A Shaw-area Advisory Neighborhood Commission (ANC) blasted the $12.5 million development deal between Jeffrey Cohen and the D.C. government yesterday, saying it was negotiated in secrecy and questioning whether the community group taking part in the development really represents the area.
"When people who live in the area aren't involved in the process, I find that troubling," said David R. Parker, chairman of ANC 1B, which includes the 14th and U streets NW area targeted for redevelopment.
Cohen, a developer and banker, sold the former Children's Hospital site and other properties in the Shaw area to the city Feb. 1 in a complicated deal that was financed by a consortium of banks.
The city hopes to recover its cost by selling or leasing the property back to Cohen and the Shaw Coalition Redevelopment Corp., a nonprofit community group that will oversee the development of low-cost housing, stores and offices.
Yesterday, Parker and Stanley J. Mayes, chairman of the ANC's economic development committee, asked the city to postpone a scheduled March 21 public hearing on the redevelopment plans and urged the D.C. auditor to review the deal.
They said that other ANC commissioners and members of the community were upset about the secrecy surrounding the negotiations, as well as "the absence of real community input in what is supposedly a community venture." Parker also contended that Cohen "controls" the nonprofit group.
"We don't want to just come out and oppose the Cohen development," Parker said. "It may turn out to be a good thing. We just want community input."
Cohen and Ibrahim Mumin, a leader of the Shaw nonprofit group, disputed the ANC's criticism and suggested it may be sour grapes.
Mumin, executive director of the Shaw Project Area Committee who helped found the nonprofit development group, said many of those now criticizing the deal did little in the past to bring jobs and housing to the area or fight drug trafficking.
"Many of those who now want to be at the forefront of the development wouldn't be known on the streets of Shaw," said Mumin. ". . . I'll stand by my record."
Deputy Mayor Curtis McClinton, the city's chief negotiator of the deal, said that the ANC's criticism "is something all new to me."
The Shaw Coalition Redevelopment Corp. was created in November 1983 by Mumin, school board member Edna Frazier-Cromwell (Ward 1) and other members of the Shaw PAC and the 14th and U Street Coalition.
The nonprofit group was used as a conduit in financing the city's purchase of Cohen's land and received a "loan placement fee" of about $337,000, according to Mumin. Previously, Cohen lent the group $3,600, which has been repaid.
The group's board of directors includes: Frazier-Cromwell, a former chairman of the 14th and U Street Coalition; John Snipes, owner of a Shaw-area variety store; Barnett R. Anderson, a retired D.C. high school teacher; Durstyne W. McClintick, a retired Internal Revenue Service analyst, and Anwar Saleem, a mechanic and chairman of the Ward 1 Democrats.
Also, Charles Bien, an official with the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development; Robert Rouse, a D.C. police detective; Malik Shabazz, chief executive of Pyramid Industries; Laura B. Jackson, a key punch supervisor, and John A. Turner, an attorney.