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On 17th Street NE north of D Street, there’s a giant grassy lot that would make a great playfield or community garden if it weren’t fenced off. When I rode by last weekend and asked neighbors what was going on with it, nobody could tell me; they said it had been that way as long as they could remember.

That’s about right. Zoning records show that the Department of Housing and Community Development applied to build 23 single family homes there as early as 1994, but nothing happened. In 2005, developer Andy Botticello of IDS Homes and longtime Ward 8 job training contractor Phinis Jones proposed to do basically the same thing, and the city awarded them the land without bidding it out. The city signed a long agreement and covenant with the team in 2008, selling the lot for $1.3 million.

Well, that was 2008. Botticello says he’s renegotiated the timeline with DHCD, and thinks he’ll have financing for the $12 million project lined up within the next 30 days. The current development program is 26 townhomes and flats starting in the $300,000 range—-which Bisnow says are the housing format du jour—-with 12 of them priced at less than market rate. They’re also pitching them as super-green, with a solar photovoltaic array on top.

The project won’t require any zoning approvals, since it’s all matter-of-right. Ideally, they’ll try to start pre-sales this summer, and break ground in the fall if there’s strong interest.