LEARN THE FACTS ABOUT THE CONGRESS HEIGHTS METRO SITE DEVELOPMENT

CityPartners 5914 Offers Existing Tenants Beautiful New Apartments at the Same Rates They Pay Today, the Chance to Become Partners in the New Project Featuring Affordable Apartments, Shops, Restaurants and Offices, and a Substantial Payment to Each Household

CityPartners, the Washington, DC, group that is dedicated to redeveloping urban areas and strengthening communities, has plans to build a world-class development at the Congress Heights Metro Site in Southeast DC. The project, which was approved by the DC Zoning Commission for a “Planned Unit Development” or PUD, will preserve affordable housing in the District while adding beautiful retail shops, restaurants, and offices in Ward 8.

 

CityPartners has offered $100,000 to each of the ten tenants who have recently moved out of the existing apartments at the site. CityPartners also is offering all ten tenants the opportunity to move back into the new buildings at their current rental rates and will treat the residents with the care and respect they deserve. 
 

Here are the real facts about the Congress Heights Metro Site development:

Rendering of Congress Heights Metro Development, Alabama Avenue

About The Project

CITYPARTNERS OFFERS $100,000 TO EACH OF THE TEN TENANTS AT THE METRO SITE, PLUS THE OPPORTUNITY TO MOVE BACK INTO THE NEW BUILDINGS AT THEIR CURRENT RENTAL RATES​

Offers Existing Tenants Beautiful New Apartments at Same Rates They Pay Today, and the Chance to Become Investors in New Project Featuring Affordable Apartments, Shops, Restaurants and Offices

WASHINGTON, DC – CityPartners, the Washington-based development group that is dedicated to redeveloping urban areas and strengthening communities, has offered each of the ten tenants at the Congress Heights Metro site $100,000, plus the opportunity to move back into the new buildings at their current rental rates. In what may be the most generous offer ever to DC-based tenants under the District’s “Tenant Opportunity to Purchase Act,” or TOPA, CityPartners 5914 is also offering the ten remaining households a suite of verifiable benefits. Alternately, if the tenants want to partner with an outside developer to purchase the buildings, CityPartners will sell it to them for the appraised value.

The iron-clad offer includes:

 

  • A $100,000.00 payment to each Tenant Association member household

  • CityPartners 5914 (the governing LLC) will pay the taxes on the initial $100,000 payment, for an additional amount up to $10,000 per Tenant Association member household

  • CityPartners 5914 has paid and will continue to pay for each household’s relocation/moving costs

  • CityPartners 5914 is willing to allow tenants to move back into the new development at their current rental rates

  • CityPartners 5914 is open to having tenants invest in and participate in the new development, with a minimum investment of $10,000.  Their investment would be considered as equity in the new project, and tenants could receive a preferred interest rate of 7%

  • CityPartners will arrange for a financial consultant—if requested—to help each Tenant Association member household decide how best to invest their $100,000 payment.

“We will be building a world-class development in Congress Heights that preserves affordable housing in the District, and we hope to partner with the existing tenants so they can benefit from it,” said Geoffrey Griffis, Founder and Managing Member of CityPartners. “We have made very generous offers to each of the tenants, enough to help them make significant down payments on a new house of their own—or to save the money and move back into new apartments at their current rental rates.”

The $120 million project will feature affordable housing, market-rate housing, and shops and restaurants for the whole neighborhood

Background:

CityPartners has been working for years to transform the Congress Heights Metro site while doing right by the community’s residents. CityPartners is the sole developer of the adjacent Metro site and, in that role, helped take the project successfully through the Zoning Commission in 2015.

 

In December 2017, CityPartners took possession of three apartment buildings adjacent to the Congress Heights Metro Station through an affiliated limited liability company. CityPartners 5914, LLC, acquired the properties—1309 Alabama Ave., SE, 1331-1333 Alabama Ave., SE, and 3210 13th St., SE—from affiliates of Sanford Capital, LLC, through a “deed in lieu of foreclosure” transaction. That’s a transfer of the title on the properties to avoid foreclosure, which was imminent as the affiliates of Sanford Capital had stopped making mortgage payments to CityPartners, the lender at the time of the “deed in lieu of foreclosure” transaction, and to the banks prior to that. In addition, city officials had sued the affiliates of Sanford Capital and Sanford Capital, LLC, for a pattern of neglect and multiple housing-code violations.
 

