City Desk

Shiloh Baptist To Present Plans For Its Vacant Properties

From the desk of Shaw ANC Commissioner Alex Padro: Shiloh Baptist Church is back to making promises about its vacant properties stinking up around the Convention Center and its surrounding blocks. The church has announced "that they will present their current plans for all the vacant properties," Padro writes in an e-mail, at ANC 2C's meeting today at 6:30 p.m. at the Kennedy Recreation Center (1401 7th Street NW).

Before anyone gets their hopes up, the church has a long history of making promises and community presentations about its vacants. The promises have been going on for years. At different points, church leaders formed a community development corporation to deal with the properties. Among its proposals: a skyway connecting some of its buildings. Can anyone imagine a skyway on 9th Street?

In recent years, the city condemned the church's properties. While its properties grew boards, the church got busy protesting at least one Shaw restaurant's application for a liquor license. Someone even started a blog about the church's issues. And many of its most senior members within the church leadership waged a campaign to oust its pastor over allegations of financial mismanagement. The lawsuit dragged on and on. The band of plaintiffs suggested that the church was using petty legal maneuvers to bankrupt their efforts at exposing the church's allegedly crooked books. I'm not sure where the lawsuit stands now.

Padro is not so optimistic about tonight's presentation. He writes:

"It is important to note that Shiloh's pastor, Rev. Wallace Charles Smith, at last night's Convention Center Community Association meeting, stated that financing was not yet in place for the renovation and new construction at 1531-33 9th Street, NW, much less for the more ambitious redevelopment of the church's buildings on the west side of the 1500 block of 9th Street, which include ground floor retail as well as affordable housing.  Specifically, the project for the buildings north of the Henry C. Gregory, III Family Life Center will not move forward without District of Columbia subsidies, which Smith said were not presently forthcoming.

This community has seen a number of renderings for proposed redevelopment of Shiloh's buildings along Woodson Row over the past decade, and perhaps even before.  It seems unlikely that these latest plans will move forward anytime soon.  But the plans for 1531-33 9th Street, NW are moving to the Historic Preservation Review Board this month, and with minor modifications, should receive approval.  If Shiloh is able to complete this project, it would certainly be a demonstration of good faith on Shiloh's part after so many years of lack of progress."

*photo by DCist.

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  • Angry Al Gonzales

    This church & Doug Jemal are responsible for half the vacant buildings downtown. The city needs to tax empty buildings at a high enough rate that developers will put businesses in buildings even on six-month leases just to avoid the vacant property tax.
    The city is losing a lot of money on vacant properties - no income taxes since no employees, no business taxes, no sales taxes, etc. But since Fenty & half the council are in the back pockets of develops, don't hold your breath.

  • downtown rez

    "Specifically, the project for the buildings north of the Henry C. Gregory, III Family Life Center will not move forward without District of Columbia subsidies, which Smith said were not presently forthcoming."
    I'd rather DC not subsidize, and instead reinstate the vacant tax. If Shiloh has a vision for Shaw, let them fund it.

  • nic

    Why does a church need so man buildings that they are leaving vacant??? The city needs to wrest these properties from the church--enough is enough!!!

    The only upside that I can see in all of these abandoned buildings is that I firmly believe they are a pig part of why I was able to afford to but a townhouse in Shaw. These numerous vacant buildings have that much of an impact on the Shaw neighborhood.

    PLEASE seize these properties by EMINENT DOMAIN!!!

  • Ryan

    Why on earth is a church dictating development for a neighborhood? If they are not going to do anything with these properties NOW (i am completely unconvinced that anything they propose will ever happen or is even right for the neighborhood) they should sell them or face stiff taxes. The church does not represent the neighborhood (see their opposition to BeBar and other liquor licenses). Let them focus on their ministry and get out of the real estate development business where they clearly have no track record of success.

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