Tuesday, November 11, 2014

[REPOST] Revitalization 101: Stop being so secretive about what we really want.

Originally posted October 31, 2013

I was on Twitter yesterday talking to a real estate reporter about the challenges of persuading developers to build market rate non-income capped and/or better retail in Ward 8. He pointed out two things that were pretty key in any efforts to attract better housing and retail options:

Retail follows housing. Until we can either grow and/or import a higher income level we will always have to settle for less.

Developers are people too. And developers are hesitant to propose building market rate non-income capped rentals (or building projects without low-income, subsidized units) out of fear of being accused of "pushing people out" or encourage gentrification. Fear of bad PR is keeping Ward 8 and east of the river in the economic dark ages.

I think he was 100% correct on both points and that got me to thinking. 

I have conversations with Ward 8 residents ALL THE TIME about the need to reduce (if not put a complete moratorium on) new social service residential facilities such as group homes, shelters and rehabs in Ward 8. People have been saying for YEARS we have a social service oversaturation problem. East of the river housing can't be exclusively low income and subsidized because west of the river has an "affordability" problem. Ward 8 desperately needs some income diversity. We need at least one building in Ward 8 for market rate non-income capped
renters, and programs to move low income renters into homeownership. We also need to replace social service agencies in our business district with actual businesses (what a novel thought). Anything other than that is just window dressing and public relations stunts. We have to stop leaving the responsibility for economic development to social service nonprofits. They might mean well, but business development really isn't their thing. 

Ward 8 residents (particularly homeowners) are having these conversations all the time. Heck, we are having several right now on Facebook in secret groups. The problem is we keep having these conversations with each other. We are literally preaching to the choir and these feelings, desire, and demand for better housing and development opportunities are not being escalated up the food chain. Perception is literally ruining our reality.

There are a few cases when the message trickles out. Residents in Anacostia stood firm and were clear they did not want the Big K Development to be yet another opportunity to create more "affordable" (which really means subsidized housing) in a neighborhood that desperately needs higher incomes, not more voucher holders. Some may accuse them of being "NIMBYs" (Not In My Back Yard), I say they are WDEUHTBIMBYs (Why Does Everything Unpleasant Have To Be In My Back Yard). East of the river doesn't mind doing their share but why do we have to shoulder the responsibility for west of the river's affordable housing problem? The problem in Ward 8 isn't that we don't have enough affordable housing, the problem is we have too much! 

Ward 8 residents are getting pretty vocal about no longer wanting to be the city's dumping ground for social service initiatives and projects they don't want to place in more affluent neighborhoods. Ward 8 residents are noticing a correlation to the group homes/shelters/rehabs we have too many of and the sit-down restaurants (only 3) that we have to few off. 

That being said if Ward 8 residents and homeowners and those committed to creating a more economically balanced Ward 8 (than one built on the foundation of social service projects and nonprofits) then we are going to have to get pretty vocal and pretty loud about what we do want -- political correctness be damned.

So I am asking you, right now, to spell out what you want now in the "Comments" section of this blog post. Say it clearly, don't be afraid, and be honest. People do read this thing (including agency heads and development companies) and maybe, just maybe, the word will finally spread that Ward 8 wants better and they are not afraid to get it. Someone will be empowered to come with us with a plan to finally bring us what we need and stop being intimidated by the other voices that keep drowning us out. 

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Anonymous said...

Dear Magical Developers,

I want a CVS.

Please give us a CVS.

I want our BID to operate much like how Navy Yard's BID operates (paging Michael Stevens, please talk to us)

I also would like a healthy food option.

A grocery store would be nice (when is the 711 build out ever going to be finished on Good Hope?)

-Revival of Ward 8

Time for a change said...

I live within walking distance of the Anacostia Metro station. It’s amazing that there aren’t much retail options within a 2 block radius from the station. I would love to see a pharmacy ( Walgreens preferred but CVS, Rite- Aid will work), a coffee shop (doesn’t have to be Starbucks, Dunkin Donuts is fine), dry cleaners (the current ones are on Good Hope Road or further up in the Safeway shopping complex) and a gym (the one in Salvation Army building close down sometime last year). I metro to work and many times I need to make a stop for items on my way home. Usually I get off the metro at Navy Yard or Eastern Market just to get basic items such as a toothbrush, birthday card, office supplies etc. Being originally from NYC, this is unusual even the lower income neighborhoods have basic retail shops within walking distance of the subway. Anacostia reminds of the Brownsville neighborhood in Brooklyn in regard to city housing. Many of the city social services of the borough are located there along with several housing projects, subsidized housing, section 8, transitional housing etc. Anacostia and the surrounding Ward 8 neighborhood needs a mix of income levels to take it to the next level, I completely agree on that. The neighborhood does not need any more social services organizations (city or non-profit), liquor stores, churches, beauty supply stores, nasty/dingy take-out restaurants and so on. I believe there also needs to be more community involvement (which is increasing). With the nearby completion of Phase 3 of Sheridan Station, the amount of residents here will increase. The residents in Ward 8 should have access to basic goods and services in their own neighborhood just like those across the river.

