Almost a decade after it was first announced, Washington DC’s Marshall Heights neighborhood, bordering the Prince George's County line, may soon receive its long overdue shot in the arm. Developers just last week filed an application with the District government to demolish the abandoned towers on the site (or, in the words of the Office of the Chief Financial Officer, the "unclaimed" property). The Capitol View Plaza public housing complex and neighboring 14-story building, at 5901 and 5929 East Capitol Street, SE will soon be razed to make way for a 110,000-square foot retail center and mixed-income housing.
In 2000, under the administration of former DC Mayor Anthony Williams, the US Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) allotted a $30.8 million grant under its Hope VI program to the redevelopment of Capitol View Plaza's 12-story tower - then designated public housing for the elderly and disabled - across from the Capitol Heights Metro. Though the project had initially been scheduled to proceed in 2003, this is the first public sign since 2007 that the redevelopment remains on the District radar.
"5929 we purchased from HUD because it was foreclosed upon. Then we had some issues with FHA when we purchased the building because we had a financial gap. We decided it wasn't worth taking the risk if we didn't have a way to close that gap," said DCHA's Kerry Smyser of the delays. "FHA provided an upfront grant of about $12 million, but you have to use it on their footprint and there's more to do on that site than just to do with that building."
Indeed there is. Originally dubbed “New East Capitol” by the city government, the project has now been twinned with neighboring Capitol Gateway residential project, produced by the A&R Development Corporation and the Henson Development Company. Phase I of that development has delivered “nearly 240 duplexes, townhouses and single-family homes” to an area once notorious for its violence; time and development have gone a long way in imbuing the immediate area with a suburban je ne sais quoi.
That, however, is merely prologue to the 3.4 million square feet of office space, 1450 residential units - including 669 condominiums - and 300,000 square feet of retail space slated to spring up on both sides of East Capitol once construction of the Gateway project begins. Just last year, the development team confirmed that Shoppers Food & Pharmacy will be opening its very first DC branch, a 61,000-s.f. Shoppers Food Warehouse, as part of Capitol Gateway’s mixed-use component...someday. According to Smyser, DCHA is not currently projecting a timeline for construction, nor is A&R committing to a schedule. In total, the cost of the ambitious project is expected to exceed $1 billion.