Friday, March 30, 2012

Not So Good News Regarding St E.

Washington real estate developers Jeff Epperson and Rick Powell began snapping up land on Howard Road in Anacostia in 2004. It was an aggressive move in the downtrodden neighborhood.

The potential, after all, was great.

A new headquarters for Homeland Security — the biggest federal construction project in the country since the Pentagon in the 1940s — was on the way. The $3.4 billion project was expected to transform the sweeping grounds of St. Elizabeths Hospital into a national security campus and bring 16,000 jobs to the very poorest of Washington neighborhoods.

Federal and District officials have promoted the project as a savior that would finally bring jobs and prosperity to surrounding Southeast neighborhoods — Anacostia, Buena Vista, Barry Farm, Congress Heights. The work-a-day crowd with cash to spend also has signalled opportunity to commercial real estate developers whose business was kicked sideways in the recession.


Tuesday, March 27, 2012

The High Line in Ward 8?

ART of WAR Concept: Nothing is more difficult than the art of maneuver. What is difficult about maneuver is to make the devious route the most direct and to turn misfortune to advantage

This past weekend, I went to New York City to get away and recharge. While there, I followed-up on one of my recent blog posts about an alternate use for the 11th Street Bridge. Many of the comments received from the previous post compared the proposed change to the High Line in NYC.

The High Line was an old railroad track that went through the neighborhoods of Manhattan. At one time the city decided they were going to demolish the train track because it was no longer being used. Then some residents got involved and had the idea that they could reuse the tracks for pedestrian use. Seems like a crazy idea, right?

Seeing the High Line first hand, however, gave me a better idea of what the reuse of the 11th Street Bridge could become. I have to say that I was completely blown away by the High Line and it got me even more excited about the 11th Street Bridge.

First, I noticed that the High Line is a huge tourist and residential attraction. As you can tell from the pics, all kinds a people come to check this out whether it was to read a book, enjoy the gardens or just to take a stroll with friends to catch up on life. In comparison, converting the 11th Street Bridge would serve as another District attraction that would bring people from all over the region to experience our great city.

There is always the conversation on how we can connect the divide created by the Anacostia River. A possible solution to this would be using the bridge as a predestrian walkway. This would serve as a connector without people realizing it. It could be used for the same purpose as described in NYC and a potential running path similar to the bridge in Georgtown.

The High Line was like an oasis, sometimes I forgot was in the heart of the NYC. With a similar design of gardens and creative seating, I can see how it would help to take some of the “Metro” out of DC.

What was also great about the High Line was that the architects were able to merge the redesign of the tracks with the existing infrastructure of the City. This created some of the most intriguing views in the City. As a result of my visit, I can now better imagine walking across the 13th Street Bridge, sitting on a bench having the same experience looking at Poplar Point or the Navy Yard. 

So let’s continue to have the conversation and let our imaginations run wild to see what this can become. This is going to be a once in a lifetime opportunity, so let’s be sure to participate as a Ward.

This is what we have now...

This is what it can become...
Notice the old railroad tracks used in the design of the bridge

The bridge to the far right is what we have now...

This is what it can become...
Now I see how it is possible to plant trees on the bridge

Using the existing bldgs in the design...

This is what we have now...
A view from the bridge to the Navy Yard.

And what it can become...
I had to remind myself I was still in the city

What we have now...
A View from Poplar Point

Kinda Cool...

Tourist and Residents...

This was sign was funny. At one point in time, this part of the
city was filled with abandoned bldgs. Now developers
are making condos of these old bldgs and using the Highline as an attraction.
Maybe one day we will see "Steps Away from Anacostia's Arts District!"

Just me checking out the sites and sounds. 

Time to use that imagination of yours...

Again, just a concept of the bridge can become.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

A Perspective on the Ward 8 City Council Election

ART of WAR Concept: Victorious warriors win first and then go to war, while defeated warriors go to war first and then seek to win. _________________________________________________________________________________

I wanted to take a moment to discuss my thoughts on this election season in Ward 8. Sitting on the sidelines and being an observer has allowed me to see some things that I probably would have missed if I was involved as a candidate.

Every election is different. There are different issues, different candidates, different voters and even the timing of the election season is different. An additional change I have noticed since 2008 is that candidates are now actively using social media, blogging and neighborhood listservs to get their message across to voters. All have become effective tools for candidates to reach voters. With the election starting in the winter months these have been heavily utilized.

I’ve also noticed that there are more people who are taking an active interest in who is running and their platform to improve the quality of life in the Ward. It is always a good thing when there is heavy participation the in community. It forces candidates to be their best which in turn helps the community.

