ANC6D Blasts DGS for Foulger-Pratt Deal on Lansburgh Park
by Larry Janezich
Posted February 17, 2021
Among the four ANCs which are on or touch Capitol Hill, none guards its prerogatives more jealously than ANC6D. So when residents asked Commissioner Jared Weiss what was going on with the fenced-off area on the north end of Lansburgh Park he called the Department of General Services (DGS) to find out.
Lansburgh Park borders the construction site where developer Foulger-Pratt is constructing a 200 unit apartment building atop a new 17,000 square foot sanctuary for the Bethel Pentecostal Tabernacle Church – with which it has partnered in the venture – aptly named Venture on I.
Weiss ran into a stone wall as DGS refused to release any information on why the park had been fenced without a Freedom of Information Act request. So Weiss filed one. He found that DGS was leasing part of the park for Foulger-Pratt to use as a staging area for construction of Venture on I for $1 a month for up to three years. Predictably, his report to the full ANC at last Monday’s meeting was not well received. It wasn’t just the lack of transparency and the $1 a month DGS was charging the developer for its use of a portion of the park, it was the failure to consult or even inform ANC6D.
Weiss summed up what he sees as DGS’ attitude, telling the Commission, “DGS cares more about developers than residents.”
Commissioner Andy Litsky, was less restrained, saying, “This is an outrage – if it happens here, it could happen anywhere…I’ll ask the Fox question, ‘Is somebody getting paid?’ This is disgusting – it is not the way government should operate. Period.” Litsky clarified he was not suggesting that somebody was getting paid.
The Commission voted unanimously to send a letter to city officials and others expressing concern about the agreement between DGS and Foulger-Pratt. Recipients included DGS, the Department of Parks and Recreation, and CM Charles Allen, with copies to the Office of the Attorney General, the Office of Planning, and a host of other community organizations.
The letter said, in part, “It is particularly disturbing and entirely unacceptable that this agreement had to be discovered via a FOIA request. This agreement also raises broader questions about the process by which DC government allows private companies to use public land to the detriment of city residents. We look forward to your responses regarding what happened at Lansburgh Park and how the process will be improved in the future.”
The building is being built “by right,” meaning that ANC6D has not had any opportunity to review the design for the building or plans for construction.
Foulger-Pratt anticipates delivering the building for occupancy by the fall of 2023.