Earlier this year, Marcie Cohen's term on the Zoning Commission expired, leaving a spot open for any potential candidates, but it looks like one candidate may not even be able to get a vote. The candidate that D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser hopes to see take Cohen's place is David Franco, the co-founder of L2 Development. L2 is a Washington, D.C.-based developer that has pioneered projects like The Highline at Union Market in NoMa and View 14 in U Street Corridor. Franco is a supporter of affordable housing and Washington, D.C.'s Inclusionary Zoning program. He has also donated to Bowser's mayoral campaign and the council campaigns of Brandon Todd and LaRuby May, two candidates who were backed by Bowser, reports The Washington Post. Because of Franco's background, D.C. Council Chairman Phil Mendelson has shown apprehension at the prospect that the developer won't show bias, especially towards L2 when it comes before the Zoning Commission in the future. Franco has stated that he would recuse himself from any commission actions if and when L2 comes before the Commission. Regardless, Mendelson has held his ground by keeping Franco's nomination on hold.
According to The Washington Post, Mendelson has shown support in the past for Zoning Commission nominees who were developers. What may be causing Mendelson to back away from Franco may not be because of his occupation, but because of Mendelson's own personal feud with Bowser. One major misstep that has caused Mendelson to question Bowser's credibility was a recent land deal at 965 Florida Avenue NW. This deal involved the sale of a 1.5-acre site that was valued at $5.9 million, but sold for $400,000. Another issue that contributed to their feuding was Bowser's plan to raze four rent-controlled apartment buildings in Congress Heights for a complex of apartments, offices, and retail, reports The Washington Post.
In the end, even if Franco's nomination expires on November 2, Bowser's aides plan on nominating him again.
If interested in learning more about Franco and what his views are on housing in Washington, D.C., check out his interview with Greater Greater Washington.
· Developer caught in dispute between D.C. mayor and council chairman [The Washington Post]
· DC Council chairman Phil Mendelson is blocking Mayor Bowser's zoning board nominee [Greater Greater Washington]