The Museum Square Apartments have been the subject of two lawsuits and three D.C. Council bills.
Two lawsuits, several legislative interventions, and a whole lot of drama later, the low-income residents of the Museum Square Apartments in Mount Vernon Triangle still don’t know if they’ll be able to stay in their homes. But if they don’t, now we have a better sense of what would replace those homes.
The Section 8 property’s owner, the Williamsburg, Va.-based Bush Companies, informed the building’s tenants last summer that the property would be demolished unless they ponied up $250 million to buy it under the Tenant Opportunity to Purchase Act. That led to a prolonged (and still unresolved) legal dispute over whether the $250 million price tag constituted a “bona fide offer of sale,” as required by law, with residents and some members of the D.C. Council calling it exorbitant and arbitrary.
Bush justified the price by describing what would take Museum Square’s place if it were demolished. In a series of emails I obtained last fall through the Freedom of Information Act, prolific landlord attorney Richard Luchs argued to the Department of Housing and Community Development that the building would fetch a price of $250 million “if it is developed as [Bush] intends, into a combination of 800 condominium and apartment units.” Luchs stated that with 800 units, the price per unit wouldn’t be $828,000, but a much more reasonable $312,500.
Now, UrbanTurf reports that Bush has honed its plans. The developer aims to build 825 units in two buildings on the site: a 14-story building on K Street NW with 450 apartments and a 13-story building on L Street NW with 375 condos. The plans also call for 17,000 square feet of retail space and a four-story parking garage. Construction, the company tells UrbanTurf, would begin next year and conclude in 2018.
Of course, those are ambitious targets for a project ensnared in more legal and legislative controversy than possibly any other housing proposal in recent years. Residents of Museum Square and their backers on the Council won’t allow the new buildings to replace the existing one without a fight.
Photo by Darrow Montgomery