D.C. Mayor Vincent Gray’s economic development team has decided to restart the development process for Hill East after the economic crisis hampered an earlier attempt by his predecessor, Adrian Fenty.
Previously referred to as Reservation 13, the 50-acre site is considered extremely valuable because of its location between the Capitol Hill neighborhood and the Anacostia River waterfront. It is adjacent to RFK Stadium and the Stadium-Armory Metro station.
Fenty began searching for private development partners for the site in May of 2008, months after the housing market had begun to crash and about five months into the recession, and received four offers. As the development market continued to sour, the city twice asked for updated bids and, in 2010, narrowed its choice to two teams. One is led by William C. Smith & Co. and the other by Franklin Haney.
Gray has decided that rather than try to salvage those bids from three years ago he will seek partners for just the portion of the site that is primed for development: two parking lots near the Metro station on 19th Street Southeast. Unlike the rest of the Hill East development site, which houses a methadone clinic, homeless shelter and other social service facilities, the parking lots are no longer being used by the city.
Jose Sousa, spokesman for deputy mayor Victor Hoskins, acknowledged that the community was eager for progress on the stalled project and said a new developer search was the most effective way to move forward.
“Our thought process is that so much time has taken place since the original [developer search], and the scale of what we are looking for is smaller, that we think re-soliciting will bring us a greater diversity of responses with a higher likelihood of being able to move forward with someone,” he said.
Gray has also considered using Hill East to try to build a training facility for the Washington Redskins, but Sousa said the economic development team’s work was limited to the available parking lots, known as parcels F1 and G1. “We’re focused on those two parcels,” he said.
Hoskins was scheduled to discuss the plans for Hill East with residents Tuesday night.
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