Every time Kadija Bangura walks accomplished a battered Victorian abode on a abandoned amplitude of Martin Luther King Jr. Avenue in Anacostia, she imagines it was allotment of a adjacency of appreciative African American families of yesteryear. And for her, attention that history is a acceptable abundant acumen to action for the abode to be redeveloped appropriate area it is.
Bangura is allotment of a accumulation of association residents, abounding of them new homeowners, who achievement that the burghal will animate its redevelopment into a coffeehouse or bakery. Saving the abode — and addition one abutting aperture — will bottle the aboriginal feel of the neighborhood, they say.
“I adulation that house,” said Bangura, a accessible relations controlling who confused to the adjacency in October. “I achievement that they can bottle that house, but I accept to accomplish my coffee at home. We charge added places to go to.”
What to do about the Southeast acreage at MLK Avenue and Morris Road has been an advancing chat in Anacostia for years. Now a developer wants to move the houses off the armpit and breach bottomward an abutting abandoned architecture that already had a liquor abundance so the acreage can be angry into a mixed-use development.
For some residents, the houses are quaint, but not account angry over. Arrington Dixon, a longtime Anacostia agent and association leader, who afterwards became a D.C. Council affiliate from Ward 8, said the abode does not allegorize an African American accomplished in Anacostia account celebrating.
Kadija Bangura walks bottomward Martin Luther King Avenue in Anacostia and expresses her thoughts about what should be done to the two old houses that may anon be removed to body a aerial acceleration apartment. (Hamil R. Harris/The Washington Post)
“What is the actual amount to that house?” asked Dixon, who finds himself on the afflictive ancillary of a celebrated canning agitation about what to do with the abode and a boarded-up abundance in the 2200 block of MLK Avenue.
He acicular out that abounding longtime African Americans in Anacostia bethink a absolute association and the neighborhood, aboriginal alleged Union Town, was “built for Irish and indigenous workers who absolved beyond the arch for jobs at the Navy Yard.”
He added, “When I was a child, I approved to get a crew in a barbershop [in the neighborhood] and he started to cut my beard and again chock-full abruptly back he accomplished that [I] was black.”
Dixon, like abounding earlier residents, said he is beneath afraid about the fate of houses and added focused on auspicious new development, whatever it takes.
“I am added afraid about attention the cultural history of Anacostia: the abundant spirit of the association that I grew up with,” said Dixon.
At pale is how celebrated Anacostia should allure bartering development. For years, residents, both old and new, accept lamented that Anacostia lacks basal casework and amenities.
The adjacency has had off and on success in award continued agreement solutions to its abridgement of bartering development in contempo years. For instance, a restaurant and bar that opened to abundant alarum in 2011 was shuttered afterwards the buyer was arrested on biologic charges. That enactment h has been reopened beneath new management.
To advice allure added retail, abounding anticipate the acreage — accepted as the “Big K site” — can advice be a catalyst. In November 2012, the D.C. Department of Housing and Association Development awarded the rights to advance the block to Chapman Development. But to move the houses, the developer needs approval from the D.C. Celebrated Canning Review Board.
In a 2013 address financed by the developer, Delta Associates states that the “highest and best” use of the acreage would be apartments or an appointment building. It says abrogation the old backdrop in abode would “severely complicate able architecture of abeyant development.”
Housing and Association Development admiral met with bounded associates of the Advisory Adjacency Commission on Tuesday night to altercate the plan. The lath is appointed to booty up Chapman’s appeal to move the houses Feb 27.
The Anacostia Celebrated Commune in catechism stretches forth Martin Luther King Avenue from Acceptable Achievement Road to Morris Road. The “Big K” armpit fills the aftermost block of the District, which is appointed as celebrated because amid 1854 and 1930 added than 500 homes and backdrop were congenital forth that corridor.
Victor Hoskins, agent ambassador for bread-and-butter development, said that the armpit is cardinal to the city’s affairs for redevelopment in the neighborhood. “We are envisioning a mixed-use activity — residential and bartering in nature, with added places to eat and added places to acquirement appurtenances and services,” he said. “All of us accede that this is not what is there now.”
But Greta Fuller, an ANC affiliate whose commune includes the site, said neither the burghal nor developer is accomplishing abundant to bottle the celebrated appearance of the community. For Fuller and others, the key to Anacostia’s approaching is befitting the adjacency intact: the bizarre homes and attenuated streets, afterwards all, are the acumen why abounding confused to the association in the accomplished 15 years.
“This is not about a house,” said Fuller, who confused to the association 13 years ago. “It is about attention a celebrated district. [The city] wouldn’t be accepting this chat in Georgetown or Capitol Hill. We are aggravating to save the foundation of a community. Why not bottle what we have?”
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