Housing Complex

Why Aren’t These Buildings Taller?

The building on the left has room to grow. (UrbanAdvantage)

Via David Garber, here's a rendering done by UrbanAdvantage for the corner of Martin Luther King Jr. Avenue and Good Hope Road SE in Anacostia, where a mural is being dismantled after the building behind it became dangerously unstable. The Department of Housing and Community Development, headquartered across the street, bought the corner lot early last year, and has been slow in figuring out what to do with it.

This mockup, I've got to say, isn't encouraging: The corner should have something bigger than two stories to anchor that struggling commercial strip, preferably with as much housing as possible. It's zoned C-3-A, which allows for building up to 65 feet. The analogous development is the Grays at Pennsylvania, which has a Yes! Organic Market on the ground floor, and leased up in a jiffy. On such a prominent site, why wouldn't you fill your entire envelope?

UPDATE, 5:00 p.m. - Looks like not much will be happening with that property in the near term anyway. From a DHCD spokeswoman: "At this time, the Department does not have immediate plans for the property. We will be exploring temporary and permanent redevelopment options in the near future. DHCD works to evaluate plans to beautify the gateway entry."

I must say, if the presence of a large city agency in a depressed area neither results in commercial spaces across the street being leased nor a well-positioned property having any plans for development a year and a half after the agency bought it, what good is it?

  • Skipper

    Taller buildings means more vacant space.

  • JM

    Outside the downtown core, Washington is a set of small towns strung together. A lot of people like it that way.

  • I’m Not Wanted There

    Taller buildings means more gentrification. Heaven forbid that happen.

  • Caution

    Downtown Anacostia has a significant amount of development coming its way (such as the “new downtown” - http://www.anacostianow.com/2008/07/new-downtown.html). EVERYTHING does not have to be huge. There should be some thought put into the overall development plans. Varying heights are appropriate and should be encouraged (which means some taller buildings and some smaller buildings). Why not focus the taller buildings around the metro rather than near the exit to the highway? Why not allow for some areas to have smaller buildings so that downtown Anacostia can feel like a more developed Georgetown or old town Alexandria (which actually has some varying height). While some additional density may be appropriate (especially if it is set back from the historic properties) we should think about whether a super tall building is appropriate in this location.

  • Steve

    Marion Barry does not want more rental housing on Ward 8.

  • Hopeful

    So, maybe it will be a condo building. Who knows:). Does anyone know what DHCD's plans are for the site in the meantime? Now that the building has been demolished the site looks crazy.

  • Bob

    Dear Steve, Mr. Barry may not be so crazy. Did you know that according to a report issued by DHCD in 2008 (http://www.cnhed.org/download/123321_U127242__742768/Ward+8+Housing+Data+Report2.pdf),
     With 9,000 affordable and special needs housing units, Ward 8 has the highest concentration of affordable housing in the District.
     Another 4,100 affordable units are in the current development pipeline.
     One out of three housing choice voucher holders lives in Ward 8.
     Only 23 percent of Ward 8 households own their own homes as compared with 40 percent of households city-wide, undermining stability and investment in some neighborhoods.

  • Sarah

    Isn't much of old Anacostia an historic district? That would certainly affect whether tall, large-scale buildings are built.

  • Hopeful turned Gangsta’!!

    DHCD is a gangsta' agency. Not only did they demolish 1201 (which now looks crazy), but yesterday they demolished almost all of the adjacent property at the same corner - without any community input or plans for the redevelopment of the site. Anacostia residents are now asking whether the "presence of a large city agency" is a good thing - or will lead to the demise of their community. What a nightmare!

  • http://rivereastidealist.blogspot.com/ Jamilah

    Thanks for writing this article. Who's the POC for this project? Is there a community advisory group affiliated with this that we can advocate with?

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