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At a community meeting Tuesday night to discuss the DC Housing Authority's development plans for the block between 2nd, 3rd, I, and K known as Square 767, DCHA executive director Adrianne Todman confirmed that the agency is continuing to work on a two-building plan for the site: a 120-unit market-rate condo building that would be developed by EYA and partners, and a separate rental building that would be a mix of public housing and "affordable" units.
While the designs of the buildings and specific numbers as to the exact number of units and the income-requirement structure aren't yet available (and probably won't be until the Housing Authority submits its second-stage PUD filing to the Zoning Commission), a presentation slide referred to "48-67 affordable rental units." It was also said that the design of the buildings will be the same, with the same architect and materials for both buildings, and that the rental building will have ground-floor retail facing Canal Park.
And, because I'm a sucker for the deep official detail of zoning filings, I'm going to wait until that second-stage PUD hits the streets instead of delving into too much more into the details given at the meeting, especially given that it sounds like there is still some level of fluidity in the plans (Todman quickly mentioned at one point that she asked her team to "look at adding some market-rate [units] as well") and given that their zoning encyclopedia David Cortiella was not in attendance. But at the very least it seems to be a concrete decision to "integrate different incomes" in the rental building.
Todman did emphasize the Housing Authority is still in pursuit of its "prime directive" to rebuild the 707 units of public housing that were in Capper/Carrollsburg before it was demolished (398 available so far, 309 to go), and also getting as many of the original Capper families back to Near Southeast if they wish to return. And many of the questions from audience members centered around the issue of returning families, the use of vouchers in the new buildings, and the current lack of affordable ownership opportunities.
One other interesting theme that Todman mentioned a couple of times is how in comparison to other DCHA properties, the Capitol Quarter townhomes are "mixed income on steroids," with levels of diversity in both income and race that the Housing Authority just did not expect when planning Capper's redevelopment more than a decade ago."We have to work harder to make it a more seamless community," she said.
In other Capper-related tidbits passed along at the meeting: the opening date for the Community Center is now anticipated to be April 2016, and the financing deal for the 181-unit mixed-income apartment building planned for the south side of L Street SE between 2nd and 3rd (Square 769N) is expected to be completed in the spring as well.
It looks to be early 2016 before the Square 767 second-stage PUD will be filed, so until then, further specifics for this block may remain hard to come by. But I shall remain vigilant.
Comments (10)
 More About Capper Home


conngs0 says: (11/18/15 9:14 AM)
JD, thanks much for the update. I'll look forward to the additional details in the second-stage PUD that you mentioned.

Was it your impression that the Housing Authority viewed the significant level of diversity in terms of race and income as a negative for the Capitol Quarter townhomes? That's more than a little perplexing.

JD says: (11/18/15 9:17 AM)
No, not a negative--just requiring addressing issues they never really have had to before--like a developer wanting to build a market-rate condo building in the midst of a DCHA property. Also I think there are some tensions inherent in having townhouses selling for $900,000+ right next to people in ACC units.

conngs0 says: (11/18/15 10:20 AM)
Fair enough. And thanks for the clarification. I'd be curious to know specifically what DCHA has viewed as problematic. For what it's worth, my impression as a resident of the neighborhood is that the benefits (for both the market-based and the ACC residents) of that diversity have far exceeded any challenges or tensions.

That's really why I've been surprised by the idea of separate buildings from the get-go. I recognize that an integrated condo or apartment building has unique challenges compared to townhouses (that's why I'm super excited to see how the "Bixby" works out), but it seems worth trying.

JHUGrad says: (11/18/15 11:07 AM)
I don't see why there would be any tensions with having townhouses selling for $1 Million next to ACC units. The whole point of a mixed income community to have mixed incomes! If anything, people should be glad that the home values have increased. Why is it a good thing for home values to decrease?

JD says: (11/18/15 11:08 AM)
@conngs0 - I didn't feel like going into this much detail in the post, but Adrianne Todman did spend some time laying out why the two-building decision was made:

* Initially DCHA used the $34.9 million HUD Hope VI money to build its new buildings--this helped pay for Capper Seniors, 400 M, and Capitol Quarter (with a little stimulus money thrown in at the end).
* City bonds were issued to pay for the Community Center.
* With no more HUD money left, the mixed-income building Bixby/Lofts at CQ were paid for by DCHA financing the project through banks, a process that took about four years to pull off.
* The planned apt bldg on Square 769N (along L Street) will be financed the same way as the Bixby, along with some money comign from the city's affordable-housing fund ( link ).

