Register for Ward 1 Open House to Discuss Comprehensive Plan – November 16th 6:30 PM

Comprehensive Plan Ward 1 Open House

Monday, November 16th at 6:30p.m., Councilmember Brianne Nadeau will be holding an open house to discuss Ward 1 related Comprehensive Plan amendments and hear feedback from constituents. Encourage all Friends of Bruce Monroe to attend this open house and push Nadeau to stand with the community and keep this green space during a global pandemic. 

Click here to register.

2020 Comprehensive Plan Amendment Hearing: Plan Zones Bruce Monroe for Commercial Build

ENCOURAGE NEIGHBORS IMPACTED BY BRUCE MONROE PARK REDEVELOPMENT TO TESTIFY LIVE OR PROVIDE WRITTEN TESTIMONY AGAINST PARK REDEVELOPMENT. Submit written testimony by December 3 at 5:00PM on Comprehensive Plan Amendment Act of 2020 webpage. The window to sign up to testify live has passed.

The hearing on this legislation will take place on Thursday, November 12 (10:00 am) and Friday, November 13, 2020 (9:00 am). Click here to watch the hearing live.

The Mayor is seeking to dramatically change the Plan, essentially a rewrite, largely because the D.C. Appeals court has recently granted DC residents relief from harmful development projects based on arguments that center on violations of the Comprehensive Plan.

This plan will zone Bruce Monroe Community Park for commercial zoning, making it impossible to fight the redevelopment. Please submit testimony or sign up to testify and:

  1. Stress to the committee the importance of maintaining this important green space especially during a global pandemic;
  2. Highlight support for the resident developed Park Morton Equity Plan; and
  3. Tell the committee to take Bruce Monroe Community Park off the table for redevelopment and make Bruce Monroe’s future land use as Parks, Recreation, and Open Space (PROS).

DC Grassroots Planning Coalition (DCGPC) website has additional information about the Comprehensive Plan.

Park Redevelopment Timeline

October 29, 2020: Council of DC Committee on Business & Economic Development holds a public hearing on B23-884, “Bruce Monroe Extension of Disposition Authority Act of 2020” on the five year extension of the Bruce Monroe site.

October 2020: ANC1A and Ward 1, which includes Park Morton, passed a resolution in full support of the Park Morton Equity Plan.

September 2020: Comprehensive Plan Amendment Act of 2020 includes change to commercial zoning at Bruce Monroe Park. The hearing on this legislation will take place on Thursday, November 12 (10:00 am) and Friday, November 13, 2020 (9:00 a.m.). All residents and neighbors of Bruce Monroe Park are encouraged to testify or submit written testimony prior to the hearing in order to prevent this redevelopment from occurring on the park.

July 6, 2020: Councilmember Brianne Nadeau issues remarks on Court of Appeals decision regarding Park Morton Public Housing replacement, indicating she is disappointed by the Court of Appeals ruling on the case regarding the Bruce Monroe site on Georgia Avenue. She indicates that the new plan is to move forward to enable the construction of a modified Phase 1 of the Park Morton project, and a new build-first site on the Park Morton property that does not displace any of the current residents. She also indicates she is aware of proposals to allow The Wren to act as the build-first site for Park Morton, and supports Park Morton residents using individual vouchers to live in that building, but claims there is no avenue to claim or reserve portions of that property for use as a fully-fledged build-first site.

June 2020: Court of Appeals decision finds that the zoning commission erred in numerous ways when they issued the approval of the Planned Unit Development (PUD) for the project slated for the Bruce Monroe Park site, and vacate the commissions order nullifying it.

February 2019: The Council at Park Morton proposes the Park Morton Equity Plan (PMEP) proposing that Park Morton residents use The Wren apartment building located at 965 Floria Avenue NW (already built) as the “build-first” site while redevelopment occurs at Park Morton site. This highlights a number of common sense wins, such as: a building that is already built and ready to move into, a win-win business proposition, a public-private partnership with 130 affordable units, the best timeline opportunity, Park Morton residents remaining as Georgia Avenue neighbors, Park Morton residents achieving deserved progress & equity, the Wren sharing costs & management of an affordable program, a win-win in meeting employment goals, and a model for the city. The Equity Plan would provide options for a timeline for residents to return to the redeveloped Park Morton site.

