Developer Jeffrey N. Cohen, who had requested $5 million in District-sponsored bonds to renovate several vacant properties in Shaw, has asked for an additional $4 million to convert the properties to office space.
Cohen and the Manhattan Laundry Limited Partnership originally sought the revenue bonds to finance the renovation of three adjacent vacant buildings in the 1300 block of Florida Avenue NW and use them for storage space for up to five years. But Cohen said he became convinced that the property could be leased as office space before renovation work begins and revised the bond application to the city.
District Cablevision Limited Partnership, which was awarded the city's 15-year cable television franchise, may become one of the chief tenants in the new building, Cohen said.
"We're aware of District Cablevision's need for office and warehouse space and that that space is to be located in either Ward 1 or Ward 8," said Cohen. "We'll do all we can to attract them." The laundry building is in Ward 1.
If the city authorizes the issuance and sale of revenue bonds to finance the project, Cohen said, the office space could be leased at a competitive price, about $12 a square foot compared with much higher prices in downtown. He also said banks would be more willing to buy the bonds if the company had tenants committed to lease the space.
Last November, the D.C. City Council adopted a resolution indicating its intent to approve the $5 million in bonds. However, final council approval is still pending. A spokesman for the city's Office of Business and Economic Development said the revised bond application was under review and might be sent to the City Council later this month.
The office complex is one of several redevelopment projects designed to spur major changes in the run-down Shaw neighborhood.
Last year, the city acquired the Manhattan Laundry and several other Shaw properties from Cohen in a complicated $12.5 million deal. Under the agreement, a nonprofit group will lease properties from the city and sublet them to Cohen for development.
The additional properties include the former site of Children's Hospital, the Lincoln Theatre and the former Thompson's Dairy site.