- The Washington Times - Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Prospects for redeveloping the area north of Massachusetts Avenue Northeast, or “NoMa,” are taking a step forward with Mayor Adrian M. Fenty’s order endorsing a business-improvement district for the area.

Mr. Fenty and members of the D.C. Council are scheduled to meet with organizers of the business-improvement district, or BID, to present them with the mayor’s order of endorsement today at Capitol Plaza, 1200 First St. NE.

“He really sees the BID as a great example of public-private partnerships that his administration encourages,” said Sean Madigan, a spokesman for Mr. Fenty.

The mayor’s BID designation gives the organizers authority to levy taxes on building owners to pay for added security and community improvements, such as street cleaning and turning empty spaces into parks.

NoMa refers to an area bounded by Massachusetts Avenue to the south, Union Station to the east, North Capitol Street to the west and New York Avenue to the north.

As downtown Washington becomes saturated with new office buildings and rents for them rise, developers are looking nearby for the next best place to build. The section of Southeast Washington near the new Washington Nationals baseball stadium already is filling with new projects.

Now, it’s NoMa’s turn, say city officials and developers.

“If you look at NoMa today, there’s hardly any developments,” Mr. Madigan said. “It’s warehouses and parking lots and that kind of thing.”

Joining Mr. Fenty at the BID dedication today will be representatives of the U.S. General Services Administration, whose new building for the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives is scheduled to open this summer at Florida and New York avenues Northeast.

About 1,100 federal employees are assigned to work in the $138.5 million building.

Developers from JBG Cos., J Street Development, Stonebridge Associates, health care company Kaiser Permanente and Morgan Stanley’s real estate investment division took the lead in organizing the BID. They said they are trying to mimic the success of other Washington BIDs in attracting new commercial tenants, such as the Mount Vernon Triangle BID.

In other news …

The D.C. Planning Office presented its “conceptual” plan for redevelopment of the Florida Avenue Market in Northeast to members of the community yesterday at Gallaudet University’s Foster Auditorium.

The plan builds on a May 14 meeting with Florida Avenue Market property owners, who were asked to describe their preferences for how the area should be redeveloped. Currently, the area consists largely of retail and wholesale stores.

The plan presented last night would retain a strong retail and wholesale presence, but add housing, cultural uses and green space. Florida Avenue would be fronted by retail while the front of Sixth Street would consist of housing, retail and a cultural attraction.

“The ones folks were least interested in were industrial-type uses,” said Rosalynn Hughey, the Planning Office deputy director for long-range planning.

Costs of redevelopment and who would be the tenants for the retail and wholesale properties have not yet been determined.

“We haven’t gotten to that level of detail,” Mrs. Hughey said. The next planning phase will consider density, heights of buildings and how they are arranged on each block.

Property Lines runs on Thursdays. Call Tom Ramstack at 202/636-3180 or e-mail tram stack@washingtontimes.com.

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