Tag Archives: Hine development

New Documents Show Developer Pressed City to Close on Hine to Avoid Bowser Hearing

New Documents Show Developer Pressed City to Close on Hine to Avoid Bowser Hearing

David Wilmot – Lobbyist and Hine Partner – Pressured Mayor’s Office

by Larry Janezich

A slew of new documents released in response to a Freedom of Information Act request

(FOIA) filed for records related to the transfer of the Hine site from the city to the developer

reveal that the developer for the site, Stanton/Eastbanc (SEB), made a concerted effort to go to closing quickly, in part to avoid appearing before Muriel Bowser’s Committee on Economic Development.

The records also show the difference between the city’s public presentation of its decisions and the private deliberations carried on with the developer.  The documents were produced by the Deputy Mayor for Economic Development (DMPED) only after the General Counsel to the Mayor ordered the office to be more forthcoming in response to the FOIA filed by Oliver Hall, attorney for residents who are appealing the Zoning Commission’s approval of Hine project.

The City Council’s latest extension of the original closing deadline would expire on July 13.  As closing on that date became increasingly questionable and the city was anticipating extending the deadline again, the Hine partners began maneuvering to close by the July 13 date.

On June 12, 2013, Eastbanc’s mostly-silent partner on the Hine and West End projects, David Wilmot, the director of Autopark (as well as lawyer and powerful local lobbyist who Washington City Paper has recently tied to Jeff Thompson, the former city contractor now a target of  a federal corruption investigation in the District http://bit.ly/1egvbiW), weighed in with the Mayor’s office.  In a 5:51am email to Janene Jackson, director of the Mayor’s Office of Policy and Legislative Affairs, Wilmot says, “Yesterday, we met with DM (Deputy Mayor for Planning and Economic Development) Victor Hoskins who indicated that he supports our proposed solutions and needs to confer with the Mayor before providing an answer to our requests.”  He went on to say that an appearance before Bowser’s committee for an extension should be a “last resort, only to be exercised in the event that we are unable to close…Quite frankly, the last place we should want to visit on these projects is the Council.”  (City records show that in January, 2014, Wilmot contributed $2000 to the Gray campaign.)

Janene Jackson responded with an email later that same day at 5:47 pm.  Jackson told Wilmot:  “I must admit, I am concerned that we’re not following the usual process of extension because I think it will blow back negatively on the Mayor but I’ll defer to the DM.”  Wilmot’s reply said, “Let me be clear that the DM supports our position.”

Part of the “solutions” referred to by Wilmost was the proposal to split the Hine closing into two components – the land closing, and the financial closing at a later date.  Although presented to the public as unremarkable, the proposal to split the Hine closing and the rush to closing in order to avoid appearing later before Bowser’s committee for a progress report, appears to have worried the Mayor’s Office.

In a June 17, 2013, Jeff Miller, Director of Real Estate, DMPED, emailed Eastbanc President Anthony Lanier saying “The Deputy Mayor has consulted with Mayor Gray and his advisory team on the alternatives to legislation that you have proposed, specifically bifurcating a closing into a land closing and a subsequent financial closing upon a favorable decision of each appeal.  Such a process, as you have described, would eliminate the risk of taking the project to Council for renewal of the surplus and disposition authority.”

Miller cited five concerns standing in the way of moving to closing: public space encroachment, no financing raised for the development, tenant agreements still under negotiation, the in-flux status of the PUD during litigation, and differences between cost estimates and actual costs.  Miller goes on to say, “Under the weight of this uncertainty the District is reticent about closing ahead of resolution of each of these items, and will abide by the original LDA terms of conditions precedent to close.  We also feel that the risk of Council action unfavorable to this project is slightly less than for that of the West End project.  Toward this end we plan to move forward with extension legislation, which we will introduce to Council by June 26th.”

The same email discusses the city’s reservations regarding Eastbanc’s West End project, which, at the time and as discussed in the same email, was also under litigation.  Yet the city did not enumerate financing as one of the concerns regarding the West End Library.

As the July 13 closing date approached, SEB continued to press for early closing, warning that the Hine project could fall victim to campaign politics.  However, with some of the outstanding issues still unresolved it appeared that it would be necessary to extend the closing date.

