- The Washington Times - Thursday, April 17, 2003

D.C. planning officials narrowed their list of development teams vying to build a mixed-use complex on the old convention center site, from six to four.
The groups, which have about a dozen real estate companies taking on partnership roles, will now compete for the development rights for the 10-acre site, located near Ninth and H streets and New York Avenue NW.
The development teams are:
District of Columbia Civic Development, which includes Millennium Partners, Jonathan Rose Cos., Gould Property Co. and EastBanc Inc.
Forest CityJarvis Group LLC, made up of Forest City Washington and the Jarvis Co.
The Georgetown Co., Hines Interest Limited Partnership and Charles E. Smith Residential.
The Related Cos., Boston Properties Inc. and MacFarlane Urban Realty Co.
Human Vision Partners and East End Redevelopment Associates were eliminated as potential developers.
Officials from the Office of the Deputy Mayor for Planning and Economic Development said the selections were based mainly on how well the groups satisfied the criteria outlined in the request for proposals for the site last fall. Developers were scored on a 100-point scale, with about 60 points given to qualifications and methodology. Financial backing and the developers' ability to help smaller and disadvantaged businesses accounted for the remaining 40 points.
The requests asked for about 1,000 units of housing, 300,000 square feet of retail, plus concert halls with about 3,000 seats, 45,000 square feet of open space and a new major library. An office building and hotel could also be built on the site, if economics allow it. Regardless of what is finally included on the site, the project is expected to cost several hundred million dollars.
The teams will discuss their proposals with planning officials on a walking tour between May 12 and 16. The external advisory panel is scheduled to meet at the end of May, and planners will select a single development team in June. Construction could begin within 18 months to two years, the planning department said.
The old convention center, which Mayor Anthony A. Williams has openly denounced as an eyesore, will likely be demolished shortly after the final selection of a developer. The planning department said it will immediately turn portions of the vacated land into parking lots until redevelopment begins.
Since December, the companies have been interviewed by an internal planning committee including Andy Altman, director of the D.C. Office of Planning, project managers and consultants. An external advisory committee including D.C. Council members Harold Brazil, at-large Democrat, and Jack Evans, Ward 2 Democrat, plus architects and finance experts also interviewed the candidates and advised the planning office. The teams have made numerous presentations touting their qualifications and methodology, both privately and in public.
Over the course of the next several weeks, planning officials will interview the teams again to gain more specific information about their proposals. The planning department's internal committee will grill developers on their qualifications, methodology and financing plans, and also ask what their plans will offer tourists and visitors.
There are still many things about the project that are not clear. Some officials close to the selection process said they were unsure how well a new library can be integrated into the complex, and the estimates on the amount of housing units range from a low of about 600 to a high of 1,500. Also, officials and developers said they remain uncertain if there is space and economic strength to support a hotel there.


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