sprite writes
broodings from the burrow

July 8, 2005

old convention center development
posted by soe 8:40 pm

I work a block away from the old Washington Convention Center, which was blown up and knocked down earlier this spring. I walked past the empty site earlier this week and speculated about what would end up going into the site. I’d heard rumors of a new library building, but others had pooh-poohed the idea as not being revenue-generating enough for the Council.

Well, it seems we all could be right. I have yet to see this news anywhere but in Ward 2 Councilman Jack Evans’ weekly email, so here it is:

“… The DC Council recently reached a decision on how to develop the old Washington Convention Center site at 9th & H Streets, NW. The approved legislation authorizes Hines and Archstone-Smith to develop a mixed-use project creating 300,000 square feet of retail space, 550,000 square feet of office space, 1,372 units of housing and at least 1,900 parking spaces. In addition, at the District’s option, 120,000 square feet of the site are reserved for uses that could include apartments, stores, a new central library and/or hotel.”

Hines and Archstone-Smith will develop a master plan (with “community” involvement) over the next 9 months and, pending approval by everyone from the City Council to Congress to Yo’ Mama, construction will begin sometime in 2008.

Evans’ newsletter lists a number of advantages they hope will arise from redeveloping this space. The one I find most exciting is that they intend to use some of the space (they don’t quite mention where they plan to fit that in) for open space programming — festivals, markets, educational programming, and the like — leaving the District (slightly) less reliant upon the Federal government for their okay in our event-planning processes.

I’m not sure how I feel about the plan yet. A part of me would have liked to have seen it turned into a park/greenspace. But that was unrealistic from the get-go, so I suppose multi-use space that encourages actual living in downtown is generally a good thing.

A caveat worth noting about “affordable housing”:

20% of the housing will be reserved for “affordable housing.” Interestingly, in this instance “affordable” is being marketed to those earning less than $55,750. Hmmm…

Yes, yes. Five percent of that (69 units) will be reserved for people earning $16,725 — twice the poverty threshold for a single person or just slightly above the poverty threshold of a family of three, or the income of someone who makes, at $8.04 an hour, slightly more than minimum wage.

Another five percent of the apartments will be reserved for people earning $33,450, above the median income of both Latino and African-American households according to last year’s Census Board Report, Income, Poverty, and Health Insurance Coverage in the United States: 2003.

A final 10 percent of the housing will be reserved for those earning $44,600 (approximately the income level of the average American household). For the record, that surpasses my income on its own, although not our household income. But it certainly would never have occurred to me that I was in need of “affordable housing” even if I were single.

Of course, this still means that 80% of the apartments (roughly 1,100 units) will be aimed at the über-elite. It doesn’t sound like it’s going to be a really level playing field here or that there’s anything more than a passing interest in keeping things affordable for those people who are being run out of the District for lack of anywhere affordable to live.

So I will wait to see what the plans are from Hines and Archstone-Smith before I make a final judgment on the proposed space, but I’m disappointed that our City Council didn’t see fit to reserve more of the residential space to encourage truly economically-integrated housing.

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unofficial word
posted by soe 5:53 pm

I haven’t yet received the official word from the captain of the softball team-that-isn’t, but it looks like the double-header we were supposed to play tomorrow has been cancelled due to yesterday‘s rain.

Just doesn’t seem like this team can catch a break…

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willows, used t-shirts, and green
posted by soe 11:01 am

I know, I know. I did three beautiful things yesterday. But after I published it, I thought of several other things that I’d meant to put on the list instead of what appeared. Just too much beauty in the last week to contain in one post.

1. My folks, Rudi and I walked down to the reflecting pool from Dupont Circle to see the fireworks on the Fourth. Generally, they were nice (my favorite is always the screaming tadpole one), but the standout was when they set off more than a dozen of the weeping willow tree fireworks at the same time, creating a humungous celestial tree of life.

2. Yesterday, I planned on being lazy. It was supposed to rain, but I wanted to bike in anyway. So I figured I’d just wear my bike jersey and flip flops all day and just substiute a skirt for the bike shorts. And so that’s pretty much how I packed my bag before I left. And, of course, what should I remember halfway through the ride? That I had an off-site meeting less than an hour from then. Oops! I knew I had a spare pair of good shoes in the office, but I figured I was just going to have to go to the meeting in the jersey and sports bra. But when I arrived at work, I realized I’d changed shirts before going to the game Wednesday night and had the shirt folded in my desk drawer. It wasn’t perfect (particularly over the sports bra), but it looked a heck of a lot more professional than the jersey would have.

3. Having finally figured out a safe-ish place for a mini garden, Rudi and I bought a basil plant and two more tomato plants (to encourage the first one to bloom) at Sunday’s farmers’ market. They are currently awaiting pots to move into, but in the meantime are living on the shower caddy (where Della can’t chew on them) in the seedling pots they came home in. The Cherokee Purple tomato had one tiny green tomato when it came home with us; it now has three (the largest is the size of a cherry). It must think we will provide a suitable home.

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