Greater Greater Washington

Posts about Affordable Housing

Development


Silver Spring's old police station could become new artist housing

Three years ago, Silver Spring neighbors proposed turning an old police station into artists studios. Now, it looks like they might get their wish, along with new housing for artists.


The police station today. Photo from Google Street View.

Minneapolis-based developer Artspace wants to turn the old 3rd District Police Station on Sligo Avenue in downtown Silver Spring into artist work space, in addition to adding 68 apartments in a new, four-story building and 11 townhomes. Artspace builds artist housing and studio space around the country, including developments in Brookland and Mount Rainier.

In the proposal, a new apartment building would wrap around the old police station, forming an "F" shape. The lawn in front of the police station on Sligo Avenue would become a public, partially paved plaza, while a rear courtyard would give the residents private open space. To the east, eleven townhouses would sit along Grove Street, with an alley and parking lot in back.


The proposed plan. Image from Artspace.

For artists to move in, they need a place to live

Montgomery County vacated the 1960's-era police station last year after a new one opened in White Oak last year. In 2012, a proposal to tear down the police station and build townhouses met opposition from neighbors in the adjacent East Silver Spring neighborhood, which with nearby Takoma Park has had a long history of attracting people in the arts.

Neighbors and architects Steve Knight and Karen Burditt wrote an op-ed in the Silver Spring Voice saying that the building should become an arts center modeled on the Torpedo Factory in Alexandria, and that the green space around the building become a community garden.

At the time, I suggested that the arts center idea would only really work if there were also artist housing, since people who make art for a living often have a limited income and may not be able to afford close-in, urban neighborhoods like Silver Spring.

The county eventually did reach out to Artspace, and officials announced the projectearlier this year. While neighbors were initially skeptical of any housing on the site, the East Silver Spring Civic Association unanimously voted to support this project.


Artspace building in Mount Rainier. Photo from Google Street View.

It's great that neighbors are okay with building some townhouses here, considering how other Silver Spring neighborhoods fought building them. They're a great option for households who need more space than an apartment but less than a house—especially in Silver Spring, where most housing is either high-rise apartments or single-family homes.

We don't know what the units will look like on the outside, but hopefully they'll incorporate high-quality materials and be designed to look good on all four sides, since the backs of the townhouses will face the plaza.

Overall, the project looks like a great compromise. Neighbors get an arts center that allows them to showcase their work and some open space. Artists get studio space and housing they can actually afford. And the community as a whole gets a new gathering place in the form of a public plaza.

Artspace's plans will go to the Montgomery County Planning Board for review December 17.

Development


More DC residents are worried about housing costs than ever

Housing is a major worry for District residents. A majority say that rising prices might force them to move out of the city, according to a recent Washington Post poll.


Photo by the author.

Buried a recent headline about the racial difference between whether residents felt welcome in what some have come to think of as the "new DC"—the Post's headline was "Poll: White residents in D.C. think redevelopment helps them. Black residents don't."—was this statement about mobility:

Overall, the poll found that 56 percent of District residents say that housing costs would force them to the suburbs if they had to move, an increase from 48 percent in a 2011 Washington Post-Kaiser Family Foundation poll.
Rising prices are making it harder for current residents to stay near the economic opportunity that's in the District, and for new residents to move toward it. That's a scary thought for any place that wants to retain the idealism and ambition that drive its progress.

This isn't a new problem, but it's getting much worse over time because demand keeps growing faster than supply. If we could build more housing units—and build them more densely—there would be room in the market for someone to offer places to live even for people with modest budgets.

People moving to the suburbs is also, of course, troubling from a smart growth perspective. If we can build enough to accommodate more residents (and we can), why are we at a point where a majority of DC residents feel like the best move is out toward the sprawl?

Another interesting poll finding: DC voters apparently care more about housing than transportation. 21% of DC voters say housing or gentrification should be mayor's #1 priority, vs. 4% in 2011. Only 8% answered transportation.

Development


Not all the housing in a region costs the same, despite what headlines imply

We often see headlines about the most expensive cities in America, where writers look at the average or median price for renting. But by zeroing in on a single number, those reports doesn't always paint a complete picture of affordability.


Graphic by the author. Click for an interactive version.

I developed an interactive graph where users can explore how many people are living in neighborhoods (in the graph above, I looked at ZIP codes) of differing prices.

