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President Resigns From AWC

Revitalization Group Is Facing Elimination

Adrian Washington resigned suddenly Tuesday as president of the Anacostia Waterfront Corp. — a surprising turn during a period of uncertainty for the quasi-government agency.

The organization, which oversees development along the Anacostia River, faces elimination under a bill introduced last month to the Washington, D.C., City Council by Chairman Pro Tem Jack Evans and At-large Councilman David Catania. Washington’s resignation, effective immediately, undoubtedly will add to the skepticism of critics, who say the agency hinders development rather than accelerates it. [IMGCAP(1)]

Evans said he wished Washington success in the private sector — where Washington founded the Neighborhood Development Co. in 1998 — but said he thinks the resignation is another sign that the AWC is having trouble. Evans’ bill also calls for the elimination of another quasi-government agency, the National Capital Revitalization Corp.; the president of that group also recently resigned.

“The fundamental thrust in my scrutiny in these agencies is I have a gut feeling that things are not going all that well,” Evans said. “It kind of just fortifies what I’ve been thinking all along — that this is just the wrong structure for the economic development for the city.”

AWC Communications Director Debra Rainey declined to comment on the move, reporting only that Executive Vice Presidents John McCoy and Karen Hardwick would take over control of the organization until an interim president could be found. Whether the AWC will hold an all-out search is unclear.

The corporation recently answered questions at a public roundtable of the City Council’s Committee on Economic Development. Several residents and local business owners testified on behalf of the organization, but council members questioned AWC’s high payroll budget and propensity to outsource consulting projects. Washington did not attend the meeting.

“It’s not good guys or bad guys, it’s did we create the right entity?” Ward 6 Councilman Tommy Wells said at the time, referring to the creation of the agency three years ago. Councilman Kwame Brown said the agency at the very least needed to be restructured.

Evans’ bill would put the agency’s responsibilities under the office of Mayor Adrian Fenty (D). The new mayor included the goal of analyzing “alternative structures for the AWC and NCRC” in his “100 Days and Beyond” action plan for D.C.

Hearings on Evans’ bill are scheduled throughout the spring; the next one will be held on March 13.

An AWC press release didn’t explain the reasons for Washington’s resignation, instead focusing on his work over the past year. Washington is a graduate of Stanford University and Harvard Business School.

“Adrian took over a fledgling, lightly-staffed start-up and created a fully operational, high performance organization which made substantial strides in implementing the 20 year, $10 billion Anacostia Waterfront Initiative,” AWC Chairman Stephen Goldsmith said in the release.

Washington became head of the AWC in December 2005 after the original president, Andrew Altman, left for a private-sector job in New York. Since then, the organization has worked on several development projects in the area, including Reservation 13, a 57-acre piece of federal land in Southeast D.C. that is in the process of being turned over to the District. On Tuesday, the group also revealed its proposal for strict environmental regulations for all development on the properties it controls.

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