Anonymous said...

I live in Ward 8 within walking distance of my neighborhood's main street and I would like to be able to walk to a restaurant or cafe, sit outside and have a meal and a drink. I would like to be able to do in my own neighborhood what I have to drive to do -- meet my friends for happy hour.

I am tired of feeling like a 5th class citizen because I decided to buy a house east of the river. I think the face of Ward 8 has to change. Developers need to understand that there are people here NOW who are spending money on food, drinks, and retail -- we just have to drive somewhere else to spend our money.

I also agree with the earlier comment that social service agencies need to just stop. Please stop turning every apartment building into another hub of homeless housing. You are not helping the situation, you are just making it worse. You are concentration poor people into an area that can't support them. We need you to take a pause and give us time to catch up economically so we can support the "in-sourced poverty" you have already sent us. We are a caring community but we are a community that needs to make ourselves attractive to more established residents so that we can afford to care for our less privileged ones. We understand you want to pat yourselves on the back for doing good deeds but we actually want to raise people up to learn how to help themselves. So please back off and allow some private developers to come in here and help us "bridge" the income gap. We need some options, we need BIG businesses, and we need NICE places for people to enjoy.

Anonymous said...

A coffee shop where I know I can always go for a quiet space (which I hope Nurish can provide)
A movie theatre (since I moved here I can't go to the movies right after work as I would like to because getting to one through the traffic is prohibitive)
A good-time Mexican restaurant (would love a Don Pablos)

...will add more as it comes to me...

Anonymous said...


One of those newly rebooted Marshall's (I keep running to Arlington to go the Container Store; but if we had Marshall's I would find myself in there instead)

Anonymous said...

I would love a grocery store. Just brought a house off wheeler rd, and I drive to Maryland for almost everything. I was thinking next to southern ave metro or even the existing "shopping center" on southern avenue. Anyone know if any new development is coming there?

The Advoc8te said...

A Marshalls or a Target (or both) would be great! I would really love to see more cafes and restaurants that served beer and wine on main street. I too long for the days when I can walk from my house and meet my friends and neighbors at a neighborhood cafe.

I don't drink coffee but a coffee shop would be great. A place where you can get baked goods like pretzels, or scones, or fresh baked bread would be great.

I would love a dog park and some entertainment venues. An ice skating rink for the winter would be great.

And yes, a "high end" highrise above the metro with retail and dining on the ground floor would be heaven. We need some density and some incomes to support the businesses we currently have and the ones we want to come down the line.

I would love a yoga studio in walking distance.

Whitney Hubbard said...

I would like a CVS or Walgreens.
A coffee shop.
DC is known to have some of the best restaurants in the world. I would love to see some of those in Ward 8.
Whole Foods/Organic Food store.
Retail: Target. Marshalls. HomeGoods.
Smoothie/Juicing Options.
Gas Stations that take debit/credit cards.
Bars, nightlife.
Beauty establishments (hair, nails, massage, etc.)
Market rate housing developments.
for the city to do something with the blights that they own in Anacostia and do absolutely nothing with and make the neighborhood look bad.

As I think of others, I will post!

BWB said...

I would like the developers and chain businesses out there to know that there are people here who would welcome them with open arms. I have gone to some of those community meetings where some people just spent the entire meeting yelling. While I can understand some of the concerns and fear (DC has a terrible track record over here) I think the answer is working together and encouraging progress. I for one would stand up and applaud if any of these things other commenters suggested would open here. I too am tired of driving to Maryland for everything. I want to spend my money here in my neighborhood.

Whitney Hubbard said...

Oh and a mainstream gym like Washington Sports Club!

Anonymous said...

Well, since you asked I am just going to go full out on my wish list:
A Whole Foods or Yes Organic
A movie theatre
A vegan/vegetarian restaurant
A sit down seafood restaurant
A Barnes and NobleM
A Macy's
A JosBank
A Union Market (maybe the G8waty Pavilion will turn into one)
An upscale wine store
A Sweetgreens
Some user-friendly green space with benches like Canal Park outside the Navy Yard Metro

Anonymous said...

And a GYM!

Anonymous said...

walkable neighborhoods with access to a corner store with nice produce, good wine selection and specialty items .

I'd love a gym and a home and garden store also.

A coffee shop and somewhere to get a bagel or a deli sandwich would be great.

I agree with the others on wishing for a drug store and a cleaners.

I'd really like to see Oxon Run Park be utilized more.

Anonymous said...

I bought a house off GH Rode. I spend most of my money for grocery/ home improvement in VA where I work. I could of spend them in W8. Is a farmers market once weekly too expensive/ difficult to make. I understand that development follows the money/ demographic but it goes the other way around too.

