FGC Nearing 30 and Still Going Strong

FGC Co-op President LaDora Brock

Although the buildings were erected in 1955, Florian Gardens did not become a tenant-owned property until May 1989. As the property is nearing its 30th year as a co-op, the estate which sold for $550,000 is now worth millions.

To convert or not to convert. For several months, the board of directors has been discussing with management the feasibility of converting FGC from a low-equity to a market-rate co-op. Purportedly, the primary benefit of a conversion would be the equity return. While the profit from selling a unit under market-rate would far exceed the return residents now receive when they vacate, the possibility of suddenly incurring a monthly carrying charge that is significantly higher than what is currently being paid to achieve that result is unappealing to many members. Residents who were with FGC from the beginning will tell you that the purpose of purchasing and converting the Florian Gardens complex was to preserve affordable housing for themselves and other District residents.

At a special meeting on Tuesday, October 11, 2016, members got the opportunity to weigh in on the discussion. Although there was less than 100 percent representation by the membership, the turnout was impressive.

After attendees listened attentively to Lee Kriegsfeld expound the benefits of conversion, they were asked to complete a survey to determine the extent of interest before a final decision is made. Keep watching this space for updates on the issue.

The DC Government’s Recyclables List was distributed to each household on September 15 as a reminder to members to comply with recycling regulations.

Around the Neighborhood customers are constantly complaining about the Safeway on Piney Branch Road. Many are expressing their grievances on neighborhood Listservs and Google reviews sites like Yelp and Foursquare. Here is a sample of what folks are saying:

  • the store is dirty (including bathrooms)

  • self-checkout lines are notoriously slow and equipment is often broken

  • there is inadequate staffing at checkout lines resulting in long wait times

  • unfriendly cashiers provide poor service and have bad attitudes

  • basic items are often out of stock

  • food choices are inadequate and produce and meats are of poor quality

  • items are often out of stock

  • some products are being sold beyond the expiration date

  • the store is poorly managed

Things are so bad that one Listserv member is circulating a petition demanding improvements at the Safeway. Click the link to reach the petition page.

FGC now has a Facebook page. Co-op members are encouraged to post suitable information on the site. You can advertise your business ventures, church or school activities or post whatever info you wish to share with your neighbors. If you are a Facebook member, go to Facebook and in the search box type the word fgcgrapevine.

NOTE:  If you enjoy reading this blog and would like to read more commentaries by the author visit her blog at www.potpourri101.com 



1 thought on “FGC Nearing 30 and Still Going Strong

  1. The following comment was submitted by Lee Kriegsfeld.

    I appreciate your blog as a place where members can get information about the Cooperative. I believe that the most recent issue took a fairly clear stand against the proposed restructuring to a market rate type of cooperative.

    I am writing on the assumption that the blog is intended to be generally fair and truthful. While I disagree with, but respect the anti-equity transfer position of the blog…I think there was one comment in particular that was both unfair and misleading to the point of being untrue information presented as fact. The remark that the market rate plan would mean members facing the “possibility of suddenly incurring a monthly carry charge that is significantly higher than what is current being charged” is a seriously inaccurate description of the plan that could unnecessarily frighten people about something that is not actually part of the plan or a risk of happening.

    As I believe everyone has now heard and read, NO member would have to pay any more monthly unless they voluntarily chose to upgrade their share to obtain the more than $100,000 in equity that each participating member would control. No member has to chose this option and all of the members with 1Bedroom units would actually have the opportunity to participate by paying very little more than their existing monthly charge which has not changed in many years. Existing members who do not want to participate would have actual payment protection that they currently lack. They might have the possibility of incurring a monthly carrying charge increase…that possibility would be easy to avoid without any loss of status or voting power simply by deciding not to upgrade. I know I have made that point as clearly as I know how.

    I also think that it might also have been a bit more balanced to at least mention that the market rate plan creates the opportunity to sell vacant units to pay off mortgage debt and/or fund improvements for members without any cost to those members. This is not as obvious as the potential individual profit, but it is a major benefit of this unique plan and I am not sure that all members understand this very real major secondary benefit.

    Despite the comments made at the meeting, the actual plan does nothing to “give the buildings to developers” and in fact is protection of benefits for existing members even if they want to undertake an improvement program with a larger mortgage and very small monthly increases. The monthly charges proposed in the plan are less than half of the rental value of the units.

    Since the market rate would be totally voluntary and any member could participate or not, it offers benefits without risk or any actual or real negative outcome. Why not let each member enjoy the opportunity to make their own choice about participating?

    Lee Kriegsfeld

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