ANC 1A Votes in Support of Central Union Mission Special Exception

The Special ANC 1A Meeting held tonight at the Park View Rec Center ended in a unanimous vote by the commissioners in support of the special exception that the Central Union Mission was seeking. The next step will be for the Mission to go before the Zoning board on September 22nd.

The exception allows the Mission to develop a building over 12,000 sq. ft. on their property at the corner of Newton Place and Georgia  Ave.

The meeting did have its moments. The initial concerns raised by residents centered around property values and crime. It was made clear that affordable housing was NOT the same thing as subsidized housing. Several ANC commissioners also cautioned the room that it was dangerous and inaccurate to generalize that low income equals higher crime. That wasn’t to say that there was no relationship.

The housing this project is supposed to serve is for people that can’t afford to live where they work, such as policemen, firemen, government workers, etc. One misconception was that this meant that if a family of four had a household income of $40,000, then a single person would only have to earn $10,000 to qualify. This is incorrect. It doesn’t matter if its one person, a couple, or a family, the household income remains the same since its the total of all the income sources of the household.

All in all, everyone was engaged and many good questions were asked. Representatives from the Mission and DDOT OOP (Office of Planning) were there to answer questions, and even Council Member Jim Graham attended and addressed the assembly.

In short, the outcome of the meeting is:

  • The Mission will not build subsidized housing, but can not build anything better than affordable or work-force housing without bringing their non-profit status into question.
  • The Mission agreed, and included as part of the application, that they will not seek to ever have a shelter on this site.
  • The building they propose to build is 11 ft. shorter than currently allowed by the zoning laws and only includes 60% of the property they are allowed to develop.
  • As long as the mission owns the property, it will always be affordable housing. If they are able to find a developing partner, they would only be required to have 8% affordable in perpetuity, but would likely have more. Finding a developer would allow them to include market-rate units.
  • The timetable is somewhat nebulous — but within a quick parameter. If the Mission does not get all its ducks in a row by June 2010, it could lose the property through a tax sale. That’s incentive for them to move quickly. The BZA also gives them 2 years to finish, with the possibility to extend for another 2 years if there is significant progress but they are behind schedule. In order to meet these deadlines, a lot has to get off the ground soon.

A last thing to keep in mind is that it is hoped that this development, which would develop several currently vacant lots, may help jump start development on Georgia Ave. The Senior Wellness Center across the street has already broken ground and Ted Trabue’s project, The Green Room, has also been given the green light from the ANC. It is also significant to mention that since this building is entirely planned to be affordable housing, the next project proposed “could be” entirely market rate to balance out the mix of the area.


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6 Comments on “ANC 1A Votes in Support of Central Union Mission Special Exception”

  1. Cliff Says:

    DDOT should bee OOP (Office of Planning). DDOT was not at the meeting. Thanks

  2. Kent Says:

    Thanks Cliff, I’ll change that.

  3. TerraW Says:

    What’s the green room? I haven’t heard about that.

  4. Kent Says:

    The Green Room will be an upscale “media lounge” aka bar. It will be located in the building just south of Looking Glass. Its also been referred to as a sports bar, so that aspect will be present on Saturday and Sunday afternoons. Its still in the early phases of development, but it is hoped that it will be part of a much larger project within three years. The focus on this much smaller phase is largely due to the current economic conditions.

  5. CH Chevon Says:

    I don’t quite see how this can be “work force” housing. How could a family of 4 live in the district on $40,000 with out serious subsidies – and not only for housing? Cops, Teachers, etc. make more than $40 starting out and then get farther from that year after year.

    If this affordable housing is going into the neighborhood will it bring more low income people from outside the area on to Georgia Ave? If so, how is this a win for Park view?

    The only way I see it as a WIN would be for current low income residents of Parkview to get the housing.

  6. Kent Says:

    I’ll try to make sense of this as I understand it.

    $40,000 is just a number I threw in as an example. I know its on the low side, but when I first moved to this city as a budding professional I only earned $20,000 and would have killed to make that much money.

    The reality, which gets complicated when you want to figure it out, is that the household income of those living in work-force housing needs to be 50–80% of the average median income.

    I think this can be considered a win because it isn’t a shelter, it isn’t section 8, and they are focusing on the highest income earners they can without putting the Mission’s non-profit status at risk.

    If they are able to partner with a developer and sell the land — which they want to do — they can then include market rate units as well.

    Beyond this, someone from the ANC would probably need to address your concerns about future development on Georgia Ave.

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