It's been just over a year since the DC Housing Authority initially filed with the Zoning Commission a request for "flexibility" in the location and percentage mix of affordable units on three remaining blocks within the Capper/Carollsburg
Planned Unit Development (PUD), and tonight the hearing was finally held.
First, DCHA is looking to move 30 affordable units outside of the Capper PUD boundaries and onto the block where WC Smith is developing the Park Chelsea
, 800 New Jersey
, and a third as-yet unnamed residential building.
Second, instead of being held to the originally approved unit counts on the blocks known as squares 767, 768, and 739 (as described in the fuzzy graphic above that I snagged from the Office of Planning report
), the Housing Authority requests the flexibility to change the configuration of the 206 total affordable (ACC) units on each square while not ever going below 15% of the total number of units for that square.
Agency representatives testified at length about the progress at Capper, including that the community center
is finally underway. But they told the commission that the current "financing atmosphere," especially for mixed-income residential projects, is increasingly constraining, and so having some flexibility built in could make it easier to work with potential development partners and financial institutions on designing projects before coming to the commission for Stage 2 approvals. (The four-year process
and convoluted solution that included a "mountain of documents" to secure financing the mixed-income Lofts at Capitol Quarter
was used as an example.)
However, it's been known for a year that one of the creative scenarios that DCHA has come up
with to move forward on Square 767 would be to sell half of the block to EYA (developers of the Capitol Quarter
townhomes) so that a market-rate condo building can be built, and then taking those proceeds to fund a second building on the block that would be all affordable units.
And while this particular zoning case does not specifically cover that not-yet-finalized plan, and putting aside that any plans for that block will have to come back to the Zoning Commission for approval before moving forward, a number of Capper/Capitol Quarter residents along with incoming ANC 6D07 representative Meredith Fascett used the hearing as a forum to make clear their displeasure with the idea of segregating incomes in separate buildings
, saying that it violates the spirit of the entire Hope VI mixed-income vision that the Capper redevelopment has been based on. (Fascett's written testimony is here
David Cortiella of DCHA did say that the agency believes many of the issues with the two buildings/two incomes plan on Square 767 "will be addressed" once a "community engagement process" about the project gets underway, specifically mentioning a "shared courtyard" for the two buildings so that a "more friendly environment takes shape."
The zoning commissioners did not seem overly troubled by the requests covered the current zoning case (though Michael Turnbull made sure to say that they "will look very carefully" at future second-stage submittals).
The Office of Planning supports the flexibility request--however, DCHA is still wanting to further modify the modifications that OP put forward in its most recent report
, both because of some concerns about the wording about the units to be constructed by WC Smith but also because the Housing Authority wants to come up with a cap on the number of ACC units on each square that is different from OP's suggested 50-percent cap.
It's expected that the commission will vote on this case at its January 26 meeting; if and when this case receives its final approval, there would then be a vote on a concurrent case to grant a five-year extension to the Capper PUD (which I didn't even talk about here because no one is reading at this point anymore anyway).
One other Capper-related tidbit coming out of the hearing is that movement is continuing on the planned 171-unit rental building on the south side of L between 2nd and 3rd, with work on the financing "well underway" (helped no doubt by getting a cut of a $142 million funding pot
(Editor's Note: Leading off with a convoluted post about zoning after an extended holiday layoff is not optimal.)