Since January, 2003
            
 Sliding from Before to After

From the Washington Business Journal: "The D.C. Council may consider withdrawing millions of dollars in subsidies from stalled city real estate projects to publicly finance a convention center hotel. D.C. Chief Financial Officer Natwar Gandhi met with members of the D.C. Council on Monday and discussed the list of projects with $704 million in subsidies that have already been passed and could be diverted to the hotel. The list includes the Southwest waterfront, the Arthur Capper / Carrollsburg residential development on the Capitol Riverfront, the mixed-use O Street Market in Shaw and seven other economic development incentives."
The list names both the PILOT fundings for Capper ($55 million) and the Yards ($30 million), though I'm not sure exactly how that would work, given that some of that money is already going to the construction currently underway at Capitol Quarter, the Park at the Yards, and Diamond Teague Park. (Though the $30 million cited for the Yards/DOT PILOT is a lot less than the total $112 million sum received from that PILOT; the Capper $55 million, though, is the full amount of that PILOT.) There's a hearing now scheduled for June 24.
If you want more background on what exactly the PILOT funds are and how they work, here's some old entries of mine to browse.
UPDATE: In the "What Does This Mean for Capper?" department: The funding is in place to finish Phase I of the Capitol Quarter townhomes now under construction (unless the council is *really* grabby), but the Housing Authority has been having a hard time looking for funding for CQ's second phase as well as the four mixed-income apartment buildings slated to be built around Canal Park. So I'm *guessing* that the money the council is wanting to grab would further delay that work? But I'm not sure, because I don't know exactly how much of the PILOT's $55 million is already spent or being spent just on CQ's first phase.
The two parks, as well as some other projects along the Anacostia Waterfront, are tied to what my archives say was a $112 million PILOT from the construction of the US Department of Transportaton HQ. I just confirmed earlier today that Diamond Teague is still on schedule for a mid-July opening, and given all the flourishes (such as the groundbreaking) of the public/private partnership for the Park at the Yards I would think they wouldn't grab that money away. (I was wrong in an early version of this post to say that Canal Park was part of the DOT PILOT; it was originally, but not in the final version, apparently.) The DOT PILOT is also supposed to fund Marvin Gaye Park and Kingman Island; and DMPED said at the time that "Funds could also be used to finance parks and infrastructure at Poplar Point, the Southwest Waterfront, the Southwest Waterfront Fish Market, along South Capitol Street and a pedestrian bridge connecting the Parkside neighborhood to the Minnesota Avenue Metrorail Station."
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notalwaysreliable says: (6/16/09 10:18 PM)
lots of words and lots of speculation - please report back when you've got specifics


MJM (Mike) says: (6/16/09 10:28 PM)
Kinda touchy aren't we? It is the DC government - that is all the specifics I need to believe they will grab the money.

This DC govt needs a complete shakeup if they grab it for a hotel in a part of the city that is well established.


Rick says: (6/17/09 6:10 AM)
The convention center should have a hotel directly connected to it and there is no reason why the taxpayer should spend one dime to help fund it.


Glenn says: (6/17/09 7:55 AM)
We are none too pleased in Southwest either about this. Certain councilmembers made big promises that they were in no way delaying the Waterfront project, and now they want to pull this.

And "stalled projects" is a lie. Period. Arena stage, also on the list, is in full construction. The Waterfront project is on schedule in pre-design stage for PUD prep. So Evans and Brown are cherry picking their favorite project now at the cost of many others in the City...?


Ray says: (6/17/09 9:16 AM)
I would hope the names of all major investors in the hotel will be known in advance to make sure the council isn't pushing forward a deal we all know should be with public funds. That area should be developed to the point the City doesn't need to add any economic incentives. Keep the money where its needed please.


G St says: (6/17/09 12:46 PM)
D.C. Chief Financial Officer Natwar Gandhi, huh?

Isn't this the same guy who told D.C. tax office employees "Help yourselves!" to D.C. tax revenue??



T. Rey says: (6/17/09 12:58 PM)
I think J. Evans is a crook anyway. This is ridiculous. Once again, the dc gov't turning their backs on the people and communities who need their assistance most. I would be so disappointed in any board member that votes for this and I can guarantee none will ever get my vote.


blah says: (6/17/09 2:17 PM)
DC Council members demonstrate that they aren't exactly among the best and the brightest. Again we see a lack of commitment/planning and another shortsighted move from them.

Is it worth a letter writing campaign? Do those work?


Joe in DC says: (6/17/09 4:23 PM)
I for one, who has recently purchased a new town home in Capitol Quarters am very concerned about the chilling effect such a move will have on the continued and needed development of the master plan for the Near S.E. The D.C. Council must not be distracted by the notion that a convention center hotel should be publically financed in any way. We are talking about one hotel... one! Not a massive urban redevelopment project like what they have already committed to in the Near S.E. The Near S.E. has the potential to positively impact the D.C. residents who live in and pay taxes in this city. The Near S.E project, once substantially completed, will be a phenominal tax generating entity that will add to the city's coffers.