Measuring a city's rent with the median—the middle number in a series of numbers—is useful for quick comparisons. But in only using one number, we lose valuable information about affordability because we ignore the variation in prices.

While the median rent for the entire DC census-designated urban area is about $1500, some areas are cheaper (the 20010 ZIP code, containing northern Columbia Heights and Mount Pleasant sits around $1250) and others are more expensive (20016, the Palisades, is at $1800).

In the interactive graph, the X axis measures rent and the Y axis measures the percent of the city's population living in a ZIP code where the median rent is less than X. For example, in the chart above, we see that 60.5% of Houstonians live in a ZIP code where the median monthly rent is no more than $999. The further a city's series is to the right, the more expensive it is.​ You can read more about the technical details here.

According to this data, DC is one of the most expensive urban areas in the US. (This is consistent with the area-wide median rent figure, which is higher than that of most cities.) There's a clear shortage of affordable areas: only about 6% of DC-area residents live in a ZIP code where median rent is less than $1000. That's slightly worse than other expensive places, like the Bay Area (7%) and NYC (9%), and considerably worse than more affordable cities, like Chicago (57%).

What do you notice in these graphs?

Development


In an effort to revitalize, DC once sold houses for $1. The program wasn't very effective.

Imagine plunking down $1 for a two-story Victorian rowhouse in Bloomingdale or LeDroit Park. Add to your windfall a three-percent loan to rehabilitate the house and free counseling and assistance with the process from a District non-profit. That might sound too good to be true, but for a number of years in the 70s, it wasn't.


There was a time when some of these houses only cost $1. Image by the author.

For seven years between 1974 and 1981, District residents could buy so-called "dollar houses" from the city in a program known as urban homesteading. It was an affordable housing program ripped from the pages of American history and reconfigured in distressed urban neighborhoods throughout the country.

The premise was simple: Selling first-time homebuyers abandoned properties that had been looted, vandalized, and home to squatters and drug deals was a way to bring houses up to code and restore them to municipal tax rolls, spur reinvestment, and promote homeownership among public housing residents and other low-income apartment dwellers.

Washington was among the first cities—after Wilmington (Delaware), Philadelphia, and Baltimore—to embrace urban homesteading. The federally run Office of Housing and Urban Development sold transferred properties to these cities and hundreds of others.

DC was in rough shape when the program came about

There's no indicator of urban blight quite like abandoned housing. It is neighborhood disinvestment's most visible attribute. Broken windows, frayed building fabric, and unkempt lawns are its hallmarks. Squatters, prostitution, drug sales, crimes against neighboring properties and people, diminished public services, and plummeting property values are its symptoms.

"Neighborhoods tend to take on characteristics of their homes, and people take on the qualities of the neighborhood," wrote District of Columbia City Council members in 1969.

In the late 1960s vacant, unsalable, and uninhabitable housing emerged as a critical issue in Washington. "We are destroying housing," Gilbert Hahn and Sterling Tucker told Washingtonian magazine in the summer of 1969. "All over town are abandoned houses and apartment buildings."


Third St. NE dollar house before rehabilitation. Photo published in the Washington Star, March 28, 1977.

The city's abandoned housing stock included single-family homes and apartment buildings. In 1972 consultants to the District government published a report on abandoned housing in the city. The document identified 3,260 abandoned housing units—1,634 individual structures. There were abandoned properties citywide and the greatest concentration was in the far southeast end of the city.

Abandoned properties could become homesteads

Urban homesteading is an affordable housing policy that converts abandoned properties into habitable homes. Two types of urban homesteading emerged in the early 1970s: local homesteading programs and the federal Urban Homesteading Demonstration Program, authorized under the Housing and Community Development Act of 1974.

DC leaders and affordable housing advocates began discussing urban homesteading as early as 1972. In early 1974, District Delegate Walter Fauntroy introduced and championed homesteading legislation in Congress. Mayor Walter Washington also threw his support behind creating a District urban homesteading program.

Anti-poverty activist Nadine Winter (1924-2011) was the person, however, driving the District's homesteading wagon. Winter was a North Carolina native who moved to Washington in 1947. A decade later she founded Hospitality House in the city's Northeast, one of the District's first supportive housing programs. In the 1960s, Winter also worked as a community organizer for the United Planning Organization. The Washington Star in 1966 dubbed her a "One-Woman Poverty War." Winter's housing and anti-poverty efforts helped win her a seat in 1974 on the District's first elected council.

