Georgia Ave. Project Stirs Hopes For Long-Awaited Revitalization
Tuesday, August 1, 2006
Donning hard hats and grabbing ceremonial shovels, D.C. public officials broke ground yesterday on a $60 million housing and commercial development that they hope will start to change the profile of Georgia Avenue NW.
D.C. officials foresee Park Place, which is being built above the Georgia Avenue-Petworth Metro station, to be the economic catalyst for a long-awaited renewal of Georgia Avenue, said Stanley Jackson, deputy mayor for planning and economic development.
The project , expected to be completed within two years, includes 150 condominiums among seven floors, six townhouses behind the main building, underground parking and six to eight shops and restaurants.
"You are standing here at the apex of the first major development of this magnitude on Georgia Avenue," said Jackson, heralding the project, which is part of the District's Great Streets initiative.
Known as the city's "original Main Street," Georgia Avenue has been tattered over the years by suburban flight, riots and the drug trade.
But Park Place was not the city's idea. The ambitious plan to build condos and shops on the corner came from residents opposed to the city's original plan to build the new headquarters for the Department of Motor Vehicles on the site.
District officials believed a government agency would give the neighborhood a boost, said D.C. Council member Jim Graham (D-Ward 1).
"It was a good idea at the time on the model of the Reeves Center on U Street," Graham said, referring to the government building often credited as the catalyst of U Street's revitalization.
He said residents were visionaries for having faith that commercial and residential development could work at the Georgia Avenue location.
Yesterday, council member Adrian M. Fenty (D-Ward 4) asked several residents who had been behind the fight against the city's DMV plan to join him during a news conference before the groundbreaking.
"It was a done deal that the DMV was going to be built on this site, and that couldn't have come as more of surprise to the people behind me," said Fenty, a D.C. mayoral candidate. "They said, 'Hold on, we don't know anything about the DMV coming to this site, and, in fact, we don't know if that's a good idea.' "
Peron Williams, 49, said he and his neighbors "felt it would have an adverse effect on the community."