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Columbia Heights Development in the News & Etc.

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  • William Jordan
    INDUSTRY WRAPUPS Business District © 2003 American City Business Journals Inc. ... D.C. Council members Adrian Fenty, D-Ward 4, Jim Graham, D-Ward 1, and
    Message 1 of 1 , Dec 1, 2003
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      Business District
      © 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
      parking lots.

      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
      the contract.

      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.
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