There are two developments planned for the stretch of land in Brookland on 9th street NE along the Metro tracks. On the left is how the properties looked roughly a year ago.
We decided to write this blog post to share updates, but also to clear up confusion we are picking up about the developments. The bottom line – there are two parcels of land on the west side of 9th Street NE between Kearney and Lawrence Street that are the subject to development. Both lots were originally zoned for commercial development. One site, that to this day is still undeveloped, was acquired by the Oxbridge Group with the intent to build residential properties. The other site remains commercially zoned and is under construction by INLE Development.
Oxbridge: This development project is shown in the street and birds eye views of that plot of land to the right. We have written several updates on this development over the last year as Mr. Elliot Totah from the Oxbridge Group went through great lengths to reach out to the community, present their plans and to get feedback. One of the reasons why this development enjoyed a good deal of community support was that the Oxbridge Group was seeking to “down zone” the property from industrial-commercial to residential. Potentially, they could have build an incinerator or other industrial use building, but instead attempted and succeeded in changing the zoning for this piece of land from commercial to residential. (We reported about that process last here in May.) In an interesting and baffling twist, Mr. Totah’s outreach to then ANC Commissioner Carolyn Steptoe for support in his effort to reduce the zoning for his land was denied and voted down by the ANC 5B.
Members of the community were recently surprised to learn that after the high degree of community engagement, Oxbridge sold their property. Here is the letter Mr. Totah of the Oxbridge Group wrote Brookland community leaders to inform them of the sale:
I hope this message finds you well. I am writing to update you about our property at 9th and Kearny Streets, NE.
The map amendment to rezone our 12,400 sq ft was approved by the Zoning Commission pursuant to the attached order. I have also attached a copy of the updated zoning map which reflects the R-4 zone having been applied to our properties. Allow me to again reiterate my appreciation for all of your efforts in helping us achieve this win-win situation. We are very happy to have reduced the neighborhood’s inventory of C-M-1 zoned land and the less-than-ideal uses that go along with it.
Once the rezoning hit the public records, several real estate professionals/companies took note of our work and we received multiple purchase offers for the property. In deference to our fiduciary duty to our investors, we accepted one of those offers and have consummated a sale of the property. The purchaser, Getinet Bantayehu, is a private developer who intends to build out the land in accordance with the R-4 zone. Mr. Bantayehu is copied on this e-mail.
When we started the map amendment process, we made an extra effort to engage the community repeatedly and give all interested parties a voice. Even though we will not be part of the property’s build-out, we have sought to ensure that process of interaction and feedback continues. To that end, we took special care to contractually require Mr. Bantayehu to present his architectural schematics to the Brookland Neighborhood Civic Association prior to construction. He embraced the opportunity to do so. This will afford everyone the chance to provide feedback and engage in constructive dialogue. We encourage all of you to continue your strong involvement in the project at that time.
While I personally lament the fact that I won’t see this through to actual build-out, I am happy to have contributed to better land use within Brookland and I am confident that the finished product will be an asset to the community. If you have any questions, do not hesitate to contact me. We remain active throughout the District and I sincerely hope we get to work together again soon.
Elliot R. Totah
The Oxbridge Group
1350 Connecticut Avenue, NW – Suite 850 – Washington, DC 20036
So now it has to be seen how the new owner, private developer Mr. Bantayehu, will pursue his relationship with the community, and if he will stay true to the high quality town home design that the community bought into with the Oxbridge Group. We hope that he will continue the commendable conduct and respect that the Oxbridge Group offered the Brookland residents.
INLE Development: On the other parcel on this block, at the corner of 9th and Lawrence, construction has long started. In this case INLE Development has moved ahead based on the pre-existing matter of right to built a commercial office building that stretches it’s dimensions to it’s legal limits. Plans call for total building area of 16,600 square feet and an 18 car garage on the ground floor. Not much else is known about this development, which is scheduled to be completed in the summer of 2015. Brookland resident and author Rachel Kaufmann wrote about the development in her online magazine Elevation DC. To the right are images of a rendering of the planned design and the current construction site.
We hope readers found this information helpful and that we cleared up any confusion. As much as we love social media, unfortunately, it doesn’t take much in times of fast exchanges of rumors or incomplete information to launch falsely directed blame or praise. We will definitely keep an eye on these development projects and keep you posted.