Washington Career High School at 27 O Street N.W. will be a team made up of UrbanMatters, Mission First Development, Mt. Lebanon Community Development Corporation and Square 134 Architects. Responses to the RFP for M.M. Washington, one of many excess schools offered up in 2009, were due March 27, 2009. The winning team submitted one of only two responses; the other coming from the Cultural Development Corporation (CuDC). The school will be developed into 90+ units of affordable senior housing, The House of Lebanon, and 15,000 s.f. of community space with an estimated project cost of $25 to $30 million. CuDC's project would have brought mixed-use office and artists' studios to the neighborhood.
Also involved in the 94,000 s.f. project is the Mt. Lebanon Baptist Church, which sits just a few blocks away from the project site and is part of the Washington Interfaith Network (WIN). WIN also received the development rights for the Dix Street properties recently. Fenty reminisced about WIN saying the group "has come a long way"since he first began meeting with them, adding that WIN is now a "full-fledged community partner and developer."

The story here may be more in what will not be developed. The CuDC's plan is similar to the RFP the group released seeking development partners to build arts-oriented projects to catalyze neighborhood development. When reached for comment this morning about the pending announcement in favor of the opposing team, Anne Corbett, Executive Director for CuDC, had some revelations about the project. CuDC had not heard anything formally from DMPED's office about the RFP application in almost six months, and Corbett said she was "frustrated that a media advisory went out" without the District notifying her she had lost the bid. Oops.

Corbett described the project her team submitted as a mix of artists studios and creative commercial office spaces for "folks craving something with a rougher, more industrial aesthetic with more affordable price tags." Significant about the arts project, Corbett added, was that it required only an initial seed contribution from the District government, but would not need "ongoing public subsidy. "It was a sustainable plan," explained Corbett, that would have created "a fair amount of tax revenue [for] the District; but apparently that was not the preference."

The House of Lebanon, according to Pastor Edmunds of Mt. Lebanon Baptist Church, will require $6 to $8 million in low-income housing tax credits, the "rest will be private." Edmunds and the development group estimate a mid-2011 ground breaking and a late 2012 finish date.

Corbett, however, was skeptical on a project requiring so much in financing that is not available. About the plans to use the low-income housing tax credits, Corbett said, "right now the District does not have any to distribute" and she worries that this plan will require "a whole lot of public money; or it will sit on the shelf until there is a substantial rebound in the market." At the end of the day Corbett says, "it's not to say they needed to pick me," but she worries that "the project will sit for five more years."

In the RFP for the site, like others including the recently awarded Hine School, the District indicated it was seeking experienced developers with creative visions for utilizing the land and/or buildings. It is not entirely clear that either of those criteria was met.

Washington, DC real estate development news

15 comments:

reflexive said...

they should have gone with CuDC.

another step backwards for the North Capitol Corridor. As Corbett says, this will sit dormant for a long time.
and even when built, will add little to the community at large, in an area that desperately needs a boost to the economy.

IMGoph on Mar 15, 2010, 10:23:00 PM said...

learning more and more that, especially in an election year, don't bet against the churches in DC. they weird enormous power.

this just got the mayor a lot of votes.

Nolan on Mar 16, 2010, 2:42:00 PM said...

You're probably right, IMGoph.

Which leads to the big question: how does one organize so the next time the city dismisses CuDC (or a group like them), there are electoral consequences on a similar scale to WIN. Politicians are transparent, their motivations are nearly identical across the board. Someone just needs to show that there are political consequences to decisions like this (granted, much easier typed than done).

And aren't people always complaining that all the church-goers live in Maryland? How do the churches turn out DC voters from Maryland congregations?

IMGoph on Mar 16, 2010, 2:49:00 PM said...

nolan: sounds like we're fairly close to discussing single-issue voters here, which church congregations can often be. i would wager that people who would be in favor of the CuDC proposal would probably have a diverse set of other interests, making it difficult to move them as a block in anything outside of their opinion on this site...

Anonymous said...

This actually will cost the mayor dramatically in the upcoming election. He continues to pile obstacles for this struggling area, which exists in the shadow of NOMA. The arts development would have been the perfect remedy to the over saturation of social services that the city maintains on these blocks. Ann Corbet and many others recognize the draw that this type of architecture has for invigorating urban renewal in the area with live/work spaces for artists. Too bad that the mayor, the planners and economic development office don't get it.

carole said...

Can Ann Corbett's group develop the empty school around the corner on P Street NW?

maxx said...

Neighbors tried to inquire about the RFPs for this project since the submission deadline and got nowhere. Why doesn't the mayor care about or listen to the people who live and work in this community?

scott said...

I understand that the mayor strongly dislikes the ward 5 council member
and works to sabotage what ward 5 constituents want for their community.

Daryl said...

How was the choice determined?

Marie said...

15000 sf of "community space"....
what does that mean?
what are the proposed uses?
who is the "community"?

that's a lot of space! please tell us how it will be used.

Sherrika said...

why should a church get public property?

Shaun on Mar 17, 2010, 9:49:00 AM said...

Marie: The community space will likely include a meeting room and a library for the seniors. It is unclear whether the space will be made available to non-residents.

Anonymous said...

carole: sorry, Fenty already awarded Cook to LAYC in an effort to secure the DC Latino vote.

Anonymous said...

Truxton Circle needs to secede from Ward 5 if it ever wants to have any hope of being anything but a 24 hr homeless shelter, mental and drug treatment center and all around dumping ground. This is where politicians establish their religous and political "correctness" at the ongoing cost of the community. Fenty makes me sick....he epitomizes incompetence at the highest level, with a obvious lack of integrity and seriousness of purpose.

Anonymous said...

The Mt Lebanon Baptist Church website is "temporarily down/under construction", sort reminds me of the Warrenton Groups Website everytime they get awarded a bogus development deal.

 

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