Prior to acquiring the properties in 2017, CityPartners had no ownership of or control over the apartment buildings.  CityPartners was disgusted and frustrated with the way that Sanford Capital treated the tenants and their homes, and tried on multiple occasions to intervene and to purchase the buildings.

 

 

The Future:

The new development will feature more affordable apartments than currently exist in the Congress Heights buildings, plus market-rate apartments, retail shops, restaurants, and offices to serve booming Southeast DC, across from the city’s new $65 million practice facility for the Washington Wizards basketball team and arena for the Washington Mystics WNBA team.

 

As part of the project, CityPartners also pledges to:

 

  • Provide jobs to Ward 8 residents during construction

  • Provide free office space to the Ward 8 Advisory Neighborhood Commission, for five years

  • Contribute generously to a variety of Ward 8 community-based non-profit organizations

 

“The redevelopment at the Congress Heights Metro site is a crucial project that will enhance safety and a sense of community along Alabama Avenue.  We look forward to working with the Congress Heights residents to make their neighborhood a centerpiece of the city,” Griffis added.

 

Here’s how the Washington Business Journal described this vibrant new project.

 

 

Geoffrey Griffis

In three decades as a DC resident, Geoffrey Griffis has been extensively involved in design, planning, housing, and community and civic activities.

 

In the early 1990s, as a resident of the Columbia Heights neighborhood, and while working towards his Masters in Architecture at Catholic University, Griffis held the position of Affordable Housing Specialist at the non-profit, Reston Interfaith, Inc., where he coordinated the selection, purchase, and management of Section 8 townhouses; facilitated a $12.5 million purchase of a 221(d)(3) property containing 198 units and established a home ownership counseling program that gained HUD certification.

During this time, Griffis volunteered to lead the community planning process that created the “Community Based Plan for the Columbia Heights Metro Station Area” in 1997.

 

Griffis was an associate and senior designer at several premier architecture firms in DC for ten years, where he was in charge of large planning initiatives, building renovations, urban multi-family and commercial design projects.

 

In 2001, Griffis was appointed by Mayor Anthony Williams to serve on the District of Columbia Board of Zoning Adjustment.  He served on the board for seven years, and was Chairman for six years.

 

Since forming his development group, CityPartners, in 2005, Griffis has partnered in the development and design of over 4 million square feet of mixed use projects, including The Wharf, The Hyatt Place DC/National Mall and Fire Station in SW DC, as well as other dynamic, urban, mixed-use projects. Griffis also owns one other rental building in the District, and he is uniformly considered a responsive and attentive landlord. 

 

Griffis is a founding member and is currently the Chairman of the Board of Directors for the SW Business Improvement District (SWBID).

In 2015, Griffis formed CityPartners Pathways, which offers hospitality apprenticeship opportunities at the Hyatt Place Hotel.  CityPartners Pathways is the first and only hospitality apprenticeship program in DC that serves 18-24 years-olds from Wards 7 & 8.  To date, 31 apprentices have gone through the training program, and 23 of those trainees have been offered permanent jobs at the hotel.

Click above to learn more 

Click above to learn more 

 

Frequently Asked Questions

1. Who is Geoffrey Griffis?
Geoffrey Griffis is the Founder and Managing Member of CityPartners, the Washington-based group that is dedicated to redeveloping urban areas and strengthening communities. Over a long and distinguished career as a developer, designer, and civic volunteer, Griffis has been committed to improving the lives of District citizens, particularly those in need.  Griffis began his career as an affordable housing specialist and, more recently, he formed CityPartners Pathways. It’s a hospitality apprenticeship program for 18-24 year-olds from Wards 7 and 8 that has trained 31 young women and men in all areas of the hospitality industry. To date, 23 of those apprentices have gone on to hold permanent jobs at the Hyatt Place Hotel, where Griffis is an owner.
 

