Thursday, August 23, 2007

DC Bureaucrat Seeks Rich, Ambitious, Type-A Developer for LTR

Hard working DC bureaucrat, ISO experienced, rich masochistic-type for long term relationship.
The Deputy Mayor for Planning and Economic Development has issued a Request for Expressions of Interest (RFEI) for Poplar Point, the mostly vacant site along the eastern banks of the Anacostia River in Ward 8. DC's purpose in issuing the RFEI is to "identify highly qualified developers who have the creative vision, demonstrated experience and organizational and financial capability and capacity to plan, construct and potentially operate a world-class mixed-use development and waterfront park."

Developers whose only experience includes conversions of 4-unit apartment buildings into condos need not apply - Poplar Point is expected to become a residential, commercial, cultural, and recreational development - 130 acres in all - with one mile of Waterfront, one of the key sites in the District’s $10 billion Anacostia Waterfront Initiative, with the potential for a soccer stadium, and sitting directly across from the new baseball stadium to boot.

Despite its location just across the river from the new stadium and a short drive to the Capitol Building, with views of the downtown skyline and monuments, Poplar Point is "an underutilized and isolated" collection of federal facilities, according to the District. The District’s vision for the redevelopment is embodied in the Anacostia Waterfront Framework Plan and includes "high-quality development, an emphasis on urban waterfront life, a commitment to environmental stewardship and the preservation of community character that fully engages local residents, community groups and other stakeholders..." Interested suitors should have thick skin too, as if working with the aforementioned groups won't get contentious enough, neighbors have already protested the "upscale" nature of the project, contending that hotels, conference centers and stadiums will not provide services they need, or will be able to afford.

The Anacostia Waterfront Initiative eventually proposes new parks, trails, housing, retail, office space and cultural amenities over the next 20 years, connecting residents of nearby Barry Farm, Hillsdale, Fairlawn and Historic Anacostia to the river.

Responses to this RFEI are due by October 19, 2007 at 12 pm. The District expects to select a development partner before the end of the year.


Anonymous said...

Hey Ken,

It is without a doubt an overly ambitions project. I was really looking forward to what the proposed DC United stadium was going to bring to the view & the area with MacFarlane (the owner) heading the project. Now with the new RFEI Fenty is requiring the "developer" to propose plans for the projects 150 acres, only allowing the developer to utilize 130 acres of the total site. What puzzles me is that he is imposing his 30% affordable housing mandate on the developer, thereby forcing the developer to forgo some profitability of the project to serve Fenty's causes. Dont get me wrong, I understand his requirement but to seek out international developers for the RFEI only to mandate several recently imposed restrictions on a property such as this seems a bit extreme.

Ken on Aug 23, 2007, 8:09:00 PM said...

Ya, get used to it. You won't build on DC land that was purchased from the government, or for which you seek zoning changes or any type of request from the city, without subsidizing a small group of homeowners. What is more troubling are the new IMZ rules, which basically say that everyone will be providing such subsidies. Whatever the benefits of providing affordable housing, to foist it upon developers is to put social policy on the backs of a very small minority. Costs will mostly get passed on to the landowner in the form of a reduced purchase price, or onto the community, when development doesn't happen because the demands shrink already shaky margins.

Anonymous said...

And, whatever developer is chosen, they will be waiting quite a while.

First, DC doesn't own this land yet. DC has to meet certain conditions by the federal government before the title is released to DC government. Then, the National Park Service facilites currently on site have to be moved on DC's dime to another location within the city. Then, there is the environmental assessment and cleanup.

If DC is not prepared to cough up the infrastructure dollars needed to move this project forward in collaboration with whatever new developer is chosen, then DC is most certainly jumping the gun. And, my inner vibe is telling me that DC is not ready to do its part as a partner in such an area that is not on the A-List for location or desirability. A whole new infrastructure needs to be built before development can occur on this site. This will cost millions, even hundreds of millions alone. Do they expecs developers to swallow this cost and impose on them a 30% affordable housing mandate?

I hope DC is ready to do its part. I really do.

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