September 2018: The Council at Park Morton forms a resident and community led team. Residents of the Park Morton housing units repeatedly ask for a change to the first build site to an alternate site that will meet their needs more expediently with the District of Columbia Housing Authority (DCHA) redevelopment of their existing buildings moving forward and many residents being displaced throughout the District and outside of DC. The Park Morton residents requests fall on deaf ears.

2018: A small hearing regarding the reauthorization of the surplus designation is conducted at the D.C. council. Brianne Nadeau ignores concerns brought by neighbhood residents, including the concerns of the Park Morton Resident Council President. The Resident Council President and petitioners call for the rescinding of the surplus designation on the Bruce Monroe Park site. Surplus designation is renewed for 2 additional years to expire in 2020.

March 2017: Four petitioners, who are neighbors of Bruce Monroe Park, file an appeal with the D.C. Court of Appeals to review zoning commission order. The appeal cites numerous errors in logic and procedure.

January/February 2017: The zoning commission holds hearings pretending to care about the community’s concerns, but clearly does not as the commission moves forward to pass a zoning order approving the project. The zoning order is verbatim from the developers’ words as submitted.

2016: Council holds hearings on the surplus designation of the Bruce Monroe Park on November 29th, 2016 and receives hundreds of letters and testimony against the use of the park site and scolds DMPED for not properly engaging the community in the decision-making process. Yet, in December of 2016 DC council approves the surplus designation of Bruce Monroe Park against the objections of many Park View neighbors, including chairpersons of  neighborhood organizations. The measure is quietly included as part of the year end consent decree, no additional consideration is given at that time

2015: Quietly announced only at the Park Morton Steering Committee meetings that the Bruce Monroe Park site will be used as the first build site for a development that has been chosen by the mayor’s office from 5 different proposals that were presented for redevelopment of that site. Bruce Monroe Park was not mentioned in the RFP nor was it used in all the other proposals.

Developer and Department of the Deputy Mayor for Planning and Economic Development (DMPED) hold sham meetings where neighborhood concerns are to be collected regarding the surplusing of the Bruce Monroe Park. Lee Goldstein, coordinator of those meetings, is later found to be having a sexual relationship with the employee of the developer who was the working to convince Park Morton residents to support the use of the Bruce Monroe Park site for development.

November 2014: DCHA issues a press release on November 12, 2014 announcing that Park View Community Partners had been selected as the new developer for Park Morton.

2014: Gray Administration cancels contract with Landex for Park Morton Redevelopment in February.  On March 31, 2014 DC Housing Authority released a Request for Proposals to redevelop Park Morton.  Section G.2. “Evaluation Factors” on page 37, section G.2. of the RFP requires the applicant to, “Provide evidence of control of the site and the proposed development plan for the Off-Site parcel.”  Bruce Monroe Park is not mentioned in the RFP. 

2013: additional $200,000+ is spent to work on continued improvements to the park, including construction of a pavilion at the center of the park. Steve Seusaer, garden coordinator, worked with Department of Parks and Recreation to develop plans for further improvements at the park (improvement plan included in zoning case exhibits).

March 2013: Landex acquired rights to lease and develop on lots along Georgia Avenue.

September 2012: Ribbon cutting ceremony held in September 2012 for The Avenue, an 83 until building comprising Phase 1 of the Landex Park Morton Redevelopment plan.  Of the 83 new units, 27 served as replacement units for Park Morton residents.

2011: Community Garden at Bruce Monroe Park constructed June 25th.

2010: Neighborhood survey shows over overwhelming support that park remain for primary use, along with possible school, recreation center, or other public recreation facility.

Summer 2009: The city plans to use the vacant lot where the Bruce Monroe School previously stood as a parking lot that will be rented to Washington Hospital Center. 

Council member Jim Graham works with neighborhood activists to provide a park on the school site pending the return of the school. $2 million is allocated toward the park, a fence is installed, as well as playground equipment, basketball courts, tennis court, and planned community garden.