The new DC Department of Housing and Community Development managed the program and Hospitality House processed the applications to ensure that only District residents who met specific income criteria were selected.

Successful applicants had to be employed, and there were income requirements as well. Each homesteader was required to use low-interest loans to bring the properties up to housing code within one year, and they were required to show the skill necessary to do so. All homesteaders then were required to live in their homes for at least five years.

Despite lots of interest, the program didn't actually help that many people

Once the District announced the urban homesteading program, more than 3,000 people applied for the homes. 1,500 met the qualification criteria. Demand far outstripped the supply of ready homes and the District, like other cities, used a lottery to award the dollar homes to qualified applicants. The first lottery was held outside the District Building on Pennsylvania Ave. July 13, 1974.

The first batch of urban homesteaders received the titles to 13 homes in late 1974. The initial batch of new homeowners included a Giant Foods warehouse worker and his family, who paid one dollar for a house on Trinidad Avenue NE. Another included a family with parents working for a local nonprofit and in the Navy Yard. Teachers, clerical workers, and health care workers and their families—many of them former apartment and public housing occupants—became urban homesteaders during the program's life.


A dollar house on Third Street NE in 2015. Photo by the author.

Despite a large inventory of HUD homes and foreclosed properties, the District government sold less than 100 of the dollar homes. Councilperson Winter and the African American press repeatedly chastised housing officials for not releasing more homesteading properties.

A 1974 editorial published in the Washington Afro-American recognized the need for more affordable housing. Writing on the perils of disintegrated neighborhoods, the author presciently observed that the then-proposed urban homesteading program was little more than a band-aid.

"Such a token number of homes no more deserves the title 'program' than a token black face in an office deserves the title 'integration'," wrote the paper. "What it really amounts to is a mere pittance compared to the remaining need."

Washington's urban homesteading program was eliminated after 1981. Anecdotal sources suggest that Mayor Marion Barry didn't want to pay higher prices for HUD houses. Others suggest a mismanaged program.

"I think that there was dysfunction in the housing department and it never worked right," recalled former DHCD program director Lynn French in a 2015 interview.

Newspaper articles from the 1980s hint at some of the dysfunction French mentioned, including allegations District officials failed to to their due diligence in clearing the titles to the properties prior to transferring them to homeowners, the result being that some of the homesteading properties still had liens against them when the titles were transferred.

The program likely failed from a combination of factors, including reductions in federal Community Development Block Grant funds and other cutbacks introduced after President Ronald Reagan was inaugurated in 1981. Others include the failure to concentrate homesteading properties in particular neighborhoods. Individual homeowners benefited, but the fortunes of the neighborhoods where the homesteading properties were located didn't rise with the individuals.

Author's note: Learn more about Washington's urban homesteading program at this year's Conference on DC Historical Studies.

Development


High-rise mobile homes could revolutionize apartment living

Mass-produced mobile homes are one of rural America's most important forms of housing. One company wants to try the same concept with urban apartments. It's a batty idea that may not work, but if it does, it could help to solve America's urban affordability crisis.

The idea works like this: Rather than custom-designing every individual building, what if apartment buildings were mere frames, and apartments were mobile boxes that simply slipped into docks, the way cars park in a parking garage?

When people who live in mobile apartments move from one city to another, they could take their entire apartment with them. Slide out of your frame in Denver and slide into one in San Francisco, and keep on living without the disruption of emptying your home to a shell.

Perhaps most importantly, the company pushing this idea says they'd be drastically cheaper than a studio apartment.

The company, Kasita, is building a prototype in Austin next year, where they say they'll rent units for around $600 a month. That's half the cost of a downtown Austin studio.

Trade-offs abound

Obviously, there are trade-offs to this idea. At 200 square feet, these would be small apartments. Suitable for a single person, crowded for a couple, and hard to work with for a family.

Kasita's version comes comes with high-tech bells and whistles like customizable wall panels, including speakers, shelves, a bike rack, even a fish tank and fireplace. But surely, if this concept takes off, competing companies would begin to offer more bare-bones versions.


Bells and whistles. Rendering from Kasita.

Kasita's claim of $600 per month remains theoretical, and who knows how much it would actually cost to move one.

