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Help Historic Anacostia seek legal counsel in its effort to spur positive growth in the community and hold the government of the District of Columbia accountable. Two key matters are the (1) Big K Special Merit Project and (2) L'Enfant Trust Houses.

Dear Friends of Historic Anacostia,

The residents of the Anacostia Historic District need your help! 

We are seeking legal counsel in our effort to spur positive growth in our community and to hold the DC Government accountable. Two key matters at issue are the (1) Big K Special Merit Project and (2) L'Enfant Trust Homes.

 

 (1) Big K Special Merit Project

In 2014, the Mayor's Agent reviewed an application brought by the District of Columbia Department of Housing and Community Development (DHCD) and its developer partner, 2228 MLK LLC (Chapman Development), claiming that their plan for the Big K Site qualified as a project of special merit, within the meaning of the District of Columbia Historic Landmark and Historic District Protection Act of 1978, as amended (the "Act"), D.C. Code Ann. § 6-1101 et seq. (2001).  Taking all the evidence together, the project was deemed one of special merit in that it creatively meets the City's pressing need for affordable housing and the community's need for Class "A" retail.

 

16,542 square feet of Class A retail space was to be provided. Heather Arnold, Director of Research and Analysis at StreetSense and an expert in retail market economic analysis, testified on behalf of the City about the value of the retail space proposed in the project.  Arnold detailed the lack of retail opportunity in Ward 8 and Anacostia. She explained that there is no Class "A" retail space in Anacostia, which acts as an economic barrier to many national retailers, and projected that construction of such space at this strategic site would not only be beneficial in itself but have the potential to galvanize other retail development in the area.  Councilmember Barry also testified about the need for retail in Ward 8. 

 

However, to the dismay of Anacostia residents, at a public roundtable held by the Committee on Housing and Community Development on July 8, 2016, the DHCD Director explained that ground-floor retail would be substituted by a child development facility. The City would get its affordable housing, but Anacostia would not get the Class "A" retail that was promised.  The following reasons were provided:

  • According to the highest and best use analysis commissioned by the developer, Chapman Development, “[The retail] space could be vacant for an approximate period of 36 to 60 months as the market evolves along the corridor."
  • It became apparent under further review of Housing Production Trust Fund (HPFT) regulations that the only "other use" acceptable would be a child development space. 

If the Big K project was determined to be of special merit due to its meeting the needs for affordable housing AND Class A retail, then Anacostia residents deserve to receive the Class A retail they were promised.  

 

(2) L’Enfant Trust Homes

In 2016, dozens of citizens testified showing their support for the Historic Preservation of Derelict District Properties Act of 2016 (B21-0837), which bestowed four derelict homes that have sat vacant for years in the Historic Anacostia neighborhood to the L’Enfant Trust for rehabilitation.  The L’Enfant Trust would rehabilitate these homes and create workforce housing at no cost to the District of Columbia taxpayer.

Although there was support from the community and the Council of the District of Columbia, DHCD created a solicitation in the form of a Request for Proposals (RFP) for the aforementioned properties.  DHCD awarded the four homes to a non-profit, the Development Corporation of Columbia Heights, which will rely on two million taxpayer dollars to help with the renovations and is unsure when funding will be released.  Additionally, the non-profit is struggling to secure private funds for the project.  The L’Enfant Trust, in contrast, has already demonstrated its capability to rehabilitate historic structures in Anacostia and is ready to start the renovation process immediately.  We are gravely concerned about the legality of the RFP issued by DHCD and support the immediate enactment and enforcement of Act Number A21-0607 and Law L21-0223.

If you believe in positive community development, we need your help.

Funds raised will allow for the legal services and support the Anacostia community could otherwise not afford.

We thank you for your support. 

This campaign is supported by the Historic Anacostia Preservation Society (HAPS).

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