A July 14 article about the creation of a development corporation to oversee the revitalization of the District's Anacostia River waterfront misstated the size of the corporation's board of directors. There will be 12 people on the board. Nine will be voting members, including the city's mayor and chief financial officer or their designees. The other three will be nonvoting members. (Published 7/20/04)
The creation of a powerful corporation charged with transforming the city's historic dividing line -- the polluted waters and drab shores of the Anacostia River -- won near-unanimous approval yesterday by the D.C. Council.
Mayor Anthony A. Williams (D) proposed the Anacostia Waterfront Development Corp. late last year to implement his vision of a restored river and revitalized shores, from the Maine Avenue Fish Market along the Washington Channel in Southwest Washington to the National Arboretum and River Terrace neighborhoods on the city's northeastern edge.
The development corporation, whose seven-member board will be appointed by the mayor and voted on by the council, will execute the District's dramatic $8 billion, 20-year plan to create new waterfront neighborhoods, parks and amenities; rebuild roads and bridges; and build a 16-mile network of bicycle and walking trails along both sides of the river and the adjacent Washington Channel.
Williams, who was in Houston to attend last night's Major League Baseball All-Star Game, said in a phone interview that the corporation will allow the project "to gain the necessary initiative and urgency to bring into implementation a lot of the grand planning that was done."
In a statement issued by his office, he said: "The days of the Anacostia being the 'forgotten river' are over. This corporation will be the springboard for fundamentally remaking life along the shores of the Anacostia."
Much of the land is now little-used federal parkland, abandoned industrial areas or undeveloped.
The plan has generally been embraced by the federal government, which has allocated millions of dollars to clean the river and for roads and bridges and will be asked for hundreds of millions during the next two decades. Developers are also going to be expected to significantly fund riverfront projects. Support from the city will include valuable parcels of land, future tax revenue from new projects, and transportation, housing and community development dollars.
Council member Sharon Ambrose (D), whose Ward 6 district includes several key riverfront neighborhoods, said the development corporation could have the same impact on the city as the Pennsylvania Avenue Development Corp., which rebuilt that formerly blighted boulevard between the Capitol and the White House from 1972 to 1996.
The corporation has the power to decide which developers will build on which parcels and will advocate for federal and local efforts to clean the river. It will also lead the marketing of the waterfront as a destination for tourists and residents. Although its authority will be sweeping, its actions will be more closely scrutinized by the council than were those of the congressionally chartered Pennsylvania Avenue corporation.
The council vote was 11 to 1, with David A. Catania (R-At Large) voting against the development corporation; Vincent B. Orange St. (D-Ward 5) was absent. Catania said that the city does not need another quasi-independent development entity and that the National Capital Revitalization Corp., which focuses on neighborhood projects, could be assigned the riverfront project.
The revitalization corporation, which originally controlled the Southwest portion of the waterfront, initially objected to the proposed waterfront corporation because it did not want to cede control of that property. But Williams agreed to give the revitalization corporation other city-owned parcels -- and rental income -- to compensate, and the vociferous dispute largely melted away.
Council member Carol Schwartz (R-At Large) said she decided to vote for the riverfront development corporation only after introducing amendments to ensure council oversight. "We need to make sure that our assets are going to be protected," she said.
Council member Harold Brazil (D-At Large), chairman of the Economic Development Committee, said Schwartz was restricting the entity too much. "What you're doing is boxing in this corporation so it can't work quickly," Brazil said. "It can't work efficiently, and it can't get its job done well."