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St. Matthew's Church To Sell Property

Parking has become increasingly difficult for parishioners at St. Matthew's Baptist Church, at left in April, as development has shot up near church property, above.
Parking has become increasingly difficult for parishioners at St. Matthew's Baptist Church, at left in April, as development has shot up near church property, above. (Photos By Jacqueline Dupree)
By Jacqueline Dupree
Thursday, December 13, 2007

St. Matthew's Baptist Church, which has stood at New Jersey Avenue and L Street SE since 1972, has signed a contract to sell its 8,600-square-foot property.

There's no word on the sale price or when the church will vacate. Church officials are looking for space to build a new facility, probably in Prince George's County.

A church staff member cited increasing problems with parking for congregants as a reason for leaving, along with the knowledge that those difficulties will only get worse as development in the neighborhood continues. Two buildings under construction now tower over the church, with a third in the planning stages next door on the parking lot the church leased until earlier this year.

The church land is being purchased by Ruben, a company that has bought several other properties in the area the past few years, including lots along South Capitol and L streets.

Preliminary Approval for Bill

The D.C. Council gave preliminary approval Tuesday to the Arthur Capper/Carrollsburg Public Improvements Revenue Bonds Approval Amendment Act of 2007, which is making some "technical clarifications" to the original Capper payments-in-lieu-of-taxes bill passed last year.

The bill authorizes bond issuances of up to $55 million, an increase of about $11 million from the original bill thanks to increased borrowing costs. That would yield $36.7 million for public infrastructure improvements, such as environmental remediation, the building of two new streets (Second and Third places SE), and water and sewer upgrades and replacements.

If the bill becomes law, the Housing Authority will be able to move forward with issuing the bonds, probably in spring. A request for proposals for underwriters for the bonds was issued last month. The $55 million will be repaid with the payments in lieu of property taxes that residential and commercial property owners within the Capper area will be responsible for.

A separate contract is paying for the construction that's tearing up Fifth, Fourth, L and K streets SE, where the Capitol Quarter mixed-income townhouses will be built. This separate contract has allowed the project's developer to complete the initial work on public infrastructure without waiting for the payments-in-lieu-of-taxes bonds to be approved and issued. The public-space upgrades have to be finished before work can start on the utilities and under the townhouse lots. Then construction can begin on the houses, probably in the spring.

Business District Board

Braving last week's snow, the fledgling Capitol Riverfront Business Improvement District hosted its first general membership meeting, which included the election of its board of directors.

Looking at the list of the 21 new members, it seems the district has made sure that most of the major developers in Near Southeast and Buzzard Point are represented on the board.

Five "at-large stakeholders" were also named, allowing organizations that are a big part of the neighborhood's future but don't own land within the district's boundaries to be included in business improvement district activities. That group includes representatives of the Nationals, the D.C. Sports and Entertainment Commission and Forest City Washington (developer of the Yards). A resident of the neighborhood was elected, too.

At subsequent meetings, the directors will elect a chairman and vice chairman and set up committees.

Ballpark and Beyond is adapted from Jacqueline Dupree's blog on development in Near Southeast, an area between Capitol Hill and the Anacostia River that is being transformed by the construction of the Nationals baseball stadium. Dupree, a Post staff member and Ward 6 resident, has been tracking the neighborhood's changes since 2003. For information and photos,http://visithttp://jdland.com.

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