August 2009: On August 10, 2009 the Fenty Administration issued a press release announcing that the demolition of the Bruce Monroe School had begun.  The press release also announced that an Request for Proposals (RFP) would be issued in the fall for a mixed use development on the school site.  The RFP did not ultimately result in any bids being awarded due to the lack of interest from developers in the midst of a global financial crisis.

The Fenty Administration selected the Landex Corporation in October 2009 as the developer for the Park Morton Redevelopment.  According to Washington Business Journal, “The developers say they have secured a contract to buy property from Central Union Mission, a homeless shelter, nearby on Georgia Avenue that likely helped secure the deal with the city. The shelter had planned to build a new shelter there but was turned away by opposition from neighbors and D.C. Councilman Jim Graham, D-Ward 1.”

May 2008: Michele Rhee, DC Public Schools Chancellor, sends a letter to parents and staff of Park View Elementary School indicating that it will merge with Bruce Monroe Elementary School at the Park View building while Bruce Monroe is rebuilt.  The memo indicates that once Bruce Monroe is rebuilt, the consolidated student body will move back to Bruce Monroe School.

2008: Park Morton Redevelopment Plan approved by City Council.  Original plan to acquire parcels of property along Georgia Avenue and adjacent to the existing Park Morton Site.

2007: Kick off meeting for the New Communities Initiative for the revitalization of Park Morton housing held.

Myth vs. Fact

MYTH

The development of Bruce Monroe Community Park is necessary to prevent displacement of Park Morton Residents.

FACT

A phased development plan is already in progress at Park Morton, and the majority of Park Morton residents have already been displaced by the DC government. There were 147 families living at Park Morton, there are now less than 60 families living onsite. Nearly all of those families have been pressured to move out with vouchers, and have moved to other parts of DC, or outside of the city.

MYTH

There is adequate demand for the market rate units that will offset the 30% subsidized replacement units and 30% affordable units at the Bruce Monroe build site.

FACT

The District of Columbia Economic and Revenue Trends: January 2020 report shows that migration into DC peaked in 2012.  This, coupled with the number of vacant rental units throughout DC, strikes at the heart of the feasibility of the Planned Unit Development (PUD) on Bruce Monroe Community Park.

MYTH

The park created after the demolition of Bruce Monroe School was only meant to be “temporary” in nature.

FACT

Initially, Bruce Monroe School was to be rebuilt, per a May 2008 memo from Michele Rhee, DC Public Schools Chancellor, with the consolidated student body from Park View School and Bruce Monroe school moving back to the Bruce Monroe School. The Bruce Monroe Community Park was later created in response to a direct call by the 2008 DC Comprehensive Plan to create more park space specifically in the Park View neighborhood. Major improvements and additional funding for the park was provided in 2013. This has been highlighted in city reports, showing it as asset to the community when it serves in city leadership’s best interest.

MYTH

The main reason behind the development of Bruce Monroe Community Park is to help Park Morton residents.

FACT

The Park Morton Resident Council President, Shonta’ High, testified against reauthorization of the surplus of Bruce Monroe Community Park last year, and was present in support of the petitioners at the Court of Appeals. Park Morton residents have developed their own resident-led plan for a Park Morton Equity Plan (PMEP) which establishes the already built Wren apartment building on Florida Ave NW as the build-first site for Park Morton while redevelopment occurs, and provides a roadmap to prevent displacement and establish human capital programs for residents. At the end of the day, the “redevelopment plan” is clearly not in the best interests of the residents of Park Morton or anyone in the community. It only serves to benefit the Mayor’s developer friends at a very high cost to the community, which is a key issue that continues to go unacknowledged.

MYTH

The Advisory Neighborhood Commissions (ANCs) support the redevelopment at Bruce Monroe Community Park.  

FACT

The vote on redevelopment was initially split. The vote would have gone against the redevelopment project, but two Commissioners with conflicting connections to the developer recused themselves instead of voting in a way which supported their constituents. The most notable Commissioner is currently serving ANC 1A10, and continues to support the redevelopment project contrary to the very constituents she is elected to represent. Only after heavy lobbying from the Mayor’s office to all of the ANC Commissioners did the motion pass at a separate meeting, in which the public was not allowed to give comment.

