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Rhode Island Metro project gets WMATA board approval

(Published January 28, 2002)

Metro officials are negotiating an agreement with developers who have proposed building 270 apartments, shops and a seven-story parking deck at the Rhode Island Avenue Metro station.

The Rhode Island Metro Plaza project, which seeks to complement the huge Kmart/Giant/Home Depot retail development currently under construction on a site adjacent to the Metro land, was approved Dec. 20 by the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority board.

Alvin McNeal, head of Metro’s joint development section, said he expects negotiations on an agreement with the developers to be completed sometime in March. The completed agreement also requires approval by the WMATA board, he said.

McNeal said he expects any agreement for the project to be contingent upon the developers being granted the needed mixed-use rezoning of the industrial land.

The land would be leased on a long-term basis from Metro, which would require that on-site parking remain available for Metrorail riders, he said.

The development proposal presented to WMATA said the project also is contingent upon the D.C. government awarding $32.7 million in tax-exempt bond financing and formation of a tax-increment financing district to support repayment of an $8.3 million loan to build the parking garage.

Some neighborhood residents have expressed opposition to the project due to concerns over traffic congestion.

The proposal includes up to 70,000 square feet of retail space on the ground floor of two apartment buildings, which the developers say would include 54 "affordable" housing units.

The project was proposed by a joint development team that includes Michigan-based Graimark/Walker, which is developing the Kmart site.

Joining Graimark/Walker in the proposal to create a destination shopping corridor along Rhode Island Avenue NE are Mid-City Urban LLC and A&R Development Corp., two companies that have been involved in the city government's efforts to use the federal Hope VI grant program to redevelop public housing complexes.

Copyright 2002, The Common Denominator