ANC6B Commissioners Slam Process on Change to Boys and Girls Club Project
By Larry Janezich
Posted October 14, 2020
Last night, ANC6B grudgingly signaled its approval of changing the proposed conversion of the Boys and Girls Club from a mixed-income condo project to a 100% affordable rental project for seniors, while criticizing the process leading to the proposal. In 2019, Mayor Bowser’s announced a goal of adding 1200 new affordable housing to Capitol Hill by 2025.
The commission voted 8 – 1 to agree to support the reuse of the Boys and Girls Club as 100% affordable senior housing but because of the failure of DMPED to engage the community, asked that the council vote to permit the change not be taken before its November 17th meeting to ensure 6B and neighbors have more time to evaluate the changes.
Commissioners Jayaraman, Krepp, and Holman, all expressed disappointment with DMPED’s failure to engage the community in the conversion. Jayaraman recalled the city’s similar agreement to the conversion of one of Blue Skye’s residential buildings on Reservation 13 to 100% affordable housing without community input, and Holman admonished DMPED, “Come on, guys – do better work.” Krepp – a long time critic of DMPED’s lack of transparency regarding development of Reservation 13 – said that she felt the ANC was getting “jammed – deliberatly” and said that the radical changes justified re-starting the process.
The original plan toe convert the Boys and Girls Club to European style co-housing for seniors proved to be unworkable when the project estimates came in above budget owing to increased construction costs, unforeseen environmental issues, and the COVID factor which imperiled a co-housing model based on common space for residents to interact. Developer Joel Kelty said that under conventional financing, providing 15% of the units at 50% of market value was infeasible because of the challenge of finding purchasers who would qualify.
Now Kelty – with the blessing of the Deputy Mayor for Planning and Economic Development (DMPED – is asking the City Council to modify the terms of the agreement with the city to allow construction of 100% affordable housing for 55 and up seniors.
In March of 2015, the ANC flatly opposed the conversion to 100% affordable housing as proposed by the politically-connected developer Dantes Partners, which was the only proposal meeting the narrowly drawn criteria in the Request for Proposals (RFP). After negative reaction from the community, the project was transferred from the Department of General Services to DMPED which called for a new RFP. Kelty was awarded the bid with a proposal for 29 age-restricted 1, 2, and possibly 3 bedroom condo units with 2 caretaker units and about 1850 square feet of community space over Morningstar Development which would have provided 31 conventional multi-generational 1, 2, and 3 bedroom condo units and about 3000 square feet of community space.
An important factor in the decision was the support of Capitol Hill Village for Kelty’s plan, as well as the sense that it was a better fit in the community.
With the Mayor’s office pushing for more affordable housing on Capitol Hill and the support of DMPED, conversion to 100% affordable units allows Kelty to seek Low Income Housing Tax Credit (LIHTC) funding which provides a tax incentive to construct or rehabilitate affordable rental housing for low-income households. LIHTC subsidizes the acquisition, construction, and rehabilitation of affordable rental housing for low- and moderate-income tenants.
Kelty – and DMPED – need the council to approve extension of the term sheet detailing the disposition of the property which expires December 4, because DMPED does not have authority to do it on its own. Capitol Hill Village has endorsed the new plan. Reaction of the nearby neighbors has been mixed, with some expressing frustration at the downgrading of what was once a mixed income project and others just wanting renovation to start on the deteriorating Hill East eyesore.