Reconsider decision to develop the JBG/ Harris Teeter at 965 Florida Ave
  • Petitioned Victor Hoskins
  • Responded

This petition was delivered to:

Deputy Mayor for Planning and Economic Development
Victor Hoskins
Jim Graham
See response

Reconsider decision to develop the JBG/ Harris Teeter at 965 Florida Ave

    1. Brett DeWitt
    2. Petition by

      Brett DeWitt

      Washington, DC

Washington City Paper News Article:  

There will be no Harris Teeter on Florida Avenue NW just north of the U Street corridor. There will be no extension of W Street to connect the street grid. And, for now, there's not much clarity as to why.

Yesterday, the city announced its decision to award the rights to develop a city-owned parcel at 965 Florida Ave. NW to a team led by MRP Realty and the Ellis Development Group. Losing out was the JBG Companies, considered by many (including myself) to be the favorite, given that JBG's proposal incorporated an adjacent parcel owned by the company—something the city had listed as a priority—and included a Harris Teeter grocery store, which got neighbors excited.

"We're definitely shocked," says JGB Vice President for Development James Nozar. "When you look at the programs side by side, it was pretty clear in our minds that our program was superior."

Chanda Washington, spokeswoman for the Office of the Deputy Mayor for Planning and Economic Development, told me yesterday that the city chose the MRP-Ellis team because its proposal had more affordable housing—"twice the number of subsidized affordable housing units"—because it required a planned unit development (PUD) process that would mean collaboration with city officials and the community, and because the team offered the city more money.

But Nozar questions these reasons—at least the first two.

On affordable housing, Nozar says JBG's plan actually offers more affordable units. "We’re very confused by that, because they were very clear in their presentations to the community that they had 58 units in their plan, and we had 80," Nozar says. "I’m not sure if the District was confused or something."

Ellis President and CEO Chip Ellis says his team's proposal, which has not been released publicly, has "approximately 60" affordable units, but he says many of those units are larger than the "micro-units" proposed by JBG, allowing families to stay in the neighborhood. An MRP representative declined to comment. Nozar says the micro-units include two- and three-bedroom units "specifically designed to appeal to couples and families."

Nozar is also confused by the PUD factor. A PUD is required when a development doesn't conform to existing zoning requirements. Nozar says the city expressed a preference for plans that complied with zoning in its solicitation to developers, and so that's what JBG provided.

"We could’ve [proposed a PUD]," Nozar says. "We chose not to, because as the [request for proposals] outlined, they were looking at speed to market and something that complies with the current zoning." Nozar says that even if it's not required, JBG was planning an extensive community outreach process for the site plans.

And even on the money front, Nozar says the JBG plan, with its additional density, would bring the city much more tax revenue—an extra $16.5 million over 10 years from the 965 Florida Ave. parcel.

Now that JBG won't be developing 965 Florida Ave., it turns its attention to the adjacent parcel it owns, and 945 Florida Ave. JBG's proposal for 965 included plans for 945, featuring a new block of W Street to connect the grid, a hotel, offices, a condo building, and retail. With the 965 bid lost, Nozar says there isn't room for a Harris Teeter at either parcel, nor will JBG be able to connect W Street.

"The idea of a full-service grocery store now is pretty much impossible because they’re both too small," he says. "The idea of W Street is pretty much gone at this point."

But the loss of the W Street connection does free up some room for JBG to add density to its 945 Florida Ave. site. Nozar says the proposed uses for the 945 parcel won't work on their own, and JBG will have to draw up new plans.

"In isolation, the office and hotel and small condominium building don’t make economic sense," he says. "We can’t make it work. We’re evaluating a whole slew of options."

Victor Hoskins, Deputy Mayor for Planning and Economic Development
Jim Graham, Councilmember
Reconsider decision and develop the JBG/ Harris Teeter at 965 Florida Ave

[Your name]

Recent signatures


    1. Graham to Hoskins: Explain Your Unpopular 965 Florida Ave Decision...

      Brett DeWitt
      Petition Organizer
      Graham to Hoskins: Explain Your Unpopular 965 Florida Ave. Decision

      Responding to the growing controversy surrounding the city's selection of a developer for a valuable property near the U Street corridor, Ward 1 Councilmember Jim Graham sent a letter this morning to Deputy Mayor for Planning and Economic Development Victor Hoskins requesting a more detailed explanation of the city's decision.

    2. A message from Councilmember Jim Graham (Part 2):

      Brett DeWitt
      Petition Organizer

      But this does bring to mind the Foggy Bottom outcry to the initial decision by the Fenty administration to award the Stevens School contract in 2009. That Ward 2 property prompted the expression of strong views by my Council colleagues including CM Jack Evans and others. Ultimately, the following year, the award was vacated, in substantial part, on the grounds that there was so much community opposition.

      I appreciate the statement that has been issued by Deputy Mayor Victor Hoskins.

      But, as a first step, I think more detailed explanation of the rationale for the decision is necessary.

      I am now requesting that detailed justification including documentation appropriate for release (not involving proprietary information) .

      Bests Councilmember Jim Graham

    3. A message from Councilmember Jim Graham (Part 1):

      Brett DeWitt
      Petition Organizer

      Dear Friends:

      I have been paying close attention to the dozens of emails objecting to the recent award of 965 Florida. I have carefully read the recent email from Mr. DeWitt as well as the statement by Deputy Mayor Hoskins (see below). I am also now responding (via Bcc’s) to my Ward 1 constituents who have written me. Thank you for writing me.

      I have rarely experienced in Ward 1 such a widespread and negative community reaction to a development decision. Clearly there are a great many neighborhood people who are disappointed and unhappy with the choice and justification that has been offered thus far.

      This is a major decision affecting the future of development in the eastern sector of Ward 1.

      I am also sensitive that the legal process requires a decision to be made at this stage by the Mayor and his advisors. I also know that this decision will, in the future, require Council approval. That would include the property disposition.

    4. Reached 250 signatures
    5. Decision-maker Jim Graham responds:

      Jim Graham

      May I have your email? Bests Jim Graham

    6. Reached 100 signatures


    Reasons for signing

    • Michael Baca WASHINGTON, DC
      • about 1 year ago

      I live directly across the street and I won't want a damn food court, we need an actual grocery store, what a joke DC government is! VOTE THEM ALL OUT!

    • Jeannine Turenne WASHINGTON, DC
      • about 1 year ago

      This neighborhood needs the Harris Teeter. Please reconsider.

    • Susana Rodriguez WASHINGTON, DC
      • about 1 year ago

      More information about the rationale for choosing the winning bidder is needed. It seems with a full fledged grocery store and more units of affordable housing, JBG's proposal responds to the needs of the neighborhood better.

    • Jared Ostermiller WASHINGTON, DC
      • about 1 year ago

      I love my neighborhood and a Harris Teeter is exactly what we need, in the near and long terms.

    • Will Collins UPPER MARLBORO, MD
      • about 1 year ago

      Because the residents of Pleasant Plains/Howard University need a grocery store that is within walking distance. Giant and SafeWay all require a car to get to. We don't need any more cars in the area.


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