- The Washington Times - Thursday, January 10, 2008

Neighborhood groups in the District’s Shaw area are trying to help residents keep their homes as developers prepare to start construction on major redevelopment projects.

In one example, the D.C. Zoning Commission has set March 6 for a first public hearing on revitalization of the O Street Market.

Only a few blocks away, construction could begin as early as April on a new $120 million headquarters for Radio One near the Shaw-Howard University Metro station.

“I think Shaw is just coming to fruition,” said Dominic T. Moulden, executive director of ONE DC, a nonprofit community organizing group.

The Shaw neighborhood covers an area between Florida, New York and Massachusetts avenues and by 15th Street.

The $250 million O Street Market renovation would put a 65,000-square-foot Giant Food store on the site of a more than century-old building that has been a vacant wreck since its roof caved in five years ago.

The developer, District-based Roadside Development, also plans to build 600 condominiums and apartments, about 12,000 square feet of retail and a 180-room hotel along the 800 block of O Street.

Meanwhile, Four Points and Ellis Development Group plan to develop 103,000 square feet of office space, 180 residential units, 25,000 square feet of retail and 185 underground parking spaces at Seventh and S streets in Northwest. The project, called Broadcast Center One, would have the African-American-owned Radio One network as its main tenant.

The D.C. Office of Planning and Economic Development enticed the company to the site with a pledge of $16 million in tax breaks and direct payments.

Many Shaw residents are happy to see their neighborhood redeveloped but worry their new upscale neighbors might drive up their rents and property tax assessments.

“Everybody shouldn’t have to make $200,000 to live in the neighborhood,” Mr. Moulden said. “I think the people who live here should benefit from the change.”

Household incomes of no more than $25,000 a year for individuals and $50,000 for families are common in the area, he said.

ONE DC’s role in the redevelopment has been to work out “community benefit agreements” with developers and the D.C. government.

The agreements require developers to build affordable housing, hire locally or provide rental space for neighborhood retailers at less than market rates.

For instance, the D.C. government Nov. 14 awarded a development team called Parcel 42 Partners the right to build affordable apartments and retail on a vacant lot at Seventh and R streets in Northwest.

ONE DC’s continuing role would be to monitor the community-benefit agreements despite concerns from developers that the agreements might reduce their profits.

“There are a lot of people who don’t like what we do,” Mr. Moulden said.

Chip Ellis, chief executive of Ellis Development Group, said he was pleased with the community-benefit agreement his company negotiated.

“We feel comfortable that we can deliver what we promised,” Mr. Ellis said. “We believe this is probably one of the best memorandum of understanding community-benefit packages with a community organization to date.”

c Property Lines runs on Thursdays. Call Tom Ramstack at 202/636-3180 or send e-mail to tramstack@washingtontimes.com.

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