On June 28, Anthony Lanier, president of Eastbanc and managing partner of SEB, pressed the city to move to closing quickly and avoid the possibility of going before Bowser’s committee for an extension.  In an email of that date, Lanier expresses his concern for “the voting dynamics of citizen support for Bowser v. support for Hine.”

The concerns regarding the politics of Hine came up again on July 1.  In an email to Lanier on that date, Miller states that he and Hoskins had met with the DMPED internal team and the Office of the Attorney General regarding early closing.  “The internal recommendation was that even if the outstanding business issues are put aside the risk to the city of a closing followed by the PUD remanded to the Zoning Commission is too great.”  He goes on to say “the city is best served by waiting to close until the PUD process has concluded….  The email indicates an about face for Hoskins, saying that the Deputy Mayor supports this and is unwilling to close while the PUD litigation remains outstanding.  It goes on to say ‘We have taken the necessary steps for the extension…. ‘”

Later that day, at 3:07pm, an alarmed Anthony Lanier, responded to Miller’s email with a quick note to say “not good, bordering on disaster.”

At 3:42pm the same day, another Lanier email to Miller, reads in part: “An extension, if it actually succeeds, is a lateral move, transferring future decisions into a volatile political arena fraught with risk.  The Ward Councilmember as well as a political favorite of the opponents are running for Mayor with distinct political goals which are not necessarily symbiotic with yours and ours…in the meantime, the financial commitments we have obtained will be suspended.”  (It is unclear to which financial commitments Lanier refers to here: the West End, or federal affordable housing tax credits for Hine and West End which are routinely purchased by Wall Street banks looking to improve their Community Reinvestment rating).  Lanier requested a meeting “ideally prior to the end of the day” between SEB “and all parties in order to come to the most sensible conclusion.”

In this particular exchange between Lanier and Miller, several of the emails have been blacked out by DMPED, raising the question of whether these emails meet a legal threshold for exclusion, or are merely embarrassing to parties involved.

On July 9, ANC 6B voted unanimously for a one year extension of the closing deadline, citing two issues that in its view made this necessary:  a surveying discrepancy and the appeal to the DC Court of Appeals of the Zoning Commission ruling filed by neighbors, which the developer and the ANC contended has delayed financing for the project.  The letter stated that the city and developers were pursuing an alternate route to the settlement that will allow the development process to continue. Though lack of financing has routinely been connected to the on-going litigation by the developer and the ANC, the city did not relate the two in Miller’s email of June 17, and did not cite financing as a concern with the West End project, which was also under appeal.

On July 10, the City Council extended the deadline for closing by six months.  Mayor Gray had requested a one year extension, but Councilmember Bowser offered an amendment providing for six months (January 13, 2014), and the Council passed it unanimously on a voice vote, with Councilmember Barry recusing himself citing a standard excuse that he may or may not know principals involved in the project (Wilmot has been tied to Barry, and that is one possible explanation for his recusal).

None of the documents obtained under the FOIA indicate what happened in the meeting requested by Lanier, or even if such a meeting occurred.  But if it did, the developer must have been persuasive.  The city closed on the deal and transferred the land to SEB on July 12.


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DC General Counsel Affirms Order to DMPED to Release Hine Documents in Response to FOIA


DC General Counsel Affirms Order to DMPED to Release Hine Documents in Response to FOIA

by Larry Janezich

The Office of the General Counsel to the Mayor (OGC) has refused a request from the Deputy Mayor for Economic and Planning (DMPED) to reconsider the order to release documents related to the Hine development requested under FOIA.  The decision lets the order issued to DMPED on November 14, 2013, stand.  (For the story on the initial order, see: http://bit.ly/1j1Mtmz)

The FOIA request was filed by attorney Oliver Hall, counsel to the Hine Coalition, a group of Capitol Hill residents who have appealed the Zoning Commission’s approval of the Hine project  to the DC Court of Appeals.

