DGS Responds to ANC 6B on Eastern Branch Building Redevelopment Proposals

In a March 30 letter (pdf) to ANC 6B, Jonathan Kayne, interim director of the DC Department of General Service, stated that his agency does not plan to re-issue its Request for Proposals for the Eastern Branch Building (261 17th Street SE). The letter was sent in response to the commission’s March 12 letter (pdf) urging DGS to re-issue the RFP with longer lease terms.

DGS is currently evaluating two redevelopment proposals submitted in response to an RFP issued in Fall 2014. After concerns were raised about both proposals at a Jan. 20 community meeting, DGS asked each development team to respond to a Best and Final Offer request. A summary of the BAFO responses (pdf) provided to ANC 6B by DGS seemed to suggest that only one of the responses – the Dantes Partners/Menkiti Group proposal – complied with the BAFO (though DGS has clarified to me that both proposals still remain under consideration).

Throughout the process, ANC 6B has voiced concern about DGS’ insistence on an initial 25-year lease with a development team. We feel that the short lease length unnecessarily limited the number of proposals the agency received and has resulted in a process that has led to one proposal.

In the March 30 letter, Interim Director Kayne writes, “It is Agency policy to ensure that ground leases on projects minimize the length of time a District asset remains under a third party’s control” to explain why DGS cannot propose a longer lease term. While I can understand this point of view,it is also in the District’s best interest to ensure that the city and residents have an opportunity to review multiple proposals and potential uses for the building. A longer lease term would have likely led to more redevelopment proposals.

Kayne did not state when or if DGS would select one of the redevelopment proposals. Once and if a proposal is selected, the project will have to be reviewed and approved by the Mayor and DC Council. I’ll continue to post updates as I learn more.

Here is a link to the full letter (pdf) from DGS.

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