Park Morton Redevelopment Gaining Traction, Community Steering Committee Formed
The redevelopment of Park Morton is long overdue, but last night kicked off the first gathering of the newly formed Park Morton Steering Committee formed to do just that. The Steering Committee was assembled in part by the DC Housing Authority in response to community feedback last year that emphasized the need for community input as part of the development process. The committee is composed of 19 individuals including Tamika White, President of the Park Morton Resident Council, five Park Morton residents, Councilmember Brianne Nadeau, ANC 1A Commissioners Kent Boese, Bobby Holmes, and Rashida Brown, ECAC Director Sylvia Robinson, UNC President Chris Waldman, Peter Tatian of the Urban Institute, Kimberly Black King of DCHA, and New Communities Initiative Director Angie Rodgers.
The purpose of the Steering Committee is to provide support, guidance and oversight to the development team implementing the Park Morton Redevelopment Plan. The development team will look to the Steering Committee to provide advice on the following:
- Updates to the 2008 master plan;
- Updates to the phasing plan and timelines;
- Defining and achieving project outcomes; Engaging community stakeholders and regular information sharing;
- Identifying and mitigating potential risks; and,
- Changes that may occur to the project as it develops.
At the inaugural meeting, the focus was on reviewing some of where the development plans for Park Morton had been, the principals that need to be accomplished, and a vision of how that will occur. Park Morton has 174 units of housing that need to be replaced on a 1:1 basis. The final development is to be a mix of public housing units, affordable housing units, and market rate housing units, for an estimated total of about 500 living units. It was known from the beginning that the original Park Morton footprint would not be able to accommodate 500 living units and that more land would need to be included in the development. The Avenue at 3506 Georgia was the first off-site parcel to be developed as part of this process, creating an 83-unit building of affordable housing that included 27 replacement units for Park Morton, leaving 147 units remaining to be replaced.
With this in mind, it was presented that the former Bruce Monroe site was attractive for its potential to allow the redevelopment project to move forward and keep to its mission of building replacement housing first. Responding to this, Sylvia Robinson asked why the old Hebrew Home at 1125 Spring Road couldn’t be used as part of Park Morton. In response, it was stated that there are other plans for that property and that the Bruce Monroe parcel is closer to Park Morton and has a stronger connection to the same community.
NCI Director Angie Rodgers talked about how she’d walked up and down the neighborhood, talked to several key stake holders, and residents of Park Morton, and looked at all the potential sites that could work to make this project work. In that light, the Bruce Monroe property is really attractive as its public land, a large parcel, and it would let them build first — the very thing they want to do. They also feel that the land could support a mix of housing, retail, and park/recreational purposes.
The agenda for the Steering Committee and moving Park Morton forward is aggressive, and even in its rough state is as follows:
- District Surplus Meeting (November 2015)
- Master Planning
- Community Workshop #1 (November 2015)
- Community Workshop #2 (November 2015)
- Present Updated Master Plan (January 2016)
- Council Submission (Winter 2016)
- Submit PUD Application (Spring 2016)
While some were leery of such an aggressive timeline, others felt that the work will dictate the timeline and the condensed draft that was presented showed a best case scenario and a commitment from this Administration to get Park Morton back on track and completed.
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