65 I Street SE
Present: Commissioners Assalaam, Litsky, Moffatt, Siegel, Skolnik, Sobelsohn, Williams
The meeting was convened at 7:00 pm
Motion: Approval of the agenda was moved by Commissioner Sobelsohn, seconded by Commissioner Skolnik, and approved without objection.
2. Community Comment
Gene Solon spoke about several issues, including voting rights for DC, and congratulations to Commissioner Williams on her re-election. He also said he was sorry that Commissioner Assalaam lost.
3. Public Safety
Officer Tolbert of PSA 104 gave the crime statistics for the area, and said that in comparison to the rest of the city, Southwest is doing well, and is one of the safest districts in District 1, with no recent homicides. He reminded people once again not to leave anything in their cars, and said that juveniles are the main problem. He said there are now prescribed patrol areas, around Carrollsburg Square and Arena Stage.
4. New Office of Planning Staff
Commissioner Litsky introduced Jeff Davis, the new Ward 6 planner in the Office of Planning. He announced a Ward 6 workshop on December 6th at the Woolly Mammoth Theatre. He said a group of businesses is looking at creating a BID for the M Street corridor.
5. Old Business
Paul Tummonds of Pillsbury Winthrop Shaw Pittman, attorneys for the developer, and Phil Esocoff, the project’s architect presented plans for the renovation of Marina View Towers, 1100 6th Street SW, across from Arena Stage and next door to the proposed Waterfront development. The project will go before the Zoning Commission on February 15th. There are currently two buildings, on M Street and K Street, and the Applicant plans on building two additional buildings in what are now parking lots on the M Street and K Street sides. There will be a garden in the middle of the project, and there will be below ground garages. The project will be bicycle accessible, even including a bike lane in to the garage. They are planning to repair the windows and concrete on the existing buildings. They have held three meetings with tenants and community at Arena Stage, and plan to keep one building open during the renovation project.
Commissioner Skolnik asked about the specifics of a discounted rental rate for tenants remaining during the construction, and was told that they have not yet figured it out and are still working on it. He also asked about affordable housing in the new development and was told that there will be 11,500 square feet of affordable house, which will be available at up to 80% of AMI. He was told that more detailed information would be provided to him.
Lee Adams, president of the Marina Towers Tenants Association, said that they are working with the developer, but are concerned about maintaining the tenants’ rights, and said they will be requesting help to make certain their rights are upheld. She expressed concern about the status of the public garden and how it will affect the safety and well being of the tenants. Mr. Esocoff responded that the garden will be available to the tenants of all four buildings, and will be open to the public during the day. Commissioner Moffatt asked whether about how open the space would be, saying that the parking lots were now open and people could walk through them. Mr. Esacoff said that the garden would be “defensible space,” open but secure.
Commissioner Williams said that while community benefits included affordable housing, the apartments were formerly rent-controlled and would no longer be, and the City was losing 255 rent controlled units. She said that her experience with buildings being turned into condos from rental units is that the tenants come out on the losing end, and that there will be a huge battle. J. Graham Brook, of Fairfield Residential, the project’s developer, said that there will be a buyout package before the set down at the Zoning Commission, which has not yet been filed because they are still working on the plan. They want to move forward as quickly as possible, but need to get the existing tenants down below 50% before they can proceed. They have to empty four or five columns of people at a time, and then move the remaining tenants into one building.
Commissioner Litsky said that eight members of the Southwest community had met with representatives of NCRC, Forest City and Charles E. Smith. They included three ANC Commissioners—Max Skolnik and Mary Williams, in whose SMDs the project is located, and Chairman Andy Litsky, Naomi Monk, Marge Maceda, representing SWNA, Ruth Hamilton, Robert Sockwell, a former BZA chair, who was invited because of his expertise, and Roger Wilkins. The four-hour meeting presented the first opportunity to sit down to discuss public benefits in light of the expiring PUD.
Commissioner Skolnik said that it was a long and fruitful meeting. He said that the developers had agreed to many things:
§ Proposed retail had been woefully inadequate, and they agreed to raise the minimum amount of retail from 110,000 sq. ft. to 160,000 sq. ft.
§ They also provided assurances that they would work on a shorter timeline, and the first buildings would be completed within three years.
§ Additionally, they pledged to work with MPD and the PSA on the public safety issues relating to the construction, and safe access for the residents living North of the construction.
§ They committed to providing office and meeting space for community organizations.
§ They will make the project LEED-certified.
