News from ANC 6B Meeting, November 2019

Water and 12th Streets ‘Preferred Site’ for New Heliport

719

Advisory Neighborhood Commission (ANC) 6B unanimously voted to send a letter to Councilmember Anita Bonds (At-Large, D) asking DC Council to delay a vote to approve a contract with Donatelli Development to provide 100 units of Permanent Supportive Housing (PSH) in the F1 development at Reservation 13. The letter requested that the vote be delayed from Nov. 19 until Dec. 5 to allow further discussion with the community.

The commission voted to send another letter to the Office of the Deputy Mayor for Planning and Economic Development (DMPED), the Office of Planning (OP), the Office of the City Administrator (OCA) and the Department of Human Services (DHS) requesting that representatives attend the Nov. 18 meeting of the Hill East Task Force in order to discuss the contract with constituents. The letter was supported 8-0 with one abstention.

The vote came after a presentation by Assistant City Administrator Jay Melder, who was on hand primarily to discuss the city’s role in the relocation of the South Capitol Heliport. Melder also spoke on the topic of the PSH contract, noting that while he was not involved, he was informed on the matter.

Melder said that the contract was for a project-based PSH intended to provide housing for the women living in the Harriet Tubman Shelter (1900 Massachusetts Ave. SE). A core group of women had been living together for decades, he said, and had refused permanent housing solutions in favor of remaining together as a community and staying in Hill East.

Melder said the contract would provide capital funding to expand the affordable housing already planned for the site into 100 PSH units allocated to residents through a coordinated system administered by the DC Housing Authority (DCHA). The entire building would consist of PSH units with 24-hour services on the ground floor chosen to ensure housing stability for residents. The agreement with Donatelli includes a guarantee of fifteen years of subsidized rent, a clause that helps ensure the company can finance the project, Melder said.

Commissioner Denise Krepp (6B10) raised complaints made by tenants about conditions at another Donatelli building, the Park 7 Apartments. “In a project-based PSH, where services are being provided and there are contractual relationships between the provider and the District of Columbia, there are teeth in those contracts and there are standards,” Melder said in response. “That’s why project-based is really desirable for a lot of tenants and for a lot of people involved in services who want to better control the environments for people going into these kinds of [units].”

Melder noted that there was a competitive process to develop the parcels, acknowledging that that process took place before the PSH element was introduced as a factor. Commissioner Jennifer Samolyk (6B01) said one of the major concerns was who was running the program, given the reports from Park 7 tenants, and the process by which the developer was selected. She asked Melder to bring those concerns back to the city, and Melder agreed.

Water and 12th Streets ‘Preferred Site’ for New Heliport

Assistant City Administrator Melder said that he ‘fully expected’ Congressional Aviation (CA) to come to the District with a request to relocate the South Capitol Heliport to the site at 12th and Water Streets SE.

However, Melder emphasized that while CA had expressed interest in the parcel, there had been no agreement from the District, which has encouraged the aviation company to explore other sites, including both private and federal land and land on the other side of the Anacostia River.

“I can tell you right now there is no commitment from the District for that site or any other site for Congressional Aviation. There is no decision on it,” he said.

In August, ANC 6B was informed by CA that the private owner of the current site of the South Capitol Heliport (1724 South Capitol St. SE) will not renew the lease when it expires in 2022, compelling Congressional Aviation to seek a new site. At that meeting, Congressional Aviation CEO Geoff Rankin said the focus of future planning was the former DC Gas Light Company’s East Station at 12th and Water Streets SE.

Melder said that the Office of the City Administrator is cooperating to the extent that it is appropriate to be engaged with the search for a new heliport site, saying the District wanted to be involved in helicopters landing and taking off in the city and that part of that job is to ensure community engagement around the relocation.

“Right now, our relationship with Congressional Aviation is we contract with them to support our MPD helicopter, that’s where that service can launch from, but certainly if we were disposing of a property that would be a different relationship altogether,” he said.

Melder emphasized that the District had made no commitment to CA for the Water Street SE site or for any other District-owned parcel. He noted that according to District Code, the sale or use of land for periods of twenty years or more had to follow a formal process including due diligence and community engagement.

Noting the short time line for the relocation of the project, Commissioner Corey Holman (6B06) asked if CA is planning on moving to the Water Street site, saying that the company had conveyed that impression at the August meeting about the heliport relocation.

“I know it’s not a done deal, I told them [CA] that,” Melder told commissioners. “I’m sure this is their preferred site –they keep coming back to it, and I can see why. It’s an ideal site for a heliport operator. It may not be an ideal site for land use for your community, and that’s a big factor.”

Melder said that he believed the aviation company was looking for properties along the Anacostia River, roughly the path of FAA Helicopter Route 1. “The only preferred option that I’ve seen or I’ve seen them submit any kind of noise study or any kind of deep information about is this Water Street site,” Melder said, before noting that he was unsure to whom or for what purpose the study was submitted.

Corey Holman (6B06) emphasized that community engagement should take place as early as possible, and Melder noted that the job of the City Administrator is to facilitate community engagement on the relocation whether the site selected for a new heliport was District, federal or private land.

Commissioner Kirsten Oldenburg (6B04) reminded Melder that OCA still had not responded to a list of 23 questions on the topic of the heliport, saying that they owed the ANC a formal response even if that was an explanation for why they could not be answered. Melder promised to provide a response within a week.

Other Business
The ANC voted to support:

• a Department of Housing and Community Development (DCHS) Façade Grant to Barracks Row Main Street (BRMS) as a community-based non-profit to develop storefront façade improvement projects in low to moderate income retail and commercial areas along Eighth Street SE. The funding is to be used in areas of low to moderate income, largely south of the freeway on Eighth Street SE. The ANC also asked in the letter for increased flexibility in dispensing the funds.

• liquor license renewals for SkillZone (709 Eighth St. SE), Cava (527-529 Eighth St. SE), and The Capitol Lounge (229 Pennsylvania Ave. SE). They also voted 8-0-1 to support the transfer of an existing tavern license and Settlement Agreement to Yaju Ramen (525 Eighth St. SE), at the former site of Phase I. The license was supported with weekday summer garden closures at 1 a.m. and weekend closures at 2 a.m. with a promise to revisit the hours after 6 months. The establishment is aiming for a February 2020 opening.

• a concept design for a Historic Preservation Application (HPA) proposing an addition to rowhouses at 716-718 L Street SE, with a letter suggesting changes to minimize the impact of the addition through color and architectural design.

• the appointment of resident members Brian Kirrane (6B03) and Stefan Katz (6B07) to the Transportation Committee

Advisory Neighborhood Commission (ANC) 6B held the October meeting of the full commission at the Hill Center Tuesday, October 15th with a quorum of seven commissioners. On the dais: Jennifer Samolyk (6B01), Gerald Sroufe (6B02, Secretary), Brian Ready (6B03, Parliamentarian), Kirsten Oldenburg (6B04), Corey Holman (6B06, Treasurer), Kelly Waud (6B07) Chander Jayaraman (6B08, Chair), Kasie Clark (6B09, Vice Chair) and Denise Krepp (6B10). Commissioner Steve Holtzman (6B05) was absent.

The next meeting of ANC 6B will take place at 7 p.m. Tuesday, December 10 at the Hill Center at the Old Naval Hospital (921 Pennsylvania Ave. SE). Visit anc6b.org for more info, email [email protected] or find @ANC6B on Twitter.