Proposed Adult Day Center for Capitol Hill Advances
by Larry Janezich
September 2, 2020
At a virtual meeting last night, ANC6B’s Planning and Zoning Committee recommended that the full ANC require – on behalf of the community – a $250,000 grant from Felice Development Group to launch an effort by Capitol Hill Village (CHV) to establish an adult day center (ADC) for Ward 6 residents. The full ANC6B will consider the recommendation at its September meeting next Tuesday, and the matter will be taken up by the DC Zoning Commission on Thursday, September 10.
Capitol Hill Village has been pushing ANC and Felice, the developer of the huge mixed use development at 1333 M Street, SE, to subsidize an adult care center with memory care as part of the community benefits accruing to the community under the Planned Unit Development (PUD) process. City regulations require the developer to provide community benefits in exchange for a change in zoning for Planned Unit Development projects which desire greater density and mass than would be allowed without a zoning change. The zoning change would allow Felice to add four additional floors beyond what is currently allowed to its three-building project on the Anacostia waterfront. When complete, the project will deliver 900 residential units plus 45,000 square feet of retail space with two levels of underground parking.
CHV is a non-profit, volunteer-based, 500 member organizations that helps older adults age in place on Capitol Hill. They are one of the largest community organizations in Ward 6.
Initially, CHV proposed that the developer provide 9000 square feet of rent-subsidized retail space for 10 years (with a valuation of $750,000 for build-out and $135,000/year in rent-subsidies) for an ADC. CHV pointed out that the developer has requested the optional re-purposing of 25,000 square feet of the proposed 45,000 retail space indicating the developer’s uncertainty regarding demand for the space. Residents may remember that ANC6B negotiated a subsidized child care center in the much smaller Hine project at 700 Pennsylvania Avenue at part of the community benefits for that PUD project.
According to CHV, target clients for the ADC would include 1/3 low-income – seniors whose costs will be covered by Medicaid, 1/3 middle-income – Individuals with incomes between 30% and 100% of Median Family Income, and 1/3 high-income – seniors who will cover the entire costs on their own, or with the help of long-term care insurance. The preliminary cost estimate is $120 a day.
CHV said they made several attempts to engage the developer which were met with silence, before they received a blanket refusal of their proposal.
In remarks to the ANC PUD Subcommittee on benefits and amenities on July 19, CHV couched the refusal in softer terms, “To date, Felice has not been receptive to the idea.” The Subcommittee had been receptive but had concerns – that the request competes with the desire for additional affordable housing and that the request might be too large an ask. Planning and Zoning Committee Corey Holman seemed particularly protective of the affordable housing benefit and skeptical of any proposal which might threaten it.
CHV’s fallback position was to request a grant of $250,000 to launch a fundraising effort for an ADC in another location. CHV continued to make their case over the summer, pressing for the cash grant, spelling out how the money would be spent and stressing the need in the community for the facility with a strong emphasis on the comparative costs for adult health care and the number of families which would benefit.
CHV says the ADC will allow 100 seniors, particularly those with cognitive or physical challenges, to age at home, and noted that the development already included significant affordable housing – 8% is required by law – and the developer had offered to go up an additional 3%.
On August 21, Felice filed a development application with the Zoning Commission for Phase One of the Planned Unit Development at 1333 M Street.
Among the proffered community benefits was a $25,000 monetary contribution for funding items or services for seniors in Ward 6 or the cost of professional services related to securing a site for an ADC in ward 6. Another proffer increased the affordable housing benefit from 11% to 12% for households earning up to 60% of the Median Family Income.
At last night’s meeting, there was strong support for restoring the amount of the grant to the $250,000 that CHV requested. Some committee members seemed offended at the paucity of Felice’s offer. CHV representatives argued that Felice’s proposed benefits do not come close to the size of what they are asking from the community and that the main benefits in the form of increasing affordable housing by 4% is a benefit for the city as a whole, but less so the community. CHV stressed that this project is not for CHV, but for all vulnerable seniors in Ward 6 and will be available to all income levels.
CHV cited their analysis of the community benefits* which showed very little accruing to community as opposed to the general public and amenities for the project’s residents which are “dressed up as benefits”. One commissioner pointed out that CHV had the only requested benefit which grew out of the community – and one that is ready to go.
Despite being invited, Felice did not attend the meeting, which puzzled some commissioners.
The vote came after midnight on the following language:
Since the developer didn’t support an onsite ADC, prior to issuance of a building permit the applicant agrees to contribute $250,000 to a non-profit to fund services relating to securing a site in Ward 6….
The vote was unanimous, 11 – 0.
*For a CHV analysis of the benefits currently being offered by Felice see the document in the Library (top of home page) entitled: Analysis of Benefits Currently Proffered 1333 M