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Near Southeast DC Past News Items: Nov 16, 2009
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3 Blog Posts

The city council's Committee on Finance and Revenue held a hearing last Thursday (Nov. 12) on B18-475, the "Arthur Capper/Carrollsburg Public Revenue Bonds Amendment Act of 2009," which has been introduced to allow the CFO's office to issue $32 million in city-backed bonds to help fund "phase 3" infrastructure improvements at Capper/Carrollsburg. This would be in addition to the $9.5 million in stimulus money that DCHA was awarded by HUD that will allow the phase 2 townhouses at Capitol Quarter to go forward, possibly by the third quarter of 2010 if current financing negotiations with EYA go smoothly.
(Quick background: This infrastructure work would be a combination of underground work on the Second Street blocks around Canal Park, the relocation of the DPW operations at New Jersey and K and demolition of that block, and perhaps the construction of I Street between Second and New Jersey. These projects were originally expected to be funded by the sale of unrated municipal bonds, but the current Economic Difficulties have made those sorts of bonds all but extinct, and additional attempts to secure loans from banks for the money have been fruitless as well. Read this for more details.)
The hearing was pretty straightforward--you can watch it via streaming video, plus I've managed to procure the prepared written testimony of David Cortiella from DCHA if you're more of a reader than a watcher (like me!). The main takeaways:
* The city is intending to sell $32 million in short-term bonds, and will cover the estimated $600,000 a year in costs from funds in an industrial revenue bonds assessment fund held by the Office of the Deputy Mayor for Planning and Economic Development. After three years, when presumably the bond market is a bit healthier and Capper's own PILOT fund has begun to receive payments, long-term bonds will be issued. John Ross of the CFO's office called this "a very clever arrangement."
* Because the council originally approved a $55 million bond offering as part of the original Capper PILOT legislation, the cost of these bonds is already reflected in the city's budget.
* DCHA and the CFO are asking that this bill be approved on an emergency basis at the council's December meeting, so that the bonds could be sold during late December or early January, which is apparently a good bond-selling time of year. (Christmas bonds for everyone!)
* Cortiella mentioned that DCHA is also investigating a change in the tax code that may allow the financing of the 189-unit apartment building planned for the old Capper Seniors site at Seventh and L (Square 882) by the third quarter of 2010.
* Money has already begun to flow into the Capper PILOT thanks to the completed houses in Capitol Quarter, and if the phase 1 and 2 townhouses and Square 882 apartments are finished as currently scheduled, approximately $1.2 million will be flowing to the PILOT fund each year by 2012. (It's the PILOT fund that then pays back the bonds.)
Jack Evans--the only councilmember at the hearing--was receptive to the plans and also to moving the bill as emergency legislation, calling it "a good project" and saying it should "definitely move forward." He also made sure to note that, since the new bonds are being backed with proceeds from the Gallery Place TIF, that the city will be "backing Ward 6 projects with Ward 2 money": "We're always helpful when we can be helpful," he said. He also reminisced that, when he first ran for city council in 1991, Near Southeast was in Ward 2, and that he received all of six votes across the entire precinct in the 13-man primary.
The council's December legislative meeting is scheduled for Dec. 15.
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Catching up from last week.... On Monday (Nov. 9), the Zoning Commission voted 5-0 to approve Florida Rock Properties' request for a two-year time extension on the 2008 zoning order for its RiverFront project at First and Potomac, across from Nationals Park. Citing the current Economic Difficulties, the developers requested the extension so that their deadline for securing building permits for the project's first phase (an office building on the east side of the site, near Diamond Teague Park) is now mid-2012, with a construction start date deadline of mid-2013. My RiverFront page gives all sorts of additional details on the project, if you need a refresher.
The Office of Planning supported the extension request (you can read their report for details), and zoning commissioners Hood and Turnbull both called the project a "good effort," mentioning how much work by the developers, the architect (Davis Buckley) and the commission had gone into the zoning order. (Those of you who haven't been around quite so long may not be aware that Florida Rock first began its long and winding road through the DC zoning process in the late 1990s.) This extension was supported by ANC 6D at its October meeting.
If you want to see the zoning hearing, you can go to the Office of Zoning's wonderful fabulous incredible Video on Demand section, where not only can you pick the meeting you wish to see but can then use their index to skip to the portion of the meeting you're interested in. I may never watch an entire public meeting live ever again!
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Now that the Redskins are on a massive winning streak, the BID is hosting an afternoon of football watching this Sunday, Nov. 22, starting at 12:30 pm in the lounge at the Jefferson (70 I Street). Snacks and sodas will be provided.
 




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