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Shaw Parcel to be Test Case for New RFP Process

by Tianna Mañón

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A view of Parcel 42, via Google Maps.

The District is putting Shaw’s Parcel 42 out for bid — again.

It will be the fourth time the city has solicited developers on the parcel at 7th and R Street NW (map), across from the Shaw Library. But this time, they’re doing things a little differently.

A new process called Our RFP will allow residents and ANC 6E to detail their priorities for the site prior to the land being put out for bid by the Office of the Deputy Mayor for Planning and Economic Development (DMPED). The program is a pilot from Mayor Muriel Bowser and was presented by Melissa Bird at the Office of Planning. Bird told ANC 6E on Tuesday night that the office’s chief concern was making sure the developed property includes plenty of affordable housing — in this case, at least 30 percent, as mandated for District-owned parcels in a new city law.

The ANC was primarily concerned with getting their opinion heard by DMPED when it comes to recommending a developer for a site. Right now, the ANC’s input is only legally given “great weight” before the Board of Zoning Adjustment, the Zoning Commission and the Historic Preservation Review Board, agencies that only get involved much later in the development process — usually long after a developer has been selected for a property.

The ANC’s recommendations on RFPs are considered by DMPED, but often weighed against other factors, usually financial. ANC 6E commissioners complained Tuesday that of the last 11 city land dispositions in the neighborhood, none of the ANC’s recommended developers had been selected by DMPED.

Tensquare Group and Chapman Development were last selected by the city to develop Parcel 42 in 2013, but the contract was pulled when the development team changed. ANC 6E had recommended another developer for the property.

“Don’t you people have any considerations for the time, the effort?” said Commissioner Marge Maceda, who was particularly frustrated. “Many of us on this commission, when we’re given information or developers come to us, we spend hours. It’s not just a ‘Hello, how are you, what are you presenting?’”

The goal of Our RFP is to frontload more of the community engagement process when it comes to developments on city property, similar to what residents tried to accomplish prior to the selection of a developer for the Grimke School. In that instance, resident Jeffrey Willis put together a group of stakeholders to try and influence the RFP process before a developer was selected.

That project already had a significant ask for developers embedded in the RFP: a space for the African American Civil War Memorial and Museum, funded by the developer.

When development teams know they have to accommodate certain neighborhood demands and restrictions on properties beforehand, the theory goes, they are able to adjust their bids appropriately. Meanwhile, the neighborhood is likely to be more receptive to the eventual project. If the Our RFP process is successful and integrated into future projects, requests similar to the inclusion of the museum in the Grimke School RFP — a feat accomplished by its director Frank Smith over many years — could hypothetically be embedded in future RFPs.

The first workshop for the neighborhood is planned for June 13 from 10 a.m. to 12 p.m. at the Howard Theatre, where DMPED will present information on Our RFP and provide information on Parcel 42 and the surrounding neighborhood. An online component of the initiative will be launched at the end of the workshop.

See other articles related to: shaw, rfp, parcel 42, our rfp, anc 6e

This article originally published at http://dc.urbanturf.com/articles/blog/shaw_parcel_42_to_be_test_case_for_new_rfp_process/9957

1 Comment

  1. skidrowedc@gmail.com said at 4:34 pm on Wednesday June 3, 2015:

    Based on your recent article on the Grimke School, in which an ANC committee member became so upset at an “informational presentation” that he left the room, the “Our RFP” process may not be working so well.

    And who can be surprised?  The unfortunate reality is that the desires of “the community” are not uniform, except to the extent that each wants to benefit as much as possible and sacrifice as little as possible.  Each “community” invariably feels that it’s so special that it shouldn’t be subject to reasonable financial considerations like the site providing funds to DC’s coffers (instead of requiring subsidies).  And when members of the community don’t get their way, they feel dissed and, often as not, dig in their heels.  Note the anti-MacMillan folks, who, years after losing, are so resolutely unsatisfied that the approved plan only provides a new 2-acre park (as opposed to no development/all park, paid for of course by the rest of DC rather than the internal finances of the development) that they write crazy rants full of conspiracy theories!  Note the Grimke situation, where the beef wasn’t even about the actual project being presented, but rather a long-simmering grudge against the architect. 

    Obtaining “community” input is almost always opening a Pandora’s box.  Everything good flies away, leaving only hope.  Perhaps the good folks of Parcel 42’s neighborhood will be the exception that proves the rule.  But I wouldn’t count on it.

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