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Near Southeast DC Past News Items: Jun 26, 2009
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The DC Housing Authority, which has been unable to find a corner of the financial markets unfrozen enough to buy bonds that in normal times would help pay for infrastructure and redevelopment, is applying for $9.5 million from a nearly $1 billion Housing and Urban Development "Capital Fund Recovery Act" fund that has been created to, among other things, provide "gap financing" for public housing projects, like Capper/Carrollsburg, that are stalled thanks to the problems in the municipal bond market.
According to this "narrative and schedule" that DCHA included with its application to HUD, the money would finance both public infrastructure and private site improvements needed to begin the construction of the second phase of the Capitol Quarter mixed-income townhouse development (the blocks between Third and Fourth south of I), which will have 163 units, 47 of which are public housing rental units (along with 60 market-rate, 39 workforce-rate, and 17 public housing home ownership units). The narrative indicates that the $55 million Capper PILOT bonds approved by the city council last year that were to fund the new community center and infrastructure improvements not only in the Phase II blocks but also on the north and east sides of Canal Park and over to the DPW site never made it into the bond market; attempts to secure loans from both Fannie Mae and Wachovia also were fruitless.
There's a lot of detail in the narrative that I'm not going to try to summarize (I start to glaze over once I get to Low Income Housing Tax Credits [LIHTC] and anything having to do with "leveraging"):, but it does say that if awarded the HUD CFRC grant money, DCHA would immediately have its engineers complete permit drawings, which can then be put into the city's permitting process (estimated to last 90 days), after which infrastructure work can begin--the schedule at the end of the document estimates a start date of Dec. 1. This work would include repair or replacement underground water, sewer, and "dry utilities" lines, new streets, curbs, and gutters, additional lighting, and public landscaping.
The HUD funds would also be used to pay for the land preparation costs and foundation construction of the 47 public housing units, covering a $1 million gap that occurred in the planned Phase II funding thanks to problems in the LIHTC market.
The housing authority says that, if this HUD money is not forthcoming, "over $41 million in economic activity in the District will not be realized," and that "approximately 150 construction and other related jobs will not be created." Plus, the delay in building these 47 public housing units "will continue to frustrate the hopes of former residents to return to their neighborhoods in order to reestablish the deep social roots that existed prior to the demolition of their apartments."
The grants will be awarded later this summer.
The AP Press wrote a few weeks ago about this HUD program, which was expanded in May beyond just the "high performing" housing authorities originally eligible to apply for funds; this $1 billion fund is money beyond the $3 billion in stimulus money that will be going to the nation's 3,100-plus housing authorities via formula-based distributions.
(Boy, I hate to post this at 4 pm on a summer Friday, when people aren't exactly attuned to grant applications. But news is news...)
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* Just out from DDOT (press release now online), a new "Where's My Bus" app for the Circulator buses. Go to circulator.dc.gov (it's formatted for cellphones and PDAs, but works in any browser), pick your line and stop, and find out how far away the next bus is. (Here's the information for the 4th and M stop, heading toward Union Station.) They say an iPhone app will be coming will be coming later this summer.
* From the BID's newsletter (which I'm not finding on their redesigned web site), the latest update on residential leasing and sales for the second quarter of 2009: The buildings known as Axiom and Jefferson (at 70 and 100 I) and Onyx on First are at a combined 60 percent leased for the 960 units in the three buildings; 909 New Jersey (which opened in early April) has 25 percent of its 237 units leased. The Capitol Quarter townhouses are listed at 88 of 113 units sold (though I'm not sure how the public housing rental and for-sale units figure into that number), and Capitol Hill Tower is reported as being 80 percent sold. No numbers are reported for Velocity Condos, which according to a presentation by Michael Stevens last week is supposed to open in late August or September. All told, the BID says there are an estimated 1,863 residents in the Capitol Riverfront.
* A WBJ piece from today's print edition on Willco Cos.'s new $100 million fund says that the company "does not plan to dip into the fund for development projects in the pipeline, such as its 700,000-square-foot mixed-use project adjacent to Nationals Park, at Square 701, the intersection of M and First streets SE. That project is in pre-development mode right now without a major tenant; Willco doesn't expect to kick off construction until it sees 'signs of life in that neighborhood,' Goldblatt said." This lot is probably better known as Nats Parking Lot F, and the former home of Normandie Liquors and other small businesses.
 

With thanks to reader JW for the eagle eyes, I can pass along that there is now a "Domino's Coming Soon" sign in the window in one of the three retail slots at 900 M Street, the beige building that was recently a dialysis center but originally was a Hudson car dealership. (Out of date photos here; guess I'd better get over there this weekend.) The leasing company has said they are looking for national tenants for the spaces--I haven't heard if there are any leases signed for the other two units. (Though my mind always wanders back to this story from last August that mentioned a Dunkin Donuts franchisee scouting locations near the Navy Yard.)
Now, will people consider this "new" retail in Near Southeast, or just a restoration of the old order? After all, Domino's used to be one of the few food options in Near Southeast, at its original outpost at South Capitol and M, until it closed in early 2008. (That site is owned by Monument.)
 




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