So now DCHA has to continue to find ways to finance the construction of projects to get to the remaining 309 ACC units (actually, really just 206 at this point, since 39 are about to arrive in the Bixby, another 30 will be in WC Smith's 800 New Jersey/Whole Foods building plus the Phase 3 bldg on that block, and another 34 units in the planned mixed-income Square 769N DCHA building).

Here's the map DCHA used with the zoning commission to show the remaining blocks and remaining units needed, plus the size and height originally approved for each: link

The interest in condos in the neighborhood is high, given the lack of offerings currently. EYA builds multi-unit condo buildings elsewhere, and given the success of CQ, it's not a surprise they'd like to do a condo building nearby.

But, as we've discussed here in the past, you just don't have buildings that are a mix of condos and rentals, and you *definitely* don't have buildings that are a mix of market-rate condos and public housing rental units.

But if DCHA sells the land to EYA to build the condo building, that gives the agency seed money to then build another building on the block, which then can bring online more of the remaining 209 public housing units, which DCHA reallyreallyreally wants to get built.

That's how they got to two buildings. Now, there may be a small number of voucher-homeownership units in the condo building, but those aren't pure ACC units.

So all that really remains is determining the "income bands" of the non-ACC units in the rental building (ACC units charge residents 30% of their income for rent, with income at a certain level). Will other units be 60% AMI? 80% AMI (ie, workforce-rate housing)? Will there be any market-rate rental units?

And all of this is why I want to wait to see the PUD filing. I don't think any of it will be set in stone until they go to zoning. (and, even then, there may be further tweaks once the Office of Planning and the Zoning Commission make their opinions known)

As for what's "problematic," you seem to be a glass-half-full kind of dude (which is wonderful to have around, thank you! :-) ), but I know that there are issues with how some higher-income folks feel about the public housing residents' loitering, pot-smoking, "criminal element," etc., while the longtime Capper residents then feel like the upper-income folks have invaded "their home" and are now trying to tell them how to live. When that happens in "regular" gentrifying neighborhoods, there's no real "referee" that both sides feel they can run to with complaints, but since this is a DCHA facility....

Sophia Monster says: (11/18/15 11:49 AM)
They better not replace our parking with bike lanes.

conngs0 says: (11/18/15 11:53 AM)
JD, thanks so much for the extra information and context. Your perspective is always appreciated.

I sympathize with DCHA's funding quandary. It's a tough balance to strike for sure - no question that DCHA is tasked with the critical mandate of getting affordable housing in place as soon as possible. But they're also tasked with setting up and administering their facilities in a manner that provides the residents with a safe and healthy place to live. I'll be up front about admitting that I have spent zero time in any other DCHA-administered site besides the units in CQ, but I've driven by a few, and it sure doesn't look like they're succeeding at this second part of their mission. Even in CQ, I understand that DCHA has had to be pressured to properly maintain the ACC units and ensure that trash is being properly collected/disposed.

I do try to keep my glass at least half full (in the literal sense as well as figurative!) when it comes to the interactions with my (upper-income and lower-income) neighbors though. I certainly have heard both sets of complaints that you summarized. I can see why people don't appreciate pot-smoking, loitering and crime. And who wants to be told how to live?

But I've also seen folks learn to distinguish a friendly neighbor getting some fresh air outside from a suspicious individual who is up to no good. And I constantly see parents feeling more comfortable letting their young kids, who would otherwise be unsupervised, play with the other kids in the neighborhood who are outside with their parents. It's difficult to quantify the effects of these interactions, but I sense they're very positive, especially in the long term. My hope is that however these last two hundred or so ACC units are placed into the neighborhood, they are set up in a manner to help facilitate such an environment.

Anyway, thanks again for going out of your way to provide all this additional information. I'll leave this subject be and join you in looking forward to that PUD filing!

JHUGrad says: (11/18/15 12:32 PM)
I think it's great that DCHA is pursuing this route (selling the land to EYA so that the condos and rentals can be built). This is no different than 400 M and the row of Capitol Quarter homes sitting on the same block. I've lived in the neighborhood for 6 years now, and think that it is a wonderful place to live. One of the reasons that it has been successful is that people in the neighborhood continue to voice their concerns to the ANC reps and councilmembers.

I don't get the feeling that there is an "us vs them" attitude in the neighborhood. The way I see it, people simply want to live in a good neighborhood, and people speak up when they see negative/illegal things going on (public pot smoking for example). This is actually what residents need to do to ensure that the neighborhood remains a desirable place to live.

bryan says: (11/18/15 4:51 PM)
Thanks for the extra info in the comment JD, very interesting.

JD says: (11/20/15 9:47 AM)
Poll: White and wealthy residents in D.C. think redevelopment helps them. Black and poor residents don’t. WaPo: link

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