Posted tagged ‘Affordable housing’

Zoning Commission Votes Unanimously in Support of a New Park Morton

February 1, 2017
Revised design for the Park Morton apartment building at the Bruce Monroe site.

Revised design for the Park Morton apartment building at the Bruce Monroe site.

On Monday evening January 30th, the Zoning Commission voted unanimously in support of both Zoning Cases related to the redevelopment of Park Morton (cases 16-11 and 16-12 (watch video of meetings here)). The National Capitol Planning Commission (NCPC) will now have 30 days to review and comment on the Planned Unit Development package, and following the NCPC the projects will go back to the Zoning Commission for final action. This is expected to occur in early March.

The projects the Commissioners approved on January 30th incorporate some revisions and clarifications that were a result of the hearings held on December 5th and 8th. Two of the more important changes for the Bruce Monroe site were:

  • Revised architectural design motif for the townhomes to better integrate them into the existing architectural context. The revised design elements include revised materials and materials palatte that incorporate a warmer color scheme; further defined brick detailing that includes brick banding and brick soldier courses; revised window mullion design that creates windows of a vertical proportion for a more residential character; and revised window panel material to brick with banding; and,
  • Prior to the issuance of a Building Permit for the multi-family building, the Applicant shall demonstrate to the Zoning Administrator that DMPED will convey the PUD Site to Park View Community Partners pursuant to a 99 year ground lease. The ground lease will contain a provision wherein DMPED agrees that a minimum of 44,000 square feet of land area in Square 2890 identified as a public park shown on Sheet G10 of the Architectural Plans and Elevations, dated January 9, 2017, will only be used for park and recreation uses for the term of the ground lease. The Applicant shall have the right to use a portion of the park area as a temporary staging area during construction of the Project.

The changes listed above addressed the concern that the land set aside for the park will actually be improved as a park, and the concern by the Commission that the color of brick originally chosen didn’t compliment the existing neighborhood well and would be difficult to keep clean.

Below are renderings showing the new (approved) brick color for the buildings to be built at the Bruce Monroe site compared to the original proposal.

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(Renderings showing approved (above) and original (below) brick choices for the buildings designed for the Bruce Monroe site.)

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Park Morton Redevelopment Effort Clears Significant Hurdle, Receives Council Approval

December 21, 2016

bruce-monroe-site(Rendering of the Bruce Monroe site from the southeast showing park and building locations as proposed in Zoning Case 16-11.)

Yesterday, the Council of the District of Columbia voted unanimously at their Committee of the Whole meeting (watch meeting) to place the Bruce Monroe surplus and disposition resolutions on the consent agenda for their final Legislative Meeting of 2016, at which they were approved later in the day. Prior to the vote, Councilmembers Nadeau, Grosso, Bonds, and May each spoke about the importance of the project and stated their support.

Particularly noteworthy were the comments from Councilmembers Grosso and May. Councilmember Grosso acknowledged having received many emails and calls both supporting and opposing the plan to use the Bruce Monroe site as part of the Park Morton development, but stated strongly that he would be supporting the effort that would allow the District to fulfill its promise to the Park Morton residents. He also noted on a personal level that he grew up in the neighborhood and in his youth the site resembled a jail in the middle of the community with a fence around it, and not a park. Councilmember May, for her part, stated that while she rarely spoke on issues located outside her ward she would be voting in support. She also stated that she was familiar with the needs of the Park Morton residents and that whether in Ward 8 or any other Ward of the city all residents deserve quality housing and a safe place to live.

The Council’s  approval of both the Bruce Monroe surplus and disposition resolutions supports the effort for the site to be used as the “Build First” site in the District’s effort to replace the Park Morton Housing Complex with a new mixed-income community without displacing Park Morton families from the community. The Zoning Commission is scheduled to take action on the related Park Morton Planned Unit Development cases on January 30, 2017, following two hearings held earlier this month (brief overview of zoning hearings here).

Prior to the Council action, Advisory Neighborhood Commission 1A voted in early 2016 to support the surplus and disposition of the Bruce Monroe site for the Park Morton effort with the condition that the District include a large, permanent park as part of the redevelopment effort. The District Government has recognized this condition and 1.02 acres of the site will be redeveloped as a permanent park with programming to be determined with input from the community. A 6,700 sq. ft. central green is also planned for Morton Street as part of the redevelopment project. Advisory Neighborhood Commission 1A will also continue to explore opportunities to improve, create, and expand public access to park spaces in the Columbia Heights, Park View, and Pleasant Plains neighborhoods as it considers future development and engages in the Comprehensive Plan amendment process.

