ANC6B Seeks Community Benefits from Developer of Massive Mixed Use Project at 1333 M Street
by Larry Janezich
June 29, 2002
Last Wednesday night an ANC6B Subcommittee held a virtual meeting to begin negotiating community benefits regarding the construction of the 900 unit mixed use building at 1333 M Street. Since the development anticipates greater height, massing, and density than the current zoning of the site would allow, regulations provide that the community is entitled to benefits and amenities to offset the impact on the community. The process by which the zoning is changed occurs under the regulations for construction of a Planned Unit Development (PUD). The ANC’s role is to make recommendations on benefits and amenities to the Zoning Commission, which incorporates those conditions in the order changing the zoning.
Stephen Cochran from the DC Office of Planning told the Subcommittee that the Planned Unit Development process was designed to encourage developments of higher quality with more public benefits than would accrue if the project were built as a matter of right.
A benefit is a superior feature which benefits the neighborhood or general public.
An amenity is a type of benefit that enhances the attractiveness, convenience, or comfort of the project for occupants and the immediate neighborhood. It is typically not what the developer would normally do anyway, or things considered as mitigation for issues created in the community by the development.
The offer of benefits and amenities represent a sacrifice on the part of the developer involving an extra expense.
Examples of PUD benefits and amenities include exceptional architecture, affordable housing above the 10% which is required by Inclusionary Zoning, use of minority businesses, contributions to public schools/libraries or neighborhood events, sustainability features, services for elderly/handicapped citizens, public space and parks, transportation, community meeting space, and subsidized retail space for local businesses.
So far, the developer seems willing to increase the residential floor area for affordable housing to 11% (above the required 8% to 10% under Inclusionary Zoning regulations) as a benefit, and the expenditure of $6.7 million – mostly in transportation infrastructure, landscaping, and the creation of open space as an amenity.
Planning and Zoning Committee and Subcommittee Chair Corey Holman, characterized the offer as “paltry”.
At Wednesday’s meeting, Capitol Hill Village stepped up with a suggestion for a community benefit – an adult day center. They cited community need for a center for adults with physical and cognitive issues and suggested the use of 9000 square feet for a multipurpose room, therapy rooms, and a warming kitchen. CVC said that in initial discussions, the terms of the proposal were not acceptable to the developer, reportedly not because of the care center per se, but because of specific terms of rent and the use of space. Discussions of the proposal will continue with the development team.
Holman said that he continues to struggle with the fact that every dollar spent on other benefits comes from affordable housing – clearly his top priority. He said, he thinks the approach should be to push on the size and the amount of affordable housing and show that “it’s our number one priority…It shouldn’t be either or, but the affordability proffer should be more that 11%.”
Former commissioner and ANC6B Planning and Zoning Committee chair Nick Burger cautioned against attempts to segregate affordable housing to less desirable parts of the buildings, and supported pushing the envelope on energy efficiency. He said that an adult day center was an interesting idea and wondered how the CHV would conduct outreach to engage minority members of the community. The CHV responded that the group was one of their main targets.
The Subcommittee will meet several times over the summer with the goal of making a recommendation on benefits and amenities to the full ANC6B in the fall. The next meeting will be on Thursday, July 2, when the focus will be on public space and transportation issues, with the participation of representatives of DDOT. This meeting will be a Webex virtual meeting. Go here for the link & Call-In number to join this public meeting. https://www.anc6b.org/calendar/