Meeting Scheduled to Review Eastern Branch Building RFP Responses

January 8, 2015

The DC Department of General Services has scheduled a meeting for the community to review responses to its recent Eastern Branch Building Request for Proposals. The meeting will take place on Tuesday, January 20, 6:30-8:30 pm at Payne Elementary School (1445 C Street SE). I encourage all residents – particularly those that live around or near the former Boys & Girls Club building (261 17th Street SE) – to attend the Jan. 20 meeting.

Note that ANC 6B will vote on a preferred response at our Feb. 3 Planning & Zoning Committee meeting and Feb. 13 full commission meeting.

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More Information on the DC Olympic Bid

December 14, 2014

On Dec. 16, Washington 2024, the organization leading the city’s bid for the 2024 Summer Olympic and Paralympic Games, will make their final presentation to the United States Olympic Committee (USOC). Washington 2024 is competing against Boston, Los Angeles and San Francisco to be the U.S. bid city for the 2024 Games.

So far, Washington 2024 has refused to share their plans with the public. In attempt to learn more about the bid’s potential impact on Hill East, ANC 6B sent a letter (pdf) last month to Washington 2024 requesting a community meeting prior to the USOC’s final decision on a U.S. bid city. Unfortunately, Washington 2024 declined ANC 6B’s meeting request (pdf). They plan to start their community engagement process when/if Washington, DC is selected as the U.S. bid city.

While Washington 2024 declined ANC 6B’s invitation for a meeting, the organization did accept an invitation to speak at Councilmember Vincent Orange’s Small Business and Economic Development Summit held on Fri., Dec. 12. Since we can’t get a meeting with Washington 2024 in Hill East, I decided to attend the summit to learn more about the bid. Here is what I heard:

  • The USOC’s decision on a U.S. bid city could come as early as next week or as late as next January. If Washington, DC is selected, the USOC and city will have until Sept. 2015 to formally apply to the International Olympic Committee (IOC) to host the 2024 games. The IOC will make its final decision on a host city in Sept. 2017.
  • Not surprisingly, Washington 2024 did not share the specific plans they will be presenting to the USOC. I’m not sure if the decision to keep the public in the dark about the plans is being made by Washington 2024 or the USOC but it is a bad decision. Putting on an Olympics requires a multi-billion dollar public investment. The secretive nature of the process has helped fuel skepticism about the bids in Washington and the other three potential bid cities.
  • RFK Stadium and Reservation 13 are under consideration for a new Olympic Stadium and Olympic Village respectively, though other sites are also being considered for these venues.
  • Robert Sweeney, senior advisor to Washington 2024, noted that the Olympics could be a catalyst to develop sites like Reservation 13 where redevelopment plans largely have failed to take off. I responded that the city is largely to blame for the state of Reservation 13 today and that it shouldn’t take the Olympics to develop a waterfront site sitting on top of a Metro station.
  • Sweeney did mention the Reservation 13 master plan and said that Washington 2024 would follow the plan in developing an Olympic Village if the site is chosen for such a use. I was pleasantly surprised that the organization was aware of the master plan and had thought about how to incorporate it. However, using the site for an Olympic Village would mean the city wouldn’t see the housing and retail slated for Reservation 13 until 2025 at the earliest.
  • Sweeney reaffirmed that Washington 2024 would begin an “extensive” community outreach campaign beginning in Jan./Feb. 2015 if the city is chosen as the U.S. bid city. Community briefings would be held in all eight wards and he recommitted to holding a community meeting in Hill East.
  • There was a lot of focus on the legacy of an Olympic Games. Andrew Altman, former head of the legacy corporation created for the London 2012 games (and former head of the DC Office of Planning) talked about how London began their Olympic planning by envisioning what the Olympic park and venues would look like in 2030. Washington 2024 is modeling their effort after the London games.
  • In addition to Councilmember Orange, Mayor-Elect Muriel Bowser spoke at the Summit in support of the Olympic bid and will be attending the Dec.16 USOC presentation. It appears that the Mayor, Mayor-Elect and DC Council are all behind the bid though they haven’t held a single hearing on the subject nor officially voted to support the bid. If Washington, DC is awarded the games, the city will have to sign a financial guarantee to fully fund the games and any cost overruns.

Community engagement should be the centerpiece – not an afterthought – of an Olympic bid. Residents shouldn’t have to attend business roundtables and summits to learn basic details. I plan to continue pushing city leaders and Washington 2024 to share more information about the bid.


