A 25-acre parcel of land on Michigan Avenue NE just east to North Capitol Street has been sold by Nearby Trinity College to two developers who plan to build 534 townhouses there.
The project would be one of the largest privately financed residential developments begun in Washington in many years, continuing eastward a building boom already under way in Northwest and downtown Washington.
Developer Gerard M. LaVay, who bought the 25 wooded acres with a partner, Richard J. Donohoe, for $3 million said he moved his operation from Montgomery County into Washington two years ago "to participate in the excitement of the revitalization of the city."
"The District is welcoming builders in contrast to Montogmery County, where they have a no-growth policy," said LaVay who had operated in Montgomery for 14 years. "They (Montgomery officials) use sewer moratoriums to restrict the supply of housing."
Trinity is the second college in its neighborhood to sell some of its real estate holdings for private residential development. Four years ago, Catholic University let options on a 36-arce tract bounded by Puerto Rico Avenue, 6th Street, Buchanan Street and Taylor Street NE to Stanley Martin Communities, a suburban developer.
The developers planned a development of 650 units condominiums, town houses, and apartments, but civic groups in the nearby Brookland neighborhood organized to block a needed zoning change.
The developers eventually bought only 10 of the 36 acres and construstion currently is underway on 310 duplexes, which are being offered for about $50,000 each.
On the site sold by Trinnity College, no zoning change is requiredto build townhouses, according to J. Kirkwood White, assitant director for zoning and planning in the D.C. Municipal Planing Office. A site plan must be approved by the Board of Zoning Adjustment, but this process is considered less vulerable to organized opposition than a zoning change.
"We plan to work closely with the city and with the community groups," LaVay said.
"We're going to be concerned with the kind of development that goes in there," responded John D! Kelly, program director for the Upper Northeast Coordinating Council. "There's going to be considerable concern about traffic, the impact on cschools. There's certainly no elementary school within walking distance . . . There's a lot he could do in there that would have a radical effect on the area."
At a meeting with Trinity officials yesterday afternoon, several neighborhood residents expressed concern that the development would cause over crowding in the area.
Frank E. Braxton, a member of the Edgewood Civic Association, said he feared it would trigger a rise in taxes. "Property values will increase and they are going to reassess every year; people can't pay high taxes." Braxton said.
LaVay, who with Donohoe also is developing a 530-unit apartment house and 100 town houses on nine acres off Massachusets Ave., NW, south of Ward Circle, said he plans mainly two and three-bedroom town houses on the Trinity College land.
"We want to build affordable housing in the city," said LaVay. "Our prices will be between the high 40s and the high 50s."
Preliminary site plans show town houses grouped in several clusters, with parking for 766 cars, 278 of them in common garages. The site plan includes a swimming pool, a wading pool and a bathhouse. LaVay said as many trees as possible would be preserved.
Several savings and loan associations in the city have made tentative financing commitments, LaVay said.
Bounded by Michigan Avenue, North Capitol Street and Irving Street NE, the site is near the Shrine of the Immaculate Conception and the Washington Hospital Center. It is within walking distance of Brookland, a predominently black middleclass neighborhood in Northeast Washington and the Brookland-Catholic University metro station.
In announcing the sale, Sister Rose Ann Fleming, president of Trinity, said the income from it would be invested in an income-producing endowment fund.
"The income from the endowment will be used for the general purposes of the college, but the endowment itself will not be touched," she said. "It will help ensure Trinity's future."
Trinity is a Catholic women's college that was founded in 1897, and has a current enrollment of about 900.
Disclosure of the Trinity project comes during a resurgence of housing and commercial construction in the city that some officials have described as likely to be the biggest boom in the city since World War II.
In the western part of downtown office construction has expanded dramatically in recent yeats while in wealthy sections of Northwest Washington, developers are seeking to carve up estates for dozens of expensive homes.