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Back to Office of Planning main pageBack to Anacostia Waterfront Act of 2003, Bill 15-616

Councilmember Harold Brazil 
Comments in Council Committee on Economic Development Hearing on the
District of Columbia Anacostia Waterfront Act of 2003, Bill 15-616
June 1, 2004




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Anacostia Waterfront Corporation Act

Good afternoon.

I am Harold Brazil, chairman of the Council's Committee on Economic Development.

Today is Tuesday, June 1, 2004. The time is now

We are in the Council Chamber at the John A. Wilson Building, 1350 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW.

I am calling to order this additional meeting of the Committee on Economic Development.

There is a quorum present, consisting of myself and Councilmembers __________ and ______________.

The sole item on the agenda for today's meeting is consideration and vote on Bill 15-616, the Anacostia Waterfront Corporation Act of 2004.

This legislation, introduced by Chairman Cropp on behalf of the Mayor, would establish the Anacostia Waterfront Corporation as a new independent instrumentality of the District.

The Corporation would be responsible for the redevelopment and revitalization of the lands adjacent to the Anacostia River.

The establishment of this Corporation is a significant milestone in the economic revitalization of the District, and our efforts to bring jobs and business opportunities to our residents.

The Corporation, and the Anacostia Waterfront Revitalization Plan which it will carry out, will bring thousands of new jobs to District residents and construction projects and community development to underserved areas of the District.

It will bring billions of dollars in investment; millions of dollars annually in tax dollars; and reconnect, rather than divide, the District through this waterway.

More specifically, the Plan includes 100 acres of new waterfront public spaces with a 20-mile Riverwalk and Trail System; over 600,000 square feet of new retail space; more than 4,500 new residences; and over 3 million square feet of new commercial uses.

The changes will be most evident in eight targeted areas, including: Southwest Waterfront, South Capitol Street corridor, Near Southeast, Hill East, Poplar Point, East of the River Gateways, Kingman and Heritage Islands, and Anacostia Riverwalk and RiverParks.

The Corporation will be governed by a 12-member board of directors consisting of six public members appointed by the Mayor with the advice and consent of the Council; one member of the Board of Directors of the National Capital Revitalization Corporation, two ex-officio members (the Mayor and the Chief Financial Officer); the Secretary of the United States Department of the Interior; the Chairman of the National Capital Planning Commission; and the Administrator of the United States General Services Administration. The Interior Secretary, NCPC Chairman, and GSA Administrator would be non-voting members of the Board.

In order to achieve the goals of bringing about the development, redevelopment, and revitalization of the Anacostia Waterfront, the Corporation would be authorized to provide economic assistance to eligible projects through the making of loans and grants.

In addition, the Corporation would be authorized to exercise eminent domain in the Anacostia Waterfront area and to establish subsidiaries. The Corporation would also have the authority to issue revenue bonds, but would have no taxing authority.

The legislation also contains LSDBE and District resident hiring requirements.

Finally, the legislation contains provisions related to the transfer of certain properties along the Southwest Waterfront from the National Capital Revitalization Corporation to the Corporation and the distribution of income from former Redevelopment Land Agency properties between the District and the RLA Revitalization Corporation. These provisions are elements of an agreement entered into between the Mayor and NCRC to compensate NCRC for the value of properties transferred to the Corporation and to strengthen the ability of NCRC to carry out its mission of revitalizing District neighborhoods.

In the Committee Print, we have made many changes based on concerns raised by Councilmembers and the public.

For example, the activities of the Corporation are now strictly limited to the Waterfront area; the purposes of the Corporation include the environmental revitalization of the Anacostia River itself; the Anacostia Waterfront Framework Plan is now incorporated into the legislation and shall act as the guiding document for the Corporation; the powers of the Corporation are limited to facilitating certain actions (such as zoning and planning), rather than taking on these actions on its own; the Board of the Corporation now contains non-voting federal representation, to reflect federal agencies' large land-ownings in this area; Council review of Corporation actions is more consistently applied; and, very importantly, there are very specific and strong LSDBE and District resident hiring provisions.

The goals of the Corporation are extremely important ones for the District to pursue. The Anacostia Waterfront represents a huge and largely untapped economic development resource for the District.

The Southwest Waterfront, Poplar Point, the Southeast Federal Center, Reservation 13, and the Stadium-Armory Complex present significant opportunities for creating new and vibrant neighborhoods and increasing and broadening the District's tax base.

Moreover, revenue from these projects can and will be leveraged to subsidize and catalyze projects at neighborhood gateways east of the Anacostia River.

In addition, the Anacostia Riverfront represents an underutilized natural and recreational resource, which can be enhanced through a coordinated program to increase access points, create a contiguous river walk, increase or improve recreational spaces, and improve the environmental integrity of the Anacostia River.

Through these improvements, the Anacostia River can become a landmark which unites the District, rather than the current view of the River as a waterway that divides the District.

Creation of a new independent instrumentality of the District is necessary to achieve the redevelopment and revitalization of the Anacostia Waterfront. It is important that the responsibility for this redevelopment and revitalization be placed in an independent agency to ensure that the District has the resources and flexibility to achieve the goals and complex projects with which it has been tasked.

In addition, it is important that a new, separate entity be created to achieve these goals in order to ensure that the entity will have a singular and long-term focus, with a board and staff that is not responsible for other plans or projects which will siphon energy and resources from the Corporation's core mission.

I move Bill 15-616, the Committee Print and Committee Report, with leave for staff to make technical corrections and conforming changes.

Is there any discussion?

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