Call for Action | Reunion Square, Anacostia, Washington, DC

Call for Action | Reunion Square, Anacostia, Washington, DC

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Anacostia Residents started this petition to DC Council Members and

As residents, activists and neighbors of Ward 8, we are asking for your support to STOP Councilmember White's modified Tax Increment Financing (TIF) legislation for the Reunion Square project. This petition respectfully requests Councilmember White return to the community he has been elected to represent in order to negotiate a TIF and Reunion Square development project that best represents what our community wants and needs. As our elected representative, we ask Councilmember White to no longer circumvent the Advisory Neighborhood Commission. Doing so is irresponsible, disrespectful and detrimental to our community.
 
In October 2018, Mayor Muriel Bowser introduced tax increment financing (TIF) legislation valued at $60.8M to support the next stage of the eight-acre Reunion Square development in Anacostia (B22-987, the "Reunion Square Tax Increment Financing (TIF) Act of 2018"). The Reunion Square project was to include a 180-room hotel; a 133-unit apartment building; 250,000 square feet of office space; 13,590 square feet of retail space; a new location for the Anacostia Playhouse; designated community spaces; and, underground parking. With Reunion Square situated in the commercial corridor of Historic Anacostia, the goal of the TIF was to spur economic development including retail, restaurants, and community amenities which the area currently lacks. The proposed hotel, for example, would increase foot traffic to support existing small businesses in the community; every year, thousands of visitors from all over the globe visit the Frederick Douglass National Historic Site. 
 
The original project, which had the support of the local Advisory Neighborhood Commission, was halted by Councilmember Trayon White in November of 2018. Behind a series of closed-door meetings -- and without community input -- Councilmember White reconfigured the Reunion Square development and cut the TIF amount of this project in half.  As stated above, Reunion Square originally included a hotel, office space, retail, an apartment building, and dedicated community space.
 
The plan, as it stands now, primarily consists of the DC Department of Health and Housing and senior housing. At the direction of Councilmember White, the hotel was removed, retail space cut back, and the financial benefit to the Anacostia Playhouse significantly reduced. Furthermore, the potential TIF incentive was reduced to less than half of the $60M of funds intended to spur development and job growth in the local community. We remind Councilmember White that the proposed hotel had job training, as well as the potential to attract retail and other businesses that would create viable, sustainable jobs and much needed amenities for Ward 8 residents. 

Why is this proposed change of detriment to the Anacostia community? The TIF program is tasked with providing economic development project funds. The three initially proposed Reunion Square buildings were expected to provide for economic development in Anacostia by generating 162 jobs during construction and 1,545 permanent jobs on-site once completed. These direct on-site jobs include retail jobs, office jobs and hotel jobs. Including the development's indirect and induced effect, an estimated $426 million in economic activity each year has been gutted by Councilmember White. Of significant import is the hospitality sector, which is the second-largest employment sector in the District.

Councilmember White brought this economic development opportunity to a halt: the first hotel to Ward 8, a job training and career development center, as well as mixed-income and affordable housing options. The project now, as proposed by Councilmember White, leaves over $30M of Anacostia’s much-needed development dollars on the table and cuts out the estimated $267 million in sales at the hotel, and generated by tenants in the retail and office building each year.
 
The modified TIF, as proposed by Councilmember White, will not spur economic growth. This is evidenced by the current high concentration of DC government office buildings in Anacostia: 2235 Shannon Pl SE (DC Lottery, various DC Government Agencies); 1800 Martin Luther King Jr Ave SE (DC Department of Housing and Community Development); 2100 Martin Luther King Jr Ave SE (Social Services); 2041 Martin Luther King Jr Ave SE (Public and Government Services); 2101 Martin Luther King Jr Ave SE (Children’s National Health Center Anacostia); and, 2300 Martin Luther King Jr Ave SE (Salvation Army). These existing offices, located in Anacostia's commercial corridor, have not been a catalyst for Anacostia's economic growth.
 
It is time to revive our commercial corridor and we need a comprehensive TIF to achieve that goal.
 
Please sign this petition to show your support. It will be sent forward to DC Councilmembers and civic organizations to ask for their support and assistance as well. Thank you!

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