The DC ReOpen Advisory Group Reads Like Roll Call of Political Insiders
by Larry Janezich
Yesterday, Mayor Bowser listed the committee members of the ReOpen DC Advisory Group. Heading up the group will be national figures – Susan Rice, National Security Advisor to President Obama and Michael Chertoff, Homeland Security Advisor to President George W. Bush.
The Advisory Group will deliver a Reopen DC Plan to the Mayor the week of May 11, with recommendations on how to effect a phased reopening along with sector mitigation guidelines. Bowser says a timeline for reopening will be determined by health care officials.
Eleven committees* comprise the Advisory Group, made up of a coterie of DC establishment insiders. City Paper has taken the Mayor to task for appointing only two restaurant owners to the Restaurants and Food Committee (see here: https://bit.ly/2xdgNu2) and the DCist has criticized the lack of teachers on the Education and Childcare Committee (https://bit.ly/2zEVMcH).
But so far not enough attention has been paid to the Real Estate and Construction Committee which is also of interest.
The committee has three co-chairs: Sarosh Olpadwala, Director of Real Estate in the Office of the Deputy Mayor for Planning and Economic Development; Buwa Binitie, current member of the District of Columbia Housing Finance Agency Board of Directors; and Monty Hoffman, Chairman of Hoffman & Associates.
A couple of these names are familiar to residents of Capitol Hill. Olpadwala is known to Hill East residents concerned about the development of Reservation 13, unhappy with DMPED’s lack of transparency on the project.
Buwa Binitie, founder and Managing Principal of Dantes Partners, was a partner in the development of the Hine project. His proposal for redevelopment of the Boys and Girls Club in Hill East was rejected by the community. He is a major campaign contributor to Mayor Bowser’s campaigns, and to the now- defunct “Fresh PAC” which was started in 2015 and closed down the same year after it came under City Council scrutiny.
Hoffman is Chair of Hoffman & Associates, and is co-developer of The Wharf.
Residents of DC would not be surprised to learn of at least of some political insiders appointed to all of these committees. But to have this work left primarily to insiders when the voices of those in the city most affected by the decisions are left out raises questions about Bowser’s vision and judgment.
The “Community Members” of the Real Estate and Construction Committee members are:
Dr. John Davies-Cole, State Epidemiologist at DC Government District of Columbia Department of Health.
Thomas Borger, Chair, Borger Management – development of multifamily and commercial properties.
Jaime Contreras, Vice President, 32BJ’s Capital Area District, representing commercial, government, arenas and residential cleaners, security officers, and education facilities cleaners and maintenance workers.
Stephen Glaude, President and CEO of the Coalition for Nonprofit Housing and Economic Development.
The Rev. Canon Michele V. Hagans, General Manager of public parking at Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport and owner of Fort Lincoln Realty Company, Fort Lincoln New Town Corporation, D.C. and Hagans Development Company, which helped construct Metro Center.
Rob Hawkins, Chair of Nelson Mullins Riley & Scarborough LLP’s District of Columbia Government Relations Practice – represents clients before city government. Hawkins served as Deputy Chief of Staff and Special Counsel to Mayor Bowser.
Chico Horton, Partner in the real estate law firm of Tiber Hudson LLC – practice includes financing of multi-family apartment and condominium projects, office buildings, hotels, retail, and mixed use projects. Horton chaired Fresh PAC before the Mayor pulled the plug on it.
Stan Jackson, President and CEO of the Anacostia Economic Development Corporation – non-profit economic development organization.
Stephanie Liotta-Atkinson, Executive VP at MidCity – developer and manager of multifamily housing and mixed-use real estate.
Lisa María Mallory, CEO, District of Columbia Building Industry Association.
Kymber Menkiti, President, Sales, Regional Director, Keller-Williams MD/DC, Menkiti Group.
Bob Murphy, Managing Principal MRP realty – developer and operator of office, industrial, residential and mixed-use real estate.
John Ritz, President, WC Smith – development, construction, sales and finances residential real estate – owns in excess of 12,000 units.
Gregory Rooney, Vice President, LEED AP at The Bernstein Companies – owns, manages, develops and invests in a variety of commercial and residential properties, with a focus on office buildings and hotels.
Joe Sternlieb – CEO at Georgetown Business Improvement District and former VP of Acquisitions for Georgetown-based EastBanc. Prior to Eastbanc, he was staff director of the DC Council Committee on Economic Development.
Rosalind T. Styles – President and CEO of Capitol City Associates, INC – consultant on major development projects to meet contracting goals for small, disadvantaged, minority, woman-owned and veteran-owned business participation.
Robert Thorne, CEO, Public Performance Management – provides performance management products and services, including IT hardware and software, strategy, operations management, and information transformation to public sector clients.
Adam Weers, Principal at Trammell Crow Company – real estate development, investment, and property management company. It is a subsidiary of CBRE (Coldwell Banker Richard Ellis) – according to wiki, the largest commercial real estate services company in the world.
*Here’s a list of the eleven committees making up the ReOpen DC Advisory Group
Education and Childcare
Equity, Disparity Reduction, Vulnerable Populations
Faith, Arts, Culture, Hotels, Sports, and Entertainment
Government Operations, Public Safety, and Criminal Justice
Human Services, Social Services, and Health
Open Spaces and Recreation
Public Health Innovation and Workforce
Real Estate and Construction
Restaurants and Food
Small Business and Retail
Transportation and Infrastructure
For more information and to see the members of the committees, see here: https://coronavirus.dc.gov/reopendc