Newton & Georgia Property Still on Track for Park Morton Development
Earlier this week, I reported that ANC 1A05 Commissioner William Jordan shared that the Central Union Mission had hit a snag in relation to its property at 3512 Georgia Avenue. In response to this news, concerned residents have reached out to ANC 1A08 Commissioner Cliff Valenti expressing concern that a homeless shelter will be back in the works for the location.
In response to several queries along these lines, Valenti issued the following statement:
I have been asked a similar question by a few different people so I am going to copy multiple people on this email. First of all, nothing indicates that Central Union Mission is going to proceed with building a homeless shelter on Georgia Avenue. The plan the BZA approved was for apartments and any modification to that plan would require a new set of public hearings and approvals. Additionally, the executive director has publicly stated that the mission does not even want to be on Georgia Avenue. We need to put this rumor to rest immediately so if anyone tells you differently please correct them.
That being said there is a small complication and we owe it to Central Union Mission to help them out. As far as I know the Gale[s] School deal is still on. Before city council voted to support Central Union Missions move to the Gale[s] School (which the city has promised for years would open as a homeless shelter again) it was widely reported in the Washington Post, at Council hearings, etc. that the Georgia Avenue property had a $200,000 tax lean on it. Central Union Mission would need this lean waived if it were to transfer the land to a developer for a different purpose than the mission intended. Due to time delays, that amount is not $500,000 and for some unknown reason City Council has voted to not support the mission for this tax relief. This tax relief was a known problem all along so I do not know what our officials are thinking. Why did they support the missions move to Gale[s] school if they did not support the tax lean waiver? Keep in mind this is not even real money, its a tax bill for vacant property that would not exist if the mission had built a homeless shelter on it years ago. Councilman Graham offered an emergency bill to approve the debt relief but the rest of Council voted it down.
What we need to do is email everyone on council and tell them they must support this tax relief for the mission so the property can be transferred to Landex and the first phase of the Park Morton redevelopment can start. I’m sure they are going to site budget woes but its important to point out that delaying the construction of phase one of Park Morton will add to the budget woes, as will delaying the completion of a homeless shelter at the Gale[s] school site. Over the next several years the services Central Union Mission will provide will save this city ten fold what this delinquent tax bill adds. Put that along side of the additional revenue a revitalized Georgia Avenue will generate and it is a win for our city budget to make this deal go through.
Here are the email addresses of city council. I encourage everyone to pass this email along to as many people as possible. I am also meeting with some people this weekend who will go and meet with members of council regarding this issue if we need to. We cannot let up just because we go what we want for Georgia Avenue, we have to support the missions interests as well…
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Update — 12/17/10
Councilmember Graham has the following to say about this issue:
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May I chime in on this? The deal has not fallen through. In fact it has gone forward: Landex and Central Union Mission did a “dry settlement” last week, with completion today, for 3512 Georgia.
That deal is entirely separate from what may be happening on the Gales school, though I believe that also is going forward.
Cliff is right that there is an issue on whether the Mission will get a DC abatement for the property taxes ($507.000) related to the sale to Landex. On that, I have been working, and I hope—though I am by no means certain—that relief will be achieved at the Council next Tuesday.
I am told that the Landex deal is air tight. All the same, the Mission needs our support on the $507K because, otherwise, they will have to reach into precious program dollars. We want those dollars to be working for the homeless. For that reason, we are seeking in effect a “waiver”/refund of the property taxes.