ANCs 6D & 6B Push Back on Plan for SW Residential Project with No Affordable Housing

Here’s a view looking north on South Capitol Street.

ANCs 6D & 6B Push Back on Plan for SW Residential Project with No Affordable Housing

By Larry Janezich

Posted July 15, 2021

Monday night, ANC6D pushed back hard on a proposal for a 13 story 130 foot apartment complex at the intersection of South Capitol Street and I-695 that would provide no affordable housing units. 

Matthew Tsao of DC based developer W.C. Smith revealed the company’s plans for a development at 850 South Capitol Street, just south of the freeway.  The presentation was informational but was required before the company files a Zoning Application for design review.  The Zoning Commission has regulations for projects on the major arteries leading to the Capitol Building.  The company will seek support for the project from ANC6D and ANC6B in September and a Zoning Commission hearing in the fall. 

The unusual configuration of the parcels upon which the project will sit extends under the freeway and overlaps the boundary of ANC6B, making them an affected ANC and giving them a voice in the Zoning Commission process. 

Under the regulations for development of parcels designated D-5 high density zoning, affordable housing Inclusionary Zoning requirements do not apply.  Otherwise, 10% of the project’s floor space would have to be reserved for affordable units.  That there will be no affordable housing in the project is an issue for the ANCs.    

The developer  plans to coordinate construction with the planned rebuilding of South Capitol’s 695 on ramp which fronts the length of the proposed building’s west façade.  But that project is 4 to 6 years away.  The developer explains the long lead time for getting the project authorized and permitted in terms of the lengthy Zoning Commission’s process.  But another factor might be a pending proposal to apply Inclusionary Zoning regulations to developments on high density D-5 parcels.  It is unclear if or when that proposed regulation might become law.     

ANC6D Chair Edward Daniels told the developer that “affordable housing is a huge issue for us”.  He cited other concerns, including the challenge of construction on an unusual site, limited pedestrian access into the site, lack of retail in the project and the focus on rentals when the community needs fabric-building home ownership.  Commissioners Weiss, Bossi, Collins, Kramer, and Hamilton all indicated or explicitly said they could not support a project with no affordable housing.

ANC6B heard the developer’s presentation on the project on Tuesday night.  Commissioner Denise Krepp castigated the developer for not including affordable housing; ANC6B Chair Brian Ready urged them to look into affordable housing even if it’s not required.  Planning and Zoning Committee Chair Corey Holman said that he expects ANC6B to follow the lead of ANC6D and support their push for affordable housing,  noting that 6D has done a good job insuring affordable housing in projects where no affordable housing is required.  He added, “In general we support as much affordable housing as we can get.”

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