A D. C. City Council committee voted yesterday to ask Mayor Marion Barry to crack down on - and possibly replace - the developer of the long-uncompleted and troubled Waterside Mall in Southwest Washington.
The action by the council's Housing and Economic Development Committee reinforced a warning already sent by the city government to the developer, Bresler & Reiner Inc., telling it to meet the requirements of its contract.
In a bluntly worded letter, City Administrator Elijah B. Rogers set a deadline of noon tomorrow for the firm to notify the city of its intention to comply. If it fails, Rogers declared, "I will have no choice except to seriously consider to terminate our agreement."
As originally conceived two decades ago, the project, at Fourth and M streets SW, was intended to be the commercial hub of the city's new Southwest, providing food and merchandise chiefly for neighborhood residents. But many of the existing stores remain vacant and completion of two new wings has been stalled.
Charles S. Bresler, chairman of the firm, and his attorney, Gilbert Hahn Jr., said they have drafted a letter to Rogers describing progress on some points raised by the city, but laying much of the blame for continued delays and trash accumulation on incomplete Metro subway construction. Hahn said the developers have sued Metro for more than $15 million in damages.
The council committee, in a resolution sponsored by John A. Wilson (D-Ward 2), declared that Bresler & Reiner violated the city's urban renewal plan by renting illegally to some tenants, including the U. S. Environmental Protection Agency, which has its headquarters there.
"The Waterside Mall is a nascent slum, being created by millions in federal, District and private dollars," the resolution declared, and "the developer is obviously unwilling and/or unable to create and maintain a viable shopping mall . . ."
The resolution calls upon the mayor to enforce the terms of the developer's contract and to "begin immediately to look for a redeveloper with the capability of completing and maintaining the mail . . ."
The resolution, which must be acted upon by the full council, has no force of law. But it strengthens the mayor's hand in dealing with the developers, one council aide said.
Because Wilson, sponsor of the resolution, was absent from the District Building yesterday after threatening earlier to resign from the council, the committee's action was taken on a motion by David A. Clarke (D-Ward 1), a frequent Wilson adversary.
Among the problem areas cited in the resolution are foundation holes dug in 1971 for completion of the mall's two missing wings. They're still empty.
Bresler said his firm is prepared to start construction as soon as Metro gets out of the way. One of the new wings will be occupied by a new Safeway, which would move from elsewhere in the mall.
One issue raised in the Rogers' letter - a claim that a Bresler & Reiner affiliate is $90,000 behind in rent on the land - has been resolved by payment of the money, Hahn said.