Residents of the Fairlawn neighborhood of Anacostia are gearing up to fight a 115-unit condominium development proposed for the grounds of the Ruppert Home for the Aged which burned down in 1975.
The Board of Trustees for the home, which owns the four-acre site at 21st Place and T Place SE, has asked the D.C. Zoning Commission to approve developer Edward Tiffey's plan for Reppert Commons -- a complex of townhouses, three-unit apartment houses and duplexes. The site is now zoned for semi-detached, single-family houses. The Zoning Commission is expected to decide in the next month whether to consider the rezoning proposal -- the second for the site in two years.
"It would have a very bad impact," Thelma E. Jones, of 2217 T Place SE, predicted. She lives across the street from the site and chairs the Fairlawn Civic Association, which opposes the development. "It would be a high-density develppment, and would bring crowding and traffic."
Harvey Mise, another Fairlawn resident who lives at 1934 21st Place SE, said that Fairlawn residents want to keep the neighborhood an area of single-family homes.
"Our schools are overcrowded," he said. "The gas pressure in the area is inadequate, and we have problems with the water main."
Overcrowding and overtaxing of already inadequate neighborhood facilities -- transportation, shopping, water, gas, electricity and schools -- is the gist of the neighborhood's opposition, opponents say.
"What we would have soon is a slum," Fannie Lomax, representative for Adivsory Neighborhood Commission 6-C, said.
The ANC, the Fairlawn Civic Association, the Anacostia Economic Development Corporation, Ward 6 School Board of Education member John Warren and City Council member Nadine Winter have asked the Zoning Commission to turn down the proposal for those reasons.
According to Tiffey, however, an environmental impact study done by his architectural firm shows that the development would not have a negative impact.
"We are making an effort to continue a dialogue with the community that started last year," Tiffey said recently. "We think we can convince them that this development will enhance the neighborhood."
To the south, west and north of the site, the Fairlawn neighborhood consists mainly of semi-detached homes and community houses, which are rows of three attached houses. To the east of the site are two apartment buildings.
Tiffey's plans call for 15 single-family houses, six three-unit apartment houses and 82 piggy-back duplexes. Two-bedroom units would sell for about $65,000, Tiffey said.
According to market studies commissioned by the developer, "there are a substantial number of middle-income singles and couples desiring to buy housing in the subject area." The typical buyers, according to the study, will be under 35, childless, college graduates holding high-salaried positions. w
The Anacostia Economic Development Corporation (AEDC) opposes the plan partly on the grounds that those are not the people who really need housing.
AEDC wants to see the site developed as a community center for senior citizens.
Tiffey presented a scale model of his project to a meeting of Fairlawn residents last week, but did not win community support, Jones said. "We're still very much opposed to this project," she concluded.