Reinaldo Lopez has run his sculpture studio for 14 years in a largely industrial stretch of Southeast Washington, a place where he has completed works that include the two stone lions that stand at the Connecticut Avenue entrance to the National Zoo.
Now, Lopez is faced with the prospect of his sprawling two-story warehouse sitting smack in the middle of the 20-acre site where District officials hope to build a baseball stadium.
If the stadium is built, the sculptor could find himself without a studio.
"This is our place," said Lopez, 60, who also has overseen the restoration of the lobby of the Washington Monument and the creation of new visitor entrances at the Smithsonian Castle. "Where are we going to open a new place? How are we going to operate?"
District officials tout the proposed stadium site -- bounded by South Capitol, M and First streets SE -- as ideal for fueling economic development along an unclaimed piece of desolate land stretching from South Capitol to the 11th Street bridge.
Part of the area is on the way to being revitalized, boosted by the growth of the Washington Navy Yard and the opening of a Metro station a few years ago.
But a substantial portion of the land consists of abandoned properties and vacant lots. Much of the remainder is home to bus and taxi depots, asphalt and recycling plants, a towing company and adult entertainment establishments.
Sixty-seven properties are held by 27 owners. And some of those owners, along with residents of a handful of rowhouses, want to hold on to what they have.
Ruth Butler has spent most of her 64 years on N Street in Southeast, raising seven children, caring for her husband, Thomas, a retired bus driver, and learning to enjoy the familiar sound of cars streaming by on South Capitol Street SE.
She never planned to leave.
"I thought I would pass away here," she said, sitting in her small, tidy living room. "They already have RFK Stadium. Why do they need another stadium?"
Two doors away, Elton Majette, 55, a security officer, said he has worked hard to tend to the neighborhood, sweeping the streets in his spare time and planting cabbage, tomatoes and beets on a strip of green along South Capitol.
"It's beautiful here," he said, sitting on his front stoop, gazing out at the street as a truck drove along N Street. "I don't want to give up my place."
On Half Street SE, Calvin Reid, 44, who owns a construction company, stood in front of his headquarters and waved away any talk of baseball.
"I want to stay right here -- why should I have to move to the suburbs?" he said. "They're trying to displace the small businessmen, the blue-collar guys."
Around the corner, on O Street, Robert Siegel has owned an adult entertainment shop since the late 1970s. He said he owns 11 properties in the neighborhood and serves as a commissioner on the Advisory Neighborhood Council.
A new baseball stadium, he argued, would transform what he considers a vibrant place.
"I'm not ready to give this up, not for another five years," said Siegel, 54, standing outside his shop, the Glorious Health and Amusement, which sells pornographic magazines and videos and caters to gays. Of the stadium, he said, "Nobody wants this."
Near Siegel's shop, the street also is home to three gay clubs.
Rick Rindskopf, general manager of Follies, one of the gay clubs, said the new stadium would mean almost certain death for the businesses on the street.
"The odds of getting approval to open up somewhere else are between minuscule and none," he said.
Lopez and his wife recalled the risks they said they took when they moved their business to the neighborhood in 1990. The street corners were controlled by drug dealers, they said.
They have paid off their mortgage and recently invested $200,000 to renovate their building. This year, they opened the Washington Sculpture Garden, a school that offers classes in stone carving and creating stained glass.
"Nobody wanted to come here -- it was all drug dealers," Lopez said. "Now they want to profit off of us?"
Staff writers Nicole Fuller and Debbi Wilgoren contributed to this report.
The site for the proposed stadium is near the Washington Navy Yard, background, and P Street SE, foreground. The Anacostia River is to the right.A view of the proposed site for a major league baseball stadium along Half Street SE.