MYTH

The New Communities Initiative website states that the Build First principle “calls for development of new housing to begin prior to the demolition of existing distressed housing to minimize displacement.” The Bruce Monroe Park site has been labeled as the only site available to develop that will meet this metric as it relates to the redevelopment of Park Morton.

FACT

The Zoning Commission for the District of Columbia required the developer to build affordable units, per numerous citations in the Zoning Commission Order No. 16-11. Of the 174 units at Park Morton, only 90 affordable units were slated for the Bruce Monroe redevelopment. The Wren created 126 affordable units. Councilmember Brianne Nadeau indicates in her remarks on Court of Appeals decision regarding Park Morton Public Housing replacement that there is no avenue to claim or reserve portions of The Wren for use as a fully-fledged build-first site, per the request included in The Council at Park Morton’s Park Morton Equity Plan.

MYTH

The development at Bruce Monroe Community Park creates new public housing.

FACT

The planned development is only replacing some units at Park Morton that will then be torn down for development of privately owned subsidized apartments. The stated goal of the New Communities Initiatives was to deconcetrate poverty when in fact the city is concentrating poverty in a high rise building, that was previously spread out over several acres of low density buildings. It is these type of low density buildings that Park Morton residents overwhelmingly want to remain in.

Get Involved

As a community, we must stop the proposed development of a 90-foot tall apartment building at Bruce Monroe Park. Bruce Monroe Park is an asset to our community – it is used and valued by all. We can’t afford to lose this valuable green space, which includes basketball courts, tennis courts, a playground, pavilion, dog park and community garden. The community has invested in this park, and it is used and loved by the whole neighborhood.

Friends of Bruce Monroe Park understand that Park Morton must be redeveloped, but not at the expense of this community asset, especially now in the time of a global pandemic. D.C. has other options for redevelopment of Park Morton. The city must meet the needs of Park Morton families. This is not an issue of choosing Park Morton redevelopment OR keeping the Bruce Monroe Community Park. There are alternative options to redevelop Park Morton and keep Bruce Monroe Park.

The city of D.C. must: 
1. Meet Park Morton families immediate needs now and support the Park Morton Equity Plan to make the Wren the new build first site for Park Morton. Please sign the petition to guarantee TOPA/DOPA rights and first right to return to Park Morton residents.
2. Take Bruce Monroe Park off the table for redevelopment, and maintain this valued green space for the community. This means stopping the proposal in the 2020 DC Comprehensive Plan to zone Bruce Monroe as commercial space and keep the future land use as Parks, Recreation, and Open Space (PROS).
3. Reconsider alternative development sites or development of a number existing vacant properties on Georgia Ave instead.

GET INVOLVED TODAY!!

The Mayor’s Office of Planning is working to pass the 2020 DC Comprehensive Plan and our community MUST step up to stop this. The Plan zones Bruce Monroe Park as commercial zoning, making it impossible to fight the redevelopment.

PLEASE ENCOURAGE YOUR NEIGHBORS IMPACTED BY FUTURE PARK REDEVELOPMENT TO TESTIFY LIVE OR PROVIDE WRITTEN TESTIMONY PRIOR TO THE HEARING. The hearing on this legislation will take place on Thursday, November 12 (10:00 am) and Friday, November 13, 2020 (9:00 am). Testimony can be written, transcribed, or given live at the hearing. More information on how to provide written testimony or sign up to testify in person can be found on Chairman Phil Mendelson’s Comprehensive Plan Amendment Act of 2020 resources page.

Write to your councilmember to demand that green spaces are valued in this city. Ward 1 Councilmember Brianne Nadeau has made her support of the redevelopment of Bruce Monroe Park clear in a recent statement issued regarding the Court of Appeals Decision on Park Morton Public Housing Replacement.

Donate to Friends of Bruce Monroe and help maintain this important green space.

Put a sign in your yard to raise awareness of the proposed 90-foot tall apartment building that will replace the green space currently at Bruce Monroe Community Park. Contact us at [email protected] for a sign!