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Two months after terminating its arrangement with the development team it had selected to turn the aging Park Morton public housing complex into a mixed-income neighborhood, the city is seeking a new developer to complete the project.
This week, the D.C. Housing Authority released a request for proposals for a new developer to overhaul the complex, which consists of 12 buildings and 174 units off Georgia Avenue NW in Park View. The city canceled its agreement with the previous developers, the Linthicum, Md.-based Landex Corp. and D.C.-based Warrenton Group, after the team had built only 83 of the 500 planned new units nearly five years after being chosen for the project.
The Park Morton renovation is part of the New Communities Initiative, a program launched by the city in 2005 to replace troubled public housing with a mix of market-rate and low-income units. The idea is that the market-rate units will subsidize the construction of replacement units for all of the public housing units that are demolished, while the new community created will be safer and more pleasant without the concentration of poverty that existed beforehand.
But the program has struggled to accomplish its goals. Nearly a decade after its inception, none of the four New Communities projects is close to completion. The Northwest One and Lincoln Heights developments have stalled, while the Barry Farm renovation plans just got underway with the city’s selection of a developer last summer.
In its solicitation for a Park Morton developer, the Housing Authority laid out its priorities for the project. The new development, it stated, should attract new retail and commercial development along Georgia Avenue and reconnect the street grid at Morton Street. The housing itself should replace all subsidized units, either scattered throughout the site or in a nearby off-site location, and should consist of a combination of apartment buildings and three-unit rowhouses. A neighborhood park should also be part of the plans.
Developers interested in taking over the Park Morton project must submit their proposals by July 1. The city hopes to select a team in the third quarter of this year.
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