§ They agreed to implement a RLARC home buyership program for Southwest residents.
He said that this was not a final meeting, but the first of many. He said the issue of the grocery store had not yet been resolved, and it was still a possibility that the community could lose a supermarket, but that the developers were making a best effort with Safeway. He said that the issues of setbacks, heights and massing were also unresolved.
Commissioner Litsky said that the supermarket would not necessarily be Safeway, and that if Safeway chooses to stay it would be fine, but the issue is not Safeway but a market, and they had asked the developer to build a building to be occupied by a market after Safeway leaves if Safeway does not want the expanded space. The current PUD does not require a supermarket if one opens south of the freeway and anywhere in Southwest including Buzzard’s Point. He said that if there is no market at the Mall it will impact property values, and the community must stand firm on eliminating the language that gives them an out on the market. He said he could not feel more strongly about that aspect of the plan. He reiterated that there will be more opportunities to meet with the developers.
Commissioner Moffatt expressed his concern that the issues of massing and setbacks were not addressed. The issue of a special shuttle bus or circulator bus being used during construction and was raised, as well as whether there would be increased private security at the site as well. Commissioner Williams added that this had to be addressed with MPD because the developers cannot control public sidewalks. Commissioner Litsky said that this was not an amenity, but an expectation that the neighborhood will be safe and that people will be gotten from north to south. It is both an MPD and developer responsibility, and no permits will be given unless there is a community buy-in on a security plan.
Commissioner Williams said there was disagreement about whether a pot of money should be going to job training, saying that she felt another job training program was not needed. She said she would rather see the money going for education and education-related programs.
Commissioner Assalaam asked why the ANC is negotiating with private organizations, and asked why other groups in the community were not included. He asked why availability of community space was being limited to only a few groups. Commissioner Skolnik said that the community space would be available to everyone, and Commissioner Williams said that they would not accept anything as a “gift” from the developers. Commissioner Litsky said the community meeting space would be for 200 people, and the office space was tacked on. Mr. Sockwell said that the three new projects—Waterfront, Town Center, and Marina View Towers—should be working together on security, for while private security has limits, they have to protect citizens during construction. The community he said should look to traditional resources for meeting space, including the recreation center and the schools, because the project’s retail space should not be compromised. He said that meeting space could be within residential buildings.
Ms. Monk said that the developers have had meetings with MPD and are continuing to do so, and Marge Maceda added that they took the initiative in going to the Circulator people about the bus routes. Ms. Maceda added that she disagreed with Commissioner Williams about giving money to education because the schools had money and job training was needed. Commissioner Williams responded that she was looking for a way to provide immediate and direct assistance.
There was a discussion of how the people on the negotiating committee were selected, with Ms. Monk saying that Commissioners Skolnik and Williams were elected by the people of the SMDs to represent them, Andy Litsky was the ANC Chair and Marge Maceda was the elected head of SWNA. Commissioner Williams said she had nominated Robert Sockwell because of his expertise. Jennifer Budoff of NCRC said that it had selected the initial six people based on elected representatives and community activity. The ANC was given the opportunity to add additional perspectives, and Mr. Sockwell and Mr. Wilkins had provided invaluable insights. Commissioner Skolnik said that it was impossible to get a 100% representative group, but this was a good group, and Commissioner Williams added that she had even represented Gene Solon on his issues relating to the opening of 4th Street.
Dick Westbrook said that he had served on the RLARC board for three years and he believed that RLARC had to charge market rate land, and there should be a legal opinion on the legality of the land swap as it is structured. Commission Assalaam agreed, saying that they’re in violation of the law, had changed the law illegally, and giving the land away.
Anthony Noble of Holland and Knight and Amy Phillips of Monument Realty presented again their proposed alley closing on Squares 700 and 701, between M and N and Half and 1st Streets SE. The square footage of the alley spaces, which are on land being purchased from WMATA, is 10,701 sq. ft., of which about 50% will be deeded back to WMATA, from whom the developer will purchase FAR.
They have proffered a package of community benefits including LEED certified, to 20% affordable housing at 80% of AMI, local and first source hiring, the use of LSBDE companies, a $500,000 contribution to air conditioning at Amidon School, and taking responsibility for the construction of the expansion at the Navy Yard Metro stop. The package had been referred to the Development Committee at the last ANC meeting. Ms. Phillips said that Monument Realty has been active in Southwest and became interested in Amidon School while it was building Potomac Place, and the air conditioning project was something they have wanted to do. She said that while it might be closing, it will be used as a “swing” school for many years. She said that if the closing of the school is imminent, the project could be moved to another school.
