Update on the Old Hebrew Home Redevelopment

1125 Spring Road, NW

Thanks to a reader for passing on the presentation and notes about the Old Hebrew Home redevelopment proposals:

Public Hearing Meeting Minutes – 6-17-2014 (PDF)

1125 Spring Road Public Hearing Presentation Final (PDF)

“Our ideal solution:
We propose the Deputy Mayor for Planning and Economic Development (DMPED) be charged with redeveloping the properties as a 20/80 percent mix (20 percent affordable senior and family units and 80 percent market-rate equity/ownership units), with parking on premise.

DCHA put out a “request for proposals” (RFP) that states their intention for 75-80 units at or under 60% of AMI. Not sure how long these solicitations are normally open for, however this one was only open from July 2-9. Seems a bit disingenuous to have a solicitation out with a specific proposal in mind when all along DGS has said nothing is decided yet, and they welcome community input.


“Please see the attached flyer regarding a new community group which has formed to influence the outcomes of this development. Core principals of this community group:

Redevelopment of 1125 Spring Road Flyer (PDF)

Another reader sends a response from DGS:

“Thanks for your inquiry into the surplus and disposition of 1125 Spring Rd, NW. The D.C. Council’s Committee on Economic Development and the Committee on Government Operations will likely schedule a joint roundtable to discuss the proposal in more depth. This may not be until the Fall, as the Council will begin a two month summer recess starting July 15, 2014. Community members are encouraged to sign up to testify or may also submit written testimony to the Committees on the matter if a roundtable is scheduled. Notice of roundtables can be found atwww.dcregs.dc.gov, or on the Council’s website,www.dccouncil.us.

We will share your comments and concerns with the appropriate parties. I hope this is helpful and thanks for contacting the Department of General Services.”

54 Comment

  • if i read this correctly that the proposal was only out for 5 days, that means this contract is meant for a government insider which means corruption!

    a lot of the community does not want this type of development. this smells really fishy.

    • The RFP five day window is extremely suspect. Follow the money trail. How many proposals were submitted in that short time frame?
      Does the District have an Inspector General? This should go up for review.

  • Translation: we will proceed with this corruption / subversion of the process and let your councilmember(s) grandstand / coddle you and then proceed anyway. Where is the IG? Ah nevermind… how about Ron Machen – he can actually do something.

  • So DCHA is putting out an RFP and the property hasn’t even been surplused from DGS yet. Yeah, there’s nothing fishy about that at all.

    • It’s almost like they’re not trying to hide it… WTF? Is there anyone running this show that can explain why this is proceeding?

  • The RFP window is a week long, straddling a three day weekend — when many people will be taking additional vacation time. That reeks.

  • This RFP is only for real estate legal services. DCHA wants to hire some attorneys to offer counsel for real estate issues related to the acquisition of property, etc. in order to finance the development of 1125 Spring Road NW. Even if DCHA decides to change the mix of units with respect to “affordability” at some point down the line, the legal services would still be necessary. I don’t see what the heartburn is over this solicitation. With respect to the length of time it is open, I don’t see a solicitation for real estate counsel taking more than 5 days to accomplish in this city. This is a real simple solicitation.

  • There’s lots of hyperbole in the comments so far: corruption, subversion of the process, yada yada yada.
    My understanding of the original post on this topic is that the plan all along has been for this property to be surplussed to the DC Housing Authority. The RFP referred to in the latest post is consistent with the property being surplussed to DCHA. So where is the subversion?
    The options listed in the original post were “affordable housing, mixed use, or senior,” or something along those lines. I assumed that the solicitation of community views was with respect to these options, not some brand new option like market rate housing. (Does DCHA even do market rate housing?)

    As an aside, if these folks really are “Friends of the Old Hebrew Home,” they would be advocating to keep it as an old Hebrew Home. If they want to advocate for their preferred vision of redevelopment, that’s fine. But it’s a bit of a misnomer to style themselves as the “Friends” of what was there before when they want something else there now.

    • As a 50 plus Hebrew who would like truely affordable housing in DC, I can only say Lu yehi! DC has far too few aging Hebrews, and unless you do something to make it more affordable, you won’t get many more. I mean even if I give up the car and ride a bike along with all the bochurs and maidelich in DC, its still like I wouldnt be able to afford a glazel tai, and a shtick cake for breafast. And maybe some whitefish now and then? Also I hear you pay like $12 bucks or more for a glass shnapps – something about artisans? My zeidi was a shoemaker, but so why do I have to pay so much for shnapps? Ganz meshuggah.

