City Desk

Visions for MLK Avenue

waxking1-199x300Though celebrations and acknowledgments of Martin Luther King Jr.'s birthday have died down, City Desk feels the need to squeeze in at least one more tidbit on MLK—or at least the avenue named for him in Southeast D.C.

The blog South East Socialite conducted a poll this week to find out what visions residents in Congress Heights have for the avenue: What should go and what should stay?

Only 69 votes have been cast so far—OK, that's a pretty small sample—but here are the results: 68 percent voted for "10 less liquor stores," 31 percent picked a "Walgreens instead of Popeyes," 15 percent wanted to see "the entire block ablaze," and 5 percent said they want "Shepard's Park destroyed." Those four answers were the only options.  

LaShaun Smith, who created the blog, isn't surprised by the results. "I've talked to many residents, and most of the homeowners are embarrassed by how MLK Avenue looks. I have some friends that actually take alternate routes home so friends and family will not see how horrible the street looks. The Popeye's Chicken looks nasty. Many of us hate there are so many liquor stores. There really should be a D.C. law against how many liquor stores can operate within a mile."

Smith, a Congress Heights resident herself, would like to see more respectable establishments, such as coffee shops—Big Chair!—a trendy cafe, a bakery, and a nice lounge for mingling. "Not everyone in Southeast would like to buy liquor and Philly blunts. It would be best to have business owners that live right here in Southeast," adds Smith.

Of course, MLK Avenue (formerly Nichols Avenue) intersects with Malcolm X Avenue (formerly Portland Street), and Smith points out that residents are well aware of the legacy of both names.

"Yes, we are all concerned," says Smith. "MLK links to Malcolm X Avenue. I believe it's the only intersection of its kind that links the two civil rights leaders. They would be embarrassed."

Photo by cliff1066™, Creative Commons Attribution License

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  • JayAre

    If one starts at Good Hope Road to the end of MLK, there are two liquor stores, however, there are many variety stores that sell beer and wine. Back in '74 when I arrived in DC, MLK did not look as it is today. There were small businesses and restaurants and nighclubs. That liquor store on the corner of MLK and Malcolm X has gone to hell over the years. We walked from Bolling AFB to that corner many times, it was a very nice store, but now, the grounds and parking lot are trashy and the inside of the store is dingy. I dare not give them my business, plus one definitely has to watch out for shady characters hanging around. Further down on South Capitol was bustling with commerce. I guess the when crack came, the wheels fell off of the wagon. The corridor from Anacostia to the end of the District line (Southern Ave.) could definitely use some more investment.

  • JayAre

    One more thing, as some call it 'River East' could do without some of those carryout places. They are an eyesore as well, many of those places are plain down right despicable and a hang out for the drug dealers.

  • The Advoc8te

    Good post! I definetly don't think that we are doing those great civil rights leaders justice by what is currently at that intersection...a liquor store, a check cashing business and a Popeye's chicken. Could it be more of a joke...on us that is?

    It makes me have to ask again what exactly is Congress Heights Main Streets doing? This non-profit tasked with improving the business district along MLK Avenue in Congress Heights recieved a grant for $250k but only $40k is being allocated for "business improvements". The rest of the money seems to have been absorbed in "administrative costs" and dubious committee projects.

  • Typical DC BS

    Why is it in every city you go to, Martin Luther King Street / Boulevard / Avenue is invariably a shithole? What a shame.

  • cminus

    Typical DC BS, you've clearly never been to Berkeley. One of the local catchphrases is "Berkeley: the town so liberal that they named a street after Martin Luther King on the good side of town".

    (Here is a link to a house on Martin Luther King Jr. Way in Berkeley. Asking price, in the freefalling California real estate market: $1.15 million.)

  • The Advoc8te

    I think it's time to update the "Hoods" blogs in the CP sidebar. We need some more River East/East of the River blogs representing! lol.

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