The Wizards are considering a plan to build a practice facility at a parcel along Rhode Island Avenue NW, between 9th and 11th streets, seen here in Washington. (Bill O'Leary/The Washington Post)

Alexander Padro considers himself a basketball guy, having grown up in the Bronx and rooted for the Knicks before moving to the District and adopting the Washington Wizards.

But the idea of building a Wizards training complex in Shaw, the neighborhood on the edge of downtown Washington where Padro lives?

No thanks, he said, as he imagined John Wall & Co. arriving “in their Porsches and Maseratis,” parking underground and then heading home when practice is over. “What does that do for the community?” asked Padro, a Shaw civic leader.

Over the past generation, as developers have remade vast swaths of the city, Shaw is among the District’s neighborhoods that has changed the most, with the Walter E. Washington Convention Center rising at its southern end, new luxury apartments along U Street, and dozens of recently opened restaurants and bars in between.

But word from Wizards owner Ted Leonsis that he is eyeing a parcel along Rhode Island Avenue NW, between Ninth and 11th streets, has spawned anxiety among residents who say their neighborhood has far greater needs than a spot for Paul Pierce to practice his jump shot.

With a shuttered public school and adjoining parkland, the six-acre parcel is something of an alluring bull’s-eye to developers because it is among the last spots near downtown where a large-scale project can be built.

“We’ve been waiting for a plan for that block since I moved in here,” said Helen Mohrmann, who has lived for six years on nearby French Street NW, where she is president of her neighborhood association.

What residents envision, she said, is a rebuilt Shaw Junior High School, with a swimming pool accessible to the public and underground parking. The dog park on the lot is irreplaceable, she said, as are the basketball courts and the concrete playground for skateboarders.

On a recent Saturday, just after learning that the Wizards are considering the Shaw site, Mohrmann drafted a petition opposing the idea and headed outside. Within an hour, she said, she had nearly 40 signatures.

“They’re going to get a lot of negative reaction from neighbors,” she said.

In statements in recent days, Leonsis has said the Wizards hope to build a practice facility with seating for fans, much like such teams as the Chicago Bulls, Los Angeles Clippers and Cleveland Cavaliers have done.

“I would love it to be in downtown D.C.” near the Wizards’ home at Verizon Center, Leonsis said recently on WTOP radio’s “Ask the Owner,” though he added that “it’s hard to get the land.”

The Wizards are mulling a plan to build a practice facility at a parcel along Rhode Island Avenue NW, between 9th and 11th streets, seen here in Washington. (Bill O'Leary/The Washington Post)

While acknowledging that the team has looked at the Shaw locale — he pronounced the neighborhood “fantastic” after walking it on a recent night — Leonsis went out of his way to say that it is “not the preferred site.” He said the team is also talking to Virginia officials.

Tony Robinson, a spokesman for the administration of Mayor Vincent C. Gray (D), said in a statement that the District “has engaged in conversations with the Wizards about building a training facility” and that the city is “conducting due diligence on land use issues and additional uses for the site.

“Should those discussions become more detailed and specific,” he said, “the District would certainly engage in additional community conversations and would want to ensure that important community facilities are maintained.”

But whether the Wizards can even develop the site is an open question. A large portion of the parcel has to be used for educational purposes under an agreement between the District and federal government, which owns the land, according to National Park Service records.

Under the agreement, the District can lease the space to an educational enterprise, but not as commercial space. However, Congress and the District could vote to alter that arrangement, officials said.

At the moment, “what the Wizards are looking for is, ‘How are we going to build and pay for it,’ ” said council member Jack Evans (D-Ward 2), chairman of the Finance and Revenue Committee, who has talked to team officials.

Evans, who was a leader in the effort to build a baseball stadium, described the team’s planning as “in the conceptual stage” and said the Rhode Island Avenue property is “one of the possibilities.”

“I would like to get the training facility into the District,” Evans said.

Padro, an Advisory Neighborhood Commissioner in Shaw, said developers routinely call him about the Rhode Island Avenue parcel, where the school has been shuttered since 2008.

The city is planning to rebuild the school by 2020.

Padro said he first learned of the Wizards’ interest in the site three years ago, when, at Evans’s suggestion, he took a call from Randy Boe, a vice president of the Leonsis company that owns the team, Monumental Sports & Entertainment.

“Every nine months since then, I’ve gotten a call from Randy Boe,” Padro said. At one point, Padro said, Boe asked for surveyor’s drawings. More recently, Padro said, Boe told him, “We have engaged an architect and we will be getting back to you.”

“We haven’t seen anything from them yet,” Padro said. “We’d rather have housing here. The need for housing is paramount.”

Stanley Mayes, a longtime Shaw activist, said a Wizards practice complex would be acceptable as long as the city rebuilds the school and the team doesn’t disappear behind a “fortress.”

“It would behoove the Wizards to make a statement that they will be part of the community,” he said. “If they’re building a practice facility that allows for an enhancement of opportunity in the community, that could be a great thing.”

At the same time, Mayes said residents — particularly those who arrived in the neighborhood long before it became hot — worry that rising property values will make the area too expensive for them to stay.

As the neighborhood improves, he said, the city should offer tax relief to those who “stayed here and kept the lights on” when the area was defined by crime and forlorn properties.

“The city is getting a lot of things coming out of the wellsprings of development in Shaw,” he said. “But the Shaw people aren’t getting anything out of it. They’re just getting more bars.”

The Rev. A.C. Durant, a pastor at the Tenth Street Baptist Church, a Shaw institution for 131 years, said his congregants “are trying to get an understanding of what is going to happen.”

“They’re asking, ‘Is this talk or a done deal?’ ” he said.

A basketball fan, the pastor said that just because he roots for the Wizards doesn’t mean he wants to be their neighbor.

“It’s like saying if someone likes NASCAR, they want to live next door to NASCAR,” he said. “It doesn’t mean they go together.”