      • and the blogger here, his name is silverman or something? Whats with the beautiful life? tateleh, you want a shayna life, go find yourself a maidel and have some little ones. Not that you need to move out to the country, like Bethesda, nothing wrong with the city. My cousin Max lived in the bronx after all.

      • That was great, thanks for the laughs!

        • Were these nonstandard spellings? I tried looking up a few of the terms in two online Yiddish dictionaries and wasn’t getting anywhere.

          • Dear shiksa (I like your style): I don’t know yiddish too well but I’ll try:
            Lu Yehi = let it be
            bochur = young man
            maidel = young woman (maedelich is plural)
            glaizel tai = glass of tea
            shtick cake = a little piece of cake
            schnapps = the hard stuff (liquor, liqueur)
            zeidi = grandfather (might have better luck finding online spelled “zayde”)
            meshugga = crazy. I think that Ganz meshuggah means “it’s all crazy”
            ok, google was helpful

  • the property has not been surplussed to DCHA yet but DGS acts like it is.

  • The “heartburn” is that an RFP has been issued for services on this project, and it outlines very specific details of the project, yet DC keeps telling us that nothing has been decided. If nothing had been decided, then why doesn’t the RFP just say that they need services to help them determine the disposition?

    I get heartburn when people say different things from both sides of their mouth.

  • “As an aside, if these folks really are “Friends of the Old Hebrew Home,” they would be advocating to keep it as an old Hebrew Home.”

    The group is concerned about the disposition of a building which is commonly known as “The Old Hebrew Home.” Things often have names which refer to historical uses. You don’t have to advocate for something to return to an ancient, historical use, just because that’s what people call it in the present.

    if Is this really that hard to understand?

    But since you mention it, frankly, most nearby residents would probably be thrilled if it returned to service as an old Hebrew home. I just don’t think that’s on the table.

    • I assume that the people who took the time to show up at the June hearing are concerned members of the community – erstwhile “Friends” of the Old Hebrew Home. I read through the minutes of that community meeting. I didn’t find any reference to any of the attendees asking for this parcel to be developed to include “market rate” housing. The biggest concern, expressed repeatedly, was for it to be “affordable” housing – whether for seniors, families, or both. So query whether a proposal for 80% of this development to be market-rate housing really reflects the wishes of the community.

      • I went to the June 17 hearing. Several attendees said — even at the hearing itself — that they were concerned as to whether the “official” minutes were accurately reflecting the opinions people expressed, given how little writing the “official” minute-taker was doing.
        I don’t think either of those concerns — for the parcel to be affordable housing, or for it to be market-rate housing — was the single dominant concern expressed at the meeting. The DGS representative repeatedly maneuvered out of giving straight answers to questions, but gave the impression that it was a fait accompli that DGS was going to transfer this parcel to DCHA. The rep from DCHA said that because of the way that low-income housing tax credits work, the developer would not be likely to have any interest in building market-rate housing.
        There were a range of opinions expressed at the hearing. People disagreed on the specifics, but if there was anything that people agreed on, it was that nobody wanted another Park Morton in the neighborhood. Several people also expressed concerns (overblown, IMO, but they’re still concerns) about parking.

      • As someone who was at the meeting I recall that the “note taker” would jot down something occasionally in the margins of the power point presentation notes. Someone actually made that point during the meeting – it didn’t make the minutes either. Furthermore, with regard to logistics DGS failed to show the group a powerpoint, nor did they have paper copies, or provide a translator – which was requested.

        Also, there was strong support for market based units at that meeting. Just so that is clear.

        • So even though the minutes don’t mention it “there was strong support for market based units” even though “there weren’t all that many people speaking in favor of market-rate units” (stated below).
          Conspiracies everywhere in this town!
          Maybe someone should whip out their smartphone and record the next meetings so that there is an accurate record of what was said.

      • I was at the meeting as well and quite simply, you’re wrong. Exactly one person spoke in favor of the current DGS/DCHA proposal (even admitting that it was an unpopular opinion), while many stated that they’d like to see alternative market/subsidized or senior housing/market housing mixes pursued for the site. As textdoc says, the official minute-taker started writing things down 80% of the way through the meeting when an audience member asked why none of the DC reps were taking minutes. I wouldn’t take them as an accurate representation of what transpired.

        • +1. And even if the minutes _were_ an accurate representation of what was said at the meeting, there were lots of people there and many raised hands, and not everyone who wanted to speak was able to.
          There needs to be additional outreach on the D.C. government’s part and additional pressure by residents to make sure that everyone’s opinion — not just the opinions of the loudest/most forceful at the meeting — can be taken into account.
          I suspect that the reason there weren’t all that many people speaking in favor of market-rate units was that the DCHA guy made it sound as though market-rate units would be impossible. But there was certainly an interest in having the project be mixed-income.

