Mid-City scales back massive Northeast D.C. project by 20 percent

By April 27, 2015Uncategorized

One of the largest planned community redevelopments in the District is now 21 percent smaller.

Mid-City Financial Corp., longtime owner of the 20-acre Brookland Manor apartment complex and adjacent Brentwood Village Shopping Center, has shaved roughly 500 units from its proposed overhaul in response to city concerns that the initial plan was too intense for the Northeast D.C. area in which it sits.

While Mid-City “remains fully committed to creating a unique, exciting and transformative project” in Brentwood, it has heeded concerns of the D.C. Office of Planning, the Zoning Commission and some residents and scaled back the initiative. The commission is scheduled to review the proposal on May 7, the second time in two months.

“This project will fix the urban design and site planning mistakes of the past, will create a truly mixed-income community, and will create a significantly safer environment for the existing Brookland Manor residents and future residents of the new Brentwood Village,” according to a written statement accompanying the latest project revisions.

Brookland Manor includes 19 garden apartment buildings (525 apartments) spread across 18 acres. The site is generally bounded by Rhode Island Avenue, Montana Avenue, Downing Street, 14th Street, Saratoga Avenue and Brentwood Road.

While the plan still calls for eight blocks of new development, it now provides for 1,760 residential units (384 affordable) and 181,000 square feet of retail, down from 2,235 units and 201,680 square feet of retail. Where the initial blueprint suggested some buildings would top out at 90 feet, now no building will rise above 65 feet, and some formerly mixed-use structures will no longer include ground floor retail.

The project now totals 1.9 million square feet and 1,590 parking spaces, down from 2.2 million square feet and more than 1,700 spaces.

The changes emerged after both the Zoning Commission and planning office questioned the project’s consistency with the District’s comprehensive plan, its long-range land use guide. The planning office “is supportive of the redevelopment of the site,” but it noted in a March 13 report the proposed rezoning “introduces density and heights that are greater than those recommended under moderate density,” and pushes commercial uses well into residential designated areas.

While the project is largely supported by the community, its scale — as proposed in October — has rattled some neighborhood nerves. Gigi Williams, a resident of the 1500 block of Channing Street NE, wrote in a March 16 letter to the commission, “Building heights are projected to be 90 to 45 feet high. I already feel as though I can’t breathe.”

Eugene Ford Sr., Mid-City founder, acquired Brookland Manor in 1977, under a 40-year fixed-rate mortgage with the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. The complex includes 373 Section 8 units, and Mid-City will retain at least that many units as deeply affordable, that is, below 50 percent of the area median income. All Brookland Manor residents will have the right to return to the new Brentwood Village.

The phased redevelopment is expected to kick off in 2018, soon after that HUD deal expires.

Michael Neibauer

Senior Staff Reporter, Washington Business Journal

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