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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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.

ANC 6B Hill East Task Force to Discuss DC General, Eastern Branch on Oct. 30

October 24, 2014

The next ANC 6B Hill East Task Force will be on Thursday, Oct. 30, 6:30 pm – 8:00 pm at Congressional Cemetery Chapel (1800 E Street SE). The task force plans to take up two items:

Regarding the Eastern Branch RFP, the task force invites any organizations/developers who are considering or planning a response to the RFP to attend the meeting and provide some brief remarks about their plans. The Eastern Branch RFP discussion will likely begin around 7:15.

The chapel is located in the center of the cemetery. Attendees can enter Congressional Cemetery through the main gates at the intersection of 18th, E and Potomac Ave.


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.


ANC 6B May Meeting Recap

May 16, 2014

We had a packed agenda and full house for ANC 6B’s monthly commission meeting on May 13. Here is a brief recap of the major actions.

  • The commission voted 9-0-1 to send comments (pdf) to the DC Department of General Services on their planned Request for Offers for the Eastern Branch Building (261 17th Street SE). The comments included feedback received by ANC 6B’s Hill East Task Force at two April community meetings on the topic. DGS is currently working to schedule a public hearing on the building and plans to issue the RFO this summer. Thanks to all who attended the meetings and weighed in on the future of this important building.
  • On the relocation of the Harriet Tubman Women’s Shelter at DC General, ANC 6B voted 9-0-1 to send a letter (pdf) to the Zoning Commission opposing the city’s request to permanently change zoning on Reservation 13. Instead, the commission supports the city seeking a special exception to allow the shelter to move from Building 9 to Building 27. A special exception would keep the existing zoning in place and would allow the Zoning Commission to put a time limit on the use. I plan to write a separate post on the shelter relocation issue soon.
  • ANC 6B voted unanimously to support the public space permit application for outdoor seating at Curbside Cafe (257 15th Street SE).
  • The commission voted 8-0-2 to oppose a fast food special exception request for &Pizza, a local restaurant chain that wants to open a location at 405 8th Street SE (currently Oxx0 Dry Cleaners). However, the commission also voted to support the owner’s request to delay his Board of Zoning Adjustment hearing to allow more time for negotiation. I was one of the abstentions on this vote. While I understand neighbor concerns about the number of fast food restaurants and rodent problem on the 400 block of 8th Street SE, &Pizza would be a welcome addition and would not contribute to the rodent problem like some existing tenants on the block. I’m hopeful that a compromise can be reached.
  • After a back and forth between the owner, commissioners and neighbors, the commission voted unanimously to approve a new settlement agreement with Nooshi (524 8th Street SE). The new agreement will allow the restaurant to seek permission to serve food/drinks on its elevated outdoor patio deck.
  • The commission voted 10-0 to support sending comments to the District Department of Transportation on its new policy regarding private use/improvements of pocket parks. ANC 6B wants to ensure that DDOT policy protects open space and provides ANCs an opportunity to review permit applications for private improvements to triangle and pocket parks. The Capitol Hill Corner blog has more background on the pocket park controversy.
  • A request for a fast food special exception for the vacant commercial space at 1400 Pennsylvania Avenue SE was withdrawn from the ANC 6B agenda by the owners of New York Pizza (1401 Penn Ave SE). The owners, who plan to expand their operations, have asked for a delay in the case.
  • ANC 6B’s June meeting will be on Tuesday, June 10, 7 pm at the Hill Center (921 Pennsylvania Ave SE).