In addition to preserving 147 public housing units and establishing new permanent park spaces, the Park Morton redevelopment effort will increase area housing for seniors and families at all income levels. The project will also have a significant and long-lasting positive impact on lower Georgia Avenue. In addition to increasing area housing options, it will also improve public safety and encourage development along the corridor. By aligning new roads and reknitting the development on Morton Street into the surrounding community, blind alleys and the Morton Street cul-de-sac will be removed – a configuration that is not conducive to public safety. And by removing the uncertainty on whether the redevelopment of Park Morton will move forward, the District will encourage developers who own property on Georgia Avenue to move forward with their respective projects.

Zoning Commission Hears Park Morton/Bruce Monroe Cases

December 9, 2016
The Zoning Commission heard testimony on the effort to redevelop Park Morton this week, with an outcome likely at the end of January.

The Zoning Commission heard testimony on the effort to redevelop Park Morton this week, with an outcome likely at the end of January.

This week, the Zoning Commission heard testimony on the related Planned Unit Development cases for the Park Morton “Build First” site at the Bruce Monroe site (ZC16-11) and for the existing Park Morton site (ZC16-12). The hearings occurred on  Monday, December 5th and Thursday, December 8th, respectively with hearings on both nights beginning at 6:30 pm and running 4-5+ hours. In addition to the applicant and ANC1A, the Bruce Monroe Park Neighbors and Park Morton Residents Council were granted party status in Case 16-11 and the Park Morton Residents Council was granted party status in Case 16-12.

No votes were taken at either hearing. Testimony for ZC16-11 is closed, and submission for ZC16-12 will close at the end of business on December 12th. Additional details/information requested by the Zoning Commission needs to be filed by January 10th, parties will have until January 18th to respond, and January 30th has been scheduled for the Commission to take action on both cases.

While both cases are discrete, it was well understood that the two cases are closely linked and often times testimony in one case referenced the other. The testimony for both the Bruce Monroe case and the Park Morton case was strongly in favor. While there was no notable opposition to the redevelopment of the site on Morton Street, there was notable testimony in opposition to the development planned for the Bruce Monroe site including the aforementioned Bruce Monroe Park Neighbors which has party status in the case. Those wishing to watch the testimony in both cases can do so. Video for both cases is available (ZC16-11 opening statements and testimony here; closing arguments hereZC16-12 here). Prior to the Commission making a decision on the Bruce Monroe site, they’ve requested that the development team meet with the Bruce Monroe Park Neighbors group and attempt to address their concerns.

Questions from Commissioners were encouraging, and seemed to drill down into details that would improve the project or provide better documentation so that the expected amenities would actually be provided. Perhaps the most important questions along these lines for community members had to do with the creation of the new 1 acre park at the Bruce Monroe site. While there was recognition that the park would be a significant amenity, the park itself is not included in the PUD application. To this end, the Commission has requested that appropriate language be included that documents as much detail as possible about the park such as size, location, and any other decisions that have been made. One Commissioner also suggested that perhaps language could be included that would require that the park be constructed and completed prior to the issuance of a certificate of occupancy for the buildings. There was also a request for more details on which entities would be responsible for creating and maintaining the park. At this time, the thoughts on this are that it would be a shared responsibility between the Department of General Services, the Department of Parks and Recreation, and the developer.

Commissioner May, in particular, drilled down into the architectural details of both applications. Notably, May and other commissioners commented that they would like a different brick used at the Bruce Monroe site, as white brick tends to get dirty quickly and didn’t really relate to the surrounding community. Commissioner Miller suggested that red brick be considered instead. There was also a sense that the rowhouses planned for the Bruce Monroe site could be more architecturally compatible with the neighborhood, and requested that the developer respond to that.

Testimony in opposition to the development at the Bruce Monroe site ranged from requesting that the buildings be shorter, expressing dissatisfaction with the community engagement process, claiming a lack of ANC representation (Commissioners Brown and Nguyen recused themselves due to conflicts of interest), and advocating to use the entire site as a permanent park.

