Stanton Stacks the Deck Again to Show Community Support for Hine Project

Stanton Stacks the Deck Again to Show Community Support for Hine Project – Letters to Zoning Commission Fail to Disclose Business Relationships

by Larry Janezich

Since early April, Kitty Kaupp and Stanton Development have been soliciting letters of support for the Hine Development from their tenants, business associates, and friends in the Capitol Hill community.

Most of the letters of support for the project listed on the Zoning Commission’s website are from those who have some business relationship with the developer.  As was the case with the letters of support in favor of Stanton Eastbanc during the selection process before Deputy Mayor’s office, many of these letters fail to state business or personal ties to the developer that would put the writer’s support in proper context.

Some letters from businesses like Randolph Cree, Marvelous Market or Sapore Oil and Vinegar properly identify themselves as retailers in the area, but do not mention that they are tenants of Stanton.  Similarly, Coldwell Banker realtors also do not raise the connection between themselves and Ms. Kaupp, a principal of Stanton who is also a colleague at Coldwell.  In her letter, Mary Lynn Reed says she is an owner of a number of Capitol Hill commercial properties, but does not identify herself as a Stanton partner.

One letter filed with the Zoning Commission inadvertently included a page of instructions, apparently from Stanton, on how to file a letter of support with the Zoning Commission, and requesting that such letters be copied to Kitty Kaupp at her Coldwell Banker email address.  The instructions say that letters should be in the words of the writer and as personal as possible and prominently mention the word “support.”

The instructions go on to provide a list of topics or points that might be included in such letters, including:

High-quality development – a vibrant mixture of housing, office, restaurants and retail

20% of retail space for locally owned business

Will transform and enliven the streetscape

Beautification of the neighborhood

Re-opening of C Street

Architecture harmonious with the surrounding community

LEED Gold

Affordable Housing units

Significantly, there is no mention of supporting the zoning change or exceptions that Stanton seeks, and virtually none of the letters address those subjects.

In all, of the 113 letters of support, there are not more than a dozen that can claim any degree of spontaneity.  Twenty percent of the total is minimal – a single line of support for the project, and most of these submitted over a two day period.  Given that none address the rezoning specifically, it is an open question whether these letters can be counted as support for the developer’s PUD application.  There are also multiple duplicates in the Zoning Commission’s file.  It is unclear how carefully these letters will be scrutinized, or what purpose they will serve in the Zoning Commission’s deliberations.

14 Comments

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14 responses to “Stanton Stacks the Deck Again to Show Community Support for Hine Project

  1. David Healy

    Does anybody remember all the local businesses which were supposed to front the sidewalk at 228 Seventh St SE–the National Association for Home Care & Hospice building across from Eastern Market?

    Never, ever happened.

  2. Fake Handle

    Isn’t the Flea Market leadership doing the exact same campaign against the development?

    • My thoughts exactly. Opponents are allowed to organize, but proponents aren’t? What kind of double standard is that?

      • goldfish

        Anybody can organize, but proponents can expect to profit handsomely, while the opponents will not. This undermines the proponents’ contention that they “represent the community”.

  3. SimonSays

    Can you point to a credible source for this allegation against the Flea Market?

  4. Fake Handle

    The guy standing at the entrance on the weekends with pamphlets and a petition to sign…

    I wasn’t alleging anything. Just pointing out that grass-root movements can have two sides.

  5. SimonSays

    What the article describes is more like Astroturfing: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Astroturfing

  6. Neighbor

    The difference is that the Flea Market campaign is getting support from people who are actually shopping at the market and want to see it continue. The SEB campaign is deceptive, non-transparent and coercive.

  7. Fake Handle

    I think it is a fine line to debate genuine grass roots efforts and “astroturfing” these days, I think both could apply to the strategies of the developer and the market.

    My greater point is that there are residents within Eastern Market that support the majority of the planned development. I don’t think anything that the SEB did is deceptive, clearly is transparent if this news came out, and of course it is coercive – the whole point was to persuade people to support the development.

    I’m reminded of the old saying… one who lives in glass house shouldn’t throw stones.

  8. jbkim

    may 30, 2012 —-Does anyone know:
    Is K. Kaupp a DC resident? If so, does KK live within a block of Hines? Are the owners of Randolph Cree, Marvelous Market and Sapore Oil and Vinegar DC residents living in Ward 6 within a block of Hines?

    • Steve Sweeney

      @jbkim
      Kitty Kaupp lives on the 300 block of 9th. The owners of Marvelous Market are Ward 6 residents (and live in ANC 6B). Ken Golding (the other principal of Stanton) doesn’t live on Capitol Hill. Don’t know about other merchants mentioned.

      • goldfish

        She lives in a stunning house that has been on the Mother’s Day House and Garden tour. It was originally next to an alley that was decommissioned and added to her house, and it has a swimming pool.

  9. Bobbi Krengel

    The issue is not who lives where, as I believe that people who run businesses in the neighborhood also have a stake, but WHAT it is that they are supportive of, and why, and how their words are being used.
    A closer look at the content of the so-called “letters of support” reveals that these so-called “proponents” are all in favor of the “project”. Well so are we all. There is conveniently no mention of support for the bloated excessive upzoning. I doubt those authors would have said the same things had they been asked specifically to express support for the extreme upzoning contained in the application.
    WE ARE ALL IN FAVOR OF THE PROJECT. WE ALL WANT THE SITE DEVELOPED. WE ARE NOT HAPPY ABOUT THE DELAYS.
    But we only have one chance to do it right, and unfortunately, that takes longer than doing it half-[brained].
    The RFP went out approximately 2008, 11 proposals were submitted, and the contract was awarded, and since then the project has metastasized to the point of no longer resembling the original specifications, and now involving an extreme upzoning with an application for consolidated PUD with map amendment that skips over several intermediate levels in changing the zoning from R4, jumping over R5(s) and C2A all the way to C2B with a PUD on top, essentially going from 40 to 90 feet.
    This is the reason the neighborhood has asked Tommy Wells to consult with DC General Counsel for a legal opinion on whether this expansion of the project constitutes a violation of the contract with the city. And why we should be entitled to question whether the authors of those letters intended to express support for such egregious expansion.
    Respectfully,
    Bobbi Krengel

  10. jrockett

    For your info:
    Hine supporters do live on Capitol Hill, Greater Greater Washington, http://greatergreaterwashington.org/post/15029/hine-supporters-do-live-on-capitol-hill/