Last night's Shaw Main Streets MeetingI'm not really good at keeping up with some meeting dates. Really to be informed in this frickin' city there are a ton of meetings one has to attend. And dang it, I don't want to go to all of them. I did however attend this one for Shaw Main Streets. Well, at least I got free bottled water, cookies, development plan drawings, and there were some nice (unavailable) men to look at.
Held at the DC Housing Finance Agency, 'cause the basement of the DC public library is too dank, the theme was "New Development Projects in Shaw". When they mean Shaw they mean the 7th and 9th street areas from Florida to the Convention Center, not Logan or U Street.
First off, no offense, but Alexander Padro talks to long. He was supposed to speak for 5 minutes. That was an exceptionally long 5 minutes.
There were 6 potential development projects on the table. The O street market, Broadcast Center One, the Howard Theater, the Dunbar Theater, WVSA AutoArts Academy, and a project at 9th and N Streets. So far 1/2 of those projects look like they'll be actually done, as opposed to being drawings sitting on a pile. The reason is if you don't own the land now, and you haven't broken any ground or at least done some preservation, or buttressing, I'm just very doubtful it will get done. But that's just me.
The big draw, for me, was the O Street market, which is the big block our beloved ghetto Giant sits on. Mr. Armond Spikell of Roadside Development, which I think owns the land, spoke of a new Giant, as the current one is inadequate and the loading dock on 9th Street takes up some valuable real estate. He had no plans to show because they are trying to incorporate the community's (must have been some other community group) concern over loss of parking. So they have to think underground parking, which is expensive. The general plan is to build a new Giant while the old one exists, then create a better Giant with more retail and other mixed used things. Then later get rid of the old Giant, once the new Giant is ready. The possible start date on any of this is 2006, and will take about 3 years.
There were some other projects on the slate that were on their way. At 1301-1309 9th Street, Douglas Development is going to put up a mixed use space. It will have 20 effiencies and 7 one bedrooms that they believe will be moderately priced, not luxury. They will start work in 30 days and hope to be complete in 12 months. They will have retail and these apartments. The construction costs will be around $6.5 million dollars.
WVSA AutoArts, you can see their website hope to open at 1234-38 9th Street and Blagden Alley by September 2005. They plan on keeping the auto body shop there and hoping to have affordable apartments for teachers and artists. They are looking for community support.
The Howard Theater is doomed. My opinion, everyone else is hopeful. I say DOOMED, DOOMED I say, because the roof is not stable and if we get a big snow it could come down. Doomed.
Looking at the diagrams for Broadcast Center One, which appears that it is to sit on the empty lot and the shops behind the Shaw metro station between S and T Streets, along 7th. I'm looking and wondering what's going to happen to the shops that are there? Like many projects, it will be mixed with some housing thrown in. They are proposing that it would be made affordable based on 60%-40% AMI (Area Mean Income). AMI is about $80-$90K.
I talked with my neighbor and roommate about this. L is of the opinion (L. tell me if I get this wrong) that the neighborhood doesn't need THAT much retail. Throw in a bunch of coffeeshops with WiFi and she'll be happy, nothing else needed. My neighbor too is concerned about the whole retail space thing, because apparently all the retail in the Convention Center hasn't been filled. He's not sure that the community can deal with all that much retail space for all these mixed used properties. I would like a bakery (Firehook) and a Wachovia and a sit down restaurant with wait staff. I say wait staff because the bulletproof KFC on North Cap is technically a sit down restaurant. Don't want more of that.
We all seem to like the residential nature of the neighborhood. I mean I like it and don't want to lose that flavor. I really don't want to attract that much outside traffic coming in. I liked what the O Street Developers said about creating commercial space that is to serve the community. Business that serves the community. Before the developers, Dr. Warren Flint, the executive director of Shaw Main Streets, said they/we want to create "a village environment". Yeah, a village.