2. Opponents of the Congress Heights Metro project are very critical of Griffis. What’s the truth?
Geoffrey Griffis only owns one other rental building in DC. He has earned the respect of the tenants in that building, and will likewise do so in Congress Heights. When CityPartners purchased the 19-room apartment building in Anacostia in 2015, the building was in terrible disrepair and squatters and drug dealers ran wild. Today, the building is safe and secure and the tenants are grateful. CityPartners has renovated nearly every apartment in the building, plus all the common areas. The building is 100% occupied. That’s Griffis’s track record in DC as a landlord, and one he will continue at Congress Heights.
 

3. Why didn't Griffis take care of the tenants at Congress Heights before?
Until December 29, 2017, Griffis had absolutely no legal or financial involvement in any Sanford-owned buildings. He was not a partner or owner of the Congress Heights apartment buildings or any other Sanford-owned buildings. As such, he had no control over what happened to the residents of Congress Heights, or their apartments.  He had control over the Metro site, but never the apartment buildings that fell into disrepair. Griffis tried several times to purchase the buildings from Sanford Capital, but his offers were repeatedly rejected. Now that Griffis has control of the buildings, Sanford and their owners are 100% out and will have no future interests in these buildings. “I have no intention in ever being involved with Sanford again,” Griffis said.
 

4. Was the transfer of the Sanford apartment buildings to Griffis and his companies legal?
Yes. CityPartners 5914, LLC, (“CityPartners”) acquired the properties—1309 Alabama Ave., SE, 1331-1333 Alabama Ave., SE, and 3210 13th St., SE—from affiliates of Sanford Capital, LLC, in a “deed in lieu of foreclosure” transaction. That’s a transfer of the title on the properties to avoid foreclosure, which was imminent as the affiliates of Sanford Capital had stopped making mortgage payments to CityPartners, the lender at the time of the “deed in lieu of foreclosure” transaction, and to the banks prior to that. While we realize that the transfer of the buildings took place quickly and may have come as a surprise to some, it was completely legal, and absolutely did not remove the tenants' TOPA rights.  Further, this question was resolved in DC Superior Court when the Court found that “CityPartners5914 is the current owner of record.”
 

5. Will the current tenants at the Congress Heights Metro Site lose their TOPA rights?
No!  In June 2018, CityPartners5914 gave the tenants a purchase notice which triggered TOPA (Tenant Opportunity to Purchase Act.) The tenants responded by forming an association and indicating that they would like the opportunity to purchase the property. 

 

6. What is CityPartners 5914 offering to the tenants as an alternative to purchasing the buildings?

There are ten members of the Tenant Association.  If they decide to not purchase the buildings, then CityPartners 5914 has pledged to give them all of the following:

 

  • A $100,000.00 payment to each Tenant Association member household

  • CityPartners 5914 will pay the taxes on the initial payment, for an additional amount up to $10,000 per Tenant Association member household

  • CityPartners 5914 has and will continue to pay for each household’s relocation/moving costs

  • CityPartners 5914 is willing to allow tenants to move back into the new development at their current rental rates

  • CityPartners 5914 is open to having tenants invest in and participate in the new development, with a minimum investment of $10,000.  Their investment would be considered as equity in the new project, and tenants could receive a preferred interest rate of 7%

  • CityPartners will arrange for and cover costs for a financial consultant—if requested—to help each Tenant Association member household decide how best to invest their $100,000 payment

7.  What will the new buildings at the Congress Heights Metro Site feature?
The new development will feature affordable apartments, market-rate apartments, retail shops, underground parking, restaurants and offices to serve booming Southeast DC, across from the city’s new $65 million practice facility for the Washington Wizards basketball team and arena for the Washington Mystics WNBA team. As part of the project, CityPartners also pledges to:

- Provide jobs to Ward 8 residents during construction
- Provide free office space to the Ward 8 Advisory Neighborhood Commission, for five years
- Contribute generously to a variety of Ward 8 community-based non-profit organizations

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