The District of Columbia has a unique opportunity to improve access to economic mobility in the Congress Heights neighborhood from the long-planned redevelopment of the St. Elizabeths East Campus, according to an inter-disciplinary panel of experts visiting Washington, D.C. from February 28-March 3 assembled by the Rose Center for Public Leadership—a joint program of ULI and the National League of Cities (NLC).
Washington, D.C. is one of four cities—along with Anchorage, Alaska; Grand Rapids, Michigan; and San José, California – in the 2017 Daniel Rose Fellowship. Now in its eighth year, the Rose Center’s land use fellowship annually invites the mayors of four large U.S. cities to select a team that receives technical assistance on a local land use challenge and access professional development opportunities from ULI and NLC. Mayor Muriel Bowser selected as Rose Fellows Polly Donaldson, Director of the District’s Department of Housing and Community Development; Brian Kenner, Deputy Mayor for Planning and Economic Development; and Eric Shaw, Director of the District’s Office of Planning; who are assisted by team project manager Andrew Trueblood, Chief of Staff at the Office of the Deputy Mayor for Planning and Economic Development.
St. Elizabeths, located along Martin Luther King Jr. Avenue SE in Ward 8, was previously occupied by St. Elizabeths Hospital. In 1987, the Federal Government transferred the 183-acre East Campus to the District. The West Campus is occupied by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security and U.S. Coast Guard. The D.C. Rose Fellowship team asked the panel to help it ensure that the redevelopment will be a community asset and provide strong benefits for the residents of Congress Heights.
Along the panel’s many findings and recommendations were that:
- Recent public investment at St. Elizabeths (two new community facilities, public funds for affordable housing, and a new entertainment and sports arena) are leveraging private development (a first phase of affordable housing and commercial development) and has generated momentum and community support after years of good planning.
- A continued piecemeal development approach going forward may not maximize development benefits and value, so there is a need for a cohesive vision for future phases of the project.
- The St. Elizabeths redevelopment needs to anchor Congress Heights for employment, support community services, provide other needs
- While increasing property values is an opportunity to create wealth in the community, the District needs to help prepare the participate in economic growth.
- While there is consensus around the District’s plans and momentum after a long wait, the panel urged them not to sacrifice long-term vision for short-term gain.
- Finally, final buildout will take more market cycles, so some kind of management entity is needed to outlive political and market changes
You can view a PDF of the presentation in its entirety here.
The panel was co-chaired by DC’s assigned Rose Fellowship faculty: Philadelphia-based Ignacio Bunster-Ossa, a vice president and landscape architecture practice leader for AECOM’s Americas division and planning and development consultant Kate Collignon, managing partner at HR&A Advisors, Inc. in New York City. It also includes Rose Fellows from other cities in this year’s class–Anchorage planning director Hal Hart, and Grand Rapids mobility and parking manager Josh Naramore–and a 2016 Rose Fellow, Denver City Councilmember Christopher Herndon. Also serving on the panel were Antoine Bryant, principal with The Bryant Design Group in Houston and a member of the Houston City Planning Commission; Charnelle Hicks, president of Philadelphia-based CHPlanning; and Tyrone Rachal, president of Atlanta-based Urban Key Capital Partners and chair of the DeKalb Development Authority—also a former chair of one of ULI’s Public Private Partnership product councils. They toured the St. Elizabeths East Campus and Congress Heights neighborhood, and interviewed stakeholder and local experts.
After the presentation, members of D.C.’s Rose Fellowship team and the visiting panel engaged in a stimulating discussion about the balance between investment in communities, economic development, and the realities of gentrification, and with members of ULI Washington’s Regional Fellows Program.
ULI Washington’s Regional Fellows Program, now in its inaugural year, is a new program offered by ULI Washington that is modeled on the Rose Center, and includes class of Fellows from the City of Alexandria, Fairfax County and Montgomery County, along with ULI Washington members volunteering to serve as faculty and advisors.
To view the roster of the fellows for this inaugural year of the program, please click here. To learn more about the Regional Fellows Program, contact Deborah Kerson Bilek at Deborah.firstname.lastname@example.org.