A parcel of property on 9th Street NE between Kearny and Lawrence is finally starting to see the construction of eight townhomes, which will be two units each, for a total of 16 new residential units. Although it just broke ground, this development already has a bit of history behind it.
In the fall of 2013 we learned that the development company Oxbridge group purchased the property for $500,000. They then sought neighborhood feedback at several meetings including ANC and BNCA meetings. One of the hurdles the development faced was zoning hearings in order to “downzone” the property from industrial to residential use. Once that hurdle was cleared, Oxbridge quickly sold the property to real estate developer Getinet Bantayehu for $1.6 million. We recently learned that this new developer secured construction permits, and it appears that the development is moving ahead quickly.
According to nearby neighbors, construction started two weeks ago. As you can see from the photo the footings and the wall for lower level of the townhomes along the sidewalk have been poured, and workers started hauling off dirt a few days ago.
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.
In November 2013 we posted about a meeting to introduce a project from Oxbridge Development for the property they purchased on 9th street between Kearny and Lawrence, Streets NE. Since then, the Oxbridge group has sought neighborhood feedback at several meetings including ANC and BNCA meetings. We videotaped an Oxbridge presentation to ANC 5B about the development, you can see it below. From what we have gathered, Brooklanders who attended these meetings think that it is a reasonable development that would fit in with the existing neighborhood.
Oxbridge Development submitted a Notice of Filing application of a map amendment to the DC Zoning Commission. The map amendment application seeks rezoning of the property from a commercially zoned property to a residential zoned property. The developers are seeking a “downgrade” to R-4 Zoning, which would cap the development at 3 stories, or 40 feet tall, and it is clear from the filing that they intend to build “moderate density” attached rowhouses. We uploaded the Zoning change application as well as some other pertinent documents here. It is called a zoning “downgrading”, because under the current zoning, they could build something for commercial, industrial use, for example, and incinerator, as a matter of right without seeking any community input.
The zoning change request will come before the Zoning Board on Monday May 19th at 6:30 pm. See more information here. Here are the details if you are interested in testifying at this public hearing or providing a letter for the record:
The Commission also requests that all witnesses prepare their testimony in writing, submit the written testimony prior to giving statements, and limit oral presentations to summaries of the most important points. The applicable time limits for oral testimony are described below. Written statements, in lieu of personal appearances or oral presentation, may be submitted for inclusion in the record….
All individuals, organizations, or associations wishing to testify in this case are encouraged to inform the Office of Zoning their intent to testify prior to the hearing date. This can be done by mail sent to the address stated below, e-mail (firstname.lastname@example.org), or by calling (202) 727-0789….
Written statements, in lieu of oral testimony, may be submitted for inclusion in the record. The public is encouraged to submit written testimony through the Interactive Zoning Information System (IZIS) at http://app.dcoz.dc.gov/Login.aspx; however, written statements may also be submitted by mail to 441 4th Street, N.W., Suite 200-S, Washington, DC 20001; by e-mail to email@example.com; or by fax to (202) 727-6072. Please include the case number on your submission. FOR FURTHER INFORMATION, YOU MAY CONTACT THE OFFICE OF ZONING AT (202) 727-6311.
The hearing will take place at the Jerrily R. Kress Memorial Hearing Room, 441 4th Street, N.W., Suite 220-South, Washington, D.C. 20001. Here is a presentation of their development concept:
ANC 5B is back in action after taking a bit of a break over the winter months. The agenda below is for the next meeting on Wednesday January 22. We are interested in seeing what is new with the Brookland Green and Oxbridge developments. Note: unlike usual 5B meetings, this one will take place at Turkey Thicket, which is located at 1100 Michigan Avenue, NE.
In early November we posted about a meeting to introduce a development project from Oxbridge Development for the property they purchased on 9th street between Kearny and Lawrence, Streets NE. This is the strip of green space that runs along the Metro tracks that many people use as a de facto dog run. From what we have gathered, Brooklanders who attended that meeting thought it was a reasonable development that would fit in with the existing neighborhood. Recently Oxbridge Development submitted a Notice of Filing application of a map amendment to the DC Zoning Commission. The map amendment application seeks rezoning of the property from a commercially zoned property to a residential zoned property. The developers are seeking an R-4 Zoning, which would cap the development at 3 stories, or 40 feet tall, and it is clear from the filing that they intend to build “moderate density” attached rowhouses. We uploaded the Zoning change application as well as some other pertinent documents here.
Neighbors living near the corner of 12th and Jackson NE have been wondering what will happen with the four parcels of land that sold this summer for $1,825,000. Since the sale, land surveyors have been analyzing the property and longtime Brookland businesses Classic Art of
Brookland and McDonald Custom Car detailing, which occupied two of the parcels, recently relocated. To be clear, we do not know for certain that a new development project is coming to the North East corner of
12th and Jackson, but we can’t imagine that someone would spend almost $2 million dollars on a significant chunk of land that they do not intend to build on. Perhaps the biggest sign that a development is coming happened recently when a raze permit application was filed by Stanton View Development for the building at 1200 Jackson Street, NE, which is owned by a company called Jackson Place, LLC. While the building was not sold with the other 4 parcels, the listing for the parcels indicated that it “can be priced separately and made available in the near future” to complete a contiguous lot of land. Up until recently the building housed three rental units, but we haven’t been able to find
any signs that it has been sold. As an aside, properties along 12th Street are commercially zoned and any development would be limited to 50 feet in height automatically, according to the Brookland Small Area Plan. (Of course, a developer could always seek to build higher as we saw with the 901 Monroe development.)
We will keep you updated on any news regarding these developments as we learn them.
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