Two leaders of Foggy Bottom’s top advocacy group claim the neighborhood would lose half a million dollars in public land if the University alters an alley to construct a new office building.
Advisory Neighborhood commissioners Asher Corson and Jackson Carnes said at a special meeting Tuesday they will lobby the D.C. Council to prevent the University from reconfiguring the alley, which is one step in GW’s construction project on Pennsylvania Avenue.
Corson, an alumnus, and Carnes, a senior at GW, want the University to compensate the neighborhood for the $520,500 value of the alley.
Corson said when the alley proposal first came before the ANC, a surveyor had not completed a property value report.
“We think the city should be gaining something concrete and something that is representative of the value of the land that is being given away,” Corson said. “These are taxpayer resources, and they should not just be given away.”
The alley will shift closer to I Street as part of the construction project, an adjustment that creates more property value, Carnes said.
The University has yet to pick a developer for the project, which will tear down several townhouses and local businesses to build an 11-story office building. As part of the plan, the University agreed to pay $4 million in neighbor perks, including affordable housing on F Street and a real-time Metro transit information board.
The ANC supported the alley change last fall, and the ANC as a whole, which weighs in on neighborhood issues like zoning, business licenses and construction plans, did not overturn its decision at Tuesday’s meeting.
Patrick Kennedy, a senior at GW who was recently elected chairman of the group, said he didn’t think his colleagues’ argument was credible because GW purchased the land that includes the alley.
“If the District or federal government owned the land, it would be a different matter. Because they didn’t do that, asking GW to pay for the differential in land value is like asking them to pay twice,” Kennedy said. “If the alley was needed at all, I would support holding this up.”
GW closed another alley in August to construct the new residence hall known colloquially as the “superdorm.” Carnes’ complaints about that arrangement spurred a preliminary ethics investigation into Foggy Bottom’s Council member Jack Evans after Carnes said Evans gave away the alley in exchange for GW’s support of his mayoral bid. The investigation never turned up evidence of Carnes’ claims.
“What Jackson is alleging never happened. It’s honestly absurd,” Evans said then.