DCHA Director Tyrone Garrett, 12/19/18.
DCHA Director Tyrone Garrett Credit: Darrow Montgomery/File

The D.C. Housing Authority board of commissioners voted to allow DCHA Director Tyrone Garrett to begin negotiations regarding the redevelopment of the Greenleaf Gardens public housing complex.

Commissioners passed Resolution 20-20 by a 5-4 vote Thursday afternoon after rejecting a nearly identical resolution just last month. Commissioner Antonio Taliaferro voted for the measure after voting against it in October. The resolution gives Garrett the go-ahead to negotiate exclusively with Greenleaf District Partners, a team of development companies made up of Pennrose, EYA, and the Bozzuto Group.

Ahead of the vote, Garrett and his team attempted to address skepticism that he would be able to deliver on residents’ demands. Top priorities include a “build first” plan, which requires residents to be moved into new offsite buildings before demolition begins, and a one-to-one replacement of the 493 units.

William Jordan, a housing activist and former Ward 1 advisory neighborhood commissioner, encouraged the board to give Greenleaf residents a seat at the negotiating table.

“If you don’t have equity, you’re not at the table, you can’t influence and can’t ensure you get the outcome that’s been promised,” Jordan said.

DCHA Commissioner Bill Slover repeated the objections he raised during last month’s meeting, saying the board still has not received enough information to evaluate whether the housing authority should move forward. He said historically the board has not been given the opportunity to approve incremental stages of redevelopment deals that do not involve a contractual agreement where money changes hands.

“What I’m trying to get at is the devil in the details,” Slover said. “The things that are critical … is the schedule and delivery of those 493 units. I want to be able to have the opportunity to weigh in on that before you come to us and say ‘We got it all finalized, and we want you to approve financing.'”

Slover pointed to the resolution’s mention of “economic opportunities for DCHA clients” that the development team offered, which the board has not reviewed.

“You won’t tell us the great thing they offered to you,” Slover said. “I have no idea what that is. And because you’re not sharing that with us, I get concerned.”

DCHA general counsel Greg Mays assured Slover and the other commissioners that they would have multiple opportunities to approve or disapprove the project at various stages.

Garrett explained that the resolution only gives him authorization to begin negotiations and promised commissioners he would come back to seek their approval as the project moves forward.

“I can’t execute a master developer agreement, and that is the binding document for a … redevelopment opportunity for a housing authority,” Garrett said. “You haven’t given me approval to do that. All this resolution does is give me the opportunity speak and negotiate with the developer to move toward that particular process.”