Applying its principles for redevelopment (see The Southwester, November 2015), the Near SE/SW Community Benefits Coordinating Council (CBCC) submitted comments on Oct. 9 to the Office of the Deputy Mayor for Planning and Economic Development (DMPED) on the three finalists bidding for the 1000 4th Street Waterfront Station Parcel. Although CBCC did not endorse any one bid, its comments filtered the attributes of each through the principles for a new “Main Street” and a redeveloped Southwest that ensures continued social diversity. CBCC has since formed a Task Force on PUDs, including new board member Gail Fast and Will Rich, retiring from the board but joining the task force, in order to become more proactive in following PUDs and assisting the ANC in negotiations with developers and the District for community benefits that help maintain social diversity in redevelopment, as is CBCC’s mission.
On housing, each of the finalists’ bids provided at least 30% of units at below market rate (per DC law for District-owned land), however none promised larger than two-bedroom units and, as with most new housing in Southwest, will accommodate singles and couples but few families. The size, location, and duration of the affordable units, CBCC found, were not explicit. Rental and for-sale percentages could impact neighborhood stability, over time, and CBCC argued should be considered in redevelopment strategies going forward. One proposal included a small number of permanent supportive housing units and a specified number of permanent jobs, including partnerships with social services providers, and relationships with DC administration and training and employment providers, which could partially address both local employment needs and the city-wide crisis in homelessness. CBCC recommended that whoever wins the bid, DMPED might consider a supportive housing component for future PUDs. At its Dec. 14 meeting, ANC 6D passed a resolution supporting DC policy to put new facilities for the homeless to replace DC General in all eight wards, but the resolution required that these new facilities start with the highest income wards so that equitable distribution is assured.
On proposed retail, CBCC found the bids lacked the specificity to ensure that the profile of retail and rent levels (and mechanisms to hold rents affordable for neighborhood businesses over time) will provide a true Main Street with services targeted to neighborhood residents. The PN Hoffman bid, since endorsed by ANC 6D, would provide the most retail space, but it provided little detail on street frontage and specific content. The black box theater would complement Southwest’s role as a cultural hub, but other neighborhood services were not specified, which, according to the critique, could come at the expense of common space and neighborhood level retail and services.
On open and common space to preserve the neighborhood character, most new development will dramatically increase density in Southwest. Other than general references to lively street activity and some idealized visual reference to sidewalk cafes, there was no indication in the bids about setbacks or realistic spacing for sidewalk use. The loss of common space in new 11-story structures with little to no setback or other open space, CBCC argued, does not serve the Small Area Plan recommendations for varied building lines and controlled massing to preserve neighborhood character and feeling of open space. Because no townhouses or low-rise structures have recently been proposed, and many of the common spaces will be interior in new structures, CBCC recommended that massing does not set a precedent for future development designs.
CBCC was also concerned that the number and allocation of parking spaces needs to be clarified so that some car ownership to support demographic diversity is accommodated but does not compete with scarce street parking. Similarly, the administration and restrictions on private streets, which may be increasingly common in redevelopment, needs to be detailed. The full critique can be found at www.seswcbcc.org.
By: Fredrica Kramer
CBCC Vice Chair