Hine Partner/SuperPAC Donor Buwa Binitie Travels to China with Bowser

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.


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10 responses to “Hine Partner/SuperPAC Donor Buwa Binitie Travels to China with Bowser

  1. John

    Any easy way to increase the amount of affordable housing at the Hine project would be to add 2 – 3 more floors to the top of the building. Unfortunately, preservation leagues have effectively blocked efforts to increase building heights in DC.

    • Charlie

      It is always interesting to see what trade-offs interest groups like the various preservationist actors in our neighborhood are willing to take. In this case, including an extra 12-14 feet of building is more important than somebody’s being able to afford a decent place to live.

      “Mm…yes, Poopsie. They’re not really our type, are they? Now, let’s run along to the Restoration Society meeting. Last time somebody ate all the brie.”

    • dlg

      This building could have easily added additional floors, especially on the PA Ave SE side. Those additional floors could have been set back, too.

  2. Pete

    For the love of God…. the development is moving forward, the abandoned school that had been sitting there for years is now gone, the neighborhood is getting some much-needed amenities. Please give this a rest. Sour grapes. Dead horse. I’m running out of metaphors.

  3. Andrea Rosen

    It sounds as though all of the commenters support the notion that the means justify the ends. Do any of the commenters understand that the developer is failing to fulfill the low-income housing requirements to earn tax credits, but is apparently dining out on supplying below-market-rate units at the city’s expense? And that someone who engineered that deal for the profit of the developer on the taxpayer’s dime has been nominated to the board that reviews and approves such arrangements? And finally, that that insider paid the mayor for the privilege?

    • IHM

      Everyone fully understands. It’s just the Hine Coalition has done so much to alienate the neighborhood over the years that we’ve decided we prefer the DC government.

      • Bob

        IHM, that is the funniest thing I have read all day!

      • So it’s the fault of *activists* for what the mayor and her political supporter and very well-connected developer friend have done?!? Good night. Last I know, we the people elected and paid for the mayor. We also elected and paid for the council members. And we elected our ANC commissioners. In the end, each of them was OK with this development, with the terms that are currently in place. Now that those terms have been shown to short-change the entirety of the tax-paying public, in violation of the law, this is the fault of some activists?!?

      • IHM

        I don’t agree with much of anything the Mayor has done on these issues and many others.

        However, part of the success, or lack thereof, of activism is rallying support for the cause. I am not commenting on the goals of the Hine Coalition, all I’m saying is they missed the mark completely on the rallying support piece. Delays aside, if you were to poll the neighborhood you’d likely find that the coalition was the single greatest non-governmental asset the developers had in terms of securing the overall support of the residents of Eastern Market. The developers went from possibly doing something that wasn’t above board, to looking like victims of a witch hunt.

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