ANC 6D Report - October 2015

At its meeting on Oct. 19, Advisory Neighborhood Commission (ANC) 6D entertained a packed agenda. Commissioners Marjorie Lightman (6D01), Stacy Braverman Cloyd (6D02), Rachel Reilly Carroll (6D03), Vice Chair Andy Litsky (6D04), Chair Roger Moffatt (6D05), Rhonda N. Hamilton (6D06) and Meredith Fascett (6D07) were present.

Reading The Portals The Riot Act

In their September meeting, commissioners had heard from representatives of The Portals, the set of large developments that surround Maryland Avenue SW. They asked for the commission to support their application for curb cuts designed to facilitate the development of a large residential building in the fifth phase of this mixed-use project. At that time, commissioners had queried Portals representatives on the fulfillment of a substantial community benefits agreement that the developer had agreed to as part of the project's initial phase. They requested the applicant provide a complete accounting at the commission's October meeting.

In the interim, Commissioner Lightman had found signed originals of both the initial and subsequently amended agreements. Under their terms, the community was to receive annual payouts of roughly $150,000 for ten years. Lightman could only find evidence of payments for the initial 18 months.

“There are very few ways in which an ANC can take any effective action to demand a developer in fact fulfill the conditions of a community benefit agreement,” stated Lightman addressing the representative of the Portals at the October meeting. “It is really not clear that a court of law would uphold it. So, one of the ways it can act out in its own defense to secure the adherence to a community benefit agreement is when the developer comes next before the commission and asks it to support a further project. You unfortunately are in that position,” she continued.

“It is not personal. It is not your curb cut that we are discussing. It is whether or not you have paid the last eight years due of a one hundred and some odd thousand dollars per year in community benefits since the early 1990s. For that we need your people to engage in some hard forensic accounting.” Speaking for the entire commission, Lightman stated there would be no action on any requests until either The Portals provided evidence of payment or a plan of how they would fulfill the terms of the community benefits agreement going forward.

Waterfront Station Northeast Parcel

Commissioner Litsky warmly endorsed P.N. Hoffman's bid for the city-owned parcel at 1000 Fourth St. SW citing its strong combination of neighborhood retail, affordable housing, cultural amenities and the firm's commitment to long-term ownership and community participation.

Litsky proposed the commission send a letter to the Deputy Mayor for Economic Development in favor of the project citing the following rationales:

  • it provides a higher number of residential units at lower AMI levels, one quarter of them at 30 percent and three quarters of them at 50 percent;

  • it provides 22,500 square feet of neighborhood serving retail, twice that offered by the competing bids, including a plan to incorporate a major community gathering place designed by the restaurateur behind The Diner;

  • it ensures that any neighborhood serving retail will be effectively coordinated by that offered at The Wharf;

  • it provides a 10,000 square-foot black box for the Forum Theater in partnership with Arena Stage and Georgetown University;

  • it is in partnership with a developer  demonstrated a commitment to long-term ownership and community engagement.

The commission voted unanimously to send the letter putting its great weight behind Hoffman's proposal.

Riverside Baptist Church PUD

Representatives of P.N. Hoffman presented plans for the redevelopment of the Riverside Baptist Church at 681 I St. SW. Hoffman plans an apartment building of 170 units along with 7,900 square feet of space for a possible daycare center or other retail use.

Benefits to the community from the project include: the redesign the traffic intersection at Seventh and I Streets SW; the retention of the church with a healthy endowment; and affordable housing.

The community supports the project and the developer has closely engaged neighboring residents in its planning, stated Commissioner Lightman. “It is well-designed and well thought out.”

The project requires the filing of an application for a Planned Unite Development (PUD) to change the site's underlying zoning from category 3-C-A to R-5-D, which “permits matter-of-right medium/high density development of general residential uses, including single-family dwellings, flats, and apartment buildings, to a maximum lot occupancy of 75 percent (20 percent for public recreation and community centers), a maximum FAR of 3.5 and a maximum height of ninety (90) feet (45 feet for public recreation and community centers). Rear yard requirements are not less than fifteen (15) feet.”

The project's design also edges slightly into public space on the corner of Seventh and I Streets. This requires approval from the DC Department of Transportation. Hoffman requested letters in support from the commission for both its PUD and also a Public Space application.

Hoffman's project sparked a lively debate among commissioners on the merits of the proposed daycare center. After expressing their dissatisfaction about the uncertainty of its provision, there was significant disagreement on how a community benefits agreement might be structured with the developer to ensure a minimum number of seats be reserved for less-well off residents. Commissioners also expressed concerns over the terms of the affordable housing proposed by Hoffman.

There was also considerable discussion of the Maine Avenue setbacks proposed by Hoffman. Commissioners questioned the accuracy of the map presented by the developer. “The bottom line is that it is not correct,” stated Chair Moffat.

Lastly, commissioners expressed concerns about the management of the project's construction traffic. Commissioner Lightman requested that Hoffman present a construction traffic management plan before the commission voted on the project.

The commission voted unanimously to send a letter in support of Hoffman's public space application, but table any vote on the PUD.

