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D.C. Activists Sue To Halt West End Project

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Activists in the District are suing to stop a major land deal between the city government and a private developer.

Several years back, D.C. agreed to turn over a handful of city properties to the developer East Banc, including an outdated fire station and library. In return for the land, which was valued at around $30 million, the developer promised to build a new fire station and library, and also build housing  both market-rate apartments and affordable housing units.

The Library Renaissance Project — a group founded by Ralph Nader with the goal of preserving D.C.'s libraries — is suing the city's Zoning Commission for approving the deal, and the case right now is in the D.C. Court of Appeals.

Renaissance Project activists call the deal a giveaway, and say the city is turning over valuable public property at far below market value. They also question why the affordable housing requirements were waived by the zoning commission.

The developers say the activists are needlessly holding up a project that the city and most of the neighbors in the West End have agreed they want.

The Court of Appeals agreed to expedite the case, and lawyers for both sides spent several hours arguing before a panel of three judges today. There's no timetable on a decision will be announced.

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