A new Brookland with 'buzz'? Or just more noise?

Jim Steigman, a business owner in Northeast Washington's quiet Brookland neighborhood, wants to build a six-story, mixed-use development that would take up nearly an entire city block. His plans are not without opposition from longtime residents.
Washington Post Staff Writer
Saturday, January 22, 2011; 5:37 PM

As Jim Stiegman peers out the window of his Northeast Washington tavern, he shakes his head.

"There's the Metro, but nobody's walking in the neighborhood," he said. "Nobody walks around in Brookland, because there is no reason to walk around."

Stiegman, who owns Colonel Brooks' Tavern, a landmark in the quiet Brookland neighborhood of rowhouses and single-family homes, envisions a vibrant urban village around the Brookland Metro Station 10 years from now.

As part of that, he plans to close his bar in the next 12 to 15 months and build a six-story, mixed-used development with apartments, restaurants and stores that would take up nearly the entire block between Ninth and 10th streets off Monroe Street NE.

The proposal to build the 220,000-square-foot project, which needs approval from the D.C. Zoning Commission, has stirred opposition from some longtime residents, who question the scale of it and worry that their neighborhood will be filled with noise, more traffic and parking challenges.

"I won't be able to sit out here anymore," Curtis Knight said as he stood on his deck recently. Knight's rowhouse on 10th Street is one of six that would remain on the block, separated from the project by a new alley. "All I'm going to see is this building."

Dellas Wilson, who has lived in Brookland for 34 years, worries about how the building could affect the value of his property. The developers did not make an offer to buy his house or any of the other five rowhouses.

"The scary part is you work so hard to get a house and then someone comes along with a project like this and puts it in your face and they don't give a hoot about you," he said.

Ever DuBose, who lives in one of the six rowhouses, said the project is ill-suited for the community.

"It's just too much for this area," DuBose said. "It will be too much density."

Other residents say additional density is what Brookland needs, especially the 12th Street corridor and the area around the Metro station.

David Grosso, who lives in Brookland, said more residents and retail will infuse energy into the sleepy neighborhood.

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