Testimony on Reservation 13

This afternoon, I delivered the following testimony during the DC Council’s Committee of the Whole Agency Oversight Hearing on the Deputy Mayor on Planning and Economic Development:

Good morning Chairman Brown and members of the Council. My name is Brian Flahaven, and I am the Advisory Neighborhood Commissioner for 6B09. My single member district lies in Hill East and includes Barney Circle, the Historic Congressional Cemetery, and the Eastern Branch Boys & Girls Club Building.

I’m here today to testify about Reservation 13, the former site of DC General Hospital, and to ask you to encourage the Mayor and Deputy Mayor to proceed with long-stalled mixed-use development plans at the site.  I’m testifying on behalf of myself and my Single Member District. I am not representing Advisory Neighborhood Commission 6B, though ANC 6B has officially supported mixed-use development at Reservation 13.

Ten years ago, this Council approved a master development plan for Reservation 13. The plan, created with substantial community input, envisioned a mixed-use development that would finally connect surrounding neighborhoods to the Anacostia River waterfront. The plan recognized the site’s many advantages – waterfront location, access to Metro and close proximity to two wards – and it envisioned bringing housing, retail and office space to an area of the city in desperate need of all three.

Since 2002, the city and our neighborhood have faced many obstacles to moving forward with the master plan – acquiring the land from the Federal Government, mayoral transitions and the Great Recession to name a few. Fortunately, the plan has withstood these obstacles – a testament to the community leaders and residents who spent hundreds of hours pulling it together.

Now, with markets rebounding and strong developer interest in the site, there is hope that this long-awaited development will finally happen. But a new obstacle has emerged. Last year, my constituents and I learned of Mayor Gray’s visit to the 33-acre training facility of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. The apparent goal of the visit was to convince Dan Snyder to build a similar training facility on Reservation 13.

Since that time, my ANC colleagues and I have been trying to get additional information on where such a facility would be located and what benefits it would bring. So far, we have not received an answer from the Mayor nor Deputy Mayor.

My personal view is that a training facility on Reservation 13 is a bad idea.  Such a facility would take up almost half of the 67-acre site, eliminating any chance that the community-supported mixed-use vision would be realized. If it is like most NFL training facilities, it will be a fenced in fortress that prevents access to the waterfront.  And since Maryland and Virginia are also vying to build the facility, the Mayor will essentially have to give Dan Snyder some of the most valuable, transit accessible real estate left in our city for nothing.

However, the most unfortunate cost of such a facility would be the lost opportunity to bring hundreds of potential jobs, thousands of new residents, additional housing units, retail and tax base to our city.

I urge you to ask the Deputy Mayor to:

  1. share any information he has on the location of the proposed training facility,
  2. explain how he will ensure that the community is notified and involved in any decisions regarding the training facility or any future development on Reservation 13, and
  3. share his projections on how many jobs, housing and retail opportunities would be created if a training facility is built instead of pursuing mixed-use development. I’d also be curious to hear how much the training facility will contribute to the city’s tax base.

Residents in my neighborhood are eager to work with our Ward 7 colleagues, who will now have leadership over site, to get this long-stalled project across the finish line. We see Reservation 13 not only for its potential to bring new jobs, housing and retail options to our neighborhoods, but also as a way to strengthen the connection between residents on both sides of the river. A mixed-use vision will benefit both of our wards.

Again, I ask that you urge Mayor Gray and Deputy Mayor Hoskins to pursue mixed-use development for Reservation 13. Reservation 13 should be developed in the best interests of the city, not for the private interests of Dan Snyder.

Thank you, and I’d be happy to answer any questions.

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4 Responses to Testimony on Reservation 13

  1. Sharon Bernier says:

    I thank you for presenting our position and wish to be of assistance should you need me. Sharin Bernier. 333 16th Street SE

  2. Jack Colhoun says:

    Good statement Brian.

    I wonder if it would be useful in the coming weeks to hold a community walk around Reservation 13: To get a look at how the site is now, and to image what the site could look like with the mixed economic development plan the Mayor and the Council approved a decade ago. I recall a walk in Reservation 13, with its Anacostia River shorerline, a dozen years or so ago made the development issue less abstract for me and other neighbors. Perhaps a Reservation 13 walk could be sponsored by the ANC’s Hill East Task
    Force.

    • bflahaven says:

      Great idea Jack! I’d actually like to do both a walk and information session for residents (both Ward 6 & 7) who want to learn more about the master plan and the history of Res. 13 in general.

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