ANC Subcommittee Sends Negotiators Back to the Table with Developers of Hine – First Round Concessions Do Not Mollify Residents
by Larry Janezich
Last Thursday night, ANC6B Hine Subcommittee Vice Chair Brian Pate submitted the final report on what concessions he and Chair Ivan Frishberg had been able to win from Stanton-Eastbanc for the community as benefits, amenities, and mitigation for their proposed Hine development.
The major achievement of the report was the removal of the mechanical penthouse and the top (setback) floor off of the 7th and Pennsylvania Avenue building. The major failing was that there were no concessions on providing more open space or additional space for the weekend flea markets.
Other details of the Frishberg/Pate proposal included a small subsidized child care facility on or off-site, $50,000 from Stanton-Eastbanc for landscaping at Metro Plaza in connection with the proposed Info Hub being built with Performance Parking funds, a plan for governing the scheduling of events on the to-be-reopened (and privatized) C Street, and no retail on entrance on D Street.
Lead by the resident members of the ANC Hine Subcommittee, a majority of the Subcommittee voted 8-4 to send the negotiators back to win further concessions from the developer. None of the instructions, however, directly addressed the report’s major failing, lack of any concessions on the part of the developer to provide additional space for the flea market. While the initial ANC document authorizing negotiations with the developer had much to say on that score and others, Pate displayed a tendency to narrow discussions with the developers to specific details, rather than reopen discussions on the larger issues that have galvanized the community.
Those Subcommittee members who vote for the motion to recommit: ANC6B Chair Critchfield, Commissioners Campbell, and Carol Green; Resident Members Ken Jarboe, Bill Pate, Steve Sweeny, and Monte Edwards.
Those opposed: Subcommittee Vice Chair Brian Pate and Commissioners Kirsten Oldenburg, Dave Garrison, and Brian Flahaven.
About 50 residents attended the meeting, and a dozen members of the community spoke at the meeting; all of them highly critical of the proposed development. In response to the prevailing sentiment, Subcommittee member Roger Tauss of EMMCA offered a motion to recommit the memorandum of agreement with instructions to continue the negotiations on a list of points, including setting back what is now the top floor of the office building, specifying that the child care center be located at 8th and D, and providing a loading dock accessible to 55 foot trucks on 7th Street. Once it became clear that the motion to recommit held a majority, other members of the Hine Subcommittee added their wish list to the instructions. Additional language on traffic issues and references to the number of tents for vendors leave the door open for negotiations on the flea markets issue, but it is uncertain that the negotiators are willing to do so.
ANC6B Commissioner Kirstin Oldenburg unsuccessfully sought to weaken the motion to recommit, moving to strike the child care provision (failed for lack of a second), moving to strike the provision to setback the top floor (failed on a 5-7 vote), and moving to strike an instruction to provide that affordable housing residents in the north building have access to the amenities in the south building (failed for lack of a second).
More can be learned about the success of the negotiations from the list of negotiated items which the developer refused to budge on: lowering the plaza building and the north building, increasing open space or providing public access to the courtyard, providing subsidized office space for a non-profit organization (ANC6B), providing public restrooms, a dog park, and a playground, barring nightclubs from the project, increasing the local retail requirement from 20 to 30 percent, banning bars and restaurants in north building, providing a boutique hotel, and providing a loading dock for 55 foot trucks. Also falling by the wayside, but one of the top concerns of the neighborhood, was the provision of more space for tents for the weekend flea market.
In response to what is from the community’s perspective failed negotiations and the developer’s rejection of many of their major concerns, one member of the EMMCA Hine Working Group subsequently pushed for new negotiators. Others urged a renewed lobbying effort targeting Brian Pate and Ivan Frishberg, who now have the additional momentum of Councilmember Well’s endorsement of their efforts. On the other hand ANC Commissioner Norm Metzger, not present at Thursday night’s meeting, in the aftermath questioned the legitimacy of the motion to recommit. It is unclear whether Metzger intended his email to his fellow commissioners as a parliamentary challenge.
Judging from the level of interest from the community as evidenced by attendance at recent meetings on the Hine development and the dissatisfaction expressed there, it appears that the degree of support for the developer on the ANC 6B Commission vastly overstates the support for the developer and the project throughout the neighborhood.
The issue will next emerge when the negotiators file an amended report with ANC Commissioner Francis Campbell’s Planning and Zoning Commission on Tuesday, June 5. On May 31, Stanton-Eastbanc will brief nearby neighbors on the most recent design changes in response to suggestions from the Historic Preservation Review Board on April 26. On Monday, June 4, Stanton-Eastbanc will make the same presentation to a public meeting hosted by the Capitol Hill Restoration Society, which has emerged as a strong critic of the size and design of the project. Emmcablog will provide details on and from these meetings in the near future.