And aesthetically, a lot of people will think they're ugly. Like shipping container apartments, mobile apartments will necessarily have an industrial look. A city full of these might quickly begin to feel oppressive.

The Japanese example

This is actually not a new idea. Japan has been home to some experiments in capsule architecture, most notably the 1972 Nakagin Capsule Tower. But Nakagin proved impractical and unpopular, and has slipped into disrepair. Fair from proving the concept works, it actually shows how failure is more likely than success.

These are real trade-offs, impossible to ignore. But given America's growing affordability crisis, maybe they're trade-offs that are worth experimenting with, sometimes, in some places, for some people.

Cross-posted at BeyondDC.

Zoning


DC Council chairman Phil Mendelson is blocking Mayor Bowser's zoning board nominee

Mayor Muriel Bowser has nominated David Franco, a local developer, to sit on the DC Zoning Commission, but DC Council Chairman Phil Mendelson is blocking the nomination. I spoke with Franco about work, his vision for DC, and his views on the need to build more housing.


David Franco. Image from video by Level 2 Development.

Franco would replace Marcie Cohen, a former affordable housing and community development professional. Cohen has been a strong advocate for zoning that allows more overall housing in DC, speaking about the need for more housing many times. (Disclosure: she also lives on my block.)

It'll be important for Cohen's successor to also understand the importance of growing the District's housing supply so that new and long-time residents can all find places to live that they can afford. Does Franco? I sat down with him to find out.

Mendelson isn't happy about developer nominees

Mayor Bowser chose Franco after Cohen's term expired earlier this year. However, he first has to be confirmed by the DC Council, and the Zoning Commission falls under the purview of Chairman Phil Mendelson. After a few months passed without a hearing, Mendelson recently said he's not planning to move forward.

Mendelson told the Washington Blade that he's concerned about having developers on the commission. "David Franco is an active developer with a development company that has cases before the Zoning Commission," he told reporter Lou Chibbaro, Jr. "He or his company has appeared before the Zoning Commission several times over the last 24 months. That's the primary concern I have."

Mendelson also told Chibbaro he was unhappy Bowser didn't talk with stakeholders like citizens' groups before making her pick.

Whether developers should sit on the commission has been controversial in the past. When Adrian Fenty was mayor, he nominated two developers and the council, then chaired by Vincent Gray rejected one. When Gray went on to be mayor, he nominated Cohen and his longtime staffer Rob Miller; the commission now includes no developers.

Cohen's not a typical community member; Franco, not a typical developer

Both Cohen and Miller have been strong supporters of the overall need to build more housing. On recent cases about whether homeowners can rent out basements or garages or add units to row houses, Miller and Cohen have been the strongest votes for increasing housing supply. Chairman Anthony Hood (who Fenty wanted to replace and Gray renominated) along with Architect of the Capitol representative Michael Turnbull have been more skeptical of the need for housing, and the National Park Service's Peter May has been the swing vote on key decisions.

Unlike many developers, Franco has also been a supporter of the District's Inclusionary Zoning program which granted extra density in exchange for requiring projects to include some below-market affordable housing. He speaks very proudly of a deal he worked out to save affordable housing on 14th Street across from his View 14 development.

I recently spoke with Franco about his development work and his vision for his service on the Zoning Commission. Here are some of his answers; an upcoming post will delve into some specific issues we discussed in more detail.


Discount Mart in Anacostia. Photo by AboutMyTrip dotCom on Flickr.

Tell me a bit about your history in DC, including your business ventures, and your work in development.

My father owned a children's apparel, furniture and toy store on 12th and G Street, which was originally opened by my uncle in 1939. As a child, I grew up in my father's store and he helped launch my family's other retail venture, Discount Mart, which was a chain of discount department stores serving areas of northeast and southeast DC.

In my early 20s, I left the family business to join a partnership that acquired Tracks Nightclub and Trumpets restaurant. After a few years, I realized the nightlife business was not for me an decided to go back to my retail roots, opening up a chain of men's clothing stores catering to the gay market.

The business eventually grew to six outlets before I realized I could no longer ignore my passion for architecture and my fascination with urban planning, which led me to real estate development. I partnered with a close friend, Jeff Blum, and in 2003, we finished our first project together—a 12-unit condo development on Chapin Street called The Mercury.