While the long term use of the Bruce Monroe site has been a hot button issue in the community since the Bruce Monroe School was razed in 2010, Zoning Commission Chair Anthony Hood summed it up succinctly. While questioning Buwa Binitie of Dantes Partners early in the evening on Monday, Hood stated:

I believe when Bruce Monroe [school] was torn down, that I think everyone in this city knew that there was some type of development [that] was going to happen there. So that’s no surprise. I’m sure that even the new neighbors, I think when you bought into the neighborhood you knew there was going to be some type of development in the area.

DC Council Holds Hearing on Bruce Monroe Surplus and Disposition, Witnesses Largely Support Effort

November 30, 2016

Yesterday, the Council of the District of Columbia held a Joint Public Hearing of the Committee of the Whole and the Committee on Transportation & the Environment — with the agenda items being surplus and disposition approval resolutions for the South Dakota Avenue Riggs Road Excess Property, the Capitol Vista property, and the Bruce Monroe Property. The hearing began at 11:46 a.m. and lasted until 5:59 p.m., with 4 hours and 20 minutes of the hearing being consumed by testimony related to the Bruce Monroe surplus and disposition. The hearing was Chaired by Councilmember Mendelson, with Councilmembers Cheh and White present for much of the hearing and including representatives from Councilmembers Nadeau, Silverman, Bonds, and Grosso.

The record will close for those wishing to submit testimony at the close of business on December 5th. While the Council could vote on the Bruce Monroe Surplus and Disposition resolutions as early as December 6th, the date of the vote will likely be December 20th.

While there were few witnesses testifying for the first two properties, 24 witnesses signed up to testify on the surplus and disposition of the Bruce Monroe site, which would then be used as the build first site for the redevelopment of Park Morton. Among the witnesses were Kent Boese for ANC1A, Amanda Bonam for ANC1B, Chris Waldmann for the Park View United Neighborhood Coalition, and Darren Jones for the Pleasant Plans Civic Association. Overall 16 witnesses (69.45%) testified in support of the disposition of the Bruce Monroe site and using it for the Park Morton effort, 7 witnesses (30.43%) testified in opposition of the disposition, and 1 witness provided testimony that was neither for or against, but offered suggestions on how the overall process could be improved.

I’ve provided the video of the hearing below for those wishing to hear the testimony directly.

Overview of Details on Park Morton Redevelopment Effort

November 23, 2016

bm-1The Park Morton Steering Committee held a public meeting on November 17th to provide an overview of the many details related to the Park Morton redevelopment project and answer questions from the community. This was particularly timely as the D.C. Council will hold their surplus and disposition hearing for the former Bruce Monroe school site on November 29th and the Zoning Commission will hold the related zoning cases on December 5th and 8th.

As planned, the project will replace 147 public housing units in addition to creating 155 workforce housing units and 160 market rate units. More broadly speaking, the redevelopment of Park Morton will have a tremendous positive impact on Ward 1’s Georgia Avenue community, both in the short- and long-term. The development plans for the build first site alone estimate that there will be 448 construction jobs at that site in addition to creating 8 permanent jobs. 51% of the new hires to fill the construction jobs will also be required to be District residents.

In addition to the fact sheet below, you can see a copy of the PowerPoint presentation shared on November 17th here.

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New Trees and Streetscape Need to Be One Result from Park Morton Redevelopment

June 1, 2016

In reviewing the plans for the redevelopment of Park Morton — especially the plans for the site on Park Road and Morton Street — one of the amenities that we really need to be a result of the effort is a better streetscape and street trees on Park Road. Park View has many streets that contribute to a significant tree desert in the heart of the community. This includes the 600 block of Park Road. In walking around Park Morton over the weekend, I was reminded of just how harsh the streetscape is on Park Road. Pushing the sidewalks back from the street to create room for street trees should be one of the many improvements that we can achieve through this project.

As you can see from the photos below, the area along the south side of Park Road is currently without trees and is uninspiring.

