February 18, 2015
Mid- City Financial Corporation revealed the initial layout for the renovation of Brookland Manor as part of the Brentwood Village project, scheduled to begin in 2017, during the February ANC 5C meeting today. Michael Meers, Executive Vice President – Mid-City Financial, led off the discussion by relaying the history of Brookland Manor and the desire of Eugene F. Ford Sr. (founder of Mid-City Financial Corporation) to transform the area into a “great place for existing and new residents”. Mr. Meers advised the Commission that the encumbrances that have restricted Mid-City since 1977 will finally be lifted in 2017.
Mr. Meers provided a project overview which included a phased approach to include 20% of the upcoming units committed to affordable housing, which he stated is two times the city requirement. He went on to outline the phased approach which is designed to allow minimal disruption to the existing residents. The first phase will start with a senior building for the elderly. Phase 2 will move on to mixed-use space and a park in the middle of the complex with a design that “stresses openness and safety.”
Although the Commission acknowledged and welcomed the upcoming renovation, they were not without extensive concerns and questions regarding the upcoming project. Commissioner Regina James (5C05) started with a list of concerns and questions related to vibration monitoring, firewalls, ABC restrictions, inclusion of small and local businesses in the construction and ownership, translators, realtor lists, and a number of other protections based on her experience with such prior large scale projects.
Commissioner James also inquired about what process will be followed in allowing existing resident to return to the new development when the time comes. She relayed the stance the DC Housing Authority took when returning residents after the redevelopment of the hosing on Montana Avenue. Commissioner Robert Looper, III (5C03) added a series of concerns regarding keeping the community engaged, the use of modern, efficient designs, security, and traffic impact among other issues.
The audience voiced concerns about the 20% affordable housing, the ability for current residents to stay in the complex, and security in the new complex when it’s completed. One member of the audience offered that “allowing the same people to return” will only lead to a short term solution as the property will quickly return to the current state of crime and lack of safety. He went on to suggest that MPDC place a substation in the complex.
All in the all, the exchanges were open, insightful, and respectful. While the Commission’s and community’s support for the upcoming renovation was very apparent, it was also apparent that continued dialog between the Commission, community, and Mid-City Financial is essential as the project moves forward.