Tuesday, February 03, 2009

Barry Weighs in on Poplar Point

While the inevitable fallout from the Poplar Point decision continues, one of DC’s most controversial politicians has made it plain where the blame lies: Mayor Adrian Fenty. Councilman Marion Barry opined on the subject of the District’s split with developer Clark Realty Capital over the $2.5 billion Poplar Point redevelopment in Southeast – a project once slated to deliver a hundreds of new residential and hotel units to the neighborhood, along with a new stadium for the DC United.

This past Friday, the former mayor and current Ward 8 representative issued a statement condemning both Mayor Adrian Fenty and Deputy Mayor Neil Albert’s handling of the development process. The full text of the letter follows below, courtesy of The Washington Post [grammatical errors in the original].

January 30, 2009

Honorable Adrian Fenty
1350 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW
Washington, DC 20004

Dear Mayor Fenty;

This letter is to express my disappointment at the way you and your administration has handled the Poplar Point development. The announcement this afternoon terminating the partnership with Clark Realty is another staggering blow to a project that was already hindered by an unfocused approach. I told you over a year ago that your quick change in direction to put the project out as an RFP would stall the efforts to keep things moving in the right direction. I still believe that the original approach was the best option to rapidly plan and execute this critical development. The setback today demonstrates how your administration's decision making places the promise that is Poplar Point farther out of the reach of the residents of Ward 8.

For over three years the Advisory Neighborhood Commissions, heads of civic associations, ministers and other community persons have spent hundred of hours giving input in what we in Ward 8 wanted to see at Poplar Point. Moreover, I have personally met with Deputy Mayor Neil Albert at least a dozen times as it relates to the development of Poplar Point. Early on he discussed with me the attitude of Council as it related to the original approach to the project. I told him repeatedly, that the great majority of Councilmembers, for the sake of urgency and expediency, would support the sole source deposition if the community were in agreement with the plan, which they were.

It has always been understood that this would be a complicated process. The clear attitude was to support a direction that would allow planning and other preparations to keep pace with the mountain of federal requirements that have to be satisfied. This is no longer possible, at minimum a year has been added to the process.

I have never seen the Ward 8 community so unified behind a project such as Poplar Point. Now I will be forced to face my constituents and community leaders to tell them we are headed back to the drawing board. Over my concerns and those of the people, many of whom it took a long time to convince to support any project at Polar Point, you charged ahead without us. I am certain that this serious misstep will have a lasting negative effect on the public support for the project. In addition, it will be difficult to attract a quality developer to the project. Even so, I remain optimistic that your administration will move quickly to resolve this situation. Your next steps will be crucial in maintaining the promise made to the citizens of Ward 8.

I look forward to your response on this important matter.


Marion Barry
Councilmember, Ward 8


Anonymous said...

The economy killed this project, not any politician. It would take immense amount of public money to make this work right now. There's a time and place for everything, but it's not Poplar Point's time. Unless you want checks cashed places and mcdonalds as the retail component.

Anonymous said...

Of course, there would be more money available if our crack-smoking Councilmember would pay his income taxes.

Anonymous said...

The blame is on the economy and the gov't. The way the city was dealing with this was wrong and the downturn in the economy just put the nail in the coffin for this. Had a developer been chosen and been devoted to the project w/ the faith of the city, maybe this could have been financed in some way down the road w/ minimal delay as possible as soon as the economy gets better. But that place is going to sit there un-touched for another couple decades at this pace.

Anonymous said...

Seems like Clark could never find an economic catalyst for the project to jump start. I understand the big retailers like the area. Why not try that?

Anonymous said...

Maybe I am misunderstanding the plans, but if this project had gone through, wouldnt it just lead to the gentrification of that area? Pushing people of Ward 8 out?

Anonymous said...

Marion Barry using words like "moreover"? Yeah, he wrote this.

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