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Park Morton Development Plan for Morton Street and Park Road Offers Mix of Housing Types & Styles

May 24, 2016

The planned replacement and redevelopment of the Park Morton public housing complex centered on the 600 blocks of Morton Street and Park Road will have one of the largest positive impacts on the Park View neighborhood of any of the projects currently in the development pipeline for the community. On May 13th and 16th the Park View Community Partners filed their applications and plans to redevelop Park Morton with the Zoning Commission. In reviewing the application, the overall development plan is to replace the existing 174 public housing units at Park Morton with approximately 456 units of mixed income housing spread across the two sites – 273 units at the Georgia and Irving site and 183 at the existing Park Morton site. The replacement of the public housing units includes a commitment for current Park Morton residents to remain in the community by moving into new units across both sites as they are constructed in phases. My previous post included a brief historic overview of efforts to develop Park Morton over the past decade, and focused primarily on the plans for the “build first” site located at Georgia Avenue and Irving Street, NW. This post will focus on the plans for the existing Park Morton site located at Morton Street and Park Road.

Park Road apartment(Design for new apartment building on Park Road by Torti Gallas Urban, Inc., from zoning application.)

The Park Morton housing complex as it currently exists is a collection of 12 apartment buildings containing 174 apartments. The original effort to build Park Morton dates to the 1950s with the development completed in November 1961. It was among the first affordable housing developments planned and completed by the National Capital Housing Authority for families displaced by urban renewal in Southwest, D.C. Its design represented a new trend in affordable housing – a trend that was moving away from large, many storied developments and toward smaller houses, three-story walkup apartments, and garden apartments. Today, Park Morton is aging and in poor repair, necessitating its replacement.

The plans recently filed with the zoning application show the 12 three-story walkup apartment buildings being replaced with a large apartment building fronting Park Road and a series of 50 townhouse structures that will include both single-family and stacked flat housing. Overall, the development will create 183 new residential units, an increase of nine units over Park Morton’s current capacity. Apartment sizes will be a mix of studio, 1-, 2-, 3-, and 4-bedroom units. 53 units will be replacement units for Park Morton’s current residents, 40 units will be designated as affordable units for households earning up to 60% AMI, with the remainder being available at market rate.

Factors that impacted the plan, resulting in a mix of townhouses and an apartment building, included the sites current zoning (which only allows three story rowhouses by right); a desire to have the resulting development integrate and become one with the surrounding residential community; and the desire to create a street grid that removes the existing Morton Street cul-de-sac to make physical connections to the greater neighborhood. In these regards the redevelopment plan for this section of Park Morton will have a greater impact of the neighborhood’s infrastructure and travel patterns than the Georgia Avenue site. The most significant non-housing improvements will be:

  • Closing the existing Morton Street cul-de-sac;
  • Creating a new public street connecting Park Road with Morton Street;
  • Creating a new public street connecting Morton Street with Warder Street; and,
  • Creating a new public park on Morton Street.

street network(Detail from the zoning application that identifies existing and proposed streets at the Park Morton site.)

As one of four public housing efforts that are part of the New Communities Initiative, the replacement of Park Morton has been approached as a phased development due to the need to build replacement housing units for Park Morton residents before demolishing existing structures. In the case of Park Morton, the phasing breaks down as:

  • Phase 1: The “build first” site at Georgia and Irving (273 units total; including 94 Park Morton replacement units);
  • Phase 2: The new multifamily apartment building on Park Road (126 units total; including 35 Park Morton replacement units); and,
  • Phase 3: the Townhome structures on Morton Street (57 units total; including 18 Park Morton replacement units).

While these are distinct phases, it is possible that parts of Phases 2 and 3 could occur simultaneously.

Phasing(Detail from the zoning application that identifies the areas within the 2nd and 3rd phases of the development.)

Architecturally, the design of the buildings is mixed. The design for the Park Road apartment building derives inspiration for its massing and design from the existing apartment buildings in the neighborhood, and especially from the newer buildings on Georgia Avenue. Conversely, the townhouse buildings have a more traditional aesthetic and take their cues from the historic rowhouses that exist in the surrounding residential neighborhood.

Overall, the plan for redeveloping the current Park Morton site has much merit. The next steps will be for ANC1A to review the case for the zoning relief requested (i.e. higher density, setbacks, etc.) and weigh those requests against the proposed community amenities (new streets, public park, etc.) and see if the end result is in the best interest of the community and the District of Columbia, as a whole.

Rowhouses at Park Morton(Rendering showing new park and townhouses on Morton Street, from zoning application.)


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