Special BACA Meeting, 8/8/05 my notes

Please note these are NOT OFFICIAL meeting notes. I am not a note taker, I’m an observer, who takes lousy notes.
I half covered the Joe Mamo proposal to construct 9 floors of condos on his property on the corner of North Capitol and Florida. That and the proposed car wash on the 1500 block of New Jersey Avenue were the big draws. I can’t say the presentation by Norman Glasgow (representing Jemal D.) to remove a parking covenant, which really wasn’t understood, brought anyone.
As mentioned this was Mr. Mamo’s 4th community presentation. If one takes it on face value Mr. Mamo really wants to move this project along and wants to get community support before investing anymore into the property so he’s meeting with Truxton folks, Eckington folks and the ANC so he can speed things along. Also showing up so often would counter any claim that this is a big surprise to residents. Well, it will be a big surprise to people who don’t bother keeping up with all these piddly little local meetings.
What Mr. Mamo is presenting is a condo (OWNERS) building of 90 to 100 one and two bedroom units (DENSITY). Two levels are to be underground parking, for 80 some cars, so the bad dirt from the old gas station will go bye-bye. Above ground there will be 8 floors facing North Capitol and 6 floors facing Florida Ave. The garage entrance would be on Florida. Mr. Mamo needs support to build as high as the 8 floors and claims that if the property were across the street it would be zoned for the height he desires to recoup the costs of this venture.
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Mr. Mamo did have a drawing but he wasn’t married to the initial drawings. When asked about the look he was aiming for he used the Ellington on U Street as an example. However to reflect the neighborhood he would favor a red brick look over the Ellington’s yellow brick. He seemed willing to entertain the idea of rounding off the corners so the building wouldn’t be a bunch of boxes like the not so pretty condo at 6th and Florida or the new project on S Street.
None of the condos will be really subsidized. Eighty-five percent of the units is proposed to be sold at market rate. Fifteen percent of the building will be set aside for people earning 80% of the AMI (Area Median Income). I’ve been looking at the HUD user site trying to find out what is the AMI for the DC area. According to their data set for determining Section 8 eligibility in DC for 2005, the MFI (Median Family Income) for the area is $89,300. A single person is 30% of the median at $18,750; very low income at 31,250; and low income below 40,600. Two person household is 30% of the median at 21,450; very low at $35,700; and low at $46,400. I’m not skilled at math but I gather 80% of the AMI is much higher than low income. A single person making $50K would be at 80% the AMI. Lower than that, you’re not middle class, you low income (aka po’). So still with the 15% you have to have a job, or some serious well paying investments to get one of the proposed condos.
On the first level, Mamo proposes retail. He’s taking suggestions from the community. Soul Day Spa has asked that no competing spas be included. One meeting attendee asked that the retail not include liquor stores. Personally, I’m against liquor stores but I would be open to a wine shop. Please for the love of whatever deity you worship don’t suggest Harris Teeter. Not enough space and the parking would be a nightmare.
The negatives, if they fall under that, brought up were the unaffordability of the condos and the extra traffic being a danger to neighborhood children. Monday I wrote at length about the affordablity issue, no need to rehash it here. The fellow who brought up the issue of children pointed out that the 1 & 2 bedroom condos would attract a certain population that would do a lot of coming and going. Damned single people with money! That coming and going would add more traffic to the surrounding roads that children cross to get to the Harry Thomas Center or to and from school.
Jim Berry, our singlemember ANC, supports the “concept” of the condos but is concerned. Mamo is asking for a lot of trust from the community without a lot of details and the ‘devil is in the details’. Jim would like to see something in writing.
After Mamo’s presentation attorney Norman Glasglow asked about removing the parking coventant from 60 Florida Avenue, NE. Some time was spent trying to figure out where and what he was talking about. Something, something about rose bushes that were supposed to be planted that weren’t. Then there was chatter about how lifting the covenant would impact parking. The gist was that it wouldn’t have much of an impact and the covenant should be lifted.
Art Slater spoke about the NY Avenue corridor study. The idea is that a tunnel may make the section of NY Ave where it meets NJ less of a ROAD OF DEATH. Yes, if the tunnel plan goes through, which it might not because there is no money for it, then it would make getting on 395 a bit more inconvenient for Truxton drivers. Tunnel: Great for Truxton pedestrians, not so great for Truxton drivers. Art stressed that we need people to read the study so the civic association will have people who would understand it.
There was some talk about Main Streets. I didn’t write anything down. I’ve had a good day or 2 to forget it, so anyone want to fill this space in the comments section knock yourself out.
People had already headed out by the time the New Jersey car wash came up. Here’s the short of it, that block is not zoned for that type of business. It is zoned R4 and they would need a variance to legally put a car detailing business there. Yet still Jim Berry needs you to contact him if you are opposed to the business.
Regarding the RFP relating to the firehouse on North Capitol, something about the city being behind schedule. If I understood Jim correctly, the city has been paralyzed by all the suggestions and trying to synthize them into something has been difficult.
Nothing new on Amstrong.
Meeting broke up.