Deb Moss, Development Committee chair, who said that, while the developer was planning to undertake the Amidon project anyway, it was a worthwhile project, and the committee had voted to recommend that the ANC accept the proffer as satisfactory for Southwest residents.
Ms. Phillips said that it was a project that Monument wanted to do, and this project gave them the funds to do it. Ms. Phillips said she wanted to work with the ANC to develop a program to set aside residences for current Southwest residents who want them. She said they working with the Anacostia Waterfront Corporation to develop retail that will benefit total community.
Motion: Commissioner Sobelsohn moved that a delegation be established of three ANC members to negotiate outstanding issues of the proffer with Monument Realty. It was seconded by Commissioner Siegel. Mr. Skolnik moved to amend the motion by adding two members of the Development Committee to the delegation. The amendment was accepted without objection.
Commissioners Siegel, Skolnik and Sobelsohn were appointed to serve as the ANC members of the delegation.
Vanessa Ruffin said that the community has lost a valuable resource in its arts spaces, and that consideration should be given in negotiations to restoring studio space for local artists.
The motion passed 5-0-2, with Commissioners Williams and Assalaam not voting.
5. New Business
Commissioner Litsky reported that the Corcoran is about to close on the Randall School building, and while the Corcoran people thought the ANC could stay longer, it turns out that the Commission has to be moved by November 20th. After consultation with Carol Mitten and the Corcoran staff, the ANC was negotiating with Bethel Church, across from Randall, but on the 11th, they backed out of the agreement. The Deputy Mayor for Economic Development and OPM hurriedly went on a search for space, and found that there was space at 25 M Street SW, which is now vacant except for the first floor. There will be no charge for rent on the space, which will be open during city hours. Motion: Commissioner Litsky moved to allocate up to $400 for moving expenses. The motion was seconded by Commissioner Sobelsohn.
Commissioner Litsky said he based the figure on paying moving people $15 per hour, and the cost of renting a truck. Commissioner Williams suggested using people from the low-income community to facilitate the move. Commissioner Skolnik pointed out that the ANC budget has $3000 budgeted for office expenses, so the allocation is within the budget. The motion passed 6-1, with Commissioner Assalaam voting in opposition.
6. Approval of Minutes
(Commissioner Moffatt left the meeting at 9:15)
Motion: Commissioner Sobelsohn moved approval of the May minutes. The motion was seconded by Commissioner Skolnik, and passed 4-2, with Commissioners Williams and Assalaam in opposition.
Motion: Commissioner Sobelsohn moved approval of the June minutes. The motion was seconded by Commissioner Skolnik and passed 3-1-1, with Commissioner Assalaam in opposition and Commissioner Sobelsohn abstaining.
Motion: Commissioner Sobelsohn moved approval of the September minutes. The motion was seconded by Commissioner Skolnik and passed 3-1-1, with Commissioner Assalaam in opposition, and Commissioner Sobelsohn abstaining.
Motion: Commissioner Sobelsohn moved approval of the October minutes. The motion was seconded by Commissioner Skolnik and passed 3-1-1, with Commissioner Assalaam in opposition, and Commissioner Sobelsohn abstaining
7. Treasurer’s Report
Commissioner Skolnik gave the Treasurer's Report for September 11-October 16. A copy of his report is attached to these minutes. ANC 6D has $47,694.69 in current funds, including an allotment from the DC Government in the amount of $4,821.64. The savings account has $5,120.31, including an interest payment of $2.61. The report includes expenses submitted for approval staff salary, $554.10 (Check #285), state withholding taxes to DOES for $29.25; to DCPS for rental of Amidon School, $41.34 (Check #786); and to Roberta Weiner for petty cash $100 (check #287) Motion: Commissioner Skolnik made/Commissioner Sobelsohn seconded a motion to approve the November report and to authorize payment of the expenses. The motion passed 5-0-1. With Commissioner Assalaam voting in opposition.
Motion: Commissioner Skolnik moved acceptance of the ANC budget for FY 06-07. It was seconded by Commissioner Sobelsohn and passed 6-0.
Commissioner Skolnik reported that the ANC had been audited by the DC Auditor and the Commission was given a “clean bill of health,” with three minor issues: there had been no budget submitted for FY 04-05; there had been credit card purchases, which have been eliminated; and the bank statements, which had been sent to the Treasurer’s home, are now being sent to the office.
The meeting was adjourned at 9:43 pm.