The chief architect of the District's plan to redevelop the Anacostia waterfront has been nominated by Mayor Anthony A. Williams to head the corporation charged with making that vision a reality.
If confirmed by the D.C. Council, Planning Director Andrew Altman would become the first chief executive of the Anacostia Waterfront Corp., a publicly chartered entity that was approved last spring and given broad powers to shape development along the Anacostia River.
The city's $8 billion, 20-year plan calls for creating a series of neighborhoods and parks on either side of the river, anchored by major attractions such as the proposed Major League Baseball stadium near South Capitol Street. The plan also includes extensive river cleanup and new roads and bridges.
For months, Altman, 41, has been considered the front-runner for the position. He was recruited by Williams (D) in 1999 to rebuild the city's office of planning, which had dwindled to almost nothing during the fiscal crises of the 1990s. He created a strong agency that has won numerous awards for plans to revitalize areas including downtown, the Mount Vernon Triangle, H Street NE and the waterfront.
Before coming to the District, Altman worked as director of planning and zoning in Oakland, Calif. He said he has turned down job opportunities in New York, San Francisco, London and elsewhere, hoping for the riverfront post.
"This was where my heart is," Altman said. "This is a professional dream, to be able to implement your ideas."
Altman's salary would be $195,000 a year, up from $124,843 and equal to the salary of the chief executive of the National Capital Revitalization Corp., a publicly chartered firm whose operating structure was the model for the waterfront corporation.
Some D.C. Council members argued last spring that the waterfront development should be part of NCRC's portfolio. Council member David Catania (R-At Large) contended that Williams created a separate entity solely to provide an attractive job for Altman.
Catania did not return calls yesterday. But at-large council member Carol Schwartz (R), who also had been critical, said she decided to support the corporation after the council approved her amendments limiting its powers and salaries to those available to NCRC. She said she was inclined to support Altman's nomination.
City Administrator Robert C. Bobb called Altman one of the city's "best minds. . . . No one can question his knowledge, his commitment, his expertise."
Altman has clashed with some residents over his calls for higher-density development around Metro stations. But he won praise for mediating a dispute over a new supermarket in Cleveland Park and trying to limit the growth of George Washington University.
Williams nominated seven D.C. residents to the corporation's board of directors. They are: Eric W. Price, outgoing deputy mayor for economic development; former Indianapolis mayor Stephen Goldsmith, an adviser to President Bush; developer Mitchell Schear; Greg Farmer, a former NCRC board member; Carl Cole, who last year helped launch the Anacostia Community Boathouse; Loretta Tate, chief executive of the Marshall Heights Community Development Organization; and Marie Johns, a former Verizon official who serves on the NCRC board.
Like Altman, each will have a hearing before the council's Committee on Economic Development before a confirmation vote is scheduled.