Yes, a letter campaign would be beneficial. It puts the council on notice that we, the citizens of the District, are watching what they are doing and do not approve. If you want a form letter which you can print and mail or just to email every council member and the mayor, please contact me at: stopwastefulspendingdc@gmail.com


Joe in DC says: (6/17/09 4:31 PM)
Forgive my two typos. LOL! That should read "publicly" and "phenomenal." All the more reason why I should not be doing this at work!


MJM says: (6/17/09 5:10 PM)
I don't think the council can see past this recession like most of government. Their take is panic instead of laying the groundwork for the future and build so when the recovery takes place they will benefit from the beginning instead of at the peak.

You build and develop and get stronger during a recession and when the recovery hits you are well positioned. In this case the council doesn't want to be in that position.

Joe has it right on, how much "revenue" will one hotel generate vs an entire redevelopment project (SE)?
While a letter would be great, if they have allegedly thought it out this far, it may be tough to reverse the decision.


Deon says: (6/17/09 5:54 PM)
From Biz Journal:

The Washington Convention Center Authority and the citys hospitality industry (along with Jack Evans and Kwame Brown) argues that a hotel is needed to draw large conventions to town.

Totally ridiculous:

1) Where is the proof? Show me concrete figures.

2) The city already gets big conventions.

3) Get a private developer, like the stalled Marriott project, to get the deal done.

Basically, because some projects in Near SE are slowing they take the money away from this soon-to-be neighborhood and give it to this ridiculous convention center because Marriott and other developers are slowing down as well (they can't secure private funding).

This council is a reverse robin-hood. They specialize in stealing from the poor and providing to the rich. And, I thing the leader of the pack, the person with the feather in his GW-loving hat, is Evans. He represents the convention center area and is only concerned about that and not the Capitol Riverfront. I wish Cary Silverman runs again and I think he can beat Evans.


capjack says: (6/17/09 8:44 PM)
This is outrageous. They didn't plan adequately for the convention center. I for one am going to go down to the hearing. Joe, I am on board. There are at least 3 large hotels within 3 blocks of the convention center now.

Here is a news flash - they aren't going to hold large conventions here. The costs, union demands and taxes are all to high, as are the accommodation rates.


BBC says: (6/17/09 9:21 PM)
Actually, they are going to and do hold large conventions here. The convention center was built too small. This hotel is supposed to include spillover convention space as well. I think that the city should be spending money on this hotel...and the SE. They are both great investments. I would rather see the city's limited money spent in the SE because I live here, not because it is necessarily a better investment for the city. But saying that moving money around is crookery or pretending that the convention center area does not have it's share of poor people who could use development money just makes us lose credibility.


JD says: (6/17/09 9:23 PM)
See how the developers for the Southwest Waterfront have reacted to the news:

link



capjack says: (6/17/09 9:46 PM)
All,
I am happy to report that Kwame Brown responded very quickly to my email asking that we consider other options for the funding of the hotel, including private, and protect the funding and development of SE & SW.

He said that the legislation was presented to the Council by the Mayor, and that the City needs to look at other options.

He said that his committee is holding a hearing on the bill to hear directly from the Mayor on his financing plan.

I encourage you to email council members and the Mayor.

email address can be found here:

link




Glenn says: (6/18/09 8:37 AM)
JD, maybe you should take a stand regarding this one.


Bruce says: (6/18/09 9:13 AM)
I agree with Joe. I also bought in Capitol Quarter. I was in the first release back in Oct 2006. I was under the impression that the Hope XI grant to revitalize the area would supercede any hotel built anywhere in the District.
DC seems to mis manage alot of things. I will have a view of 225 Virginia ave (you know..the building leased for 500K a month to sit empty!). Perhaps we should get financing from the folks in the tax office who stole the 20 million. I am a bit concerned that alot of the area (half street, etc) had come to a screetching halt due to lack of financing, yet this hotel is a priority? Why? Half Street will creat jobs, generate revenue and do what it was designed to do. Revitalize an entire area. The stadium cost 611 Million to build and it sits alone right now.
So, let's worry about that damn hotel shall we?


Joe in DC says: (6/18/09 10:17 AM)
Please& I beseech you all. Contact me at: stopwastefulspendingdc@gmail.com I will forward you a ready made letter which you can mass email to each council member as well as Mayor Fenty (which you have to do separately). They need to hear your voice. They need to know that this proposal is not an acceptable solution to their convention center hotel problem. This idea is simply an easy way out which does not require that they do any creative thinking for alternative financing.

BCC, I agree with your comment in regard to the hotel/convention center AND the Near Southeast being great projects. The problem with credibility rests not so much with those who have expressed their opinions on this great website, but rather with a city government who is ready to sell out those of us who have already bought into a project that is well under way. The notion that they would run like rabbits just because the economy slowed down is ludicrous. I currently live in a condo near the convention center. The convention center is a hit or miss business. Sometimes they have a convention, sometimes they dont. That is the nature of all convention centers. A fully developed near S.E. will bring in residential tax revenue and businesses that will generate sustained tax revenue 7 days a week& not just hit and miss like the convention center.

Speak up people! Be heard! Contact the Mayors office at: link

Contact the council at: link
Copy and paste each email address into a single outgoing email with your letter of opposition. Keep it professional but make sure they clearly understand your opposition. Do it now! They have a meeting coming up next week. Get your friends to do the same. If you know anyone at the Washington Post tell them about this misguided shell game.

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