The federal agency responsible for the redevelopment of Pennsylvania Avenue can no longer require developers to include housing in their building plans, according to new orders from the U.S. Office of Management and Budget.
The new directive is another potential stumbling block in the long struggle to provide housing on the avenue, but officials at OMB and the Pennsylvania Avenue Development Commission say it will not have much effect in the long run.
Acting PADC executive director Tom Regan and PADC board member Lawrence B. Simons said although developers will now be allowed to submit plans that are devoid of housing, the 22-member PADC board probably would not approve such plans.
The board is dedicated to adhering as closely as possible to the redevelopment plan approved by Congress in 1974, which includes housing in the rebuilding of the north side of the avenue, Regan said, adding: "The board can make housing a consideration."
In the past, PADC has demanded that developers proposing projects along Pennsylvania Avenue put a specific number of housing units on certain blocks from Sixth to Ninth streets.
The newly released federal budget, however, says: "for 1983 the Pennsylvania Avenue Development Corporation will discontinue the practice of requiring developers to construct a specific number of residential housing units within the project area."
An OMB official, who asked not to be identified, said the new language simply mirrors the reality that since the government was no longer going to subsidize market rate housing on the avenue, developers should not be required to build it. In late 1980 the federal government told PADC it would not be allowed to subsidize market-rate housing by reducing land prices, giving cash payments to developers or giving indirect subsidies.
Faced with that federal action, PADC went back to the drawing boards to update its 1974 plan. The revised plan, released three months ago, calls for reducing the number of residential units from approximately 1,500 to about 1,350 and allowing more historic preservation.
The new plan calls for denser development east of Ninth Street and an increase in office space from 505,000 square feet to 1.6 million square feet. PADC officials said they hope the increase in office space would subsidize the housing.
The corporation also has scrapped the major feature of the rebuilding effort, a modernistic "Italian Village" of hillside houses on four square blocks in front of the Archives Building. Instead, all housing will be in traditional high-rise buildings in an attempt to make it economically feasible and to save old buildings of architectural importance that now stand on some of the blocks.