Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Justice Park Showdown

Four development groups are vying for the opportunity build new residential on the site of the former Justice Park, a 12,000 s.f. parcel at 1421 Euclid Street N.W. in Columbia Heights. At an ANC meeting yesterday, teams presented their visions and their reasons to "pick me," though the plans all essentially create the same affordable residential product. As the developers compete over design, community benefits and financing capabilities, one group has less-than-subtly accused the rest of making empty promises. Though that sounds a lot like hot air, it gets to the core of an issue raised by our readers in response to DCMud articles on recent RFP awards and the opaque selection process for winning projects. It will be interesting to see if such a message resonates with the community and if it effects a change in the selection process in the Mayor's office. We're doubtful.

The Argos Group/Potomac Investment Partners joined forces with Sorg Architects and Ellisdale Construction to present a condo building with 34 units, 12 of which will be affordable. The futuristic, Jetson-like glass design will be built to LEED standards and offer 40 parking spaces. The team boasted local credentials and a relationship with the Fraternal Order of Police; we don't know what that has to do with getting the bid but it sounds impressive doesn't it? In the 30-slide presentation, the group did not discuss how the project would be financed, save for one bullet point, on the 29th slide, citing "financial capabilities." Hmm, doesn't quite ooze confidence.

Next up is the Euclid Community Partners, comprised of Dantes Partners, Perdomo Group and Capitol Construction Enterprises. The group proposes 37 units - all affordable rentals - for households earning at or below $60,000 a year. The spin for Euclid was that there are plenty of available luxury condos for high-earners nearby, but not enough workforce housing; they are filling a need in the community. The development team also boasts an available, self-financed $550,000 pre-development budget, claiming that the project would not require District funding. Now that's something to give pause. Dantes had luck on another RFP recently as part of the West End Development project team.

Now, for the self-proclaimed heavy hitter: Mosaic Urban Partners, Bogdan Builders and Bonstra Haresign Architects. The team promoted plans for their "Justicia" (ick, try again), a 27-unit, four story residential building with 8 "income restricted homeownership units." The Justicia team tried to rattle the competition in a two-fold strategy. First, by raising concerns about other groups' abilities to finance and deliver on projects, especially in these tough economic times. Bogdan claims they have abilities, pointing to their Logan Station project, which finished sales in 2009 - a tricky point, since they actually finished build-out in 2007, well before construction financing dried up. Mosaic also argued that a smaller project, like theirs, does not require any zoning approval and is therefore a better bet than one that does. Fair enough, though the competing designs could gain ANC support and probably will not make too many waves during zoning review.

Finally, the Neighborhood Development Company (NDC), with partners Hamel Builders and PGN Architects, propose a 39-unit, 5-story condo building. The project would offer 12 of the units as affordable and boast LEED Silver design elements. The only team to give a timeline, the NDC team indicated the project would require a zoning change, meaning the building would likely deliver during the first half of 2013. NDC has delivered projects like The Residences at Georgia Avenue during the financing crunch, though the team did not indicate whether or not it would require District funding.

According to the timeline on the website for the Deputy Mayor for Planning and Economic Development, a winner should be announced this month.

Washington DC real estate development news

The developers pointed out to DCMud that though the Logan Station project finished in 2007, their Cityscape on Belmont project was financed and sold out during the crunch. 


Anonymous said...

the writer's mocking tone for the first three teams...oh forget it, its not worth the trouble

Anonymous said...


Anonymous said...

Way to post the correction in small font at the bottom of the article and leave the incorrect text in the body of the post! Fortunately, the mocking tone was preserved...

Anonymous said...

Parking is a huge obstacle to overcome in that neighborhood,yet you only addressed it in the first project. Will any of the other bidders provide off street parking? I think that parking is a must for any project in the city.

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