According to the Deputy Mayor for Planning & Economic Development's webpage, Parcel 42 on Rhode Island Avenue should be a dangerous and uncomfortable place to set up a camping tent, since the District had planned a mixed-use affordable housing project and expected to be well on its way to a summer 2011 completion. But there was no construction equipment, much less a foundation or semblance of a physical structure, to stop OneDC, Take Back the Land, and other organizers from sponsoring a marched protest that ended with a symbolic takeover of the land, located across from the Howard/Shaw Metro. Unfortunately, the presence of the protesters' makeshift tent city over the last several days has been the only entity to occupy the empty dirt lot in many years.
The District and the developers recently announced that the original plans were being scaled back to make the project more financially and logistically feasible: from eight floors down to five, 52 units as opposed to 94, half of the parking spaces, only 6.5 of the 11.5 million dollars in subsidies promised by the District, and 50% AMI instead of a stratified 20%, 30%, 60% AMI. The project is also now designated as a matter-of-right development, alleviating some of the frustrating Zoning Commission hurdles that a normal PUD must clear for its exemptions. While this makes it slightly less painful for the development team to get rolling, it doesn't exactly make the prospect of this project going through any more likely, as no formal paperwork for the proposed development has been submitted to the Zoning Commission as of yet.
Jack Evans for direction, but Evans has chosen to defer to the community, which seems to be in strong opposition to the new plans. Protesters over the weekend made it clear that they feel betrayed by the mayor, and are angry at what they consider to be a broken promise. Additionally, many outspoken ANC2C members now oppose the more conservative offerings, feeling it would be advantageous to simply wait out the lingering effects of the recession in hopes that an improved economy down the road may reignite the possibility for the larger project the area and residents were eagerly awaiting. But the clear lack of unified community support casts serious doubt on the prospect of the empty lot being occupied by anything more than another organized rally in the foreseeable future.
Parcel 42 Partners is a joint venture between Metamorphosis Development Group, Metro Partners, and Sunrise Development Corp.
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