          • I was at rhe meeting as well. All, but one person insisted market rate housing be part of the development. That’s clearly what the neighborhood wants… I think the split between market rate and senior housing is up for debate.

  • There whole process has been shady from the beginning. I would not doubt if Muriel Bowser herself is mixed up in it somehow. Not only did DC govt not reach out to the community for input, they are trying to back track and ram it down our throat by doing the community outreach after a decision has already been made. They tried to sneak this through and now the neighborhood is up in arms. And I mean extremely upset! This whole 5 day RFP for a specific type of real estate attorney on a very specific type of development (listed in the RFP) demonstrates a section has already been made (as we suspected) and that it’s an insider deal. The people that I spoke with that actually live here wants some market rate apartment and some senior housing. NOT ALL AFFORDABLE HOUSING. Glad to see people organized and fighting this. It smells of an insider deal and corruption.

  • I lived in the neighborhood a long time now and count my family as one of the originals. Two years ago, DC govt reached out and asked what we wanted to do with the property. At that time, we said senior housing. Everyone agreed! Then all of a sudden they disappear. Now DC is trying to sell it to the highest bidder with no community input. I would prefer senior housing, but also understand my neighbors who want some market rate units. I think having the market rate units will ensure the property is kept clean and up to date with long term residents. Hopefully the market rate units can be used to support a few senior units. We don’t need more affordable housing in our community right now. We need to help the older folks.

  • The FFHH flyer presents critical misinformation. Low Income Housing Tax Credit (LIHTC) housing and public housing are fundamentally different things. If they are proposing 100% LIHTC housing, this is a strong reassurance that it will *NOT* be public housing. If you’re having trouble grasping this, read up. It’s no wonder that FFHH feels that they are not being taken seriously when they demonstrate fundamental misunderstanding of basic details.

    • How can affordable, family units be only one bedroom? And where will these families park? Also, don’t forget the Roberson Building. The developer can do whatever he or she wants with that property as it’s part of the deal. They could turn it into another Park Morton directly across the street from our grade school! An even sp
      It between market rate and senior housing makes the most sense.

      • That’s several steps beyond my point. My point is that the FFHH flyer contains inflammatory language that happens to be wrong. I’m not sure whether FFHH misunderstands stuff or whether FFHH is deliberately misrepresenting facts for the purpose of being inflammatory, but in any event, my point is that presenting incorrect information is undermining the interests of FFHH. I’m not questioning any of the other points here, just pointing out that if FFHH wants to be taken seriously, getting their facts straight would be a good start.

        • I don’t trust DC to do anything related to public or affordable housing. Why not look in other neighborhood? Why Petworth and Columbia Heights? Park Morton and the housing at Columbia and 14th are prime examples nearby of affordable and/or public hosing gone bad. How many assaults take place in those area peer week? I think can think of three in CoHi in the past couple days!

          • LIHTC subsidized affordable housing and public housing are two fundamentally different things. Speaking about “affordable and/or public housing” is about as meaningful as speaking about Petworth Citizen and/or Walmart.

    • The solicitation calls for %4 low income housing tax credits and tax-exempt bond financing. Whatever that means.
      And according to the minutes of the June meeting, in response to concerns from many attendees who repeatedly invoked Park Morton, the representative of DCHA assured that this development would not be a “Housing Project.” Whatever that means.

      • I hardly trust DCHA to administer any housing project nor to be honest with the community after it appears a decision has already been made. Don’t be fooled by the lingo. DC quite calling section 8 and housing projects by their names… They now throw around words like housing vouchers, affordable housing development and workforce or transition development. I’d they can’t get community buy-in, they will try trickery.

    • At the public forum, it was stated that DCHA would act as the “Property developer and manager”. Regardless of whether private investors technically own the buildings, the DC government will handle all decisions regarding tenancy, development, maintainence, and safety. So that’s about as close to “Public Housing” as we need, isn’t it?

      • LIHTC is a program that provides federal funds (aka, public funds) for development of properties for affordable housing, and the developers get tax credits per resident, based on income. So — sounds pretty “public” to me. And one of the discussants at the Petworth Library meeting — the DCHA guy, I think — essentially said that developers do this for tax credits, not based on greater humanitarian motives.

        • If you want terms to mean whatever you think they should mean, rather than what they actually do mean, then the tax deduction that I get for paying interest on my mortgage for my house sounds pretty public, too, doesn’t it?

    • the RFP clearly states that the “preferred” tenents will be current DCHA residents. Call it what you want but a 100% low income bulding with current public housing residents its just another form of public housing.

