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On Monday night, the Zoning Commission voted 4-0-1 to approve DCHA's request for a second two-year time extension on the PUD deadlines to build the Capper Community Center on the now-empty lot on 5th Street SE between K and L. With this vote, building permits would need to be filed by July 1, 2014, with construction needing to be underway by July 1, 2015, provided another extension isn't someday requested and granted.
The extension received votes of support from both ANC 6B and ANC 6D, and a letter from a steering committee of Capper public housing residents also expressed support. Commissioner Peter May, referencing the "contentious" discussions in the past regarding this project and his own unhappiness about seeing it delayed, said it was "reassuring to know that key members of the community are supportive," otherwise he would be "similiarly unhappy." But he did vote in favor of the extension, as did Chairman Anthony Hood and commissioners Marcie Cohen and Michael Turnbull. (The commission's fifth seat is currently empty, with vice chair Konrad Schlater's recent decampment for a new job in Chicago.)
Included the paperwork provided to the Zoning Commission is a letter from DC Housing Authority executive director Adrianne Todman detailing the various high-finance moves over the past few years that have helped the overall Capper redevelopment move forward but that haven't trickled down to fund the community center. The letter says that the Housing Authority anticipates a $55 million bond issuance within the next year that will pay off the previous $29 million Bond Anticipation Notes and provide enough proceeds to continue the infrastructure work around Capper "and to construct the community center, which we estimate will cost $7.6 million." These moves require legislation, so we'll be able to cast an eye toward the DC council this fall to see if things are progressing as anticipated.
Also in that letter is this tidbit: "Lastly, DCHA is working with and soliciting a potential anchor tenant that will operate the community center and also contribute funding for the construction of the community center." Very interesting....
If you want to know still more about the history of plans for a new community center on this site (the old one was demolished in 2007), I point you to this pile of posts.
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MJM says: (7/12/12 12:25 PM)
More excuses but they sure can kick the can down the road


Sophia Monster says: (7/12/12 5:12 PM)
Happy to have them kick the can... just curious what type of anchor tenant is an appropriate fit for this location. A crossfit gym? A McDonalds? A dry cleaner? I can't picture it.


Carey says: (7/12/12 5:14 PM)
Could they be thinking Marines?


Eric says: (7/12/12 9:15 PM)
Why are you happy to have them kick the can? What's the significance of this place?


conngs0 says: (7/13/12 11:21 AM)
I suppose one good reason for the delay is that by allowing the neighborhood to grow up a bit more before beginning work on the Community Center, the planners will have a better idea of how to orient the building to best suit the needs of the neighborhood with less redundancy.

For instance, if a gym is constructed in the Twelve12 building, then perhaps there will be less of a need for one in the Community Center (or at least not as big of a gym). In that case, perhaps the Community Center could be equipped with a basketball court and other athletic facilities.

I'm also a little confused about what type of "anchor tenant" that would be approached to run the Community Center. Part of my confusion stems from a lack of understanding regarding the operation of community centers in general, but it doesn't seem conducive to a purely commercial enterprise.


Sophia Monster says: (7/13/12 12:47 PM)
I guess I don't think it's that bad to have the lot remain empty while appropriate plans are scoped out along the lines of conngs0's comment above. The programming of the community center will determine its space needs. I also really think it makes sense for that programming to serve what will happen at Van Ness... which as of now is a bit of a mystery.


JD says: (7/13/12 1:20 PM)
One thing to remember on the Community Center (and why for years it caused a lot of very contentious discussions) is that originally it was envisioned as a big amenity for the public housing residents, ensuring that they didn't lose access to a community center they had before Hope VI and also giving them something newer with better offerings in return for dealing with the dislocation of the closing of the Cappers.

In other words, a gym at Twelve12 is probably not going to help the public housing residents much at Capitol Quarter. There are needs designed into the CC for the subsidized members of the community that other people now moving into the neighborhood can get on their own. (Computer access, for one.) And a place for kids to hang out, instead of, as the cliche goes, "on the street."

But it's also now a very different "community" communicating its wants and desires to the Zoning Commission than during the CC's previous appearances. Might be good to make sure that the people for whom the center was originally envisioned don't lose their voice.



Sophia Monster says: (7/13/12 1:32 PM)
Interesting context, JD. And presumably some of the children "on the street" might also be Van Ness students.


Sophia Monster says: (7/13/12 1:32 PM)
(some day)


JD says: (7/17/12 10:48 PM)
Sorry for the silence all of a sudden--no big news to report (it is summer, after all), but I'm also having a bit of a post-surgery setback. Nothing serious, but have been resting instead of fulfilling my fiduciary duty here. Might be a few more days of that.


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