Friday, October 23, 2015

“Build First” Model for Greenleaf Redevelopment Gaining Steam

The ANC voted unanimously on Monday on a resolution, sponsored by 6D-03 commissioner Rachel Reilly Carroll, called “Resolution in Support of Avoiding the Displacement of Public Housing Residents During the Redevelopment of Public Housing Buildings in the Southwest Neighborhood,” which supports a “Build-First” model for Greenleaf’s eventual redevelopment. The resolution urges DCHA, the DC City Council, and the Office of the Mayor to form an Interagency Working Group within the next 30 days to evaluate the feasibility of executing a “Build First” strategy utilizing one or more of the 21 publicly-owned parcels in Southwest identified during OP’s recent Southwest Neighborhood Plan process. In addition, the ANC would like at least one commissioner to serve on the Interagency Working Group and to report on its progress and findings at least once a month to the Greenleaf Neighborhood Advisory Group until redevelopment commences. 

In previous cases across the city where public housing complexes have been redeveloped, current residents were moved to other public housing complexes in the city or given vouchers while redevelopment occurs and once the new housing is built, some of the residents who meet eligibility standards are allowed to return. In the case of Capper Carrollsburg in neighboring Navy Yard which was redeveloped through HUD’s Hope VI program, it’s been about a decade since the old buildings were demolished and many former residents remain displaced. In contrast, a “Build First” model allows development of other parcels in the vicinity of the area to be redeveloped first so residents move only once, then redevelopment can occur. In theory “Build First” a great idea, but in practice it is difficult to implement since there usually isn’t enough land available or the political will to do it. 

The CBCC, along with other neighborhood groups have been working for months on how to implement a “Build First” strategy for Greenleaf, so existing residents are not displaced from Southwest while the public housing complex is redeveloped over the next several years. Ward 6 Council member Charles Allen has also expressed support. As the ANC resolution states, there are 21 publicly-owned sites in Southwest that could potentially be used to help meet this goal. One of the components of Greenleaf is a seniors building on Delaware Avenue and M street, and displacement would be more of a hardship to this population, so the focus has been on finding a site to build a mixed-income seniors building. The Unity Clinic site at Delaware Avenue and I Street has been identified as a potential location for such a complex, combining health services and mixed income seniors housing. While the three-story Unity Clinic building is a historic landmark, there is the potential to build residential on top of and on land adjacent to the clinic. 

Don’t forget there will be a charrette tomorrow afternoon hosted by DCHA regarding Greenleaf’s redevelopment from 1-3pm at Westminster (400 I Street), which is open to the public.


Unknown said...

Thanks to the 200 community members - many of whom are Greenleaf residents - for joining yesterday's community meeting.

Councilmember Charles Allen has also proposed a sense of the council resolution "to urge the District of Columbia Housing Authority to prioritize and develop a “Build First” model of reinvestment in Greenleaf public housing as part of its redevelopment strategy." More on that:

AMK said...

Nice idea in theory, unless as a practical matter it just means standing in the way of development indefinitely. And that area really needs to be redeveloped. Currently it's an unpleasant, unsafe, and unsightly swath that creates a disconnect between the redeveloping SW Waterfront and the Near SE/Navy Yard area. Why couldn't Greenleaf residents get priority for the affordable housing units that are going to be part of new developments in Southwest that are already underway, rather than waiting to identify and implement new development projects at some unknown point in the future? That seems more efficient.

SWDrew said...

Agree with AMK, the problem is not only the housing...... Obviously.

SWag said...

I totally agree with AMK, and to build on that, to be a TRUE 1 to 1 replacement (which it should), demolition should be done in phases. There are almost 2K units under construction in SW right now, if 10% of those were/are set aside as AH (ALL for eligible GL residents), that would/will replace nearly half of the units. Phase 2 of the Wharf, or any of the buildings soon to be constructed in SW could knock out the rest. That could happen in a matter of years, but I have a feeling this is going to take MUCH longer.

SWill said...

The affordable housing units in buildings under construction and planned in SW are at much higher Area Median Income (AMI) levels than what currently exists at Greenleaf. Public housing residents typically pay 30% of their monthly income for rent (no matter the income), so Greenleaf residents cannot afford most of the "affordable" units at The Wharf and at other developments in SW. The Inclusionary Zoning (IZ) affordable units required in new developments are more considered to be workforce housing units than units that public housing residents can afford. Under a "build first" model, Greenleaf can also be redeveloped in phases, but at least one of the initial phases would be to build replacement housing for some of the current residents, mixed in with market-rate units.

SWag said...

I think it makes sense to sell a few of those publicly owned lots (asap) and supplement Greenleaf residents living at the Wharf and other already under construction projects. I'd imagine the proceeds of a few of those 21 lots would take care of it. There are less than 500 units in Greenleaf. We're not talking much money or that large a percentage of any one building.

Seems like with build first we'll end up with watered down half-public housing-half-not buildings (that haven't even been dreamed of). When is all that supposed to happen? And lets hope they don't sprinkle in some ALL low income buildings like they're trying to do E of Canal Park in Navy Yard.

Unless of course the issues is the Wharf and other developments want to curate a crowd and DC wants to help by tucking Greenleaf residents away in hidden corners. Which as we know, benefits no one... The more sparse the low income units (the ones GL residents can afford), the better.

AMK said...

Agree, SWag, that spreading out the low-income units is obviously the better approach. I would hope that city planners wouldn't consider repeating the mistakes of the past with large, concentrated, all low-income developments. We've been there, done that -- and it failed miserably. That model of low-income housing projects has left us with the large unsafe areas that are to be replaced. There's no reason to expect that a new all-low-income housing project would turn out any different. It might look nice and shiny initially, as all new things do, but eventually it'll amount to the same failed social experiment as in the past. I hope our city planners are looking for more modern, innovative solutions.

Sultan of SW said...

I'm sure the "stakeholders" who are committing hundreds of millions of dollars to develop Buzzard Point will allow the abominations that are Syphax and James Creek to remain, right? HAHA. Side note: I'll gladly grab my sledgehammer and assist in the demolition efforts.