D.C. Selects Development Teams To Build 2,300 Units In Hill East
The District has picked the developers to build two major projects totaling over 2,300 units near RFK Stadium in Hill East, the largest selections it has made as part of its new equity-focused development process.
Mayor Muriel Bowser's administration announced Tuesday it selected two teams to develop on separate portions of the 67-acre Reservation 13 site. It selected R13 Community Partners to build a 1,246-unit project, and it selected a partnership of Donatelli Development and Blue Skye Development to build a 1,068-unit project.
The selections were made through D.C.'s EquityRFP process, an initiative Bowser's administration launched in June 2020 that it hopes will lead to greater diversity among development teams. It has made two previous selections through the process.
The R13 Community Partners team, which the announcement said is 100% Black-owned, includes Frontier Development & Hospitality Group, BRP Cos., H2 Design Build, Broughton Construction, A. Wash & Associates and U Street Parking. The team was selected to build on a portion of the site called Bundle 2, consisting of Parcels C, E and H of the Reservation 13 site.
The team's 1,246-unit proposal consisted of 500 market-rate units, 407 deeply affordable units, 334 middle-income units and five units reserved for building superintendents. Of those units, 1,116 would be rental and 125 would be for-sale. The proposal also included a 150-room hotel and 60K SF of retail space.
Frontier Development CEO Evens Charles, whose firm owns and manages several hotels in the D.C. area, told Bisnow that the lack of hotel options in the Hill East neighborhood and the over 2,000 new residential units planned makes it an ideal site to bring a new hotel. He said he plans to bring in an extended-stay brand, a segment that has outperformed the rest of the hotel market in recent years.
"You’re talking about an entire community that’s going to be developed with thousands of apartments, hundreds of thousands of square feet of retail, housing, commercial space, so when you have that kind of density and that kind of mature neighborhood that doesn’t have any hospitality component, we believe there will be demand for a hotel," Charles said.
Charles said the District's focus on equity in the request for proposals process was part of the reason he decided to invest the resources it takes to put together a proposal.
"It takes a lot of time and money to chase these things," Charles said. "When you say you’re going to give an opportunity to firms that may not have necessarily had these types of opportunities for large-scale projects ... we felt like this is a unique opportunity, and we can assemble a team that can perform and deliver something like that."
Two other teams submitted competing proposals for the Bundle 2 RFP, according to public proposal documents. A Jair Lynch Real Estate Partners-led team proposed 1,180 units and said it could potentially include a St. James sports facility, a grocery store and a healthcare clinic. Another team that included BlueSky Housing and Paramount Housing proposed two options with 702 units and 903 units, and it also included letters of interest from Home Depot and the Special Olympics to occupy retail and office space, respectively.
The Donatelli and Blue Skye team won the selection for Bundle 1, consisting of five separate parcels on the Reservation 13 site.
The Donatelli and Blue Skye team is the same one D.C. selected previously to develop the first two buildings on the Reservation 13 site. The team in November 2020 completed a 262-unit building, and it broke ground that same month on a 100-unit building. The first building received an opportunity zone investment from EJF Capital.
The team's latest winning bid is much larger than its previous two. The plans call for 1,068 total units divided evenly between 356 market-rate units, 356 deeply affordable units and 356 middle-income units. Of those, 994 would be rental and 74 would be for-sale housing. The proposal also includes 25K SF of retail and a linear park along Independence Avenue SE.
The Bundle 1 site had one other competing proposal from a team led by The NRP Group and Argos Group. It called for 1,164 residential units, including a senior assisted living component.
Blue Skye is a 100% Black-owned business, the Bowser administration said in the announcement. The announcement noted that the projects would make significant progress toward Bowser's 36,000-unit housing goal while providing opportunities for diverse developers.
“The equity inclusion priority offers a built-in pathway for making economic development more equitable and more diverse,” Deputy Mayor for Planning and Economic Development John Falcicchio said in a release. “We’re proud to be using this tool to ensure Hill East is transformed into a campus where Washingtonians from all walks of life can thrive."