Mayor Fenty gave a brief, grim history of the properties prior to their purchase by the District, highlights of which included foreclosure, the demolition of a half-standing and decrepit photo lab, and the discovery of a dead body. (Incidentally, one of the only operational businesses on the block is Latney’s Funeral Home.)
What will fill the decaying block? With bids due this summer and the District’s decision not coming until fall, no one knows yet. But Ward 4 Councilmember Muriel Bowser, also in attendance at the press conference, spoke of “quality retail, quality dining, and places for our residents to gather and stop taking their dollars out of our city.” Any residential development would include the requisite 30 percent affordable housing, and all projects would have to meet green building standards. Former President Clinton may belatedly get his wish for a revitalized Georgia Avenue.
Just steps away from the conference, Donatelli Development was hard at work on Park Place, its $60 million mixed-use project above the Metro. Donatelli has also purchased an empty lot with 10,000+ developable s.f. on the corner of the 3800 block. In addition, Fenty intimated that the Safeway Food & Drug across the street would undergo renovation or redevelopment of some kind.
Councilmember Bowser hopes this block of Petworth will serve as a “model for what we want to do along this entire corridor.” Mayor Fenty has long voiced support for Ward 4 development. As Bowser put it, “I like to think of this as the mayor putting the people’s money where his mouth is.”