Reading Councilman Lavelle’s most recent newsletter (this was a few weeks ago at this point), my wife, Bonnie, Co-Director of the Hill District Consensus Group, pointed out to me that there were new plans for housing on Centre Ave in the New Granada Theater. Going to the URA agenda from the November 8th meeting, I believe I found (the language is almost impenetrable) that the URA has one year option to buy the land next to the New Granada Theater for $45,000 from the Hill House Economic Development Corp. and that this option has been given or assigned to a new entity called New Granada Square Housing LP (I assume the LP stands for Limited Partnership). This LP consists of the Hill District Development Corp and Ralph A. Farbo, Inc. In talking to the Councilman, he confirmed local news accounts that the option gives the development entity “site control” so that almost $11 million in tax credits can be sought.
The plans noted in the November 8th, URA Board Agenda state that the development is to include 35 single bedroom units and 16 two bedroom units with about 80% being for people who earn up to 60% of the Area Median Income or AMI. I asked Ms. Milliones what AMI rate would be applied to the housing and she shared that it would be the $64,000 for a family, so potential renters can earn up to $38,400. As I write this I am concerned about applying a family rate to single bedroom units…
The question both my wife and I had was why was this development had not been presented at the Hill CDC’s community meeting to review proposals submitted in response to the Centre Ave Request for Proposals. So, I wrote Ms Marimba Milliones, Executive Director of the Hill District Development Corporation and copied Councilman Lavelle, since he has played the lead role in the process to redevelop Centre Ave. Ms. Milliones explained was that this land had not been included in the Centre Ave RFP because the Hill CDC had had a vision for this property that connected it to the theater going back several years, if not a decade, and to include the land around the New Granada Theater in the Centre Ave RFP could lead to incongruous plans for the theater and the land that surrounds it. Councilman Lavelle followed up on his own and offered the same explanation with the additional history that the Hill House Economic Development Corporation had also had plans for this land at some point. I can understand the idea of protecting the opportunity of Hill District organizations to play an important role in the development of the neighborhood, but the fact that the Hill CDC was selected by the URA to manage the Centre Ave Redevelopment process and also has its own development work happening on Centre Ave again demonstrates the benefits of a separate comunity body to approve development plans in the neighborhood. Please see here my Laing letter to Lavelle-Support the Planning Forum asking him to reconsider his lack of support for the Hill District Consensus Group’s Planning Forum.
More to think about regarding how we are going to deal with housing, income, gentrification in this changing Hill District and so will return to this topic. Thanks to Councilman Lavelle and Ms. Milliones for setting aside time to answer questions and discuss this project and to my wife for pointing it out to begin with.