The Jack Evans Report, June 30
Over the last week, I have received lots of correspondence from constituents regarding the surplus disposition of the Hurt Home in Georgetown — particularly with respect to the proposed size of the redevelopment, as well as its potential impact on neighborhood parking, both of which are concerns I share.
This is a matter being actively considered by the council, as surplus property dispositions must be approved legislatively, and thus your input is both timely and welcome. A vote on this matter is not likely to be held until July 13, if then. But first, a bit of a history of the Hurt Home.
Built circa 1897, it is believed that the Hurt Home was originally used as an assisted living facility for the blind. The District obtained the property in 1987 from the Henry and Annie Hurt Home for the Blind and the Aid Association for the Blind of the District of Columbia, two non-profit organizations. Most recently, the building housed the Devereux Children’s Center, a residential and psychiatric program for foster children.
For the last five years, the Hurt Home has been vacant. In 2009, D.C. made the decision to sell it, as it did not suit any current District function and would have been prohibitively expensive to renovate or maintain in its current form. In June 2009, the District issued a solicitation for proposed uses of the property and by September, only one submission was received.
The proposal by the Argos Group, which included 35 apartment units, was presented to both the ANC and the Citizens Association of Georgetown during the fall, and a project award was made in April 2010. The District held a surplus/disposition meeting at Jelleff on June 9 and the council’s government operations and economic development committees convened a joint hearing on June 16 for public input on the matter. That hearing will be continued on July 1 at 3 p.m. in Room 123 of the Wilson building. If you would like to testify at that hearing, or submit testimony for the record, please contact Priscilla Ford at 727-6684 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
I am concerned that the current plan contains too many proposed units, which would contribute to an increase in the demand for parking in the neighborhood. I am committed to working with the community as well as the developer to make this a more reasonable proposal and address the community’s concerns.
Should the city council decide to approve the surplus and dispose of the property from its inventory, the selected developer would then begin the process of presenting proposed plans to the ANC and Old Georgetown Board for the necessary approvals to obtain permits for the project. This part of the process, as well as any Planned Unit Development (PUD), would also include opportunities for public comment and discussion about the project. I am hopeful the proposal can be improved considerably before it gets to that point. A reuse of this property would be great and very much welcome, but I would like to see it occur in the best possible way for the neighborhood.
The author is a city councilmember representing District Ward 2.