After DMPED failed to respond to the FOIA, Hall filed an appeal directly to the Mayor’s office protesting DMPED’s denial of his request for documents related to the Hine project.  In its most recent decision – delivered in a December 31, 2013 email from Deputy General Counsel Donald S. Kaufman to DMPED’s Ayesha Abbasi – the OGC acknowledged that it had previously expressed willingness to entertain reconsideration, but it had directed DMPED to “detail the specific reason why a particular record is exempt from disclosure.”  In this most recent email, Kaufman wrote that DMPED did not “set forth particular records as to which would be exempt under the exemption.”

Initially, DMPED offered the Office of General Counsel some 378 emails which had been withheld from disclosure.  OGC reviewed all of the emails and found the vast majority of them did not contain proprietary information that would result in substantial harm to the developer.  OGC did make four exceptions to the order to disclose documents:  emails containing bank wiring instructions, legal arguments analyzing alternative legal structures for the condominium portion of the Hine project, insurance policy numbers, and emails to other DC government agencies.

A copy of the email from the OGC can be found in the Library on CHC.

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Capitol Hill Residents Appeal to Wells on Hine Project – Court of Appeals Sets Hearing Date

Hine Sign

Capitol Hill Residents Appeal to Wells on Hine Project

Court of Appeals Sets Hearing Date

by Larry Janezich

A group of Capitol Hill residents who are appealing the decision of the Zoning Commission on the Hine project has written to Councilmember Wells to urge him to support their efforts for reconsideration of the PUD order by the Commission.  A copy of the letter to Wells is below.

Oral argument before the DC Court of Appeals on the resident’s appeal has been scheduled for September 26th at 9:30am in Courtroom 1 of the DC Court of Appeals, 430 E Street, NW.

August 9, 2013


Councilmember Tommy Wells

Council of the District of Columbia

1350 Pennsylvania Avenue NW, Suite 402

Washington, DC 20004

Dear Councilmember Wells:

We are a group of Ward 6 residents who write in response to your recently stated support for the Planned Unit Development (“PUD”) that the developer Stanton-EastBanc, LLC proposes to build on public property where the former Hine Junior High School is located.  We have serious concerns about several aspects of this deal, not least of which is the lack of transparency regarding its basic terms.  Many people have no idea, for example, that the District will convey ownership or control of this valuable public property to Stanton-EastBanc at a sharply discounted price, or that District taxpayers will pay for many of the “public benefits” Stanton-EastBanc claims its PUD will provide.  The PUD also appears to violate key provisions of the District’s zoning regulations and Comprehensive Plan, which are intended to ensure that new developments are compatible with existing neighborhoods, and that the District remains affordable to all residents – not just the wealthy.

Because the PUD will be located in the heart of the Capitol Hill Historic District, we are particularly concerned about its excessive size and height, and the negative impact it will have on the historic character of our community.  The PUD will top out at seven stories and 94.5 feet – more than twice the height of the historic rowhouses and other buildings surrounding it – and will tower over everything in the vicinity.  Remarkably, however, the Zoning Commission approved Stanton-EastBanc’s PUD without even addressing this extreme disparity in height, despite the Comprehensive Plan’s express requirement that developments in historic districts “shall be consistent with the height and density of contributing buildings in the district.” 10 DCMR § 1011.11. We are therefore raising our concerns in an appeal to the District of Columbia Court of Appeals.

The Court has not yet decided whether the PUD complies with District of Columbia law, but the Office of the Deputy Mayor for Planning and Economic Development (“DMPED”) is nevertheless pressing ahead in its deal with Stanton-EastBanc.  In July, DMPED reportedly transferred the Hine School property to Stanton-EastBanc by means of a hastily-executed lease and sale agreement that was not subject to public review.  As your constituents, hundreds of whom wrote letters or signed petitions in opposition to this ill-conceived PUD, we therefore ask that you reconsider your support for it, based on the following:

(The facts included herein may be verified by reference to materials in the public record of Proposed Resolution 18-963, the “Hine Junior High School Disposition Approval Resolution of 2010,” which are available online through the Council’s Legislative Information Management System.)

