A D.C. City Council committee voted last week to build a $2 million library on Georgia Avenue NW in Shepherd Park on a site where small apartment buildings were torn down earlier this year to make way for a fast food restaurant.
The full council was scheduled to vote on the project Tuesday night.
Now, however, 13 apartments next to the library site are being threatened with a sale to another fast food chain.
The tenants at 7428-7434 Georgia Ave. NW, have organized and are trying to raise $276,000 to allow them to buy their two-story red brick buildings before the end of the year. Under city law when an apartment building is put up for sale the tenants have the first right to buy it.
The buildings' owner, Robert High said if the tenants were unsuccessful, "I will sell it to Bojangle's" a national fast food chain.
A spokesman for Bojangle's said the company is not involved in any plans for the site.
"I have great intent in seeing to it that the tenants purchase the apartments," said City Council member Charlene Drew Jarvis, (D-Ward 4), whose ward includes the Shepherd Park neighborhood. She said she had asked MUSCLE Inc., a private nonprofit group that specializes in helping tenants arrange financing to buy their buildings, "to make sure help was made available" to them.
"It gets boring to move at a time when a person wants to get roots settled," said Robert Bowie, 46, who lives with his wife Gladys and 17-year-old daughter Lavina, at 7234 Georgia Ave.
"We need no more of these fast-food chains . . . all they want is to compete," added Bowie, a housekeeper at Walter Reed Medical Center, which is located a block away. "It makes no sense. Washington is so crowded. We need a place to live," he said.
A 7-Eleven, McDonald's and a Pizza Hut are located across the street from Bowie's apartment.
Last month, Wendy's secured city building permits to construct a new restaurant at 7418-22 Georgia Ave. NW, then bulldozed the sites. But before Wendy's could begin construction, residents organized protests against the added traffic, noise, debris and crime they believed the fast food outlet would bring.
In the Shepherd Park case, Wendy's agreed to forgo construction plans pending the District government's decision on whether or not it would build a public library on the site.
Jarvis said the community's action showed "it is unacceptable to abolish housing units and put up a fast food chain. It shows a community that does not give up on an issue."
Neighborhood activist Juanita Thornton, one of the proponents of the library said the neighborhood youngsters testified before the council supporting the library and drew pictures of their vision of the library and sent them to the committee, she said.
Thornton said she and others are helping the tenants at 7428-7434 Georgia raise money toward the purchase of the building.
Mary Thornton, president of the tenants association, said most of the residents were pensioners, maids, or those living on social security. "I have lived here 17 years. It is a relatively quiet neighborhood. Nobody bothers nobody and that is why I don't want to move," she said.
Thornton, a widow, lives in a small one-bedroom apartment and pays $226 a month. "It's a safe neighborhood. We don't even have police wandering around here," she said.
Hattie Coley, a widow, who has lived in her apartment for 16 years said, "They should sell the apartments to someone who wants to pay rent but not to Bojangle's only to have it torn down," she said.