Developer Accedes to ANC6B Demand for Funds for Capitol Hill Adult Care Center
by Larry Janezich
September 11, 2020
In a surprise announcement which reflected a last minute decision by Felice Development, the developer agreed to an ANC6B demand to increase tenfold a cash contribution for the benefit of Capitol Hill seniors as part of their benefits to the community for allowing increased height, mass and density of a huge mixed use building on the Anacostia waterfront. ANC6B had withheld its support for the developer’s zoning application because they judged the benefits Felice had offered insufficient.
In doing so, Felice avoided the potential of the Zoning Commission finding the proffered benefits insufficient as well, as Zoning Commission Chair Anthony Hood signaled at the beginning of the hearing. Hood indicated the Commission was aware of the issue as he announced that the statute governing the Zoning Commission provides that the Commission can’t compel an addition to proffered benefits, but shall deny an application if the board finds the proffered benefits are insufficient, and may at any time suggest how the proffered benefits can be improved.
The concession came at the beginning of last night’s virtual DC Zoning Commission hearing on the application of the developer for a zoning change to allow building the 900 unit project at 1333 M Street, SE.
Leila Batties, the Holland and Knight attorney representing Felice, told the Zoning Commission that Felice believes the application merits approval as is, but to clear the way for ANC support for the project, Felice agrees to increase the proffer for Capitol Hill seniors from $25,000 to the $250,000 requested by the ANC, including a $25,000 contribution to the Department of Parks and Recreation for senior programing at the Arthur Capper Recreation Center and $225,000 for the DC Department of Aging and Community Living (DACL) with the request that the funds be earmarked to assist a non-profit with the cost of professional services related to securing the site for an Adult Day Center in the Capitol Hill area of Ward 6. Details on how to effect the contribution and measures to insure the funding will be used as intended will have to be worked out between the developer and the agency.
Batties said that the decision to increase the proffer was last minute, and had not been conveyed to the ANC.
In response, ANC6B Planning and Zoning Chair Corey Holman, who had managed the process to exact a benefits package from the developer, told the Commission that the additional funding satisfies the criteria established by the ANC to garner its support. Throughout that process, Holman’s focus had been on increasing the affordable housing component of the community benefits, and those efforts had been successful. But there was strong support for an adult care center from his fellow ANC6B commissioners, who believed that the benefits package was insufficient, resulting in the decision to withhold support for the project. That came as the result of an intense and persistant effort by Capitol Hill Village to get funding to launch an adult care center for the benefit a diverse community of senior citizens in Ward 6.
Capitol Hill Village representative Lawrence Johnston expressed gratitude for the increased funding, but expressed concern that there is currently no partnership between Capitol Hill Village and DACL that acknowledged Capitol Hill Village’s well thought out 21 month plan to accomplish the goal of raising funds and siting an ADC in Ward 6.
ANC6B Commissioner and candidate for At Large City Council seat Chander Jayaraman, testifying only for himself, also expressed concern about how the funds to be contributed to DC DACL would be used and pledged to hold Felice to its word.
Commissioner Kelly Waud, in whose single member district is adjacent to the project, expressed concerns on behalf of herself and nearby residents regarding noise pollution and about the lack of an area plan.
The Commission adjourned after a hearing that lasted more than four hours without voting on Felice’s application. Applications normally take more than one hearing, and the Commission will resume consideration on October 15.
Afterward, CHC reached out to Commissioner and Planning and Zoning Committee Chair Corey Holman for his reaction. Holman said, speaking only for himself and not the ANC, “I’m glad the applicant has proffered extra community benefits and look forward to ANC 6B continuing to play a role in helping to bring an adult day center to Capitol Hill. But the most important outcome of tonight’s hearing is that the process to add 900 new housing units, including 108 affordable inclusionary zoning units, continues to move forward. If approved by the Zoning Commission, I hope this is built quickly and spurs further development of the large adjacent parking lots. And further, when built, this project will provide complimentary retail and recreation opportunities to the 11th Street Bridge Park.”