Kwame Brown

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This morning’s Washington Business Journal leads with a front page profile on Kwame Brown, Chair of the Council’s Economic Development Committee. According to the piece, Kwame’s been flexing his legislative muscle, refusing to move forward on development bills until he reviews all the proper information, and generally not bowing to pressure from the building community.

Case and point: the 16 acre Southwest development land deal, “which would allow the mayor to convey 16 acres to a development team led by D.C.-based PN Hoffman Inc. and Baltimore-based Struever Bros. Eccles & Rouse.” According to the Journal, the council was expected to vote on the bill in November, but Brown refused to review the bill again in committee until this week. Journal writer Jonathan O’ Connell‘s latest story has more on the subject:

Brown said he had no confidence the developers could execute the project in this financial environment. He also said the affordable housing component is inadequate and the equity offered to the team’s small, local and minority-owned companies is a “slap in the face” to them, even though four of their executives testified that they are pleased with their involvement in the project.

“I fundamentally have issues with a number of areas of this transaction,” Brown said.

The delay displeased Councilman Tommy Wells, D-Ward 6, whose ward includes the Southwest waterfront and who said, “It’s the wrong message for the Economic Development Committee to send if we don’t move it forward.”

Shawn Seaman, PN Hoffman vice president, said “the delays have added additional cost to the project and have moved the project commencement into the midst of the current capital market crisis.”

Although Brown eventually agreed to hold the hearing, he still maintains that Albert and his team “don’t really care how projects get done. They just want them to get done. I want to make sure that they actually benefit residents.”

He reconvened the hearing, he said, because “I don’t want to be seen as the one holding up the project.”

Photo by Darrow Montgomery