1000 South Capitol Alley Closing

Lerner Properties made their first presentation to the commission regarding their 320,000 square-foot residential project at 1000 South Capitol St. SE. While the project is being developed as a 'matter of right,' the developer has asked the commission to support the partial closing of an alley that runs between the site and 1015 Half St. SE.

In addition, developers asked the commission to support variances to standard sideyard and loading requirements as well as a special exception for its roof structure.

Representatives of the developer stated that the project would adhere to the 15-foot setback required by the Capitol Gateway Overlay (CGO). The site abuts, but is not a part, of the CGO.

The developer promised to consider incorporating two units of affordable housing even though it is under no obligation to do so.

The commission deferred any vote on supporting the project.

Wharf Update

Representatives of The Wharf updated the commission on its progress. The principals have just closed their construction financing. 90 percent of the piles have been driven into the earth. They expect to be at grade by Thanksgiving. Demolition continues on the site of the new waterfront park. They are wrapping up the building of the marine piers.

Police under private contract have substantially increased ticketing illegally parked cars near The Fish Market. There are new parking signs. The project has exceeded its Certified Business Enterprise contracting and East of the River hiring goals.

Pepco Substation and Stadium Cleanup

Pepco has received approval from The Board of Zoning Adjustment (BZA) and The Public Service Commission for the construction of a new Southwest substation. The new facility will be located on four acres that comprise the sites of the old Lyon Bakery and A&A Towing yard bounded by Q, First, R, and Second Streets, a representative reported. Demolition is nearly complete, but they are still securing building permits.

Commissioner Hamilton expressed concern about the impact of electromagnetic radiation generated by the station and its associated power lines on nearby residents. There would be no impact, the Pepco representative replied.

Later in the meeting, the commission turned its attention to a discussion of the voluntary clean-up effort involved in the construction of the new soccer stadium. Hamilton again expressed her concerns about the impact of electromagnetic radiation on residents' heath.

The commission voted to unanimously to send the mayor a letter asking that Pepco pay to install protective shielding on its lines; and also requesting the DC Department of Health conduct a community health assessment in effected area.

Concerned residents can call 855-226-5800 if there are issues with the construction or if they would like to join the working group that meets monthly about the project. There are also ongoing community meetings held by DMPED and the DC Department of Energy and the Environment on the voluntary cleanup of the stadium site. For more information, call the commission at 202-554-1795.

Supporting Build First at Greenleaf

In an effort to prompt the DC Housing Authority and the DC Department of Housing and Community Development towards a transparent process in planning the rebuilding of the Greenleaf Gardens Public Housing, Commissioner Reilly Carroll asked the commissioner to send these agencies a letter reiterating its strong support for a Build First option for the complex.

Under the Build First approach, new housing is built and existing public housing residents relocated before redevelopment commences on their existing residences. The letter requested the formation of an inter-agency task force aimed at identifying build-first locations within 30 days. The commission gave its unanimous approval the measure.

Other Actions

Seth Shapiro from the Mayor's Office of Community Relations and Services spoke about the mayor's initiative to end homelessness in five years. He asked commissioners to sign a pledge to help.

Metropolitan Police Officers from the PSA 105 presented their report. They noted an increase in car break-ins and thefts from the Wharf construction site. There had been a sexual assault in the stairwell at the Southwest Safeway. The culprit has been apprehended. They promised an increased presence at the corner of Fourth and M Streets SW to control illegal turns and other traffic violations. In a change in policy, MPD officers will no longer issue zone parking violation tickets. That task is now assigned solely to workers from the Department of Public Works.

$100,000 in funding has been secured to renovate the Amidon Park at Fourth and G Streets SW, a representative from the DC Department of Parks and Recreation (DPR) reported. Based on community input at a May 30 meeting, DPR plans to restore the park's lighting, install fitness elements, fix the broken benches and restore the plantings. The work will commence this coming spring. DPR plans another public meeting on the renovation later this month at a date and location to be determined.

The commission unanimously agreed to send a letter to the DC Public Charter School Board urging it to force Washington Global Public Charter School located at 525 School St. SW to make a greater effort to engage the community in their expansion plans.

After a wide ranging discussion on the impact of the proposed changes to the Alcohol Beverage Control laws, the commission took no action to its previous authorization of ABC Committee Chair Coralie Farlee to speak in her role as chair of its ABC Committee at future DC Council hearings on such matters. The commission also endorsed unanimously Farlee's plan to handle 2016 license renewals.

The commission gave its unanimous support to the 'Jingle All the Way' 5K run organized by Pacers Running scheduled for Dec. 6. The run will result in the temporary closing of Independence Avenue SW.

The commission voted six in favor with two abstentions to send a letter to the BZA in support of variances for Square 700 at 10 Van St. SE. The matter was discussed extensively at its September meeting.

The commission voted unanimously to authorize Commissioner Reilly to offer its testimony before the Historic Preservation Review Board on the proposed addition to Capitol Park Towers at 301 G St. SW.

The commission approved its October minutes unanimously.

ANC 6D will next meet on Nov. 9 at 6:30 p.m. at 200I St. SE.