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Mayor Bowser Proposes Over $110M In TIF Funding For Anacostia, Brentwood Projects

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Two major mixed-use developments in emerging D.C. neighborhoods could receive over $110M in tax-exempt financing from the D.C. government.

Reunion Square Anacostia
A rendering of the next building planned at Anacostia's Reunion Square development

Mayor Muriel Bowser introduced two pieces of legislation Monday to provide tax increment financing packages for the Reunion Square development in Anacostia and the RIA development in Northeast D.C.

The proposed Reunion Square TIF is valued at $60.8M, the legislation says. The project, from developers Four Points and Curtis Investments, would be the first development in Ward 8 to receive a TIF package. The financing would support the next phase of the 8-acre development, slated to include a 180-room hotel, a 133-unit apartment building, 250K SF of office space, 13,590 SF of retail, community space and underground parking.

The development sits along Martin Luther King Avenue SE, less than a half-mile from the Anacostia Metro station. Three office buildings are already occupied on the site, including one the development team converted from a warehouse. The project was approved in 2013 for nine total buildings with 945K SF of office space, 481K SF of residential space and 144K SF of retail.

"The tax increment finance package is an essential component to the success of the Reunion Square development project," Four Points Senior Vice President Keith Turner wrote in an email. "The project will be the catalyst for ongoing economic development in the historic Anacostia neighborhood.”

Deputy Mayor of Planning and Economic Development Brian Kenner tells Bisnow he sees Reunion Square as one piece of a major effort the city is making to revitalize the area around Anacostia and Congress Heights. D.C. also selected Menkiti Group to develop the MLK Gateway project three blocks away, it was closely involved in bringing Busboys and Poets and Starbucks to the neighborhood. It is planning the development of the St. Elizabeths East campus less than 2 miles away.

“Having an opportunity to have a significant impact in historic Anacostia was big for us, and it is also in step with some of the other investments the city has made,” Kenner said. “This plays into our larger strategy of trying to make sure we get jobs and affordable housing in this part of the city.”

The proposed TIF for MidCity Development’s RIA project is valued at $56M, according to the legislation. The project would redevelop the site of the 80-year-old, 535-unit Brookland Manor community at Rhode Island Avenue and Montana Avenue NE.

Mayor Bowser Proposes Over $110M In TIF Funding For Anacostia, Brentwood Projects
An aerial rendering of MidCity's 1,700-unit RIA development

The $600M planned development is slated to include about 1,700 units, including replacements for all 373 of the existing Section 8 housing units on the site. It would also have 181K SF of retail, where MidCity is looking to land a grocery store anchor, and a public park.

The legislation specifies that the funds will be available after MidCity completes the project’s first phase, which consists of two affordable housing buildings. MidCity’s Jamie Weinbaum said the TIF money will be used for public infrastructure such as the road network, pedestrian and bicycle connectivity, the public park and the water and sewer lines.

“It will integrate the neighborhood into the fabric of the broader Brentwood community,” Weinbaum said. “It’s sort of isolated now, and this will connect it to the city better.”

The Zoning Commission approved the overall scale of the development in 2015. In April, it approved the project’s first phase, a 200-unit all-affordable senior building and a 131-unit affordable building for existing Brookland Manor residents. Then in May, a community activist filed an appeal of the development’s approval with the D.C. Court of Appeals.

The case is still pending in the court, and a hearing date has not yet been set. It is one of an unprecedented string of appeals that have delayed over a dozen developments and thousands of new housing units across the city.

MidCity signaled its confidence in the project’s future in July when it paid $5.85M for an adjacent church property, which it will use as community gathering space in the near term and eventually sees as an additional development opportunity. Now the mayor’s support of the project gives it another major push in the right direction, Weinbaum said. He hopes to have the appeal dismissed in time for the project to break ground in 2019.

“It gives us a lot of confidence in moving the project forward,” Weinbaum said. “Resolving the appeal is still a prerequisite, but this brings us a step closer to realizing the project.”

Brian Kenner The Wharf
Deputy Mayor for Planning and Economic Development Brian Kenner on a water taxi driving up to The Wharf

The TIF program allows D.C. to finance developments by borrowing against future tax revenues the project will generate. The District has previously used TIFs for several major projects, including a $145M TIF for The Wharf and a $39M TIF for City Market at O in Shaw. D.C. also recently approved a $19M TIF for Ward 7’s Skyland Town Center and an $82M TIF for infrastructure improvements in the fast-developing Union Market Area.

“As in the case for all of our TIFs, we wait until a project has sort of matured to a certain stage and is pretty much ready to go except for a funding gap,” Kenner said. “We look at the total economic impact on the location and the city to make sure we are intentional and purposeful in the things we help to catalyze.”

UPDATE, OCT. 3 2:45 P.M. ET: This story has been updated to reflect new information and interviews.