The plans call for more than 200 apartments, 230,000 square feet of office space, and 26,000 square feet of retail in one of D.C.’s poorest neighborhoods. Renderings show gleaming buildings that would fit right into the city’s most thriving corridors, with fashion boutiques, a cafe, and a bookstore surrounding the Metro station. The multi-tiered offices feature multiple roof decks, while balconies at the residences overlook a revitalized Congress Heights.
In its submission to the Zoning Commission, which will hold a hearing on the proposed zoning change for the project on Thursday, the developer, Sanford Capital, promises “a vibrant transit-oriented development” with improved pedestrian safety nearby, higher Metro ridership, and substantial community benefits.
The reality is more complicated. Where the new development is slated to rise, four decrepit apartment buildings now stand. Residents there say that Sanford has allowed the properties to deteriorate and has passively and actively sought to drive the tenants away in order to clear the buildings. Sanford’s control of the site is complicated by a fifth, vacant building that’s the subject of a lawsuit. And some residents and neighbors say an agreement between Sanford and local organizations intended to benefit the community instead gives hundreds of thousands of dollars to politically connected Ward 8 groups while doing little for residents of the properties.