Developer William Cafritz has purchased an 11-acre tract in Anacostia for $355,000 from the federal government for a new town house development.
Located at Martin Luther King Avenue and 4th Street SE, the tract becomes the latest site for the growing town house development east of the Anacostia River that is turning the city's traditional dumping ground for low-income apartments into suburban looking townhouse developments prices for sale to middle income families.
For 33 years, the property acquired by Cafritz, known as the Wilburn Tract, with its 56 small duplex bungalows, was home for officers assigned to nearby Bolling Air Force Base. The AirForce abandoned the houses in 1975, and the property was declared surplus by the government.
Cafritz, one of the pioneers in the burgeoning town house development in lower Anacostia, recently completed renovation of 21 town houses at Bellevue Street and Wheeler Road SE and is currently building 31 more around the center at Southern Avenue and 12th Street SE.
Cafritz refused to talk yesterday about his plans for his newest property.
However a District Building official said Cafritz talked to several city officials in November about his general plans for the site which included the construction of about 100 town houses, a shopping center containing a supermarket, a cleaners and a drug-store and perhaps two mid-rise apartment buildings.
If Cafritz can interest one of the city's three major supermarket chains in building a store in the development, it would be the first new supermarket east of the Anacostia River since the April, 1968, riots.
Cafritz needs the approval of the city's zoning commission for any kind of new development for the site because the property is currently unzoned since it was formerly owned by the federal government.
Although Cafritz says publicly he is not sure of his plans for the property, it is known that he had been negotiating with the federal General Services Administration to acquire it since November.
Cufritz originally offered the government $304,000 for the land and was told the bid was too low because of a GSA requirement that the sales price be at least 90 per cent of the property's appraised value. Cafritz subsequently incresed his bid twice to $355,000, winning over four other bidders, according to a GSA spokeswoman.
City officials, long troubled by the concentration of low-income families in lower Anacostia, say they are delighted by the prospect of new single-family housing in the area.
The property was declared surplus in November, 1975, and offered first to federal agencies which had no interest in it, then to the city government.
City officials discussed buying the land and using it as a site for government-subsidized housing but later dropped the idea. Mayor Walter E. Washington wrote the GSA late last summer suggesting that the property be sold to a private developer for single-family homes.
GSA advertised the property for sale on the private market in October, 1976, in both of the city's daily newspapers. GSA also sent notices of the sale to between 100 and 150 persons on its mailing list who had indicated an interest in buying land of this general size and price.
It could not be learned immediately if Cafritz is on the mailing list.
In a related development, the city's zoning commission is now considering a proposal from a private developer who wants to build a small shopping center at Wheeler Road and Barnaby Terrace. SE.
The proposed shopping centere containing a bank and convenience store is an outgrowth of post-riot construction of the nearby Cafritz and Highpoint-Barnaby town house developments which now number more than 100 homes.