From the LuAnn Bennett for Congress campaign, the Comstock folks do what they always do – head right for the gutter. Definitely time for a change in Virginia’s 10th CD – go LuAnn Bennett!
SETTING THE RECORD STRAIGHT
NRCC Attacks Bennett for Establishing an Education Foundation, Bringing Grocery Store to a Food Desert
McLean – A new ad from the National Republican Congressional Committee attempts to tear down LuAnn Bennett’s character, resorting to demonstrably false claims about an award-winning project LuAnn’s company developed that has helped revitalize a local community and established an educational foundation for neighborhood residents. Below is a summary of the falsehoods and the truth behind their claims.
NRCC CLAIM: Bennett “broke her promise” to deliver a preschool with a daycare center to 77 H St NW site.
FACT: Bennett kept her promise to provide educational opportunities to the local community after security risks forced Bennett Group to amend their lease. The original lease with the District of Columbia included a provision that a portion of the profits from the development would fund a day care on-site. Following the 1995 bombing at the Oklahoma City federal building, in which 19 children were killed at an on-site daycare center, and the attacks on 9/11, new federal rules were issued discouraging federal agencies from renting in commercial properties that included daycare centers.
To comply with the new federal rules, an agreement was reached to amend the lease with the District of Columbia allowing the option for the partnership to make an additional contribution of $1 million on top of the $2 million the partnership had already agreed to contribute to the New Jersey and H Education Fund under the original lease agreement. The partnership chose to make the additional $1 million contribution, rather than construct the daycare and preschool, because the site was unlikely to attract a federal tenant under the terms of the original lease agreement. [“Vulnerability Assessment of Federal Facilities,” Department of Justice, Table 2-8,6/28/95; Executive Order 12977, “Interagency Security Committee,” 10/24/95; 77H Lease Amendment, 6/12/07; 77H Lease Amendment, 12/2/11]
NRCC CLAIM: By not constructing the school, Bennett avoided “$30 million in taxes.”
FACT: The Bennett Group fully complied with the terms of their lease agreement, paying all taxes in full. The District of Columbia has issued Estoppel Certificates on ten separate occasions officially confirming the Bennett Group to be in full compliance with all terms of its lease at 77 H St NW and that all rent, taxes and fees have been paid in full. [Estoppel Certificates, 12/14/95, 4/27/99, 9/7/00, 4/23/02, 12/19/02, 7/16/2003, 3/13/06, 6/12/07, 5/30/08, 12/12/13]
NRCC Claim: Bennett “made the land a parking lot instead.”
FACT: Bennett, with the JBG Company, developed the site into an award-winning mixed use building – 77 H – which brought a grocery store to a food desert, provided nearly 700 job opportunities to the local community, and helped establish a $3 million education foundation and provided $6.8 million to local community organizations.Prior to developing 77 H, the undeveloped portions of the site were leased to the Government Printing Office as parking for its employees while the partnership competed for tenets.
- “Previous attempts to develop office on the D.C.-owned parcels have failed. The long term lease holder, New Jersey and H LLC (the Bennett Group) had bid unsuccessfully over the past dozens years to house the U.S. Department of Transportation, the Securities and Exchange Commission and the Department of Justice there. Each bid was rejected, which ultimately led the Bennett Group to rethink the site as mixed-use.” [Washington Business Journal, 11/2/12]
- 77 H won the Washington Business Journal 2012 “Real Estate Deal of the Year” and 2013 award for Community Impact [Washington Business Journal, 4/27/12; Washington Business Journal, 4/25/14]
- 77 H’s anchor-tenet Wal-Mart serves as a grocery store for a neighborhood that previously was a “food desert” [Urban Land Institute, 5/2/14]
- 77 H provided nearly 700 job opportunities for the local community (262 full time employees and 436 construction jobs)
- From the profits from 77 H, The Bennett Group established a $3 million educational foundation, the New Jersey and H Education Foundation, which is operated by The Community Foundation for the National Capital Region. In addition, the profits from 77 H were used to distribute $6.8 million to the Joshua Group and H Street Community Development Corporation to provide services to the residents of the local community [Winchester Star, 8/4/16]