Kadcon Construction has done a lot of work for the District; what has it done for Jack Evans?
By Jeffrey Anderson
The good news spread quickly.
The Department of General Services had awarded Kadcon Construction a contract to restore the Spanish Steps, a historic climb in Sheridan-Kalorama, in Ward 2, where Councilmember Jack Evans has lorded for decades.
Kadcon would “refresh the area, upgrade the drainage system, regrade the land surface, plant new landscaping and ensure the working condition of the fountain,” according to the 2012 announcement making the rounds on Evans’s office email chain.
The Georgetown-based company was known for quality work elsewhere in Ward 2. “The rumor about Rose Park is TRUE!” exclaimed the Georgetown Forum Yahoo group in 2014, announcing that the Department of Parks and Recreation had selected Kadcon to renovate the decades-old playground.
At Stead Park, near Dupont Circle, Evan’s staff ensured that Kadcon was responsive to resident and Advisory Neighborhood Commissioner concerns, as the firm delivered an improved park with a water feature, benches, lights for a playing field and astroturf.
Evans touts these projects. Just last week, he issued a press release boasting of his efforts to champion funding for the two parks, which together cost around $3 million to renovate, according to DPR.
Kadcon has done well throughout D.C. the last decade, with modernization contracts at schools, parks and recreation and health facilities:
Park View Community Center, in Ward 1;
“Play D.C.” renovations at Guy Mason and Forest Hills playgrounds, in Ward 3;
Coolidge High School Health Center in Ward 4;
Ward 5’s Turkey Thicket Recreation Center, Harry Thomas Recreation Center and the Taft-Dwight Mosley Field;
Design/build of athletic field, roller hockey rink and basketball courts at Watkins Field, next to the Ward 6 elementary school in Southeast;
Playground construction at Marvin Gaye Park in Ward 7;
And Ward 8 projects such as the $10 million Ballou High School modernization and the award-winning, $8.4 million St. Elizabeth’s Gateway Pavilion.
The D.C. Council approves contracts in excess of $1 million, but payments to Kadcon are buried in purchase orders as high as $893,000. Change orders range up to $250,000.
Based on D.C. agency press releases, Kadcon has been awarded tens of millions of dollars worth of contracts to renovate and modernize public parks and properties.
In 2014, the firm won contracts valued at $10 million to renovate city parks.
It is difficult to determine how often Evans has involved himself in Kadcon-related projects.
He serves on the Committee on Transportation and Environment, which oversees the Department of Parks and Recreation, the Department of Public Works and the Department of General Services, which manage the city’s modernizations and renovations.
He also serves on the Committee on Business and Economic Development, which oversees the St. Elizabeth’s East Redevelopment Initiative Advisory Board.
Emails obtained by District Dig via the Freedom of Information Act show him doing favors for Kadcon.
On October 29, 2009, for instance, Riad Kadissi, president of Kadcon, wrote an email to Evans at his D.C. Council address with the subject line, “Recommendation Letter”:
“Dear Mr. Evans: Please take a look at my draft and modify if you see necessary. Please have your assistant call me to pick up, or she can email a scanned copy. I appreciate all your time and effort. Best regards.”
A few days later, on November 2, an email from Evans’s email address to assistant Windy Rahim states: “I think I forwarded this to you but I don’t really remember. Please put this on letterhead for Jack’s signature. Review first and make any changes you deem necessary!”
In June 2010, Evans arranged a meeting between Kadcon and Allen Lew, then the executive director of the Office of Public Education Facilities Modernization (OPEFM): “Can you meet with kadcon? Give them some feedback.”
Kadcon soon won a pair of modernization projects overseen by Lew’s office, including an artificial turf field at Alice Deal Middle School in Ward 3, and the $1.6 million project at Watkins Elementary School in Southeast.
When the agency submitted the contract to the Council for approval, Marion Barry filed a disapproval resolution, which he later withdrew–a development Evans shared with his staff in an “FYI” email.
