The District of Columbia's urban renewal agency, in an effort to expand its program for minority equaty in lucrative redevelopment projects, has tentatively awarded development rights for a 300-unit housing project to a group whose owners include a 14th Street community organization.
The 14th Street Local Development Corp., organized 16 months ago to receive federal funds and assist prospective homeowners and small businessmen in the upper 14th Street area, was among the developers chosen Tuesday by the D.C. Redevelopment Land Agency (RLA) to build the housing project at 14th and Girrard streets NW.
If the organization and its partners -- realtor Charlton Jones, builder Joseph Horning and architech Paul Devrouax -- win approval of their final plans, secure money and complete the project, the 14th Street group could earn as much as $250,000 in the first 10 years following completion of the project.
For the last four years, the RLA has attempted to encourage more minority involvement in the lucrative projects built on city-owned land. In 1977, it began to impose a strong but unwritten rule requiring 25 percent minority ownership in urban renewal developments.
Some critics complained, however, that while the policy was designed to help a wide range of blacks, the major beneficiaries were a handful of well known and politically well connected black professionals.
City housing director Robert L. Moore said the new rule was adopted to give community groukps an opportunity to share in the profits reaped from urban reneweal projects built in their neighborhoods.
"It is not enough to have minority participation that impacts just individuals. But there must be a way of sustaining community organizations [so they] will have a 30-40 year income stream," Moore said.
The requirement will apply to all urban renewal parcels awarded in the future including one waterfront site near 12th Street and Maine Avenue SW (known as the Portal site) and Capital Gateway site near Buzzard's Point in Southeast Washington, said Moore. New commercial and housing developments exceeding $300 million are expected on both sites, he said.
The 14th Street group and its three partners were chosen over two other partnerships and won the exclusive right to prepare final plans to build more than 200 new houses and apartments and rehabilitate about 100 houses now standing on part of the four-acre renewal site.
Dick Jones (no relation to Charlton Jones), president of the 14 Street organization, said the group would get it part ownership without contributing any money, as is frequently the case in development projects.
"We are bringing our experience and our being there -- we live there," he said. "In order for the developer to come in, he needs community backing, and we supply that part of it."
Carlton Jones said that up to this point, all of the partners in the project have provided professional services in preparing the proposal in lieu of cash contributions.
According to the proposal filed by the group, Horning, who has built several subsidezed housing projects in the city, owns 50 percent of the new company, Devrouax and Carlton Jones, 17.5 percent each, and the 14th Street group, 15 percent.