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Hill East Redevelopment Moves Forward With Land Agreement

D.C. General Hospital, located in Hill East, now serves as a shelter for the homeless. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

District of Columbia Mayor Muriel Bowser signed an agreement Monday launching the redevelopment of the Hill East District, with construction expected to begin next year on a project that includes additional apartments, a public village square and green space.  

"Today is a big day for Reservation 13, the Hill East neighborhood, and the entire city," Ward 6 Councilmember Charles Allen said in a statement. "It's an important step toward realizing the vision for and full potential of this corner of the city, as well as finally delivering on promises made to the Hill East community." The redevelopment of the area, formerly known as Reservation 13, has been a contentious issue in D.C. politics. Hill East is a 67-acre area spanning the eastern edge of Capitol Hill to the western edge of the Anacostia River, and includes a homeless shelter in the old D.C. General Hospital. The D.C. Council first approved the Hill East Master Plan in 2002.  

For local officials, the agreement comes after a years of stalling, and is a positive sign of more to come.  

"I’m thrilled to see the project moving forward, but of course this is just a first phase. But getting any piece of this project moving is a step in the right direction,” Advisory Neighborhood Commissioner Brian Flahaven said in a phone interview. He later added, "This is an important first step and I can’t exaggerate how critical it is to get something moving on the site towards the development vision."  

“This is a great day for a community that began planning Hill East’s revitalization nearly 12 years ago,” Bowser said in a statement. “The signing of this agreement will advance this catalytic project and transform an historic neighborhood, bringing more affordable housing to residents in the District of Columbia.”  

The Land Disposition Agreement signed Monday — Bowser's first in her tenure as mayor — involves a roughly 2-acre section of Hill East for "Phase 1," a slice of the 50 acres planned for redevelopment. Donatelli Development and Blue Skye Construction will jointly develop two parcels of the land, which are currently not occupied by any buildings.  

According to the D.C. government website explaining the project, the plan involves developing more than 350 apartment units, 106 of which will be affordable housing units, 20,000 to 40,000 square feet of retail space, and a village square that includes a "vibrant green community gathering place."  

The plan is also projected to produce more than 60 construction jobs, more than 60 other long-term jobs and bring in roughly $1 million in tax revenues each year.  

According to Ketan Gada, the director of Hill East District Redevelopment for the Office of the Deputy Mayor for Planning and Economic Development, the agreement signed Monday allows the development team to buy the land and start the project. Gada said in a phone interview Monday that the firms estimated Phase 1 would cost around $84 million, which will be covered by the developers.  

The mayor's statement indicated the agreement will allow construction to begin next year. Construction is scheduled to be complete in 2018.  

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