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In late 2012, the D.C. Council approved an $11 million tax break for the development of Howard Town Center, a mixed-use project on Georgia Avenue across from and owned by Howard University, despite the fact that then-D.C. Chief Financial Officer Natwar Gandhi had deemed the subsidy unnecessary. Now that plans for the Howard Town Center have collapsed amid a dispute between the university and the developer, the tax break looks even less necessary, at least according to Jack Evans. So today, the Ward 2 councilmember introduced legislation that would take the money allocated for the subsidy and spend it on the creation of new business improvement districts.
The fate of the Howard Town Center is uncertain. “It’s been postponed indefinitely,” says Evans. “I haven’t heard any positive news on it in a while.” And so Evans wants to use the money for a priority of his, promoting new business improvement districts in wards 7 and 8.
“The money now is available, and I don’t want somebody else to snatch it,” he says.
Councilmember Jim Graham of Ward 1, where the Howard Town Center would be located, wrote an email today to constituents in which he thanked Evans for the bill. “I am still hopeful that the legal differences will be resolved between Howard University and the developer,” Graham wrote. “With that said, funds can be located for this important purpose from other sources.”
When plans for the Howard Town Center fell through, it was unclear what would happen to the subsidy. Evans’ bill, should it be approved by a Council committee and the full body, would clarify that.
Howard Town Center rendering from the Office of the Deputy Mayor for Planning and Economic Development