Following years of community meetings, rounds of presentations before the Historic Preservation Review Board, and hearings before the Mayor’s Agent, the Big K development project, now branded Maple View Flats, on the 2200 block of Martin Luther King Jr. Avenue SE, has secured financing.
Chapman Development LLC recently closed on a $50 million project to construct a 114-unit mixed-use building. The financing involved multiple funding agreements, including commitments from Bank of America and the Department of Housing and Community Development (DHCD). Financing from DHCD consists of $17 million from the Housing Production Trust Fund.
The four- and five-story brick-faced property will span the entire streetscape on Martin Luther King Jr. Avenue from Maple View Place to Morris Road, containing the former Astro Motors lot at 2226 and former Big K liquor store at 2252 Martin Luther King Jr. Ave. A rooftop terrace and ground-floor retail space are proposed with two levels of underground parking and 136 spaces. There will be 87 one-bedroom units, 20 two-bedroom units, and seven three-bedroom units. Affordable housing tax credits assisted in the financing package of Maple View Flats, which will have income restrictions for tenants set at no more than 60 percent of the area median income. The building will be preserved as affordable housing for 40 years. The timeline for completion is 20 months, with construction planned to begin this summer.
Relocation of Historic Homes
If all goes according to plan, by the time you read this the two historic homes remaining on the Big K site will have been relocated to nearby vacant lots within the Anacostia Historic District. The new address for 2234 Martin Luther King Jr. Ave. will be 1319 V St. SE, neighboring Engine Company No. 15, while 2238 will become 1328 W St. SE, on ground previously occupied by a Unity Health Care clinic.
The land was transferred from the Department of General Services to DHCD and subsequently subdivided to allow for the construction of three new homes alongside the two relocated dwellings. A project manager from Monarc Construction, a local firm known for work in historic preservation, spoke at a community meeting. Monarc began servicing the two houses a month ago.
Ardencia Love-Smalls explained that the two historic homes must be deconstructed to fit under existing power lines. Monarc will brace the houses and install beams as cribbing underneath each. Once the beams and bracing have been installed Monarc will separate the houses by floor in preparation for loading onto trailers. Relocated to their new parcels, the homes will be reconstructed under the guidance of preservation architect Ronnie McGhee, a former member of the Historic Preservation Review Board. According to a DHCD official, funds for the restoration work and construction will come from the current and next year’s fiscal budgets.
The three new houses will be designed and developed from the approved CHASE (Congress Heights-Anacostia-Saint Elizabeths) Neighborhood Pattern Book in coordination with the Historic Planning Office. According to planning materials provided by McGhee’s firm, the newly constructed houses ‘will reflect the character-defining features: porches, roof design, materiality, trim, fenestration, color and detail” consistent with the Anacostia Historic District. The estimated time frame is 12 to 18 months.
Before last month’s meeting I asked Greta Fuller, Advisory Neighborhood Commissioner 8A06, how many Big K-related meetings she had attended over the years. “I can’t even begin to tell you,” she responded matter-of-factly. “It’s been well over a hundred and I have all the paperwork to document them.”
Sure enough, Fuller’s arms were loaded with a binder of pertinent documents detailing the latest evolutions of the project, including the “Historic Preservation Development Agreement” signed on Jan. 12. Fuller’s advocacy has persisted through the tumult of three mayors, three councilmembers, and numerous DHCD directors.
At a gathering of nearly 60 people, including Ward 8 Councilmember Trayon White, staff from at-large councilmembers Anita Bonds and David Grosso, and parties invested in the development effort, DHCD’s chief of staff, Tim Chapman, answered questions about the project’s impact on parking, the importance of an anchor tenant, effect on property values, and the existence of a community benefits agreement. Asked if precedence would be given to qualified people within the immediate neighborhoods of Ward 8 who need of affordable housing, he responded that it would violate fair-housing law.
According to a number of residents and a source within the Mayor’s Office, the latest meeting happened due to intervention by Mayor Bowser. At a private gathering at a house on W Street SE the mayor was pressed about the development status of the Big K site. “The point of contention I raised with Mayor Bowser was the bait and switch considering the Mayor’s Agent decision,” said Jack Becker, an architect in Anacostia. “The Mayor’s Agent overruled the preservation board’s ruling because the provision of retail met the special merit requirement. And now it’s revealed the retail will instead be a childcare center.”
“A daycare center is not going to support the BID (Business Improvement District) with the needed dues,” said Jade Moore, a local resident. “We need new retail to support the economy of the neighborhood, not more of the same thing.”
During the meeting with Chapman, Becker asked about the status of a community benefits agreement. Local residents and DHCD officials confirmed no agreement is yet in place. The opportunity to secure a community benefits agreement may have passed, however, because it would typically be negotiated during the RFP process, not once all the entitlements have been secured.
Before the meeting closed Chapman and DHCD officials agreed to hold quarterly and semiannual meetings to keep residents updated.
For more information on the Maple View Flats development visit https://dhcd.dc.gov/ or follow DHCD on twitter at @DCDHCD.