Tuesday, December 16, 2008

DC Commits to (Modest) Ivy City Redevelopment

The District government today announced that it is aiming to "transform" one of the city's most beleaguered neighborhoods by overseeing the redevelopment of 37 vacant properties within a six-blocks radius in Northeast's Ivy City enclave. Best known, if at all, for its ramshackle homes, illegal dumping sites and high crime rate, Ivy City will now host new construction and renovation projects awarded to four non-profit developers: Mi Casa, Inc., Manna, Inc., DC Habitat for Humanity and MissionFirst. It’s a move calculated to increase homeownership in a neighborhood weighed down by a glut of vacancies and a foreclosure rate twice that of the rest of Washington, DC.

"Just 12% of Ivy City’s residents own their homes," said Mayor Adrian Fenty, who referred to Ivy City's abandoned properties as "places to deal drugs and dump trash." Fenty noted "That’s one of the lowest homeownership rates in the city, but when these projects are finished, we can double that – which would be a fantastic statement about this city’s commitment to homeownership and neighborhood stabilization.”

Despite the uplifting mood of the press conference, expectations were not set high for the neighborhood that is isolated by Mt. Olivet Cemetery, New York Avenue, and the railyard, yet nowhere near a Metro station, and where many single family homes still list under $200,000 - without much interest.

Mi Casa will be moving ahead first with renovations of three buildings at 1302 and 1304 Gallaudet Street, NE and 1917 Capitol Avenue, NE. During Phase I, the developer plans to revamp 6 condos in the first property, with the intent of offering them to “seniors and extended families.” Four will available to those making less than 30% of the Area Median Income (AMI), while all have been reserved for area residents making less than 50% of the AMI. The second property, 1917 Capitol, will feature 2 affordable two-bedroom condos for those at less than 50% of the AMI. Mi Casa will be giving preference current eligible residents who have pre-qualified for a mortgage and “are committed to living in the neighborhood long-term.”

The remainder is expected to follow suit shortly after the completion of the first phase, with Manna planning 20 units, 15 for MissionFirst, and 8 for Habitat for Humatity. Together, that amounts to 58 new units for Ivy City – only 6 of which will be priced at market-rate. The projects will be combine renovations and new, from-scratch developments on vacant lots.

The Ivy City project is being partly funded by combining the $1 million value of District-owned parcels with $3 million from the federal Neighborhood Stabilization Program. The total cost is projected to be roughly $15 million and the neighborhood is still scheduled to begin receiving upwards of $3 million in infrastructural improvements beginning in May of next year.

The last time the District took a stake in Ivy City was when the DC City Council voted to relocate several Navy Yard strip clubs to the dilapidated neighborhood in order to make way for Nationals Park. William Shelton, chair of the ANC 5B was quick to credit the citizens of Ivy City with leading the charge to get District officials to take a second look at the state of their neighborhood.

"The tenants there, led by the Ivy City Citizens Association, have been at the forefront of this…It’s a very positive experience to see them determine their own destiny in terms of what the community ought to become,” said Shelton. “And, for our part, we’re enthusiastic to see that part of the city have an opportunity to have some those abandoned houses… renovated and restored." And for the fine folks of Ivy City, the modest announcement may not be a new stadium, but its a start.


IMGoph on Dec 16, 2008, 8:44:00 PM said...

hopefully, with a better economy in the longer run, those folks in ivy city will find they're sitting very pretty. there is a lot planned for areas right around there, and a lot of potential on new york ave. itself. ivy city could be one hell of a neighborhood and location with just some average investment.

Ken on Dec 16, 2008, 9:02:00 PM said...

Phew. Imgoph, I was waiting for you or Poo poo (and where has (s)he been lately?) to give us heat for not recognizing what a beautiful neighborhood it is, and selling it short. Thanks for going lenient on us this time.

IMGoph on Dec 16, 2008, 9:04:00 PM said...

c'mon, ken, that's not me you're talking about! i just call you guys out when you get the neighborhood name wrong.

you're just lucky i was out of town when the whole h street article blew up during thanksgiving! ;)

Ken on Dec 16, 2008, 10:25:00 PM said...

We waited until you were out of town for that one. Jeez, we could have defamed the Pope and gotten less anger than we got for writing about the slow pace of development on H Street. Uh oh, I may have just opened it up again...

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