Washington developer Richard Carr wants to make a deal with the District to build condos and a hotel on a prime city-owned site at Pennsylvania Avenue and 6th Street NW.
Carr is the son of Oliver Carr, the developer who built much of downtown's office space. He is an executive in his father's private Oliver Carr Co., which owns assets that were not involved when most of the Carr portfolio was taken public and became what now is CarrAmerica Realty Corp. Unlike his brothers Thomas and Robert, he is not an executive of the public company.
Richard Carr has met with District officials and with neighborhood activists to pitch his plan, but has not made a formal offer for the site where the city's dilapidated Employment Services Department building stands. The building is the last spot on the avenue between the Capitol and the White House that has not been redeveloped in recent decades.
This week, after a lengthy competition, the federal government agreed to sell a nearby site on 7th St. NW to Texas apartment developer JPI for a building that will include housing and a theater.
The project Carr has discussed involves not only building condominiums and hotel rooms on Pennsylvania Avenue but also providing the city with an office building in Southeast that could be used to house the employment services department. D.C. officials have for years planned to move the agency and sell the land because of its valuable location, although exactly how valuable is uncertain.
A story in this week's Washington Business Journal reported that Carr's plan calls for 90 luxury condos, an amount of housing that exceeds what is required at the site, in addition to a small hotel. That story also said the office building in Southeast would be on Howard Road, near the Anacostia Metro station, and would be on a site that also provides space for retail establishments, including a grocery store.
Carr, however, refused to discuss details of his plan, saying it was too early. He did say, though, "I'm the one who's leading the exercise and it will be sponsored by a private partnership."
Carr is not the only developer interested in the site, said Lindsley Williams, director for land use in the office of the deputy mayor for planning and economic development. "I have personally been in discussions with brokers . . . representing one or more parties they cannot name to me." Williams said he has also met with Carr to informally discuss his proposal.
"The question we have is going to have to be, 'What is this site worth and are we going to be getting the value from the site?' " Williams said. "If under analysis the offer comes in for less than the value, we would be obliged to say 'No.' "
Downtown activist Terry Lynch, who has also been briefed on the plan but said he could not discuss details, said he "loves" Carr's offer, and hopes the District can use it to attract other bidders. "Whether it's the best proposal, I don't know, but hopefully it spurs the city to get the best proposal while the market is hot," Lynch said.