Wednesday, March 03, 2010

14th Street YMCA: Short on the Dough

Despite the mini-boom taking hold on the 14th Street corridor - View 14, Room & Board, JBG's large condo project, and a surfeit of new retail - not all projects are having an easy time of digging up money. In addition to UDR's iced over plans up the hill for the Nehemiah Center, the latest financing casualty is the redevelopment of the Anthony Bowen YMCA into a large apartment building. The planned mixed use development at 14th and W Streets has not disturbed any earth since the project "broke ground" in September 2008, nor does it look like it will make any progress soon. The 231-unit project was planned by Perseus Realty LLC in conjunction with Capmark Investments LP and the minority owned DC-based FLGA Real Estate Group. In 2008, the team optimistically estimated a 2010 finish date; now an optimistic view would be a 2010 start date.

Brian DeBose, spokesperson
for Councilmember Jim Graham, whose ward the project sits in, told DCMud, "The project is stalled. There is no financing and there has not been a breakthrough." In short, DeBose surmised, "Nothing is going on."

DeBose added that the District does not have the money to provide a TIF or any seed money to help bolster the stalled development, even if the will was there. To be fair, the District has already done its share during more flush times, including the District Council's 2008 decision to grant a hefty 20 years of tax abatement and $1 million in forgone sales taxes on construction materials for the project's development.

Clark Construction is the general contractor, if it comes to that, for the planned 236,000-s.f. apartment building with 18 affordable units. The project is also supposed to include a new 46,000-s.f. YMCA and 12,200 s.f. of retail space. Designs for the project are by Davis Carter Scott and HOK. The Anthony Bowen YMCA was named for a Prince George’s County slave who relocated to Washington after purchasing his freedom. Bowen went on to co-found the nation’s first African-American YMCA in 1853. Developers for the project were either unwilling to comment or did not return phone calls requesting additional information.

Washington, DC real estate and development news


Anonymous said...

as a current YMCA Nat'l Cap employee, I can tell you nobody in the organization knows when that building is gonna even be torn down. Nobody should be getting their hopes up for that YMCA anytime soon.

Evan on Mar 4, 2010, 3:17:00 AM said...

Well I hope it gives them some time to rethink the miserably bland facade, because that area could use some nice modern architecture. It's 2010, time to leave pomo in the past.

Thayer-D on Mar 4, 2010, 7:19:00 AM said...

Yeah, like mid-century modernism is sooo current! I wonder why all the high rent districts are older neighborhoods, hmmm? If anything, the design needs more articulation and detail, but anything's better than a wanna-be glass box.

Anonymous said...

Perseus Development is a travesty. True sheisters.

Shamie said...

As a resident of Union Row and former Anthony Bowen YMCA member, I can't wait for it to be re-opened. I don't even care if it's renovated first - I just want to be able to go work out and meet other folks who live in the neighborhood. Too bad there's no cash.

I wonder if there's any hope of getting some people together to fund raise - just to re-open the place and provide some modest services until there's enough funding to really renovate it. That would be pretty neat.

miller on Mar 4, 2010, 7:33:00 PM said...

The building is in a historic zone and therefore had to get approval from the DC Historic Preservation Review Board. The building is "Traditional" as a result - and not Postmodern as someone suggested. A modern design was rejected by the city.

Of note, the image shown is heavily cropped - the project takes up most of the block, and is broken down to look like several independent buildings. It will, I think, make a positive contribution to the neighborhood if it is ever built.

And no... I don't work for Perseus.

Unknown on Mar 5, 2010, 8:18:00 PM said...

I am surprised there has not been more objection to the dimensions of this development. It is one thing to have a large buildings facing 14th St, but this proposed seven story structure will be on a small street spanning East to West into a low density neighborhood. It will dwarf the adjacent row houses. There are small, two-story homes on Florida Avenue that will be sitting in the dark. This wall of a building to the South, almost as tall as Union Row, will block off their sunlight.

Matt Dull on Mar 6, 2010, 10:32:00 AM said...

I belonged to this Y when they shut it down. No doubt, the facilities needed updating - but this was an inexpensive place to workout by contrast to the nearby alternatives (Results, etc.). It also served an active, mostly minority community in an area that is increasingly out-of-reach. Kids were streaming in and out all day. [An aside: As I'm sure many of your readers are aware, Anthony Bowen founded the first YMCA for African-Americans in 1853.]

I remember talking with the manager of this Y a week before they shut its doors. This was before the economic meltdown, but the planned-developed already seemed absurdly optimistic. Anyone paying attention to what was going on in the area could have foreseen that - despite the promise of a "brand new" YMCA facility - the result of these plans would be NOTHING for years and years.

I'm no opponent of gentrification, but this strikes me as a good example of what happens when big ideas (and big developers) lose sight of consequences for "real" people.

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