By: Susan Ruether
What used to be the Petrovitch auto repair shop -- abandoned in recent years and one of 14th street's last vestiges of the bygone “auto row” -- will soon be transformed into a nine-story mixed-use development including approximately 170 residential condominiums, street-level retail, and below-grade parking. The construction will take place at 14th St, NW between Florida Ave and Belmont St. The project also involved nine months of negotiations with Comcast to remove a satellite farm and antenna tower from the corner of 14th ST and Florida Ave.
“View 14” as it is to be called, is a joint venture between a local developer “Level 2” and Centrum Properties of Chicago IL. The project was recently approved in its application for “Planned Unit Development” at a Dec 5th hearing before the zoning commission. The Planned Unit Development (PUD) is a process in which developers apply for additional density in exchange for negotiating a public benefits package.
The public benefits package in this case is comprised of a small number (6-7) of on-site affordable housing according to David Franco of Level 2. The real contribution however comes in a million dollar donation to the Sankofa Tenant Association which will “Provide the funding necessary for them to acquire the Crest Hill Apartments half a block away from our project.” Franco adds, “That is a 48-unit, low income building which is managed by Jubilee Housing; the Crest Hill Apartments risks losing its affordability unless the tenants are able to purchase the building.”
Earnest Springs, President of the Meridian Hill Neighborhood association said that local community groups felt satisfied with the outcome. Of the Crest Hill deal he says, “Their proposal has given hope to the folks there, that at least a permanent part of the neighborhood will persist beyond all the development . . . They themselves are pleased with this which is more important because those people have lived here a very long time. I'm totally pleased with what Level 2 Development has done on behalf of the community and most importantly - they have raised the bar on new developers who now might make similar contributions.”
In addition to the contribution to the Crest Hill, the benefits package includes a financial contribution of $20,000 to the Boys and Girls Club on nearby 14th ST; a $10,000 contribution to the Studio Arts School. Level 2 is also planning a “green roof,” the use of local small business contractors, and a “first source agreement” with the department of employment services which targets 51% of new jobs created by the project to be given to District residents.