We [later] acquired the Nehemiah Shopping Center, which had become run-down and crime-ridden at the time, and we redeveloped it into Capital View Apartments on 14th St. We also developed The Harper on 14th Street and the Keener-Squire and Takoma Central apartment buildings in Takoma, DC.


View 14, at the corner of 14th and Florida. Images from Level 2 Development.

What development project in DC are you most proud of and why?

Without a doubt, View 14 [at Florida Avenue and 14th Street NW] is our proudest accomplishment. Through the project's Planned Unit Development, we were able to come up with a really creative approach to save the 48-unit Crest Hill Apartments (now Milestone Apartments) from losing its low-income affordability, which would have resulted in the building being redeveloped as market-rate apartments.

During the time that we were beginning to develop View 14, Crest Hill Apartments across the street was being sold at market rate and the tenants could not afford to buy it without an additional $1 million in gap funding. The stories of families we met, some who had been there at least 25 years, resonated with us and inspired us to help our neighbors.

Our solution was to propose a $1 million contribution to the Sankofa Tenants Association as a portion of our affordability proffer along with some on-site units. The support we received for this approach was far-reaching and we received bench approval from the Zoning Commission in the second-fastest PUD of that time.

Soon after Zoning Commission approval, we funded the donation and saved the building, though our own project would soon be in peril with the financial meltdown. We funded the donation from equity, and took a huge risk. I remember a discussion with my business partner Jeff Blum during the dark days of the recession, lamenting that we may not be able finish construction and that all of the project equity was lost, and our company finished. We realized and both agreed, "If, in fact, all is lost, at least at the end of the day we did some good and saved 48 families from losing their homes."

There's often a tension between citywide priorities, like the need to create more housing, and local neighborhood interests which often manifest as opposition. How do you think the Zoning Commission should balance these pressures?
I think there are smart ways to create more housing where it is appropriate to do so. There is no catch-all solution, but rather it's a process that must include grassroots neighborhood input that is thoughtfully considered.

It's often a delicate balance of what's good for the people in the neighborhood and what's good for the larger community, but I don't think that those types of priorities and decisions need to have a winner and a loser. I think digging deep to understanding the issues and working hard to help develop and guide creative solutions will create more win-win solutions.


The Harper, at 14th and T.

How do you think the District could best approach the need for subsidized affordable housing?

There is no silver bullet. ... The District currently utilizes bonus density to subsidize affordable housing, which has been effective in generating new affordable housing and has not disrupted affordable housing production (contrary to the naysayers).

This is an effective tool and we should look at this more carefully as more affordable housing is sought, however, there will not be the same opportunities that came with the original bonus density plan. We cannot simply add bonus density ubiquitously without changing the character of our neighborhoods. We need to look at bonus density selectively and responsibly determine which areas can accommodate it and which areas cannot.

There are other [solutions], such as tax abatements, and we may also want to consider that to some degree we can't meet a zero-sum cost structure and that ultimately some land values will be reduced to enable new multi-family development opportunities. All of these solutions have their pros and cons and should be thoroughly analyzed and vetted.

Anything else you'd like people to know?
I would really like to clarify why I am interested in being a Zoning Commissioner. I will have the opportunity to utilize my passion for urban planning, my skills as a developer along with my passion for the District to positively impact this city that I've always called home.

Development


The controversy over affordable housing on Florida Avenue, explained

A new development in Shaw will bring a Whole Foods and 352 apartments, 107 price below market rate. But there's controversy over whether the DC government should have sold the site for its full value of $27 million, for $5 million, or $400,000.

There are two fundamental questions. First, is it worth paying to locate subsidized affordable housing in wealthier neighborhoods, where the opportunity cost is higher? Second, did the Bowser administration negotiate a bad deal for what it got?


Housing deal image from Shutterstock.

What's this deal?

This building will sit on publicly-owned land at 965 Florida Avenue, where 9th, T W Street, Sherman Avenue, and Florida Avenue come together. In 2013, after a bidding process, DC's Deputy Mayor for Planning and Economic Development (DMPED) chose MRP Realty to develop the site.

There's been a long-running debate in DC about whether, when selling a piece of public land, the city should strive to get as much cash as possible, or include more below-market housing. The DC Council passed a bill later that year, by Ward 5 councilmember Kenyan McDuffie, to require 20-30% of units in public land deals be affordable to people making 30-50% of the Area Median Income.

