The Aug. 15 article outlining planned development in the South Capitol Street area ["A Transformed Neighborhood Awaits Stadium," front page] is a cause for celebration. No one wants to see the area stay as it is, underused and unattractive, but there was no mention of historical preservation.

True, the Navy Yard-Buzzard Point area is no Dupont Circle or Georgetown. It always has been home to small shops, factories and blue-collar families. It has some outstanding buildings -- St. Vincent de Paul Roman Catholic Church, the Buzzard Point power plant -- but its building stock is mostly modest. And that is why it should be preserved -- we need to remember that modest, ordinary people lived in this neighborhood and that they built this city.

Of course, not every old building will be kept. One went down last month. But judicious planning can give us streetscapes on the east side (particularly along First Street between K and M streets, and perhaps along Half between N and O) that retain the flavor of the old community. On the west is a vibrant and cohesive neighborhood of buildings dating from 1890 to the 1950s, and it should be left alone.

Incorporation of existing buildings in development of the South Capitol area will give the city a varied scene.

Do we really want the area to look like Rosslyn? And do we want to repeat the mistake of the 1940s, when most of Southwest was bulldozed?

Sensitive use of old facades and buildings downtown could make the new area a showcase of thoughtful urban planning.

HAYDEN WETZEL

Chairman

South Capitol Street Corridor Task Force

DC Preservation League

Washington