City Paper Widget

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Reeves Center Swap Deadline Missed

Representatives of D.C.'s Department of General Services (DGS) told a public meeting January 2 the deadline had been missed for assembling a complex land swap that would open the way for D.C. United to build a new stadium at Buzzard's Point. According to the terms of the agreement between the team and the D.C. government, D.C. United may now choose to "exit the transaction".

D.C. United play Real Madrid in 2009 (Wikipedia)
DGS public outreach coordinator Kenneth Diggs and Chief Operating Officer Scott Burrell briefed Advisory Neighborhood Commission (ANC) 1B/U Street on the state of the land swap. The pair told ANC Commissioners that the promise had been to complete the deal by the end of 2013, but it had not been.

The end-of-December deadline was still being championed as late as December 17 by D.C. City Administrator Allen Lew, while at the same time the City Administrator's office was promising to send an agreement to the City Council before Christmas.

This is of great interest to ANC1B and local residents because, according to the proposed terms of the deal, the city will swap land at Buzzard's Point in Southwest Washington for the city-owned Reeves Center at 14th and U Streets NW. Commercial real estate developer Akridge may have to make a cash payment as well.

DGS testimony

In spite of the missed deadline, the deal still seemed to be in the works. Diggs and Burrell told ANC1B about the plans for disposal of the Reeves Center, should the deal go through. Three independent assessors would determine the worth of the Reeves Center, and "money would exchange hands". The plan now was to close the swap in "early to mid-2014" and then lease back the building to D.C. for three years so the agencies in the building would have time to find other accommodations.

At times, it seems like the DGS had astonishingly little information about the building they proposed to swap.

Commissioner James Turner (district 09) asked about the average maintenance budget for the Reeves Center.

DGS didn't know.

Turner then asked about the "book value" of the property.

DGS didn't know.

How many jobs would be moved? he continued.

All of them.

How many jobs was that? Turner asked.

DGS didn't know.

When pressed, the pair speculated that 70-80 percent of the jobs now in the current Reeves Center might move to the proposed new building, also to be called the Reeves Center, in Southeast Washington. The rest of the jobs might remain in the neighborhood, some perhaps at the office space above the Green Line metro station at 1250 U Street. The DGS currently rents space in this building.

Public reaction

The fate of the Reeves Center was the subject of a public hearing on December 17, 2013. At that time, to quote the Washington Post:
The dozens who spoke at the meeting were nearly united in their desire to see the Reeves Center replaced not with luxury apartments, as is almost certainly the most profitable use of the site, but with office space or other uses that would generate daytime commerce in a neighborhood that is increasingly dominated by nightlife businesses.
Members of the public who spoke at the January 2 meeting expressed similar sentiments.

One woman said: "We need daytime foot traffic. We don't need more high-priced condos."

"The community has a different definition of the efficient use of this space," one man said.

"It's offensive to the community to find our that you're giving away a community asset," another woman said. "We should have been part of the process."

"Maximizing profits shouldn't be the main goal," a resident of W Street said.

A woman who identified herself as a local resident since 1988 said: "Two thousand people work here. If you move them away, our area will lose daytime traffic. Businesses will close."

Brianne Nadeau, former ANC1B Commissioner and candidate for the Ward 1 seat on the D.C. City Council, spoke at the meeting and distributed a flyer calling on Mayor Vincent Grey and the D.C. Council
to specify commercial and community space as the primary designated uses for the building and lot, reserving office space within for entities such as the Office of Latino Affairs, the LGBT Center, the DOES Career Center and the U.S. Post Office...
Nadeau has set up an online petition in support of this initiative.

ANC1B unanimously passed a motion to hold another briefing about the fate of the Reeves Center with DGS and other appropriate agencies before the next ANC meeting in February.

1 comment:

  1. Mark Lee, Washington Blade Contributing ColumnistJanuary 7, 2014 at 2:20 PM

    I offer my take in a recent column in the Washington Blade - "Graham, ANC Delusions on Reeves Center Deal" -