  • Count me in the group that wants some market rate, some affordable and some for seniors. I live within two blocks of the development. This needs to be slowed down dramatically. We also need to hear from Bowser because this is her ward and the approval has to go through her committee. I am deeply concerned about this process because DC hasn’t reached out to the community in an honest fashion. There is a grade school nearby as well as brand new recreation facility. As a community, we need to be very careful what we do with this community because our children walk by this facility every day. They learn and play directly across the street. I understand the concern and fear by the neighborhood.

  • Count me in as very suspicious of what is going on with the development of this property with a process that is nearly bypassing the community. I am thankful for the FFHH for getting this information out there – even if you disagree, were it not for those efforts it seems this entire project would be bid out before anyone knew about it. I’ve joined it.

    Sad you can’t just call the group “Not another Park Morton” because that is the highly consistent cry from the community – it seems everyone wants mixed income use, nobody wants “the projects” in their neighborhood. This isn’t a NIMBY ‘hood either – people have little no complaints about the halfway/rehab center in the area.

    Throughout the country concentrating poverty into one area has had disastrous results, not just for the area but for the residents of those communities (i.e. Park Morton). DC has initiatives in place to prevent exactly what is (an option) on the table here; instead choosing to have communities intentionally designed to have a mix of incomes for a diverse community.

  • By the way, the next meeting will be held at the Raymond Recreation Center on July 9 at 7:00 PM for a discussion with David Jannarone .
    David is the former ANC Commissioner for 4c06. He is also the former Director of Development in the Deputy Mayor’s Office. and he lives in the neighborhood- so is also impacted by the redevelopment of the two properties.

    • Small correction: The meeting with David Jannarone is TONIGHT at 7 p.m. The ANC meetings in the Wards 1 and 4 areas bordering the building are Wednesday.

  • From the Petworth listserve:

    Dear 1125 Spring Road Community,

    Thank you for attending our, The Department of General Services (DGS) and DC Housing Authority (DCHA), community meeting concerning the redevelop of the 1125 Spring Road site. The Surplus Hearing was held on Tuesday, June 17, 2014 and was the first step in the disposition process which allowed us engage residents and to receive public comments.

    We understand there are a number of concerns referencing this project to include the appropriate mix of income levels to include in this project. It is important to note that once the surplus of the Hebrew Nursing Home and the Paul Robeson School is completed, the site will be made available for DCHA to develop.

    At this time, a Housing Development comprised of mixed income levels that include Workforce Development, Permanent Supportive, and likely Market Rate Housing as well as senior housing is being considered. The exact mix of housing has yet to be determined. As the project continues to develop there will be future opportunities for community members to provide additional input.

    In the interim, DGS has developed a survey to gather residents feedback on the percentage of mix income housing units residents would prefer be developed at the site. We ask that you take the survey by the cob Friday, July 18, 2014 and please feel free to share this link with your family and neighbors https://www.surveymonkey.com/s/1125springrd

    We have also posted on our DGS website the Surplus Hearing presentation from June 17, Meeting Minutes and a copy of the Sign-In Sheet. http://dgs.dc.gov/page/1125-spring-road-project.

    We continue to encourage constituents in both Wards 4 + 1 to forward any concerns they may have regarding this project to our attention.

    • see DCHA’s RFP that indicated their intent to develop the building at 60% of AMI and below.

      • The AMI used in these calculations is over $100K. People (or even families with more than one earner) making anywhere near 60% of that are not the public housing boogeymen tenants that everybody here is afraid of.

        • Haile,

          Except as you probably know, housing vouchers and other transfer payments count as income. There’s nothing in the proposal to ensure that this actually turns out to be workforce housing.

        • Yes, HUD uses 107k as the average for the metro area. Nonetheless, I’d like to see some market based units in the building and prefer it not managed by DCHA. Understand your concern about misinformation. I’d just like to see a building with more economic diversity.

    • I just took the survey. Nice how the multiple-choice options for desired percentage of such-and-such aren’t even at regular intervals! (The choices for all but one option are 10%, 25%, 60%, 100%, None.)
      And the survey says “formally” where the intended meaning was presumably “formerly”: “A subset of Affordable Housing is targeted to those managing mental illness as well as those who have been formally homeless.”

  • This should really have it’s own thread, as opposed to being buried at the bottom of a day old thread.

    • By “this” I mean the reprint from the listserv and the invitation for people to participate in a survey.

  • All, to ensure a building is well maintained, it must have market-rate units, so the building managers are sufficiently motivated to maintain the building. It doesn’t all have to be market-rate.

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