The District is once again seeking developers for part of a 50-acre site near RFK Stadium where neighbors have now seen two previous mayoral administrations make promises that went unfulfilled.
"Maybe the third time's a charm," said local Advisory Neighborhood Commissioner Neil Glick.
The site, called Hill East, has long generated complaints from residents, who have said the city uses it as a "dumping ground" for its social services while making promises that it will eventually bring economic development there. The area, which runs from Massachusetts Avenue Southeast up to East Capitol Street at the D.C. Armory, was marked more than a decade ago for redevelopment. But instead the city has moved homeless shelters and methadone clinics to the area while development ideas failed to get off the ground.
Now the city has issued a Request For an Expression of Interest on just the two parcels closest to the Stadium-Armory Metro station near the Robert F. Kennedy Stadium. It's a departure from past attempts, which have sought a single developer for the entire site.
Glick, who is also a real estate agent, said he was "disappointed" the city wasn't seeking a master developer but called the move "a step in the right direction."
"I think it could really spark a positive with the project getting underway," he said.
The city wants to hear from developers interested in pitching a plan that would include mixed-use development, including room for mixed-income residences. Developers would also have to create an open neighborhood square that opens up from the Metro station.
Jose Sousa, a spokesman for the deputy mayor for economic development, said the city was seeking a phased approach in order to generate buzz about the project. It also gives D.C. time to consolidate and relocate the social services that take up the rest of Hill East.
"We understand [residents'] frustration and have been meeting with them to talk about why a phased approach is more realistic and helps in seeking operations that require no or little subsidy," he said.
Hill East last came up in the news when it was floated last fall as a possible site for a new Washington Redskins practice facility after team owner Dan Snyder began shopping around outside of Loudoun County. D.C. officials went so far as to take a trip to Tampa Bay to study that city's development around Raymond James Stadium, where the NFL's Buccaneers play.
This summer, Snyder announced he was moving training camp to Richmond while also getting an expanded practice facility in Loudoun.