Anonymous said...

How can ANYONE be against providing true affordable housing, public housing, and social services? It is so sad to see opposition to these much needed programs. Where is the compassion and interest to uplift each other? And who are you to come and tell Ward 8 what we don't need anymore of! There are 70,000 ppl on the waiting list for housing! 15,000 homeless families in DC. Homelessness is REAL. Addiction problems are REAL. Mental illness is REAL. Poverty is REAL. Poverty has been ENGINEERED and there are ALWAYS going to be people that need help. There are thousands of very low income people and families in this city! I live in Ward 8 and I DO NOT appreciate ANYONE saying "Ward 8 doesn't need anymore low income housing or social services! That is outright disgusting to say! Revitalization of communities can be done without pushing out low income people! We have a right to stay in place! We have a right to housing we can afford. Stop trying to erase the poor and disenfranchised! How about advocating to promote and implement policies and programs that uplift and genuinely help the neighbors you detest so much instead of advocating for them to be homeless!

The Advoc8te said...

Anonymous: "I live in Ward 8 and I DO NOT appreciate ANYONE saying "Ward 8 doesn't need anymore low income housing or social services! That is outright disgusting to say!"

Ward 8 doesn't need anymore low income housing or social services"

I stick by that 1,000%. It is time for the rest of the city to do their share.

I also said it is time to turn low-income renters into homeowners so they won't continue to be at the beck and call of the market.

I am not letting political correctness prevent me from talking sense. If the old way was working Ward 8 and East of the River wouldn't be in the situation it has been for decades.

Doing the same thing over and over again is the definition of insanity. I am encouraged to see more people standing up against the okie doke. :)

Carlene said...

I want respect for my historic district (Anacostia)

I want developers to be up front with what they will really get out of the deal versus coming to these meetings, asking the community what they want/suggestions/feedback, and then maintaining their own agenda. That's why we get pissed off. I'd rather them say this shiny new building is coming to you, there's nothing that you can do about it.

Back to the historical...I want development that compliments my historic district!

SilentWarrior said...

My disposable income goes to Virginia and Capitol Hill. Would be delighted to spend it at CVS, a pet supply store, a sit down alcoholic beverage serving diner, right here in ward 8. Our voices are drowned out by zombie rhetoric such as "we need more affordable housing, job training programs, handouts, blah blah blah" at most meetings. Who knows, perhaps more threads like this can lead to us coming together as a group, attending these meetings together and really making our voices heard. Thanks for the thread! BTW I second NO MORE Low Income Housing or Social Services 1000% and APPRECIATE you saying so.

happy camper said...

I will be closing on a house a few blocks from the Metro shortly.

I second the idea for a CVS or Rite-Aid (or any drug store) near the Anacostia metro.

I also second the idea about being market rate housing above the Anacostia metro (hopefully with ground level retail).

I second the moratorium on further social services being relocated to Ward 8. Each ward should have a share of social services proportionate to the citizens who need them, instead of having to commute to Ward 8 to get the services they need.

There are at least two vacant lots on Howard Road that I can think of, off the top of my head, that are ripe for development for market rate housing (in elevated locations, which means the even the third and fourth stories would have excellent views of the downtown skyline).

Okomfo Akosua Nwotwewaa said...

Beautiful, well-lit walking trails, community garden, recreation center (excited about the new Eagle Center), movie theater, Trader Joe's, Bus Boys & Poets, more classy local-owned business such as Nubian Heritage (not sure how to spell it like the store) and Union Town Grill.

Suzanne said...

If retail follows housing, then hopefully we have just kickstarted the movement! LYNK Capital has just assisted Woodcrest Holdings with a loan to complete 26 homes in Congress Heights. These homes will sell for $240-$360k and include upgraded kitchens and flooring. The developer has a true vision for the impact this can have on the community and the revitalization efforts. We hope many of your post-ers will share this great news and enjoy the impact this can have on the community.

Anonymous said...

I would like to have the same amenities and services as NW DC residents have. I end up spending too much money traveling to other parts of the city for basic needs and entertainment. I would like:

A sit down restaurant like Busboys & Poets and Matchbox

Some fast casual restaurants like Chipotle and Sweetgreen
Coffeshops with wifi like Starbucks and Panera
Retail like Target,

Marshalls,Bed, Bath, and Beyond
CVS, Walgreens

Options for grocery shopping like Harris Teeter and Whole Foods

A nice hotel for family and friends who come to visit

Nice apartments like CityVista

A bar/music venue like a jazz club and performance space

A nice wine bar and sports bar

HensonRidgeresident said...

I would like healthier food options, more Capital Bikeshare stations, a Target and Home Depot would be great too. I get tired of spending my money in neighboring jursdicctions, but I seem to have to pay a premium for basic services in my neighborhood(cleaners, corner stores, gas)