Past Time for Details from Washington 2024

November 25, 2014

Two recent editorials – one from Washington Business Journal Editor-in-Chief Douglas Fruehling and the other from ANC 6B10 Commissioner-Elect Denise Krepp on The Hill is Home – call on Washington 2024 to start sharing the details of their bid for the 2024 Summer Olympic and Paralympic Games. I agree with both Fruehling and Krepp that the decision to bid on an Olympics is a huge decision – one that should not be made behind closed doors. And given that RFK Stadium and Reservation 13 have been identified as potential sites for a new Olympic stadium and Olympic village respectively, Hill East residents deserve to know how an Olympic bid would affect the future of the neighborhood and waterfront.

Estimates put the potential cost of hosting an Olympic Games at $15-20 billion. DC residents deserve to know how Washington 2024 and the city plan to finance such a large investment, particularly when the city is already bumping up against its debt cap. Mayor Vince Gray has proposed using a land swap instead of borrowing to fund a new DC United Stadium. If the Mayor and Council are concerned about exceeding the debt cap on a roughly $150 million dollar investment, how are they going to find funding for a $15 billion dollar Olympics? Yet Mayor Gray, Mayor-Elect Muriel Bowser, Council Chairman Phil Mendelson and Ward 5 Councilmember Kenyan McDuffie have all signaled support for the bid.

And why hasn’t the DC Council held a hearing on the proposed bid? Earlier this year, the Council found time to examine a ridiculous and unrealistic RFK Stadium/hotel zone/waterpark/golf course bill but it can’t find the time to hold a hearing on Washington 2024?

It’s time for Washington 2024 and city leaders to share specific details about the Olympic bid. To that end, ANC 6B has sent the following letter to Washington 2024 inviting the organization to present their plans at a community meeting. We hope to work with our colleagues in ANCs 7D, 7F and 6A to find a meeting date and time that works for all commissions representing or adjacent to RFK Stadium and Reservation 13.

—-ANC 6B Letter to Washington 2024—-

November 13, 2014

Russ Ramsey
Chairman and Chief Executive Officer
Washington 2024
2200 Pennsylvania Avenue NW
5th Floor East
Washington, DC 20037

Dear Chairman Ramsey,

We write to invite you to attend a community meeting in the next month to discuss specific details of the Washington 2024 Summer Olympic bid. At a properly noticed meeting with a quorum present on November 13, 2014, Advisory Neighborhood Commission 6B voted 8-0 to send this letter and invitation.

We are aware that Washington, DC is a finalist to be the United States bid city for the 2024 Summer Olympic and Paralympic Games. While few details have been released about your plans for venues, media reports suggest that a good portion of the eastern end of Capitol Hill, including RFK Stadium, the DC Armory and Reservation 13, are being discussed as sites for an Olympic Stadium, Olympic Village and other venues. Our commission represents the Hill East residents who live immediately to the west of these sites.

Before our commission can consider supporting your efforts, we need an opportunity to learn more about your plans and to ask you questions before the United States Olympic Committee selects a bid city in early 2015. Our questions include:

  • What venues are being planned for the land surrounding RFK Stadium, the DC Armory and Reservation 13 (site of the former DC General hospital)?
  • Given that most hotels are west of these sites, how will spectators travel to the various venues without further complicating the normal congestion along our roads?
  • Besides the site of RFK Stadium and Reservation 13, are there other potential Olympic Stadium or Village locations in mind?
  • How much will the District of Columbia have to invest in the Olympic bid? What will be the breakdown in public versus private dollars?
  • How do you plan to engage surrounding neighbors as the bid progresses? A community advisory committee? Monthly e-mail list?

In the next few days, I will follow-up with your staff to find a date/time and Hill East venue in the next month that works for a meeting. We will also coordinate this date and time with our colleague commissions who represent constituents on or surrounding the eastern end of Capitol Hill – ANC 7D (RFK Stadium and the Armory), ANC 7F (Reservation 13) and ANC 6A (residents immediately east and northeast of both sites).

In your June 2014 press release, Washington 2024’s Vice Chairman Ted Leonsis said that DC would host the “most transparent” games in history. It is in this spirit that we send this invitation. We look forward to learning more about the bid and how it will affect our constituents and city.

Thank you for your consideration, and we look forward to hearing from you,

Sincerely,

Brian Flahaven
Chair, ANC 6B


Hill East Task Force Recap: DC General Closure Plan, Eastern Branch Bldg RFP

November 11, 2014

Around 25 people attended the Oct. 30 ANC 6B Hill East Task Force meeting to discuss Mayor Gray’s DC General Shelter replacement plan and the status of the Eastern Branch Building Request for Proposals. Here is a recap:

  • I opened the meeting with a quick update on the status of Phase I of the Hill East Development (Reservation 13). The Deputy Mayor for Planning and Economic Development’s office held an Oct. 29 disposition meeting on parcels F1 & G1. Attendees at the meeting spoke in support of the disposition and urged DMPED to get disposition legislation in front of the DC Council as soon as possible. ANC 6B and the Hill East Task Force will continue to monitor progress on Phase I.
  • The task force discussed Mayor Gray’s plan to close the temporary family emergency homeless shelter at DC General. I provided a brief summary of the plan which was released by Mayor Gray on Oct. 14. ANC 6B is on record in support of closing the shelter at DC General and has urged the city to identify better housing alternatives for homeless families.
  • Generally, the plan calls for replacing the 288 units in DC General with 5-6 smaller scale, neighborhood-based shelters throughout the city. The Department of General Services and the Department of Human Services are working to identify privately-owned buildings and city-owned buildings that could be quickly converted into shelters. If efforts are successful, DC General could be closed as early as fall 2015.
  • Though pleased that the Mayor released a plan, the task force agreed that the plan is very vague. Concerns raised about the plan included:
    • Open-ended Solicitation for Offers – the Department of General Services has issued a Solicitation for Offers seeking privately owned facilities that could be used as shelters. The SFO is a “rolling solicitation” without a deadline. The task force is concerned that the lack of a deadline will remove the time pressure necessary to encourage developers/owners to respond to the SFO.
    • Lack of Potential Locations – the plan is silent on potential locations for the smaller-scale shelters. The task force would feel better about the plan’s prospects if at least one or two potential locations were identified.
    • Lack of a Specific Closing Date – while the plan states that DC General could close as early as the fall of 2015, the Administration does not identify a specific closing date. Again, the lack of a closing date contributes to the sense that there is a lack of urgency to close DC General.
    • Recent Increase in DC General Population – if the goal is to close DC General, why is the city continuing to move more families into the deteriorating building. Recently, 60 families were moved from hotels into DC General. The city should be working to reduce the population at the shelter so it can be closed.
  • The task force also discussed potential drug activity at DC General. Resident Member Pat Taylor said that she had recently seen evidence of a significant open air drug market taking place outside of the shelter next to the new playground. Attendees suggested working with MPD, DGS Protective Services, CSOSA and the DC Department of Corrections to address these issues on the site.
  • The task force agreed that ANC 6B should send formal comments on the plan to Mayor Gray. Flahaven offered to write draft comments to be reviewed by the task force and then forwarded to the full commission for Nov. 12 consideration.
  • The task force transitioned to discussing the current Request for Proposals for the Eastern Branch Building, the former Boys and Girls Club building located at 261 17th Street SE. DGS released the RFP in mid-September with a deadline of Friday, November 20.
    Organizations/development teams who plan on responding to the RFP were invited to share their concepts with attendees. The following three representatives shared their concepts:

    • Corey Powell of Dantes Partners shared his firm’s concept for a senior housing facility combined with first floor community space. The preliminary concept includes adding a two-story addition to the existing building, with a total capacity of 49-units.
    • Joel Kelty of Century Associates shared his firm’s concept also includes senior housing but without additional stories (Kelty suggested that an existing cell tower lease may make building any rooftop additions impossible). Century Associates envisions 24-30 larger residential units with a children’s activity space in the existing building’s gymnasium.
    • Mai Fernandez, a Capitol Hill resident and executive director of the National Center for Victims of Crime, envisions using the existing building for 39-units of senior housing and office space for her NCVC. Training space for NCVC could also be used by the community for meetings and recreation. She is seeking a development partner for the residential side of the project.
  • Attendees asked each representative a number of questions, including whether their concepts would be consistent with the site’s R-4 zoning and whether they planned to use tax credits to fund the housing portion of their projects. HillNow.com has an excellent recap of this portion of the meeting.
  • The task force thanked Ms. Fernandez, Mr. Powell and Mr. Kelty for their presentations and reminded attendees that ANC 6B would have an opportunity to review and comment on RFP responses.
  • The meeting adjourned at 7:50 pm so that attendees could individually ask questions of the three developer/organization representatives.

Friday Quick Takes: Barracks Row Fest, Res. 13, Potomac Ave, 1600 Penn Ave SE

September 26, 2014
  • The Barracks Row Fall Festival is tomorrow (Sat., Sept. 27) from 11 am – 4 pm on 8th Street SE. Always a good time with great food and activities. I’ll be at the ANC 6B booth from 1-3 pm near District Doughnut. Be sure to stop by and say hello!
  • The Deputy Mayor for Planning and Economic Development’s Office has announced an Oct. 29 surplus meeting for parcels F1 & G1 at Reservation 13/Hill East Development. I’ve posted some additional information about the meeting.
  • On Thurs., Oct. 2, I’ll be holding a meeting on the 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue SE project at 7:30 pm at New York Pizza (1401 Pennsylvania Ave SE). Greg Selfridge of NOVO development will be on hand to provide updates on the construction and answer questions.
  • Beginning Monday, Sept. 29, the District Department of Transportation will be conducting a roadway improvement project on the 1400 block of Potomac Ave SE. The project, which is expected to last 3 weeks, will include a much-needed resurfacing of the roadway and repairs to sidewalks, curbs and gutters and wheel chair ramps. Note that traffic will likely be reduced to one lane on this block during construction hours.
  • The Department of General Services has scheduled a second building tour for development teams interested in responding to the Eastern Branch Building RFP. The tour will be on Tues., Sept. 30. from 9:30 am – 4:00 pm I’m working with DGS to schedule a separate community tour date and time.
  • If you haven’t already done so, I encourage you to register for the Dead Man’s Run 5K on Saturday, Oct. 4, 6:00 pm at Historic Congressional Cemetery.

