Senior Cohousing Gets ANC Committee Nod for Hill East Boys and Girls Club Development

Hill East Boys and Girls Club, 261 17th Street, SE (For a rare look inside the Club, see CHC photo essay here:  http://bit.ly/2gsF8CZ)

Senior Cohousing Gets ANC Committee Nod for Hill East Boys and Girls Club Development

by Larry Janezich

Tuesday night, ANC6B’s Planning and Zoning Committee, chaired by Commissioner Nick Burger, voted to approve a motion to recommend that the full ANC send a letter of support to the city for Century Associates’ proposal to turn the former Hill East Boys and Girls Club into senior cohousing*.  A competing proposal would have provided a more conventional multi-generational condo development.  (For more detail on the two proposals offered for development of the Boys and Girls Club, see the CHC post here: http://bit.ly/2ytuip2)

The vote was 6-0-1 with Commissioners Burger, Ridge, Oldenburg and Resident Members Danks (6B04) and Howard (6b09) voting for the motion.  Commissioner Krepp abstained**.

Commissioner Dan Ridge, in whose single member district the project lies, made the motion that the Committee endorse the cohousing option on the basis that it is more consistent with the District’s Comprehensive Plan, one of the goals of which is to further the city’s commitment to providing social services.

Ridge told CHC “I think (Century Associates’) model is a social service even when muted by private condo ownership. I think the active experimentation they will do is itself a social service.  I would have supported the senior cohousing at the density they want with the parking they want just about anywhere in ANC 6B.  I think we should demand a project like this on Reservation 13.”

Asked to comment on the Committee action, Burger said “The committee felt that of the two options on the table this one was most consistent with a community serving function … we will also voice our view to the city that every effort needs to be made during the selection process to increase affordable housing including affordable housing for older adults, and to require more detailed plans on how the proposed community space will be programmed and managed, including long-term sustainability and effectiveness.”

At the insistence of community members one of the city’s requirements for developing the Boys and Girls Cub was that community space be included, to address in part the loss of the social services formerly provided by the Boys and Girls Club.  Ridge reacted to the community space allowance in both of the submitted proposals, saying, “The basement community space offered by both teams is worth very little to the community without an operator. Neither team proposes an operator.”  Both developers told the Hill East Task Force meeting last week that use of the community space would be determined after assessing the desires and needs of the community.

The Committee recommendation now goes to the full ANC which meets next Tuesday, at 7:00pm in Hill Center.  The full Committee will discuss the recommendation and vote whether to accept the Committee’s recommendation or modify it.

On Thursday, November 16, the office of the Deputy Mayor for Planning and Development (DMPED) will hold a disposition hearing at 7:00pm at St. Coletta’s which will mark the end of the public comment period and provide an opportunity to provide final comments.  DMPED hopes to make a decision on awarding the project this year.

*“Cohousing is an intentional community of private homes clustered around shared space. Each attached or single family home has traditional amenities, including a private kitchen. Shared spaces typically feature a common house, which may include a large kitchen and dining area, laundry, and recreational spaces. Shared outdoor space may include parking, walkways, open space, and gardens.

Households have independent incomes and private lives, but neighbors collaboratively plan and manage community activities and shared spaces. Community activities feature regularly-scheduled shared meals, meetings, and workdays. Neighbors gather for parties, games, movies, or other events. Cohousing makes it easy to form clubs, organize child and elder care, and carpool.”  From The Cohousing Association of the United States – see here:  http://cohousing.org/node/4005

** Commissioner Krepp explained her vote to abstain:  “I abstained because I wasn’t satisfied with either presentation.  Neither developer could tell me what the market rate will be for their condo units and I’d like to know this information before I vote. I’ve asked that they be prepared to share this information at the full ANC meeting on Tuesday.”

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