Thursday, 11 July 2013

Build No Harm

the following is something a bunch of neighbors wrote together.  we were going to try and get it published, but then stuff happened (helena died etc) and it never went anywhere.  but i find it worth sharing.

Anyone else noticed that there’s an awful lot of building going on around here? Seems like you can’t turn a corner in DC without seeing yet another newly-erected crane looming above.  Probably because there are 57 construction cranes peppering our skyline, symbolic of the rapid changes taking place across the District.  

the block we love so much!
We certainly feel it (I’m trying to think of the actual emotion that we are feeling: scared, frustrated, worried, apprehensive, oppressed? ) in our neighborhood. We live in Eckington, the neighborhood that abuts the north side of “NoMa,” a newly-created neighborhood near Union Station.  Historically known as Swampoodle, developers decided to change the name to be more like New York City.  Because doesn’t every Washingtonian want to be just like NYC? (sarcasm)

The pace of so-called development is staggering. As the development increases the famous Dave Thomas Triangle cluster at the intersection of Florida and New York Avenues gets worse.  Traffic accidents and fatalities have increased. 

Developers build to maximize profits by “developing” up every last inch of space on the plot – At Elevation, the building actually juts out over Florida Avenue.  Soon cars will drive underneath apartments. No streets are widened to accommodate the thousands of new habitants. They forgot to consider that humans need green space, so now they are spending $50 million to build a park (mind you the same developers are fighting the $45 million price tag to turn McMillan Park into a 27 acre greenspace.   Most of the $50 million will be used to buy back land from the existing developers, who scooped much of it up at fire-sale prices from the district government just a few years ago!  
Historic Firehouse at Q and N. Cap

The developers are encroaching on our historic neighborhood. NoMa got full, and the developers we write about got into the game late.  B&B Development clearly cut a sweetheart deal when they purchased 50 FL Ave. NE.  They are rushing a zoning amendment through the zoning commission to turn the historic Ice House into a 9-story condo with a 3 story parking garage just 16 ft from a row of historic homes that were build around 1903. 

The land for this project is zoned for industrial/commercial, services that the MidCity East survey demonstrates the community desperately needs.  We need gyms, hardware stores, ….  Our community also needs entry-level and trade jobs.  

B&B is playing a game of smoke and mirrors with the residents of Eckington.  They failed to provide the notice required to all residents within a 200 foot radius of the building.  They pretend to be providing necessary retail, but when pressed we learned that it was just two stores that would be added, a coffee shop (no thanks I have Big Bear Cafe) and one other retailer in 7000 sq ft of a 9 story condominium: Hardly mixed-use in our humble opinions. 

l'enfant had a vision
we can actualize it!
In a rush we filed for Party Status, we only had 20 days to get all of this together, which is evidence of the true community we have built here.  In Eckington, we are working hard to keep all of our neighbors in the neighborhood.  We are a group of people from every income bracket and other way we classify people.  There isn’t a Black Q Street and White Q Street, we are all Q St. Which is why we are fighting this together.

This development will permanently damage our homes, and may even cause their collapse.  Just this week on Q St a developer destroyed a rowhouse trying to flip it quick.  The historical fa├žade went crashing down and threatens the integrity of long-time resident Kenny [last name]'s home.  Just the vibrations from the demolition caused heaps of cracks and concerns for him.  He called DC??  Who agreed and put a stop order on the house, but it was either too late, or they didn’t obey the order.

There is no question that digging down three floors only 16 feet behind our property lines (which start with retaining walls) will harm the very foundation of our homes – not to mention the destruction to our retaining walls. 

Q St NE is working hard to fulfill the Mayor’s vision of making DC the greenest and best place to live in the world.  Many of us have already installed solar and many more of us are making plans.  We face regular power outages in the summer and are hoping that by getting a high concentration of solar we can create a micro grid and save some of our food during our annual Independence Day Black-out.  B&B’s solar study showed that during the winter months, those of us on the South-side of Q St. will not have any sunlight at all, all day, for about 8 weeks.  In the spring we will have about 30% of the sun we currently enjoy and by summer we will be fortunate enough to have almost all the sun we now have in December.

We have peach and plum trees in our back yards.  We share our yards to grow vegetables, working together and utilizing everyone’s talents to produce flowers and delicious healthy foods.  Imagine what our garden will look like when a 9 story condo blocks all of the sun from our yards.  

We can do better. We deserve better.  We have been the victims of DC corruption for too long.  Remember it is our neighborhood that Council Member Harry Thomas, Jr  stole his money from.  It had real impact on our children.  Its time the District stand with us.

We don’t want Eckington turned into Crystal City or even be part of NoMa. We want investment in our neighborhood, but it should be in something that increases our quality of life, rather than hurts us. You have awakened a sleeping Tiger.  May we have time to change the direction of the District to build without harm!  

July 11th at 441 4th St. NW suite 220 at 6:30 (until about 10:pm
) a Zoning Commission hearing will be held to determine if there developers can build their enormous carbon footprint.  Please join us in opposition and ask them to BUILD NO HARM!

Friends of Q Street NE