Press Alert: The Ethics of the Union Market TIF $85 million
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Washington, DC – Tomorrow, the morning of Tuesday December 5, 2017, the Mayor and key Councilmembers (namely, Mendelson, McDuffie, Allen, Evans) are poised to approve an $85 million dollar blank check (TIF) to benefit developers in the Union Market area of Ward 5 & 6.
In an ethical paradox, Tuesday's legislative agenda shows Councilmembers may also finalize a law to make it harder for DC residents to access social services such as shelter.
THE GIFT IS BIG, BUT IT GETS WORSE!
Mayor Muriel Bowser and Council Chair Phil Mendelson have championed a tax gift that supports the creation of a new segregated exclusive community at Union Market consisting of numerous 130-foot tall downtown-sized new luxury developments (6000+ rez units; 1000+ Luxury hotel rooms) to be delivered for single wealthy professionals (one can count the number of "affordable" family sized units on two hands).
While these projects were approved by the Mayor and DC Zoning Commission, there is absolutely no evidence of planning for social needs or community facilities, like parks, libraries, schools, fire/police, etc. or planning for displacement of the existing communities around Union Market.
City Council First Reading November 7
At the November 7, 2017, Council legislative meeting
, Councilmembers discussed the Union Market tax gift and DC Council Chairman Phil Mendelson called concerns about affordable housing as only "rhetoric" ignoring the fact that Union Market developers are not constructing inclusive projects with affordable housing for DC families. "It would be cruel of the Council to tell the Developers to change their housing mix [to create more affordable family housing]," said Mendelson from the Council dais.
Councilmember Elissa Silverman quoted the Chief Financial Officer report showing that public money, “is not necessary for Union Market projects to move forward.” Silverman concluded the city must, “put our money where our mouths are” as it regards affordable housing.
Ward 5 and Ward 6 Councilmembers, Kenyan McDuffie and Charles Allen (representing where Union Market is located) cheered on the $85 million tax gift. "We have been working hard on this for the past 2 years" and it will have a "catalytic impact." McDuffie concluded that it is, "Essential we have the retail parking." Councilmember Allen said, "To make it [Union Market] work, we need to have a choice in transit," referencing the fact that the bulk of the tax gift will be used to build parking in the Union Market project area.
Neither Allen or McDuffie acknowledged that the new Union Market projects will be exclusively for well-heeled single professionals and is funded almost entirely by foreign investors.
At the first reading, At-Large Councilmember David Grosso was highly skeptical and down on the Union Market TIF. "Can I see the reports that justify the costs of the parking," pleaded Grosso. Neither Mendelson nor Council Finance Chairman Jack Evans had any retort.
But in contrast to his dissent to the Council's potential gift to Union Market developers, Grosso's Chief of Staff, Tony Goodman, wholly supported the construction of this new exclusive segregated luxury enclave at Union Market.
While serving as Union Market ANC Commissioner, Goodman penned numerous letters of support at each zoning hearing for the Union Market projects prompting Zoning Commissioner Peter May to go so far as to suggest there be a statue and plaza at the center of Union Market dedicated to Tony Goodman. Mapping 20+ Transformative NoMa Development Projects
CONSTRUCTION NUISANCE ALREADY DAMAGING EXISTING COMMUNITY
Shannifanne Ball, living just south of Florida Ave and from Union Market is living with her Uncle, a US Veteran aging in place in his home of 40+ years. Recently, trucks associated with the projects at Union Market already under construction have already damaged her home and nearly totaled her car.
“These projects have just started and their trucks have already illegally come down our residential block and nearly destroyed my car.” Ball sent these pictures saying, “Where's the Council concern for existing neighbors and the stability and quality of life. Where is our tax gift and protections from all of this over development.”