Deputy Mayor to address ANC6C on 5th & I Development this Thursday

Three years ago the Office of the Deputy Mayor of Planning & Economic Development (DMPED) awarded the RFP for 5th & I to Donohoe/Holland. The winning bid from Donohoe/Holland included an international boutique hotel, art gallery, jazz club, cafe, bike shop and a residential component. Also of note was the expressed intent from the team to pursue assemblage along 5th Street to expand the project north to K Street.

Rendering of 2008 proposal for the Arts at 5th and I

Timing of the award was less than ideal given the economic climate in late 2008 and throughout 2009. The project was in limbo. At points we heard news that Donohoe was interested in potentially beginning construction of the jazz club in advance of the rest of the project and/or breaking the entire project down into two phases.

Recently residential construction all around the district is ramping back up but this project has remained stalled. The developer visited the Mount Vernon Square Neighborhood Association (MVSNA) in June  and suggested the project needs to be downsized to move forward. Financing such a complex project remains difficult but a reduction in scope could help them clear that hurdle. It sounded as though the scope of assemblage would be reduced and the project would perhaps focus strictly on hotel and retail and remove the residential component. But this discussion was light on specifics – we were promised more explanation when the discussion went to the ANC.

Victor Hoskins

This Thursday Deputy Mayor Victor Hoskins will address ANC6C at their full commission meeting (agenda) on the status of the project.

ANC6C Full Commission Meeting
September 15, 2011, 7 pm
Heritage Foundation
214 Massachusetts Avenue N.E.

Hoskins is a 2011 appointee of Mayor Vince Gray and may elect to blow this up and start with a new RFP. Or he may concede that the scope of the project should be reduced. It remains to be seen.

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  1. 1

    Rob Amos says

    It is VERY important that we have a strong community turn-out for this agenda item. The Deputy Mayor’s Office needs to hear that the Arts at 5th and I project should proceed as planned (even if downsized) and not be delayed any further by re-starting the bidding process all over again.

    The ANC 6C01 Commissioner, Keith Silver, is pushing to have the bid process started all over again and delay the re-development of 5th Street for many more years. We cannot have 5th Street left in an undeveloped state any longer. We need to show the Deputy Mayor that Commissioner Silver DOES NOT speak for the majority of the residents (and/or his constituents) on this project. If the Deputy Mayor doesn’t hear otherwise from the public, then he will believe Commissioner Silver – and we’ll be back to square one.

  2. 2

    FourthandEye says

    I would have attended if the meeting was on it’s regular Wednesday night. But I’ll be on a plane Thursday night.

    I agree that a rebid is a 3-4 year setback. I’d rather see a downsized project move forward if it’s a good hotel with ample ground floor retail. We don’t need a redux of the poorly designed and streetscape deadening 6th Street Hampton Inn.

    If Donohoe builds a boutique hotel with ground floor retail and 450 K Street continues to move forward then the vacant properties on 5th Street will be surrounded with new development. At that point I’m confident Louis Rogue and the other vacant buildings will be bought out and redeveloped by other investors in the coming years. Donohoe doesn’t need to shoulder the entire revitalization of 5th Street in one megaproject.

  3. 3

    RobA says

    I agree with you 110%. The rest of the block will follow as soon as the first project gets off the ground. The other property owners can only hold out so long before they jump on the bandwagon.

    If you (or anyone else) can’t attend the meeting, I ask that you send an email (or letter) to the Director of Real Estate, Jeff Miller at so that they can be given to the Deputy Mayor and show support for moving forward.

  4. 4

    Gus says

    I hadn’t heard this about Silver. Who does he think he is representing?!? And I wonder what his agenda is with this?

  5. 5

    dan maceda says

    I certainly prefer a downsized project to a start from square one. However, I’d like some assurances that this downsized project not only has retail as Fourth and Eye requests but some meaningful timeline that actually is supported by a performance bond or some concrete assurance. Too many projects get seemingly endless extensions that tie up property.

  6. 6

    FourthandEye says

    Dan makes a very good point. If DMPED allows Donohoe to hold onto the project but then they don’t break ground in the next 6-18 months then we’ve been screwed. Attaching conditions keeping Donohoe to a meaningful timeline would be ideal.

  7. 8

    A few blocks over says

    I think it is a tough call because it is such a drastic cut of the original… It is a shame they can’t or won’t go forward with the original plan.

  8. 9

    Jay says

    Can someone that attended the meeting post a brief summary as to what was discussed regarding this item? It would be greatly appreciated.

  9. 10

    A few blocks over says

    I attended and Deputy Mayor Hoskins was very receptive to feedback. He stated that he was there to hear what the community wanted because we were the ones that would walk by the area every day.

    There was some discussion about that the existing plans had already been vetted with the community and people felt the designs so far were in line with desired interests. It was also voiced that the neighborhood associations and condo boards were supportive of moving forward with the cut back plan in order to get movement in the neighborhood.

    I asked if there was any benefit to the community by waiting for a larger inclusive project and basically the sense was that there was really little rationale for holding out for a larger scale project. The sense seemed to be that if we move forward with the partial plan development it will only bring more attention strengthening the area and spurring immediate change. As the design and permitting phases had already been completed, it could be plausible that the project could be up in 18 months (if I recall correctly). Either way the timeframe for cutting the scope of the project would be dramatically shorter by years than re-bidding the project.

    It was discussed that the Deputy Mayor’s office had been working on an alternative abbreviated bidding process to attempt to shorten the time that it takes for the process; however, it was still estimated that the shorter process could still span almost a year.

    After spending the earlier first hour of the meeting in a squabble for ANC6C trying to keep as much of the land as possible in ANC2C, the commissioners were the quietest I heard all evening (one commissioner even saying “I have no dog in this fight”) which to me reiterated that the redistricting is a good thing to focus more on the Mt. Vernon area.

    That being said, Commissioner Silver directed feedback to the community members in the audience, which opened the doors for those representing the area to voice support for moving forward. He stated that he supported what the community wanted.

    All in all, I felt the message was delivered that the community wants to move forward with the project.

  10. 11

    A few blocks over says

    Apologies for not having more names/details–Other folks attending had much more background on the situation and clearly had invested much more time with level of understanding.

  11. 12

    Rob Amos says

    @A Few Blocks Over … I was there in attendance at the meeting for the PZE sections, redistricting debacle (don’t get me started on that – and hat’s off to Stan and Rachelle for calling it out for what it really was) and the Arts discussion – you did a very good job re-capping the discussion. And the Deputy Mayor got to hear exactly what he needed to hear and Commissioner Silver had no choice to say that he had to “listen to the people”. I was very glad that Commissioner Crews stated that “he had no dog in the fight” since it allowed all of us who do have a “dog in the fight” to speak up and say what it was important to move forward with the new Donohoe plans. even though they (DC) had an idea for an abbreviated plan, that bid process could always be challenged and drag out even longer and longer. /Rob