Hine Partner/SuperPAC Donor Buwa Binitie Travels to China with Bowser
Bowsers Hine Affordable Housing Concerns No Deterrent to Housing Agency Appointment
by Larry Janezich
Throughout the government approval process for the Hine Jr. High Development, Councilmember and current Mayor Muriel Bowser maintained that the separation of the development’s Low Income Housing Tax Credit (LIHTC) units into its own building troubled her and, if given the opportunity to do it all over again, she would change it.
But it evidently it did not trouble her that much. Buwa Binitie, the developer who engineered the division of the Hine site to provide a separate legal property for the affordable housing portion – which allowed Stanton-EastBanc to fall short of compliance with what LIHTC requirements would be if the property were one parcel – was appointed by Bowser to the DC Housing Finance Agency board that reviews and approves LIHTC applications.
Binitie, the principal of Dantes Partners, who accompanied Bowser on a trip to China in search of foreign investment in the city, was recently identified as a major contributor to the Mayor’s controversial SuperPAC, as described by Aaron Davis in the Washington Post (http://wapo.st/1WMoqaO ). The WP reported in October that the treasurer of the SuperPac says the fund will be used to help re-elect councilmembers who support the Mayor and oppose councilmembers who don’t.
As reported earlier on this blog (http://bit.ly/1CCPcgs ), when “considered as one project – and, in light of the fact that the developer is paying $0 for the North Parcel because he is allowed to deduct its cost from the amount paid for the South Parcel, it probably should be – the DC government has given valuable land away to a developer without receiving its fair share of affordable housing in return.” As was also subsequently reported on this blog, Binitie and his group submitted what turned out to be a failed bid to develop the Boys and Girls Club property in Hill East (http://bit.ly/1DzFGp8 ).
Recently, appearing before the city council on November 5th, Binitie testified that he “could not recall” who had asked him to contribute $10,000 to the SuperPAC over the course of this past summer. (See the WAMU story here: http://bit.ly/1Pnv0pk ). As reporter Patrick Madden relates, Binitie contributed the $10,000 a month after Bowser nominated him to serve on the DC Housing Finance Agency board.
Councilmember Mary Cheh’s recent questioning of Binitie can be found at the 1 hour, 07 minute mark of the November 5th Joint Hearing that can be viewed here: http://dccouncil.us/videos/archive/
The DC City Council approved Binitie’s nomination and two others to the board of the Housing Finance Agency in mid-August. The other two were Bryan “Scottie” Irving, Principal and Founder of Blue Skye Development and Construction Company, and Stephen M. Green, Chief Operating Officer of The NHP Foundation.
The Housing Finance Agency was established in 1979 to stimulate and expand homeownership and rental housing opportunities in Washington, D.C. Their mission is to offer below market rate mortgage loans to lower the homebuyers’ costs of purchasing homes and by issuing mortgage revenue bonds to lower the developers’ costs of acquiring, constructing and rehabilitating rental housing.
The Agency’s Board of Directors is a five member board nominated by the Mayor and confirmed by the City Council. Under the statute establishing the agency, two Board members must be from the mortgage lending or finance industries; two members must be from the home building, real estate, architecture, or planning community; and one member must serve the community or consumer interests.