And like every election, there is always talk about getting several candidates to drop out of the race with the expectation that they will all support another in an effort to beat the incumbent. This is noble thinking, but these are the types of conversations that need to take place two years in advance. When a person commits to picking up their petitions and spending their time, money and effort just to get on the ballot, rest assured that they are going to run to complete the race.

Yet still, this conversation has to happen - not for the purpose of eliminating competition, but instead with the goal of combining resources and talent. I for one believe that it takes more than one person in leadership to bring about the type of change needed to really improve the quality of life in our Ward 8 neighborhoods.  It is evident that each candidate has unique talents that include public policy, fundraising, public relations, and community organization. Unfortunately, over the year's, these talents have worked independently of each other. When you can bring all those talents together we will be able to push a candidate forward. Not doing so will create the same frustrations 4 years from now during the next election.

If the conversation happens I think we would learn that not everyone really wants to be the Ward 8 Councilmember, instead they just want to be involved in the process of improving Ward 8. This is a good problem. All potential candidates have to have an honest conversation with each other to determine who has the desire, patience, ability and resources to hold this office. Then the person chosen, has to have the heart and “vision” to position the others to be in charge of other initiatives.

These initiatives can even be an At-Large City Councilmember.  I believe that in a couple of years, Ward 8 can actually have two At-Large Councilmembers if people are willing to work with and help each other succeed. In addition to the City Council, the person has to have the vision to position others to chair District Boards & Commissions and even the DC Democratic State Committee. We are going to need residents who are in key positions that have influence over zoning, housing, utilities and the large District political initiatives. You see we need a team effort where we will all be able to shine to implement a shared vision for improving our community. Remember we are all fighting for the same thing(s).

Before & After Pics - Haunted House

ART of WAR Concept: As water has no constant form, there are in war no constant conditions.

The other day I came across some olds pics of a house in Historic Anacostia on the blog And, Now Anacostia. As you can tell this house contributed to some serious blight in the community.

The previous owner had lived in the house for over 40 years and was a very good neighbor. Unfortunately, unbeknowst to neighbors, he became a hoarder; so much so that once the house was sold, it took the contractor about 30 days just to clean out all the collected items.

The house was in such bad shape that it actually began to lean to the side. I'm sure some would say that it was so ugly that it would be best just to tear it down. If you agree, your opinion might change after seeing the updated photos after the house was renovated.


Kinda looks like a haunted house! Can you imagine what
this did to property values on this street?

It was in such bad shape, it had no porch to stand had
to walk the plank to go into the house.

Are you saying wow yet?

Everyone on the block loved this renovation + an increase
in everyone's property value.


Monday, March 12, 2012

Anacostia Pedestrian Bridge Conceptual Idea

ART of WAR Concept: We are not fit to lead an army on the march unless we are familiar with the face of the country--its mountains and forests, its pitfalls and precipices, its marshes and swamps

My good blogger friend, “And Now, Anacostia” did a blog post on the idea of a bridge that would be used for strictly pedestrian use It seems like the idea is not that far-fetched. As you should know, the new 11th Street Bridge will be completed this summer. The assumption was that after the bridge was completed the older bridges would be torn down since there will be no need to drive across them.

Well an idea has surfaced to keep the older, existing 11th Street Bridge to serve as an additional connector across the Anacostia River. The unique difference is that instead of driving across the bridge, it will be used as a recreational space for pedestrian use only and we will use it to walk across the river. The concept is still on the drawing board but it set to include intense recreational activities such as rock walls, zip lines, canoe launches, paddle boats parks, bike trails, walking trails and recreational courts.

When I first heard of the idea I was not a supporter, but after more thought I think it is a great idea. Just imagine being able to sit in the park overlooking the Anacostia River from the bridge, or shooting hoops and  playing tennis as the traffic goes by on the new bridges.

There should be some community meetings sometime this spring to provide more details. Currently, the idea is in a conceptual stage. My understanding is that the District will have to raise private dollars to make this a reality.

I wish I could share more of the concept drawings, but the DDOT and the Office of Planning representatives want community input before sharing any more pics. So if you love the idea or think it’s a waste, please be sure to participate in the meeting conversations. CLICK HERE to visit of the OP website to learn more. Stay tuned....

This is a concept drawing provided by the DC OP on what the existing bridge could
become. You can see the possible streetcar on the new 11th St Bridge.
The old bridge would connect to the new bridge.

This is a view from Poplar Point. Again, just a concept. There
will be a need from community input.

This is a view of Poplar Point standing on the bridge

A view of the Navy Yard while standing on the bridge

A view from Anacostia Park