Adding to the city’s supply of mixed income properties, the D.C. Zoning Commission has advanced plans for the paired development of Park View’s Bruce Monroe site and the Park Morton complex both located along Georgia Avenue. The developers behind the project duo are Park View Community Partners (a Dantes Partners and Community Builders partnership ) and Torti Gallas and Partners who have teamed up with the District and the D.C. Housing Authority.
Bruce Monroe site location
Burrowed between Irving Street, the Georgia Avenue corridor and Columbia Road, the Bruce Monroe site is conveniently located just a few blocks South of the Georgia Avenue Petworth metro station and a short distance East of the Columbia Heights metro station. The redevelopment will offer 189 units with 76 units designated for senior citizens and eight units primed as three-bedroom townhomes. 108 of the units will be reserved for households earning up to 60% DC area median income, 94 units will be reserved for Park Morton residents and 71 units will be available at market rate. A private street will be constructed to ease the density of the area. The community will enjoy a proposed one-acre park with a variety of recreational uses to be determined in an ongoing dialogue between the community and Advisory Neighborhood Commission. Phases of the project will be opened throughout the construction process.
The history behind the Park Morton and Bruce Monroe projects
The Washington Post reported that the Park Morton project was one of four developments that became part of the New Communities Initiative (NCI) back in 2005. The New Communities objective represented a District effort to directly replace public housing units with other projects one at a time while integrating the units into mixed income neighborhoods.
Early redevelopment efforts faced challenges in securing ‘build first’ development sites which left the future of NCI uncertain. According to Kent C. Boese, Chair, Advisory Neighborhood Commission 1A, the District changed developers along with their approach to the challenges faced in identifying development sites under the NCI. Consequently, the Bruce Monroe site was selected as the ‘build-first’ project to house tenants from Park Morton as it undergoes redevelopment.
Green space to be preserved by creating a permanent park
After months of planning, the Bruce Monroe site is slated to move forward, proposing an expansive, permanent public green space on the southern half of the site to be programmed through a community engagement process (the site has served the community as a temporary park since 2010 but was never a permanent designation). Though the Georgia Avenue parcel has taken its fair share of criticisms within the community, it remains an ideal ‘build-first’ location:
- Already owned by the District, no agency has expressed interest in using it
- The site sits in close proximity to Park Morton
- 1.8 acres of land render it as one of the largest available properties for redevelopment
- The Georgia Avenue half of the site is zoned C-2A commercial which allows and encourages higher density in contrast to the Park Morton site which is zoned for three-story rowhouse development
Parking and retail commercial space is a plus
The development plan calls for 99 underground spaces and six parking spaces located on the new, privately maintained street from where tenants can enter the parking garage off of Irving Street. Though yet to be determined and still in the early stages of planning, there is the possibility of ground floor commercial space that could include retail outfits. Christine Miller, Advisory Neighborhood Commission 1A, described the controversy surrounding the inclusion of additional parking spaces and retail establishments as positive features that would benefit the community. Development of the projects would replace concentrated poverty with mixed income housing as well as subsidized senior housing, affordable housing rates and market rate units.
Programming of the site has yet to be finalized
Green space, parking space and amenities are still under configuration depending on how these areas will benefit the community. This is all part of the PUD process that includes community dialogue and consideration by the Advisory Neighborhood Commissions.The ANC1A will review the case for zoning relief requested that includes proposed higher density and setbacks, etc., to conclude what is in the best interest of the community and DC, collectively.
DC needs more affordable housing
Overall details are still in the early stages of planning that include flexible use of dedicated configurations. But the future of the Bruce Monroe development is bright. Both projects will contribute to revitalization of the DC area and are a win-win for all while promising new employment opportunities for DC residents.