Within two months, the Council approved the project, and pre-construction was underway.
Kadcon’s website lists 17 school, park and recreation projects: Renovations of historic properties in Evans’s ward; several Ward 2 hotels; eight embassies and embassy residences; and more than a dozen commercial projects in Georgetown, including Cady’s Alley and the offices of EastBanc Inc., a multinational real estate company and major player in the D.C, redevelopment game.
(EastBanc’s president, Anthony Lanier, is a friend of Evans, who reportedly has disclosed Eastbanc as one of his private consultancy clients.)
Kadcon has business even closer to Evans.
In August, The Dig received an anonymous tip that Kadcon had been doing repairs at Evans’s historic Georgetown row house for close to a decade.
Department of Consumer and Regulatory Affairs records contain five permit applications for Evans’s house, from 2006 to 2011.
The permits are requested by architect Dale Overmyer, who in an email says: “In my practice Kadcon has only ever bid on two projects, and they won neither, so I’ve not worked with them to construct any of my projects…I really don’t know the details of any work that Kadcon may have done, just that if I was the architect for a project, then they were not the builder.”
Evans’s Council email account contains references to Kadcon that are unrelated to city business, however.
One, dated August 2, 2010, with the subject line “Fwd: Renovation,” is to Evans from his ex-wife, Michele Seiver, about her dialogue with Overmyer:
“Michele, I have contacted the two lowest bidders, Glenn Groves and Scott Taylor, and they are available to meet with you Thursday pm. The next bidder is Kadcon and they are almost another 100K, and so I would hesitate to bring them in, especially since I’ve never worked with them before (they did the work at Jack’s house with a different architect),” writes Overmyer.
The following day, Seiver shares with Evans an email to Overmyer that says, “Please include kadcon and I want to talk with maddon I want to ask him a few things but please include kadcon as of today. Maddon I want to talk with first as he did my other house. Thank you dale.”
An email exchange between Evans and Kadcon president Greg Terry dated August 27, 2010, later states, “Jack, As discussed, we would like to review the project’s scope of work with you to determine the best way to reach 350K$. Please list out in matter of importance/value of the improvements planned. This will allow us to focus on the correct areas to reduce.”
“Thanks greg,” replies Evans, listing renovations regarding his kitchen, living room and basement exit to the backyard. “We will have access to the property…beginning sept 27th. Time is of the essence.”
If the only permits on Jack Evans’s house show Dale Overmyer, and Overmyer never worked with Kadcon, but is aware of work done by Kadcon with a different architect, then what did Kadcon do at Evans’s house?
Lips are sealed in Georgetown.
Overmyer declined to comment any further.
Seiver declined to comment at all.
Evans did not respond to a text and email.
Even Kadcon, which displays on its website the Georgetown residences and properties it has renovated, is mum about the work it has done at Evans’s home.
Numerous Kadcon employees have acknowledged that the relationship goes back many years. When The Dig called one day and asked to speak with someone about Jack Evans’s house, the receptionist said, “I know Mr. Han is taking care of Mr. Evans’s house. He’s not here right now.”
That would be Dong Han, who answered his cell phone one Friday and said he would have to review office records before answering any questions.
Han agreed to meet the following Monday, but a meeting never took place and he stopped answering his phone.
During a visit to the firm’s 31st Street offices in Georgetown in early March, Executive Vice President Raed Kolaghassi declined to discuss Kadcon’s relationship with Evans.
Neither Han nor Kolaghassi responded to a follow up email with detailed questions.
On Saturday, Kadissi, the Kadcon executive who had asked Evans for a “Recommendation Letter” back in 2009, answered his phone and, in response to a question about what kind of work the company had done for Evans, said, “I do not have that off the top of my head.”
Kadissi seemed impatient.
Asked about payment from Evans for Kadcon’s services, he said, “[Jack] has always paid the full amount. We have done a lot of work for people in our neighborhood and everybody pays their bills. We don’t do work for free.”