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Big K Public Meeting Q&A and Comments

Below are the Questions & Answers and general comments DHCD solicited from attendees at the conclusion of the September 4, 2013 Public Meeting.

Please be advised that additional Q&A and general comments will be forthcoming.

Questions and Answers

(Q) “Who are the members of the Big K Advisory Group?  And how were their ideas integrated into the developer’s proposal?”

(A) The Advisory Group included representatives from Advisory Neighborhood Commission 8A03, the Historic Anacostia Block Association, Grandview Estates, the Chicago/Shannon Block Club, the Frederick Douglass Community Improvement Council, ARCH Development, and the Anacostia Homeowners and Residents Association, among other stakeholders primarily from Historic Anacostia and Ward 8.  In total, 38 people registered to be part of the Advisory Group and showed varying levels of participation during the course of the series of several meetings held.

The Advisory Group reached a consensus that the ideal development on this site would include the following:

  • Cultural uses, culinary school, food market, restaurant, and small business retail niche.
  • Throughout the site, develop spaces that would attract small business offices.
  • Incorporate ground floor retail on the corner site at 2252 MLK.
  • If feasible, incorporate a small business incubator somewhere on the site.
  • Overall, the project should create jobs and commercial retail to serve resident needs.

These recommendations were incorporated into the Solicitation for Offers (SFO), but no developer responded with a project that would include all of these characteristics. The selected developer, Chapman Development, reviewed all materials that were associated with the SFO and tried to incorporate some ideas into the proposal.  For example, the Advisory Group asked for a sit-down restaurant, which is planned for one of the retail spaces.

(Q) “The building is not in keeping with the Historic District in Anacostia.  This building is identical to Pennsylvania Avenue/Minnesota Avenue.  Why are you moving the houses?”

(A) Moving the houses makes the development of the project more feasible because it provides a clean slate for the new construction.  Developers were encouraged to come to DHCD with creative solutions to the historic preservation challenges of the project.  In this case, the creative solution was to find a suitable lot within the historic district to relocate the two historic houses, which will ultimately be restored.

(Q) Will Ward 8 small businesses be able to participate in the construction?  And once it is built, will Ward 8 businesses have the opportunity to compete for upkeep contracts?

(A) The District requires the developer to enter into a First Source Agreement.  This provides for local hiring as follows:
Pursuant to Mayor’s Order 83-265, DC Law 5-93, as amended, and DC Law 14-24, the Developer recognizes that one of the primary goals of the DC Government is the creation of job opportunities for District of Columbia residents.  Accordingly, the Developer agrees to enter into a First Source Agreement, prior to Closing, with DOES that shall, among other things, require the Developer to: (i) use diligent efforts to hire and use diligent efforts to require its architects, engineers, consultants, contractors, and subcontractors to hire at least fifty one percent (51%) District of Columbia residents for all new jobs created by the Project. All in accordance with the DC First Source Employment Agreement and (ii) use diligent efforts to ensure that at least fifty one percent (51%) of apprentices and trainees employed are residents of the District of Columbia and are registered in apprenticeship programs approved by the D.C. Apprenticeship Council.

(Q) Will the owner allow office space (pro-bono) for non-profit organizations to house after school and adult learning programs?

(A) Although, at this time, the Community Benefits package has not been finalized, the developer has committed to the District government that it will work to provide an appropriate community benefits package.

(Q) Did you actually seek input from the community for design or even usage of space?

(A) All of the previous studies and recommendations from the Big K Advisory Group were consulted and taken into consideration for the design of the project.

(Q) Is $43,000 the maximum income? How much is the minimum income?

(A) The maximum income that a household can earn and still qualify to rent a unit in the development depends on the number of people in the household. The income limits for 2013 are listed below, and they change slightly every year proportional to the median income of the Washington Metropolitan Area.

There is no minimum income required to qualify, though tenants must be able to demonstrate to the property manager that they will be able to cover the monthly rent.