1. The 2010 tax-assessed value of the Hine School property was $44,672,920, but DMPED agreed to sell the “North Parcel” to Stanton-EastBanc for only $800,000, and granted the “South Parcel” to Stanton-EastBanc under a 99-year lease for only $21 million – a sharp discount even before the Zoning Commission upzoned the property to allow Stanton-EastBanc’s PUD to be more than twice the height and density currently allowed;

2. District taxpayers – not Stanton-EastBanc – will pay for demolition of the Hine School, including asbestos abatement and other environmental remediation, and for construction of the 700 block of C Street, even though Stanton-EastBanc will own this formerly public street;

3. Because the PUD has been exempted from the Inclusionary Zoning regulations, District taxpayers also will pay for the affordable housing units in the PUD, which Stanton-EastBanc otherwise would be required by law to provide, see 11 DCMR § 2600 et seq.;

4. The affordable housing units, most of which are intended for District seniors, will expire after 40 years, in violation of the requirement that they be set aside “for so long as the project exists,” 11 DCMR § 2602.7(b), and the Comprehensive Plan policy of increasing the amount of affordable housing for “current and future residents,” 11 DCMR § 2600.1 (emphasis added);

5. The affordable housing units will be significantly smaller than the market rate units, and will be segregated in the North Building, without access to the “luxury” amenities in the South Building, in violation of the Inclusionary Zoning regulations’ purpose of “ensuring the benefits of economic integration for the residents of the District,” 11 DCMR §2600.3(e), as well as Comprehensive Plan policies intended to promote an “inclusive city,” 10 DCMR §§ 100, 500.3, 500.14.

We believe the foregoing facts demonstrate that this oversized PUD will not only cause permanent damage to the unique character of the Capitol Hill Historic District, but also that it represents a gross waste of taxpayer assets.  The District is transferring ownership or control of the Hine School property to Stanton-EastBanc for a fraction of its fair market value, and District taxpayers are further subsidizing the PUD by paying for “public benefits” that Stanton-EastBanc is required by law to provide. Councilmember Wells, we have always supported redevelopment of this property in a reasonable manner that will enhance the Eastern Market neighborhood, rather than destroying the qualities that make it a beloved attraction throughout the District, and for visitors nationwide.  Will you not investigate the foregoing facts, and join us in our effort?   If you still support Stanton-EastBanc’s PUD, however, please respond to this letter by explaining why you believe this seven-story, 94.5-foot PUD is appropriate in an historic district currently zoned for building less than half that height, and why the taxpayer subsidies identified herein are justified. In view of your mayoral candidacy, the voting public deserves to know where you stand on such matters.

We recognize that your position as a Councilmember is a demanding one, but due to the urgency of this matter, we respectfully ask that you respond to this letter within two weeks, by August 23, 2013. Thank you for your time and consideration.


Petitioners, Howell, et al. v. D.C. Zoning

Comm’n., No. 11-AA-366-378


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Why Are Neighbors Appealing the Zoning Commission Order on Hine? A Summary and Full Text of the Appeal

Why Are Neighbors Appealing the Zoning Commission Order on Hine?  A Summary and Full Text of the Appeal

by Larry Janezich

Following is a summary of the main points in the appeal of the Zoning Commission order on the Hine Development.  To see the full text of the brief, please open the “Library” page at the top of this home page, and click on the link to open up the pdf.

A group of nearby neighbors of the development petitioned for the appeal and were joined by a neighborhood organization – Eastern Market Metro Community Organization – as an intervener in the case.  They are being represented by attorney Oliver Hall, who filed a similar appeal regarding the West End Library Development on behalf of the D.C. Library Renaissance Project (DCLRP), a library advocacy group founded by Ralph Nader.  As it happens, Stanton partner Eastbanc is the developer of that project.

The DC Court of Appeals has scheduled a hearing on the Hine appeal for mid-September but it could be several months before it hands down an order.  The deadline for transferring the land to Stanton/Eastbanc (SEB) – originally July 13th – was extended for six months by the City Council on Tuesday, July 10, to allow time for the litigation to be resolved and to permit resolution of a technical issue involving discrepancies in the surveys which were used to determine the Hine site property lines.

Summary of main points from the brief:

The Zoning Commission ignored the “obvious” incompatibility of the 94.5 foot seven story building in the community surrounding the project and sanctioned heights and densities double that of surrounding properties.

The Zoning Commission rejected the Comprehensive Plan directive that public property should be retained under public control based on “false assertion that the privatization of a public street does not implicate any of the standards for granting a PUD.’”

