Sunday, April 4, 2010

Central Union Mission News; Convention Center Hotel Suit Dismissed

A couple of somewhat significant developments around the city that could have a significant impact on the Logan and Shaw neighborhoods:

First, those following the ongoing drama with the Gales School/Central Union Mission situation may be interested to learn that the District recently wrapped up its competitive RFP (Request For Proposal) process for the redevelopment of the school. I won't rehash all of the history of that building here (see my earlier post for that recap), but this does represent an important development in determining whether or not the Central Union Mission, currently located at 14th and R streets, will be able to relocate to the Gales School location.

The March 26 deadline represented the third such deadline in the process. The original deadline of February 16 was challenged by the ACLU, which contended that it was an "unreasonably short" timeframe designed to give an advantage to the respondent--the Mission--whom is believed to be the District's preference for taking over the property and renovating in order to operate a homeless shelter.

Ultimately, the District received three bids for the property, and aside from the Mission it is not known who the other two bidders are. A decision is expected within the coming 4-5 weeks. Should the Mission be selected as the winner, it will be up to them to raise the necessary capital to renovate the property and build a 5,000 sf addition it wants to add for classrooms and other services.

The project was initially challenged by the ACLU as an illegal government subsidy to a religious organization (the Mission, which is a Christian institution, requires shelter residents to attend a religious service before being given a bed, counseling, and other services.

Should the Mission be successful in its endeavor to relocate, it would pave the way for the redevelopment of the building into a mixed-use residential/retail structure. Such a move, coupled with the anticipated condo project across the street, would go a long ways towards transforming the somewhat-dilapidated 14th and R street intersection.


One other big piece of news to pass along, relevant more for those in the Shaw/Mt. Vernon Square area:

A major step was taken towards the groundbreaking of the proposed Marriott Marquis Convention Center Hotel last week, when a judge dismissed developer JBG's lawsuit against the District over the awarding the Convention Center hotel development to Marriott.

The situation was an interesting one: late last year, JBG sued the city, claiming that the process used to select Marriott as the developer of the site was illegal. However, in February, the District countersued JGB, claiming interference and alleging that JBG's suit was little more than an attempt to gain leverage regarding another one of JBG's properties--Washington Marriott Wardman Park--since JBG had not even submitted an RFP for the development of the hotel site.

Although it's not clear whether JBG will appeal the dismissal, this does move the project one step closer to groundbreaking. When completed, the 1,167 room Marriott Marquis will offer the District a premier hotel for the Convention Center, as well as a host of amenities including several new restaurant locations, retail, and ballroom and meeting space.


Patty Brosmer said...

Why so hard to find out who the other two respondents are? I can tell you one: Ready, Willing & Working and The Doe Fund have submitted a proposal to provide not just shelter, but steady work opportunities, supportive services and vocational training to the homeless and formerly incarcerated. We need to invest in ways to end homelessness for our citizens, not just warehouse them. -- Patty Brosmer, President, Ready, Willing & Working

Anonymous said...

It is a shame that the convention center hotel suit was dismissed. It seems that the council is giving away too much in taxpayer dollars to Mariott.

Mr. Other Upper NW said...

The lawsuit had nothing to do with the incentives paid out to Marriott--rest assured that any developer selected for that project would be getting significant oncentives from the District to build it. The suit alleged improprieties in the award-granting process. Basically, JBG said that the process the District used wasn't competitive.