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Mayor Bowser offers properties across D.C. for economic development

Among 16 projects Bowser proposed Friday is re-use of the former Alexander Crummell School in Ivy City. Could some of the sites make homeless shelters? (D.C. Preservation League)
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District officials unveiled 17 building projects to local investors and businesses Friday. Located across the city, the projects could deliver the city affordable housing, re-opened school buildings, new libraries and upgraded recreation facilities.

Soon after entering office last year, Bowser held a “March Madness” event to pitch local developers and investors on six economic development projects, and this year officials expanded the effort with a forum at the University of the District of Columbia.  Many of the projects are aimed at delivering new housing and amenities to vacant or un-utilized District properties including the former Hebrew Home on Spring Road Northwest, a parking deck at 200 H Street NW and the former Alexander Crummell School at 1900 Gaullaudet Street NE.

The District is also seeking companies interested in developing a series of parking lots at the corner of North Capitol and K streets and six parcels in the center of Anacostia’s commercial hub, dubbed MLK Gateway. Other properties include sites available for new schools and three recreation centers — in Benning Park, Edgewood Park and Hearst Park — in need of upgrades. Three libraries, in Southwest, Cleveland Park and downtown are scheduled to be rebuilt.

[From last year: “With real estate deals, D.C. Mayor pushes to “keep prosperity moving”]

“The projects we announce will allow my team to continue delivering on what we’ve been tasked to do from day one — produce more affordable housing, create jobs for D.C. residents, and spur greater tax revenues,” said Brian Kenner, D.C. deputy mayor for planning and economic development, in a statement. “These development opportunities put us in a position to advance those goals.”

Officials said the projects will build on a robust development pipeline that currently has 1.9 million square feet of retail space under construction, more than 6,000 new residential units set to be completed this year and a net addition of 2,749 new hotel rooms expected by the end of next year.

The introduction of available District-owned land comes as the city plans to the build eight new homeless shelters, though none of the proposed properties were specifically offered for that purpose. Bowser has proposed closing the dilapidated shelter at the former D.C. General hospital and leasing mostly privately owned sites for new shelters, which some critics consider too expensive.

D.C.-owned properties in Wards 4 and 5 could avoid the need for private sector homeless shelter leases. One, a vacant lot at 809-813 Kennedy Street NW, could allow 28,395 square feet of building space and is two blocks from the mayor’s proposed shelter site at 5505 5th Street NW, which would cost the District an estimated $36.1 million in rent payments over 20 years.

Another site, a series of seven empty lots and a vacant building at the corner of Florida Avenue and Q Street NW, could produce nearly 30,000 square feet of development depending on zoning and is in a ward where the council member, Kenyan McDuffie  (D-Ward 5) has asked Bowser to consider other locations. The mayor’s choice, 2266 25th Place NE, is privately owned and could cost an estimated $52.2 million over 20 years.

For the District to build more of its own shelters however would require capital dollars up front that would take away from school and transportation projects, said Bowser spokesman Michael Czin. Czin defended the sites the mayor selected and said that the two DHCD sites did not meet a 30,000-square-foot minimum. The properties at Florida Avenue and Q Street, he said, were considered for a shelter but were too small and in particular required onerous zoning changes.

Officials also announced Friday that they had chosen developers for projects the mayor announced last year, saying the companies offered the District the most affordable housing possible and the best value for its land. PN Hoffman, the lead developer of the massive overhaul of the Southwest Waterfront, has been named to build another project in the neighborhood, a 400-unit residential project called Waterfront Station II.

Located at 1000 4th Street SW, it calls for 22,000 square feet of retail, affordable housing units and a black box theater in partnership with Forum Theatre, of Silver Spring. Hoffman’s partners are Paramount Development, ER Bacon, CityPartners, and AHC, Inc.

Bowser selected four companies calling themselves Voltron Community Partners (Dantes Partners, Spectrum Management, Menkiti Group, Bailey Real Estate Holdings) to build an apartment project at 2nd and H streets NW called Capitol Vista, and two firms, Urban Green with Flywheel Development, for an environmentally sustainable project at Truxton Circle on North Capitol Street.

Staff reporter Aaron C. Davis contributed.

Follow Jonathan O’Connell on Twitter: @oconnellpostbiz