The Wharf is setting a new standard of community participation in real estate development in the District of Columbia. This includes building relationships with government agencies and community stakeholders, innovative local hiring initiatives, and financial support. Since being awarded development rights in 2008, Hoffman-Madison Waterfront (HMW) has worked closely with the District and The Wharf’s community partners to assure that the goals are met and, where possible, exceeded. Key community partners include ANC6D; SWNA; The SW/Near SE Community Benefits Coordinating Council; and community, workforce, and business development leaders in Ward 6 and Partner Wards 5, 7, and 8.
The exchange of information and collaboration among real estate developers, government agencies, elected officials, and the local community is paramount for a successful redevelopment project such as The Wharf. Early in the planning phase, HMW established the Wharf Development Advisory Group as its primary means of communication with the community and stakeholders. The group meets quarterly for updates on the progress of The Wharf, assessing how well the project team is meeting its community benefits goals and expectations, and discussing how it can further engage its partners.
Large-scale construction projects, such as The Wharf, generate significant hiring and significant procurement of goods and services. As of the beginning of the third quarter of 2016, HMW had procured approximately $134 million in goods and services from DC Certified Business Enterprise (CBE) firms. This equates to 55% of the total dollars expended, exceeding The Wharf’s requirement of 35% CBE participation.
Building The Wharf requires the talents of thousands of tradespeople. HMW and its contractors work in close collaboration with the DC Department of Employment Services and the DC Workforce Investment Council (WIC) to maximize jobs and apprenticeship opportunities for DC residents. As of the end of June 2016, 228 DC residents had been hired for construction jobs at The Wharf, representing 50% (rounded) of total new hires. Residents from Ward 8 comprised 26% of the DC residents hired. Apprenticeships have been secured for 59 DC residents, which equates to 72% of the total number of apprentices, exceeding HMW’s requirement of 51%. Of those apprentices, 44% live east of the Anacostia River. DC hires and apprentices at The Wharf are projected to increase now that the highly specialized underground utility, infrastructure, and water bulkhead/pier work is nearing completion, and the buildings are into vertical construction.
Much of the credit for The Wharf’s achievements in hiring DC residents is due to the work of Michael Shannon, who heads the construction jobs outreach effort for Clark Construction.
“Clark Construction is committed to the hiring of DC residents by Clark itself and its subs,” Shannon said. “The construction field offers long-term career opportunities and the possibility to change the lives of DC residents.” The Clark Opportunities Trailer, located at the corner of 7th and Water Streets SW, is open every Wednesday morning from 8 to 10 a.m., where interested residents can apply for jobs.
Committed to increasing the number of Southwest residents getting hired at The Wharf, HMW focuses on its partnerships with Southwest organizations. To date, seven Ward 6 residents have been hired. One success story is Reginal Williams, a resident of Southwest DC who is now working for Anderson Construction on The Wharf. Williams, who was incarcerated for 11 years, came to the Clark Opportunities Trailer looking for a job upon his release. A month after his initial visit, he was hired by Anderson Construction. Williams started as a scale laborer and now is in an apprenticeship program where he is learning to operate heavy construction equipment. Williams said, “People say there are no jobs and there are jobs if you want them.”
Paul Taylor from King-Greenleaf Recreation Center forges strong relationships with Southwest residents who come to the center, particularly at-risk youth, making him a knowledgeable resource who can connect interested Southwest job seekers with HMW’s contractors for possible jobs. “I only wish that there were more qualified young adults to take advantage of those opportunities at The Wharf,” Taylor stated.
The Wharf also helped spur a partnership with the DC Housing Authority (DCHA), WIC, and the Building Futures Construction Apprenticeship Program to increase the number of DC residents, particularly those from Southwest, applying for work at The Wharf. As part of this new initiative, DCHA pre-trains public housing job candidates to prepare them for entrance into the Building Futures program. Seven graduates of Building Futures have joined The Wharf construction team so far. “The Wharf development is a shining example of a successful public-private partnership fueled by the workforce development system,” remarked WIC Executive Director Odie Donald. Sherrill Hampton, DCHA director of resident services, said, “The Wharf redevelopment project has made a commitment to ensuring that residents in the District of Columbia, and especially low-wealth individuals, have the opportunity to participate in the revitalization of one of the most important neighborhoods in the city.” She added, “DCHA has enjoyed a wonderful collaborative relationship with Elinor Bacon and the entire Wharf team, and appreciates the efforts made by Hoffman-Madison Waterfront to provide employment opportunities to DC residents, many of whom are our clients.” These partnerships will continue providing access to training for public housing residents, and other low-income DC residents, who are eager to enter pathways into construction careers.
HMW team members have participated in several Career Day programs at Jefferson Academy where they talk about The Wharf, describe their roles in the development, and answer questions about the career paths they have chosen. “The students were so engaged and energizing,” said Yasmine Doumi, development manager at The Wharf. “I loved speaking about how my favorite classes and hobbies led me to the urban planning and development industry, and I can’t wait to come back next year.”
Finally, HMW contributed $1 million to the District for workforce intermediary programs. The $1 million will be used for programs to maximize job and training opportunities for DC residents; $350,000 is projected to fund a construction pre-apprenticeship training program specifically for The Wharf.
Charles Allen, Ward 6 councilmember, summed up the collective efforts of the District, The Wharf, and its community and nonprofit partners in stating, “I’m very proud of the work of The Wharf and its partners to not only meet, but to far exceed, the goals for connecting District residents with good jobs, business opportunities, and affordable housing. The success of this effort demonstrates what’s possible when the local business community, nonprofit organizations, and the District government work to bring talented workers together with new opportunities. It’s the right way to grow a stronger District economy for all.”
The HMW team could not be more pleased with its relationships and accomplishments to date achieved through collaboration with its partners, and will continue to work diligently to provide access and opportunities to local residents and businesses.