The city then renegotiated the 965 Florida arrangement to comply with this rule. Last week, the council approved the deal. The next step is for the developers to file a Planned Unit Development with the Zoning Commission with more details about the proposed building.


Concept rendering of 965 Florida. Image from MRP Realty.

What did it cost?

Aaron Davis reported on the project in the Washington Post. According to documents he obtained, the property would be worth about $27.6 million if sold outright.

An appraiser concluded that with the below-market housing requirement, the property is still worth $5.9 million. In the deal, MRP is paying the District $400,000.

The eye-catching but confusing headline, "How D.C. turned $27 million into $400,000," caused some people to confuse the two issues. One is whether it is worth about $20 million to get an affordability limit on 107 units. The other is whether the Bowser Administration blew the other $5 million.

Should "deeply affordable" housing be part of such deals?

Some people don't agree with the McDuffie bill in the first place. There are those who think affordable housing shouldn't be part of a deal at all. Others argue that it would be better to take the cash in the hot U Street/Shaw area and use it for affordable housing somewhere cheaper.

The latter argument is actually the flip side of an issue Martin Austermuhle just reported on for WAMU: DC's housing authority is selling off townhouses in now-hot markets like Columbia Heights for top dollar and using the money in its budget elsewhere. There was also a public land deal in the Mount Vernon Triangle (before the McDuffie bill passed) to put all required affordable housing in Anacostia instead.

On the one hand, you can buy more housing for the same money in a cheap area. On the other hand, residents in those areas already feel that lower-income housing is already too concentrated in their areas. Research has demonstrated that lower-income children who grow up in higher-income areas succeed more in life, so there's some definite value in using resources to create mixed-income communities.

The recent HBO series Show Me a Hero depicted the political fight that ensued when a court required Yonkers, NY to put some public housing in fancier neighborhoods. The Housing Authority sales or the MVT land deal are perpetuating concentration, while 965 Florida deal is the direct result of efforts to spread housing around.


Money floating away image from Shutterstock.

Did the Bowser administration get a bad deal?

Even with the required below-market housing, the appraiser estimated DC should get $5.9 million instead of $400,000. In a committee report on the land deal, DC Council Chairman Phil Mendelson said that DMPED's "record is disappointing" when it comes to being "a shrewd negotiator on behalf of the city."

Mendelson notes that DMPED blocked the council from getting another appraisal, hasn't ensured that the affordable housing would even last in perpetuity (which reportedly the developer was willing to accept), and didn't arrange for DC to get more money if the developer can build a larger building than in the initial bid (which, Mendelson's report says, the developer was also willing to accept).

This reflects many of the concerns people have raised about a Wizards/Mystics facility at St. Elizabeth's. It actually doesn't seem like such a bad idea to put a sports complex here if that's the best way to jump-start development in the area. DC was already going to spend money on St. Elizabeth's, and the rest of the money will come from the sports and convention authority, which only will use its money for things that promote sports and conventions.

The bigger question, and one the Post editorial board focused on, is whether the deal really adds up. A wealthy sports team owner is getting something of value, though so is the city, and the debate mainly centers on how much value each party gains.

Was St. Elizabeth's really stalled without this deal? Will it bring the promised benefits? Maybe so. And even if we're unsure, maybe Congress Heights deserves a gamble.

And it's easy to nitpick any deal. Sometimes in a business transaction, you have to give a little more than you want to make it work. Certainly when any homeowner does a renovation, for instance, some things cost a little more than planned. If every homeowner had a city full of people looking over his or her shoulder at every choice of tiles or lighting, it'd be easy to find flaws.

However, in those cases, and when a corporation negotiates a deal, it's not public money. It's easier for an economic development official, with the best of intentions, to give away a little more taxpayer funding when it's the way to ensure a deal goes through. Maybe that's worthwhile, since when it comes to a land development deal, there's also a big cost to adding years more delay while the site is fallow and generating no tax revenue.

One other factor is what would happen with the extra money. Sometimes there are really worthwhile ways to spend it. But sometimes the alternative is a pile of other pork-barrel projects or tax cuts that won't stimulate economic growth. For all the criticism, some deserved and some not, of the price tag of the DC Streetcar, cutting it hasn't led to an equivalent pile of money ready for a different transportation project that critics liked better.

There's a balance, and residents understandably would like to have confidence that the city is negotiating a good deal while also needing to have a little patience that every deal can't be perfect.

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