I've been chroncling
over the past few months the Marine Corps' search
for a spot for a new barracks, which has focused on a number of sites in Near Southeast, including the block bounded by Fifth, Seventh, L and M just south of their newest barracks that used to be home to the old Capper Seniors apartment building. It's been clear in public meetings and various other rumblings that both city planning officials and the DC Housing Authority are very much against
the Marines using this site, with plans having been in place
for a number of years for this now-empty/parking-lot block
to become home to both a 600,000-square-foot office building and a 189-unit mixed-income apartment building (shown above) as part of the Capper/Carrollsburg redevelopment
Clearly feeling that the Marines haven't given up on the site as an option despite these plans, DCHA has now sent the Marines a letter
officially requesting that the Corps "not continue to propose redevelopment options on the DCHA-owned Square 882 as a future site for its facility needs." The letter explains that DCHA has already secured funds to improve the infrastructure around the square, has spent "substantial predevelopment funds" on design and engineering drawings, and is anticipating beginning work on the residential portion of the site in October. (There's currently no timetable for the office portion.) Further, DCHA says it "recently received an invitation from HUD to submit an application for a FHA loan guarantee to support the planned residential construction on the site," and that this construction is expected to start "this winter."
Nothing in the letter is necessarily a surprise--I've written fairly extensively about DCHA's plans
and about the zoning travails they went through before getting a second-stage PUD approval
for Square 882 last year, which even included many discussions and agreements
with both the Marines and the Navy about security requirements for the new buildings on this block. But clearly DCHA is hoping to be completely removed from the Marines' list of potential sites in the same way that the DC Public Schools (and parents) got Tyler Elementary removed from consideration. But it's also clear from the public workshops that the Marines very much like what Square 882 has to offer them in terms of space and proximity to the other USMC operations in the area.
The Marines are hoping to make a decision on a site by September. You can see all the sites under consideration
and the various options on the "Community Integrated Master Plan" web site.