LIHTC Income Limits for 2013 (Based on 2013 MTSP Income Limits)
1 Person 45,120         
2 Person 51,540         
3 Person 57,960         
4 Person 64,380         
5 Person 69,540         
6 Person 74,700         
7 Person 79,860         
8 Person 85,020         
9 Person 90,120         
10 Person 95,280         
11 Person 100,440         
12 Person 105,600         

LIHTC Rent Limits for 2013 (Based on 2013 MTSP/VLI Income Limits)
Bedrooms (People) 60.00%        
Efficiency (1.0) 1,128         
1 Bedroom (1.5)  1,208         
2 Bedrooms (3.0)  1,449         
3 Bedrooms (4.5)  1,674         
4 Bedrooms (6.0)  1,867         
5 Bedrooms (7.5)  2,061         

(Q) Have you come up with a use for the building?  If so, what purpose would it serve?  How did you come with this conclusion?

(A) The use of the building was based on the results of the Highest and Best Use Market Study, which indicated that a mixed use of residential and retail space was the best option for the site.  This was balanced with the various previous market studies and recommendations from the Big K Advisory Group.

(Q) Is the Big K building historic?

(A) The former Big K Liquor Store building falls outside of the Anacostia Historic District boundaries.

(Q) The solicitation involved one parcel of land.  Where did the new parcel come from?

(A) Chapman Development entered into a purchase contract with the owner of the lot that Astro Motors is located on so that he could incorporate it into the new development.

(Q) Who owns the historical buildings? Who pays to fix them, and who can buy them?

(A) The buildings are currently owned by the D.C. Government.  However, Chapman Development has entered into a contract with the District to redevelop the site.  The developer has proposed relocating the houses to a site on V Street, S.E. that is within the Anacostia Historic District.  However, their final location has yet to be determined.  The D.C. Historic Preservation Review Board will approve the final location and renovation plans for the houses.  The final disposition of the historic houses (i.e. who can buy them) has not yet been determined.

(Q) What happens to the car dealership?

(A) Chapman Development has a purchase contract for the site of the car dealership.  The land will be incorporated into the overall development.  We do not know what will happen to the car dealership business.

(Q) There are multiple contradictions between the RFP and the current proposal.  Who is in charge of the design, the government or the developer?

(A) The government is in charge of the final approval for the project.  The project is in the Anacostia Historic District, which means that the design and overall plan, as it relates to historic preservation, must be approved by the Historic Preservation Review Board (HPRB).  DHCD is working closely with the Historic Preservation office staff and the developer to offer a plan that could be approved by the HPRB.

(Q) The presenter said they were concerned about how the buildings relate to the neighborhood.  How about how the buildings relate to the historic district?  We have no six-story buildings, not even the warehouse.  What is the actual site height?  Has Historic Preservation blessed this?

(A) The proposed height of the building is 65 feet. The project will be presented in concept to the Historic Preservation Review Board (HPRB) on September 26, 2013.  The HPRB must approve the height and design of the project, as part of the permitting process.

(Q) Who is focusing on the houses?  I heard the presenter say they are focused on the Big K site.  What do you have in place to make sure that these houses are developed as soon as they are placed on V Street?

(A) The relocation and renovation of the historic houses is still a part of the overall development plan.  It will be up to the Historic Preservation Review Board to approve the relocation and renovation plans.  DHCD will be working with the developer, other D.C. government agencies, and the Historic Preservation Review Board to ensure that the houses will be renovated.

(Q) How about a hotel?

(A) All market information, input from investors and lenders indicate that a hotel on this site is not feasible at this time. The developer is relying on the Highest and Best Use Market Study, which indicated that a mixed use of residential and retail is the most appropriate use for this site.

(Q) How is this project being financed?

(A) The property is still owned by the District. The final sell price will be determined when the most feasible financing structure is identified.

 General Comments

  • “Name change. We need to stop using “Big K site”.  Just use the address.”
  • “I don’t want more low-income housing.  You are not providing for middle to upper income.  These incomes are coming to East of the River.”
  • “No one mentioned income.  I heard before 100% low-income.  We want 80% AMI and 20% low-income.  Low income will not support retail.”
  • “How many of you know anything about Anacostia other than what you have read, which is not the correct information.”