Eastern Branch Building Disposition Hearing Scheduled for Sept. 16

August 14, 2014

On Tuesday, Sept. 16, the DC Department of General Services will hold a public hearing on the proposed surplus of the city-owned Eastern Branch Building (261 17th Street SE). The hearing will take place at 6:30 pm at Payne Elementary School (1445 C Street SE).

During the hearing, DGS will receive public comments on the disposition of the former Boys & Girls Club building and the agency’s plans to issue a Request for Offers in the near future. If you are interested in the future of the building or live near it, I encourage you to attend the hearing and testify. 

In May 2014, ANC 6B sent DGS formal comments (pdf) on the planned RFO. 

 


Neighborhood Town Hall Project Updates

June 30, 2014

A big thanks to all who attended my June 19th Neighborhood Town Hall meeting. I’m particularly grateful to Kristi, Sam and the Curbside Cupcake Team for hosting the town hall at Curbside Cafe.

If you missed the meeting, here are some brief updates on major projects happening in Hill East.

Hill East Development/Reservation 13
The Office of the Deputy Mayor for Planning and Economic Development and the Donatelli/Blue Skye Development team continue to negotiate at Land Disposition Agreement for Phase I (parcels F1 & G1) of the Hill East Development (Reservation 13). DMPED hopes to have a LDA ready for DC Council consideration this fall.

I also shared my concerns about the impact of DC’s Olympic bid on mixed-use development plans for Reservation 13.

DC General
We discussed the Zoning Commission’s recent ruling to allow the Harriet Tubman Women’s Shelter to move from DC General’s Building 9 to a Building 27 for a period of 5 years. The city has also announced its intent to demolish Building 9 once the relocation is complete.

While Building 9’s planned demolition is progress, there has been significantly less progress made by the city in closing the main DC General Family Shelter. Ward 1 Councilmember Jim Graham, who chairs the Council’s Committee on a Human Services, has introduced a Sense of the Council Resolution that calls for the closure of DC General once certain benchmarks are met. Unfortunately, there doesn’t appear to be a plan or significant funding in the FY15 budget to make closure a reality anytime soon. I will continue pushing the city to craft a plan and announce a date for closure of DC General.

17th and 19th Streets a Safety Improvement Project
DDOT informed me last week of a significant delay in construction of the safety improvements to 17th Street SE (narrowing to one lane, adding a bike lane, adding curb extensions, etc.). The improvements, originally scheduled to be implemented in spring 2014, will now not happen until Fall 2015. The reason appears to be some previously unannounced DC Water water main replacement work between C Street SE and Potomac Ave SE that is scheduled to happen in Dec. 2014/Jan. 2015.

Needless to say, an additional 18 month delay on these much needed safety improvements is unacceptable. I plan to ask ANC 6B to support sending a letter to DC Water asking why the neighborhood were not previously notified of this work and why their construction timeline cannot be expedited.

DDOT does plan to begin construction on the 19th Street improvements this fall.

Eastern Branch Building
The Department of a General Services is working to schedule the required public hearing on the disposition of the Eastern a Branch Building. The hearing will likely take place at the end of July or in September. DGS must hold a public hearing before issuing it’s planned Request for Offers (RFO) for the building. The department does plan to include ANC 6B’s comments(pdf) as part of the RFO.

Barney Circle-Southeast Boulevard Study
I’ve been part of a group of ANC 6B Commissioners who have been meeting with Ward 6 Councilmember Tommy Wells, the District Department of Transportation and the Office of Planning to discuss how to improve DDOT’s design options for the Barney Circle-Southeast Boulevard project. The Office of Planning is conducting a “rapid planning study” of the project with recommendations due out sometime this fall. ANC 6B’s Transportation Committee will be discussing the status of the study at the committee’s Wed., July 2 meeting, 7 pm at the Hill Center (921 Pennsylvania Ave SE). Once the study’s recommendations are finalized, ANC 6B and Councilmember Wells will hold larger community meetings to discuss the results.