D.C. housing director Robert L. Moore has threatened to remove developers Oliver T. Carr and Theodore R. Hagans Jr. from participation in the $150 million Metro Center project in the heart of downtown Washington if agreement on a price for the city-owned land is not reached by Jan. 31.
"If we cannot reach an agreement, we will recommend that we seek another developer," Moore said yesterday.
Carr said Moore had not told him that a deadline had been imposed, and had not threatened to withdraw the development rights.
"I regret that Mr. Moore has chosen to announce that there is an ultimatum about Metro Center because he has not made that statement to me," Carr said.
Carr, Hagans and Moore have been going over final plans for the development since spring. Two months ago, they started haggling over how much Carr and Hagans should pay for the three acres of land.
Sources familiar with the dispute said that Moore wants about $400 a square foot for the three blocks of city-owned property bounded roughly by 11th, 13th, G and H streets NW, a figure that Carr and Hagans will not agree to.
One source said the developers and Moore appear to be about $20 a square foot apart.
Although privately owned property in downtown has sold for $500 to $600 a square foot, the city sold a choice parcel of real estate across the street from the Carr-Hagans location for $130 a square foot in December 1980. Moore negotiated that land deal. Moore also sits on the city's five-member urban renewal agency, formerly known as the Redevelopment Land Agency, which must approve any price that is negotiated.
Both Moore and Carr refused to talk about money. But Carr said the city was asking a price that was too high for construction of a large open plaza and hotel in the area between 11th and 13th streets.
"We regret that the housing department does not share the view that it is important to downtown that the project include these special elements . . . . They've told us to go build an office building instead," said Carr, assertingthat a hotel generates more jobs for city residents than does office space.
Moore said the city had refused to lower its asking price because such reductions had not been given to other developers who wanted to build hotels on other government-owned property.
"Such a reduction would require the city to back off a considerable amount of money," Moore said, adding that, in effect, city residents were being asked to subsidize the plaza and hotel.
Moore said that he and Mayor Marion Barry had discussed the progress of negotiations, but that he was unaware that Carr had approached Barry. Carr would say only that he hoped the mayor was interested in the project. Barry could not be reached for comment.
Metro Center, which would sit atop the major subway station of the same name, is regarded as the centerpiece of the city government's efforts to revitalize old downtown. The Carr-Hagans plans call for a Hecht's department store, topped by an office building, in the block between 12th and 13th streets; an office building and shops at the northwest corner of 13th and G, and a 400-room hotel, office building and plaza in the block between 11th and 12th streets.
Carr and Hagans, who were awarded the site in September 1978 by RLA, will meet again Monday with Moore.