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In the last few months, it’s seemed that the ice floes have started to crack and shift for development in Shaw: Project after project has broken financing deadlocks and will see shovels in the ground this year. Add another to the list: Gibson Plaza, the 10-story public affordable housing behemoth on 7th and O Street NW, which will be getting a massive gut retrofit to upgrade its 217 affordable units, starting July 28th. The $31 million in improvements, paid for by the federal department of Housing and Urban Development, cover a complete facade upgrade, all new green appliances, plumbing and electrical systems, new windows, and “cultured marble vanity tops” in bathrooms.
The complex opened in 1974—a few years after the founding of its non-profit owner, First Rising Mt. Zion Baptist Church Housing Corporation, Inc. The church has promised that no tenants will be permanently displaced during construction, and those who remain throughout won’t be bothered too much.
Meanwhile, the Council passed a resolution in its avalanche of lawmaking yesterday that would help along one of the last remaining massive stalled development in Shaw: Kelsey Gardens, which was supposed to have broken ground months ago now. At the end of May, Councilmember Jack Evans told the Convention Center Community Association that he didn’t see much hope in the near term for the project moving forward. His bill allows the developer, which already has zoning approval for an eight-story mixed-use complex and an $18 million tax abatement subject to the acquisition of a HUD mortgage, to use a commercial mortgage instead if one should come along. “Due to improvements in the financial climate, the project now hopes to obtain private sector financing this summer,” the resolution reads.
In March, DCMud discovered that owner Metropolitan Development was working with Ideal Realty Group to either sell the whole shebang or bring on an investment partner with $6.3 million to get construction moving. All the details are on their website—and even more in a “Secure War Room,” which you can access only under the terms of never ever disclosing the information. Metropolitan isn’t answering phone calls, and IRG didn’t have a whole lot to say when Housing Complex called to check in.
“We’re in discussions with several very qualified investors,” said IRG Vice President Craig London. “‘I’d say we’ve had about equal interest in both alternatives. We’re just trying to figure out what’s going to be the best option.”