Who could envision a more exciting Friday night than watching the Tivo'ed coverage of today's DC Council Committee on Economic Development Public Hearing
on the plans for the transition of the Anacostia Waterfront Corporation and the National Capital Revitalization Corporation into the office of the Deputy Mayor for Planning and Economic Development. (Maybe it's time for a new JDLand motto: We bore ourselves to tears so you don't have to.)
What is probably the biggest headline from the hearing for those with Near Southeast interests is that Deputy Mayor Neil Albert called "totally incorrect" the recent reports
that construction would begin on Canal Park
in August. Valerie Santos Young, now the Chief Operating Officer of the Deputy Mayor's office, said that negotiations are continuing with both the owner of the unused parking lot of the northernmost block of the park (Urban Parking Ventures) and with the group that owns the lease for the school bus parking on the other two blocks, but no agreements have been reached.
With that pleasant news out of the way, there really wasn't much else of note in the hearing that specifically impacts Near Southeast. There will be job cuts as the three organizations are merged into one, and employees should know their status in the new plan by Aug. 15; the number of positions being cut wasn't disclosed. They are planning to expand the DMPED office space in the Wilson Building, but will also be renewing the lease on the AWC offices at 1100 New Jersey Ave. for additional space. (They are working to break the lease for the old NCRC office space on M Street.) Accenture is being paid $320,000 for three months to help with the transition (which got some questioning from Kwame Brown as to why a local firm couldn't have been hired for the job). No documents on the reorganization were given to the committee before the hearing, which Brown wasn't too thrilled about, but Albert says that the new organization chart will be ready by August.
And, as much as I tried to close my ears to any non-Near Southeast discussions, I did hear that the city is not planning to sign the Memorandum of Understanding that the AWC had negotiated with the Southwest Waterfront redevelopment team, because the city's lawyers were concerned about possible exposure (which wasn't elaborated on). Albert said that they feel that an agreement can be reached that covers everything in the MOU without actually having an MOU.
There were also conversations about the management of the marinas, which baffled me until I realized everyone was saying "live-aboards" and not "liverboards."
There will be additional oversight hearings in September and October, and Kwame Brown indicated that he plans to have additional hearings on every development project now in the DMPED portfolio, to make sure that the public is kept abreast of the plans and the timelines.