Multiple objections to the “affordable housing” provisions, including:

  • SEB’s proposal to segregate the vast majority of affordable housing units in the North building which is designed with considerable fewer amenities than for those in the South Building.
  • Expiration of the segregated affordable housing units in 40 years when they become market rate, resulting in the displacement of occupants and contravening the general policies of the city’s Inclusionary Zoning Regulations.
  • Negligible public benefits and amenities
  • Failure of SEB to disclose to the Zoning Commission that District taxpayers are subsidizing public benefits and amenities including 46 units of affordable housing and the reopening (and privatization) of C Street.  “Based on information provided by DMPED:  deductions will be taken out of all Developer payments to the District for the property based on the Developer’s cost of providing District-mandated affordable housing, demolition of existing structures, environment remediation, construction of the 700 block of C Street, S.E., and any other related public improvements as required by the PUD.  In other words, under the LDDA, District taxpayers – and not Stanton-EastBanc – are to pay for the affordable housing units and the construction of C Street (both of which Stanton-EastBanc will own), as well as any other related public improvements…required by the PUD.   To the best of Petitioners’ knowledge, none of these facts were disclosed during the Commission proceedings.”
  • Lack of justification for transfer of the North Parcel to the developers at far below the market value.
  • Procedural errors involving making a decision based on an incomplete record owing to SEB’s failure to submit both the LDDA and the Covenant SEB is required to execute pursuant to the LDDA to the Zoning Commission.
  • Procedural errors involving SEB’s failure to disclose the value of the development incentives granted to it through the LDDA thus making the Zoning Commission unable to reconcile the relative value of the amenities and benefits vs. the development incentives and any adverse effects.
  • Failure of the Zoning Commission to make any finding of fact to support the change in zoning from R-4 to C-2-B.
  • The Zoning Commission ignored Inclusionary Zoning requirement regarding comparable amenities between market rate units and most of the affordable units
  • The Zoning Commission ignored the need for sufficient justification for the financial reasoning for segregating affordable units, relying only on two informal emails from the Applicant’s banking partners to rule out creating a truly inclusive mixed-income PUD project with permanent affordability as expected by Inclusionary Zoning Regulations.
  • The Zoning Commission’s conclusion about the “29%” of the proffered affordable units being in excess of what is required does not take into account the disappearing affordability for the vast majority of the to-be-constructed affordable units. And because this disappearing affordability largely affects the lower income residents and seniors, this proffered benefit is greatly diminished.


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City Council Grants Stanton/Eastbanc Six Month Extension of Hine Closing Date

City Council Grants Stanton/Eastbanc Six Month Extension of Hine Closing Date

by Larry Janezich

The City Council passed emergency on Wednesday night granting Stanton/Eastbanc six additional months to close on the Hine project.   The developer was facing a July 13 closing date deadline but owing to at least two major issues, had been unable to fulfill the requirements imposed by the city prior to closing.  Although approvals of the HPRB and the Zoning Commission have been achieved, the developer has not been able to obtain demolition, sheeting and shelving permits and in addition has not been able to secure financing for all development and contractual obligations. 

Councilmember Muriel Bowser, Chair of the Committee on Economic Development, managed the legislation, and said there had been many delays on the project, citing specifically, litigation filed by neighbors before the DC District Court of Appeals appealing the Zoning Commission’s approval of the PUD.

Although the Mayor had requested a one year extension and that request had been endorsed by ANC6B, Bowser offered an amendment to provide a six month extension.  Bowser said that the building on the Hine site was becoming a blight on the neighborhood and implied that the shorter time limit was aimed at encouraging all parties to come to an agreement. 

The Bowser amendment was accepted and the bill providing the extension passed unanimously on a voice vote, with Councilmember Barry recusing himself citing a standard excuse, that he may or may not know principals involved in the project.


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Zoning Commission Approves Hine Project

Zoning Commission Approves Hine Project

by Larry Janezich

Last Monday night, the DC Zoning Commission gave final approval to Stanton-Eastbanc’s request to change the zoning on the Hine site to accommodate greater density and height for their planned development.  The vote was 4-0-1, with Commissioners May, Trunbull, and Cohen joining Chair Hood in voting to move the project forward.  Commissioner Miller, a new addition to the board, abstained since he did not participate in deliberations.

