ANC 6B Supports Plans, Not Process for Boys & Girls Club Reno

'Do Better', Commissioner Tells District Reps

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Massing study showing the impact of a set back addition to the roof of the Boys and Girls Club. Image: Century Associates

At the Oct. 13th meeting, Advisory Neighborhood Commission (6B) voted to support the “plans but not the process” in the ongoing redevelopment of the Hill East Boys & Girls Club.

Developers are seeking an extension to the agreement on disposition of property, which expires Dec. 4, as well as to the terms, changing plans for the development from a 50 percent affordable condo building to a 100 percent affordable senior rental.

“ANC 6B supports the adaptive reuse of the Boys and Girls Club as affordable senior housing,” read the ANC motion. “However, because of the continued failures of DMPED to engage the community, we ask the vote not be taken until Nov. 17 or later to ensure ANC 6B and affected neighbors have more time to evaluate the proposed changes to the term sheet.”

Century Associates Developer Joel Kelty presented proposed changes to the project before Advisory Neighborhood Commission (ANC) 6B Tuesday night. Kelty said the original plans proved not “economically feasible” due to rising construction costs and inherent inefficiencies in the building that made is less than ideal for senior co-housing.

Conversion to affordable units allows Century Associates to seek the Low Income Housing Tax Credit (LIHTC), which provides a tax incentive to construct or rehabilitate affordable rental housing for low-income households.

Office of the Deputy Mayor for Planning and Economic Development (DMPED) Representative Erica Dukes said there was interest in having the DC Council approve the extension and project terms at the same time.

However, Dukes could not confirm a date for the hearing, or whether it would take place after Nov. 10, the day of the next full meeting of ANC 6B. Commissioners were frustrated, noting that if the matter were considered by DC Council after that meeting, there would be another month for community discussion on the changes.

The Eastern Branch of The Boys and Girls Club of Greater Washington (261 17th St. SE). The club closed in 2007 and has been the subject of two RFP processes since it was acquired by the District in 2010. Photo: E. O’Gorek

Change in Plans

The previous Century Associate proposal, selected for the Boys and Girls Club by DMPED in 2017, was a 29-unit for-sale condominium project. It included 5 units reserved for buyers with incomes not exceeding 50 percent of the Area Median Income (AMI) and 5 units reserved for buyers with incomes not exceeding 80 percent AMI. The project included 17 market rate units and two guest suites for use by guests of the residents. The original project also emphasized co-housing, a European model designed to foster social interaction among the residents.

The new proposal consists of 39 rental units, all of which are reserved for households with incomes not exceeding 60 percent AMI. The plan still includes the community non-profit space in the lower level.

However, parking plans have changed. The original plans called for 17 parking spaces in an automated, below-grade garage. For economic and structural reasons, those plans have changed.

Plans for 9 at-grade parking spots, accessed from the rear alley, will displace residential units located there in the original plan. In order to compensate and get the unit count high enough to make the project economically feasible, the project has been altered to add units in an additional story.

Finally, since the project calls for unit rental as opposed to ownership, as per DMPED policy Century Associates would land would not purchase the property and would instead enter a 99-year lease with the District.

The changes preserve the basement community function space originally proposed to be leased to a local non-profit organization.

Process as the Problem

The Century Associates project is the result of a 2017 RFP process for the site, which was purchased by the District in 2010. A 2014 RFP was cancelled after neighbors called for a lengthier commitment than the proposed 25-year lease.

The 2017 proposal was heavily supported by Capitol Hill Village, a non-profit that provides support and resources Capitol Hill residents as they age in place. A CHV representative said that while there was disappointment that co-housing was no longer a part of the project, senior affordable housing is needed in the area and CHV supports the project as changed.

Chander Jayaraman (6B08) compared the project changes to an earlier move by DMPED to put Permanent Supportive Housing in a building under construction on Reservation 13. He said that while he appreciates the affordable elements of the project, this was another case where DMPED “pushed their way at the last minute to do these things.”

Citing what she called a lack of transparency from DMPED on development in the Hill East area, 6B10 Commissioner Denise Krepp opposed the extension, saying the changes to the contract were significant enough to require a new RFP process.

DMPED representative Grace said that a new RFP process was not necessary because the basic elements of the project have not changed, noting it was still residential in nature, intended for seniors and involved the same developer.

Noting that the process was beset with problems, Planning and Zoning Committee Chair Corey Holman (6B06) said he appreciated the increase in the proportion of affordable housing units, but found fault with the process. “Do better, and do better work,” he said, addressing DMPED and the District administration. “I know you do good work in other communities; do good work here.”

Nonetheless, Holman said that the project is still an opportunity to add the 1200 affordable housing units by 2025 to Capitol Hill called for in the Mayor’s plans.

A date has not been set for consideration of the disposition extension before DC Council. You can see the 2017 story on the original plans: https://hillrag.com/2017/11/28/dmped-selects-developer-boys-girls-club/