Columbia Heights Development in the News & Etc.
- INDUSTRY WRAPUPS
© 2003 American City Business Journals Inc.
... D.C. Council members Adrian Fenty, D-Ward 4, Jim Graham, D-Ward 1,
and Carol Schwartz, R-at large, recently filed a disapproval resolution
of the proposed lease of D.C.'s old convention center to the Washington
Convention Center Authority.
Since July, the city has been trying to get the council
(www.dccouncil.washington.dc.us) to approve a plan where it would
transfer control of the vacant 10.2-acre property to WCCA
(www.dcconvention.com), which would in turn tear down the building, pave
the site and use the land for parking and possibly lease a part of it to
Cirque du Soleil, a highbrow circus.
Council members initially rebuffed transfer approval because they didn't
have enough details and a copy of the lease. City officials since have
agreed to give the council the lease, but after reviewing it, Graham
says it didn't make sense, especially a clause in about a subleasing
options to Cirque du Soleil.
"It was kind of a doofus kind of document," Graham says. By filling the
disapproval resolution, Graham and colleagues did two things: They
prevented the transfer from being automatically approved by Dec. 2 and
gave the council more time to review the plan.
Now the council has until mid-January to consider the lease. Graham is
planning on holding a hearing on the issue early next month.
The old convention center has been vacant since the Washington
Convention Center opened in the spring. Nearby businesses say tearing
down the old building is paramount because it will help alleviate
parking issues as well as prevent the site from becoming a homeless
Graham acknowledged postponing the transfer might inspire criticism.
But, "it will take more time," he says.
... The National Capital Revitalization Corp. is putting its empty lots
to work. The economic development corporation recently hired D.C.
Parking Associates to manage its parking initiative, in which NCRC will
use some of the underdeveloped property in its massive portfolio for
D.C. Parking is a partnership between Central Parking, the largest
operator in the country, and AutoPark, a D.C. management company run by
local lobbyist David Wilmot.
"NCRC's parking initiative is a new and innovative way to achieve
maximum returns on investment for all publicly owned lands and take a
step closer toward self-sufficiency," says Anthony Freeman, the
organization's senior vice president for business development and strategy.
NCRC's board recently approved the selection of the parking team, which
competed for the contract through a competitive bid process. The parking
manager already has identified a number of NCRC-controlled properties to
be turned into lots. It is in the process of negotiating the details of
NCRC's board (www.ncrcdc.com) also recently approved the organization's
plan to look for a developer to take part in a joint development project
for its property at 14th Street and Florida Avenue NW, the southern edge
of the Columbia Heights. NCRC will draft a request for proposals for the
site, calling for a residential and retail project. The D.C. Council
will have to approve the RFP before it hits the street.
... The D.C. Council's economic development committee recently approved
a handful of revenue bond financing proposals, including a $15 million,
tax-free request from the National Association of Realtors, which wants
to build a 12-story office building on New Jersey Avenue near Georgetown
University's law school.
The 103,000-square-foot building is being developed by CarrAmerica Urban
Development. The entire project is expected to cost $45 million.
The council committee also approved $2.8 million in bond financing to
rehabilitate and build out a building at 1329 Kenilworth Ave. in
Northeast to be used as a bakery and office for a supplier to Dunkin'
Donuts; as well as a $3.2 million request from Calvary Bilingual
Multicultural Learning Center, which proposes building a community
learning center in Columbia Heights.
The full council still has to approve each plan.
The city also recently issued almost $45 million in tax-free bonds on
behalf of Friendship Public Charter School, which school officials say
is the largest public offering for a charter school ever. The charter
school, which is managed by Edison Schools, a private school manager,
runs four campuses throughout the city and serves about 3,000 students.
Friendship PCS will used the bond financing to buy three of its campuses
and lease the fourth from the city. The school signed a First Source
Employment Agreement with the city's employment department, in which the
city will have the first shot at filling any new vacancies.