Developer Dominic F. Antonelli Jr. promised to give a Southwest Washington community group $1 million for housing renovations, to hire unemployed city residents and create a job placement service. Conrad Cafritz promised a grocery store, a gallery to display works by black artists and a 250-seat theater.
Not to be outdone, the Western Development Co. of Georgetown promised an 850-seat theater, a day-care center and an ambitious proposal for hiring blacks and women.
Another development team, which includes the Rockefeller family, promised a $1 million budget for the arts, a two-acre park, job training for Southeast and Southwest residents and a team member's office telephone number to show its accessibility.
All the developers said their plans would cost between $264 million and $325 million.
These costly promises are generated by the city's announcement that it is ready to sell the last large parcel of land in the Southwest urban renewal area, a 10-acre prize known as the Portal Site. And quite a prize it is, a choice tract lying at the foot of the 14th Street Bridge, with a panoramic view of the river from Rosslyn around to National Airport with the Jefferson Memorial as the centerpiece.
At a time when high interest rates have forced many developers to abandon plans for large-scale construction projects, some of the city's biggest development interests are seeking to win the rights to the Portal Site.
The city's Redevelopment Land Agency (RLA) is expected to pick the winner in about two months and the developers have variously promised to have the construction completed within two to seven years.
The RLA has an unwritten policy requiring that 25 percent of such developments be owned by minority interests and as a result the development teams include some of the best-known black lawyers, businessmen and architects.
Earlier this week, four of the five bidders staged an impressive public display of their plans and architectural drawings before the Southwest Advisory Neigborhood Comission at St. Matthew's Lutheran Church. Each drew special attention to the minority partners involved. The audience of about 70 people contained as many development partners as it did community residents.
When the meeting was over, D.C. City Councilwoman Charlene D. Jarvis (D-Ward 4), chairman of the council's committee on housing and economic development, said she was pleased at the amount of minority participation, but troubled that it had been so conspicuously spotlighted.
"Each team took great pains to make sure that minorities had part of the ownership," she said, but "I didn't hear emphasized the track records of the companies . There were wide variations in when the projects would be completed, from two to seven years. Why is that?"
James Kerr, director of development for the city's housing department, called the proposals "some of the finest we have received."
Each developer plans to build more than 1 million square feet of office space, which is equal to the office space found on a typical block of K Street NW, west of 16th Street.
The new International Square building that consumes the western half of the block between K, I, 18th and 19th streets contains nearly 1 million square feet of space.
Several Southwest residents asked why there was no housing planned for the Portal Site and were told that the Southwest urban renewal plan, which was approved in 1956, prohibited apartments or homes from being built on the site and called instead only for office buildings, stores, hotels and motels.
Four of the five plans also call for large luxury hotels that would be run by the Sheraton, Marriott, Stouffer or Radison Corp. hotel chains.
The Rockefeller group emphasized how it had built Rockefeller Center in New York City in the midst of the 1930s Depression, trying to assure the audience it had the financial strength to withstand the current turbulent economic times.
Since D.C. Mayor Marion Barry took office three years ago, he has pushed for developers to include minority businessmen when they bid to buy city-owned land. Minority businesses would own 20 percent to 42 percent of the projects. Here is a scorecard to keep track of the teams:
* Antonelli has several black partners: architect Charles Bryant; lawyers Dorsey Evans, Samuel C. Jackson and Clinton W. Chapman, and Chapman's wife Charlotte; consultant Roy Littlejohn; artist and businessmen Carmen Quander and the Southeast/Southwest Economic Development Co., a relatively new coalition of community groups. The black partners collectively, Antonelli and the Winn Development Co. of Boston each would own 33 percent of the development.
* Conrad Cafritz has as his black partners the Tyroc Construction Corp., owned by Roger Blunt; civil engineers Delon Hampton and Associates; the trash hauling firm of Urban Service Systems, owned by Dickie Carter, and the janitorial firm of Unified Services Inc., owned by Jerry Davis. For its community partners, it added the Cultural Alliance, a metropolitan area coalition of arts groups. The black partners own 30 percent, the Cultural Alliance 20 percent and Cafritz 50 percent.
* Western Development has such minority partners as C&P telephone vice president Delano Lewis, a political associate of Mayor Marion Barry; lawyer David Wilmot, who sits on several city boards and has been a lobbyist for the city's hotel industry; consultants John Clyburn and Marie Barksdale; Realtor Carlton Jones, whose firm recently filed for bankruptcy, and Carolyn Jordan, counsel to the Senate Banking Committee.
The team also includes the Eastcoast Development Corp., composed of the Anacostia Development Corp., which was on probation with the federal government for more than a year because of financial difficulties and was unable to keep open a supermarket in Anacostia, and two other community development corporations from Harlem and East Los Angeles. Western Development, which is trying to build on the Georgetown waterfront and recently opened the 100-store Georgetown Park mall on M Street NW, owns 58 percent.
* The Rockefeller family allied itself with the law firm of Hudson, Leftwich and Davenport, and former Redskin player Ozzie Clay, who now owns a real estate investment and management company. The group also suggested to the resident councils of the four Southwest public housing projects that they form an umbrella group and join the development team. The black businessmen own 36 percent; the Southwest Tenants Council, 4 percent; the Rockefeller Development Corp., 48 percent and Farr-Jewett, a local development company, 12 percent.
* A fifth team that includes Theodore N. Lerner, who built the Tysons Corner, Wheaton Plaza and White Flint shopping malls, and black businessmen James and Cilla Adkins, who completed the O Street Market last year; lawyer William Harris; Realtor Flaxie Pinkett and Louis Fry Jr., former dean of the Howard University School of Architecture, and Hispanic businessman Manuel Fernandez, owner of the Channel Inn on the Southwest waterfront.
The minorities own 43.5 percent of the project; Lerner, 20 percent; Melvin and Edward Lenkin, suburban developers who recently received city approval to develop the choice land around the Gallery Place subway station, 20 percent; architect Vlastimil Koubek, 5 percent, the mortgage banking firm of Walker and Dunlop, 5 percent; attorney S. Lee Narrow, 3.5 percent and Volpe Construction, 3 percent.