The redevelopment of Camp Simms, touted by city officials as the site for a major shopping complex in one of the city's poorest neighborhoods, is at least six months behind schedule.
After the city purchased the former National Guard base in Southeast from the federal government last August for $1.8 million, Mayor Marion Barry said bids from developers would be accepted within three months and construction of a shopping mall would begin by late 1985.
As of this week, city officials still have not prepared a prospectus to developers. There are no bids and the start of construction has been delayed until at least 1986.
"We've been talking about Camp Simms for 10 to 13 years now and still nothing has been done," said Robert Yeldell, treasurer of the Advisory Neighborhood Commission that represents the Congress Heights and Washington Highlands neighborhoods surrounding the camp.
"There has been some slippage" in meeting the mayor's deadline, said Deputy Mayor for Economic Development Curtis McClinton, "however, we feel that the quality of the process is more important than meeting deadlines that don't deal effectively with all of the processes in the community."
McClinton said city officials hope to have a redevelopment proposal by July and a developer selected by September. He said he hopes construction will start "sometime in the spring of 1986."
The development of Camp Simms is the latest in a series of housing and commercial projects initiated by the city to try to help the area generally south of Good Hope Road that comprises most of Ward 8. Many of the housing projects have been completed but the commercial ones have been stalled.
The ward, home to such city facilities as the sewer treatment plant and the city's home for the aged, has the city's highest percentage of apartment dwellers, lowest percentage of homeowners, and the highest number of residents receiving some sort of public assistance. Nearly half the households in Ward 8 are headed by women.
It also has one of the largest concentrations of vacant and boarded- up apartment buildings.
A majority of residents do much of their shopping in nearby Prince George's County because, with the exception of three supermarkets, the ward has little but small corner stores.
The Congress Heights subway stop, scheduled to open in the 1990s, will be within walking distance of Camp Simms, a 24-acre site bordered by Mississippi and Alabama avenues between 15th Street and Stanton Road SE.
Last year the mayor created two task forces to make recommendations on the redevelopment plans. A 10-member Citizens Advisory Task Force, headed by City Council member Wilhelmina Rolark (D-Ward 8), was to give citizens' views.
A second task force comprised of representatives from several city agencies and headed by McClinton has been meeting since last fall and will soon release an economic study of the Camp Simms area.
The two task forces have never met together, but they plan to hold a joint public meeting soon, McClinton said.
The government task force also is trying to refine three redevelopment proposals for presentation to the citizens' group, McClinton said. One proposal calls for commercial, retail and institutional use and some housing.
A second proposal "will take a very strong look at industrial use with some commercial use," McClinton said, and a third recommends total industrial use.
"This department is aware that in Ward 8 there is a strong desire for home ownership opportunities so it's conceivable that residential development," is possible, added Dreck Wilson, deputy administrator of the city's Department of Housing and Community Development.
But Ron Williams, head of the citizens' task force, said, "The neighbors of Ward 8 want to see 90 percent commercial instead of low and moderate housing . . . . They feel that Southeast is already concentrated with boarded-up housing that if they took the boards off there would be plenty of housing."
Federal subsidies have financed the rehabilitation of 574 apartments in four projects that were vacant. These projects, which were privately developed and are now fully occupied, are Galen Terrace Apartments, 84 units; Langston Lane apartments, 118 units; Wheeler Terrace apartments, 113 units and Trenton Park I and II, 259 units of which 150 are subsidized.
A combination of federal and city financing paid for the $18.8 million renovation of Congress Park, where 307 units of the sprawling 401-unit complex have been completed and occupied.
The 94 units at nearby Garfield Hills apartments were rehabilitated and occupied nearly two years ago at a cost of $5.3 million with city and federal financing.
A dilapidated and vacant shopping center at Congress Park will be sold this spring to the Anacostia Economic Development Corporation, a neighborhood organization, which hopes to renovate it.
The city's long-delayed redevelopment of Knox Hill, the site of a now demolished public housing project, is scheduled to begin shortly. Construction of a new $7 million headquarters for the Seventh District Police at Alabama Avenue and Irving Street SE, is scheduled to begin this summer with completion in early 1987.
The Department of Housing and Community Development plans to select a developer for a $5 million housing project for the elderly by May 1st. The 122-unit project for the elderly would be built at Alabama Avenue and Jasper Street SE