Prior to the vote, the Commission noted that, in an unusual move, Stanton-Eastbanc had agreed that the entire Construction Management Agreement and the entire ANC’s Memorandum of Understanding with the developer will be included in the yet-to-be-issued Zoning Order.  It could be a month before the Board issues the Zoning Order on the project.

Commissioner May threw in the towel on his efforts to find a way for 55 foot trucks to head in and head out of the Hine project’s loading dock.  He said it was not his preference that the trucks back into the dock from 7th Street, but the issue has been “beaten to death” and his concerns were somewhat mollified by the limitation that deliveries can take place only between 11:00 p.m. and 7:00 a.m. 

Commissioner Cohen asked that the designation “superior” be removed as a characterization of affordable housing units, explaining that the placement of most of those units in a separate building and the differences in the amenity package for those units continued to trouble her.  Commissioner May, on the other hand, felt that the units deserved the superior designation.  The language had been included, in part, because the designation of some elements of the project amounted to a necessary finding by the Zoning Commission that the developer had fulfilled what it had pledged to the community in terms of a quality project.  In the end, the term was removed as it applied to the affordable housing units but left as a finding by the Zoning Commission to characterize the overall project. 

After the Zoning Commission order is issued and permits issued, demolition of the existing Hine School structure can begin.  That demolition is scheduled to begin in the fall of 2013.

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Hine Developer EastBanc Seeks Relief from Affordable Housing Requirement on West End Project

Hine Developer EastBanc Seeks Relief from Affordable Housing Requirement on West End Project – Occupy DC to Protest Move at Zoning Commission Hearing Thursday

by Larry Janezich

The DC Zoning Committee will hold a hearing Thursday evening on the EastBanc-W.D.C Partners’ application for a public unit development (PUD), filed in June of 2011, for its West End Library project.  In addition to building a new library and fire station in lieu of payment of some $20 million for the property, the developers plan a residential building with 172 market-rate one, two, and three bedroom units, supported by 190-197 underground parking spaces.  Originally, plans included 52 affordable housing units above the new fire station. 

Now it appears that EastBanc may be seeking relief from the requirement that the affordable housing units be part of the project, a requirement of DC law for any new residential construction project in the District.  EastBanc did not provide details of the firehouse and affordable housing in the PUD, leading community members to speculate that EastBanc is hoping to have the requirement dropped.  This may be because EastBanc has stated that it would need the city to provide a subsidy to make the affordable housing component viable, and, thus far, the District has failed to come up with one. 

Occupy DC has gotten wind of what they suspect is an EastBanc move to quietly do away with the affordable housing in the West End project and has issued a statement stating “Occupy DC …does not support the arbitrary suspension of existing zoning rules in the interest of multinational corporations.”  Additionally, a statement from that group says that a “coalition of community groups and organizations” will be at the Zoning Commission hearing “to voice their opposition.”

As readers of this blog know, EastBanc has partnered with Stanton Development on the construction of the Hine project.  The Deputy Mayor’s office cited Stanton/Eastbanc’s willingness to make affordable housing a component of the project (15% of residences) without a city subsidy as one major reason why the partnership was awarded the contract.  As readers of this blog will also recall, the Stanton/Eastbanc team continues to cite its commitment to affordable housing as the reason why the scale and the density of the Hine project cannot be diminished in response to concerns and criticism from the community. 

One of EastBanc’s partners in both the Hine and West End Projects is Dantes Partners, which appears to be a two-person development company operating out of a townhouse at 72 V Street NW with no current website address.  The public face of Dantes is Buwa Binitie, who served as affordable housing consultant for EastBanc on both the West End and the Hine projects.  Binitie’s trademark seems to be winning development contracts by offering more affordable housing than other developers.  Previous to his work at Dante’s Partners, Binitie administered and managed the implementation of the New Communities Initiative for the Deputy Mayor of Economic Development, and he currently serves on the five member board of the DC Housing Finance Agency.  In July of 2010, Lydia DePillis of Washington City Paper ran an article suggesting that Dantes Partners success at winning city contracts might be attributed to Buwa Binitie’s political connections.


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