Deputy Mayor’s Office (Finally) Makes Public Closing Documents on Hine Development
Taxpayers To Foot Bill for Benefits: Daycare Center, Playground and Metro Landscaping
by Larry Janezich
According to a press release issued today, the Hine Coalition has received documents – pursuant to a July 23, 2013, Freedom of Information ACT (FOIA) request – from the Office of the Deputy Mayor for Planning and Economic Development (DMPED) revealing that District taxpayers will subsidize the Planned Unit Development (PUD) for the Hine Development by an additional $1.9 million. The long delayed release of the documents came after a Capitol Hill Corner posting pointing to DMPED’s slow response to the FOIA request as the latest instance in a series of examples of city agencies failing to respond to community concerns.
According to the Coalition’s press release, the “documents show that taxpayers must reimburse Stanton-East Banc (SEB) for several expenditures previously attributed to the developer, including ‘contributions’ SEB claims to be making in the amount of $50,000 to improve the Eastern Market Metro Plaza and $75,000 to finance construction of a playground. Taxpayers also must pay nearly $1.75 million for subsidized day-care to be included in the PUD.”
The Coalition’s press release, the Revised Stanton East Banc Ground Lease from July 11, 2013, and the Revised Amendment to the Hine LDDA from July 10, 2013 Redacted may be viewed by clicking the appropriate link in the Library at the top of the Capitol Hill Corner homepage.
“These revelations are only the tip of the iceberg,” Hine Coalition attorney Oliver B. Hall said. “DMPED and SEB have stonewalled all the way, because they don’t want the public to know how bad this deal is, but we’re going to keep pressing until the truth comes out.”
Hall said DMPED is required to post public contracts and related documents online, so the Hine Coalition should not have needed to file a FOIA request to get them. He also said DMPED had violated its legal obligations under FOIA by improperly withholding documents and redacting others.
A quick examination of the documents shows that considerable material has been redacted and much of the detail regarding the final agreement for transferring the Hine site to Stanton East Banc has not been made public. The documents appear to reinforce the city’s commitment to this project and to its completion by the Stanton East Banc development team. According to the Amendment to the Land disposition Agreement the city waived much of the documentation which the developer would be ordinarily be required to produce at closing, and further, has a built-in a safety net which gives the developer great flexibility in the event SEB encounters difficulty in meeting milestones, those milestones themselves being part of the Amendment which has been redacted.
The Hine Coalition is asking the DC Court of Appeals to send the PUD back to the Zoning Commission, in part, they say, because the agency improperly decided the case on an incomplete record, and because SEB failed to disclose the extent to which taxpayers are subsidizing the PUD.
Oral argument in the appeal has been set by the DC Court of Appeals for Thursday, September 26 at 9:30 am in Courtroom 1 of the DC Court of Appeals, 430 E Street, NW.