Friday Question of the Day

Is the proposed development of the Old Soldier’s Home going to completely change the character of Petworth as we know it? Petworth News has a good graphic on the proposed development. I too wish there would be more park land designated. But is all the development going to be bad? What if they bring another Dunkin Donuts with them? Or maybe it will help attract a movie theater. I’ve always thought Columbia Heights would be perfect for a movie theater, a nice small one that shows independent films. Sorry I was just dreaming for a second. So, what are your thoughts on the proposed development in the Old Soldier’s Home now that it is coming closer to reality?

25 Comment

  • What would be bad about it?

  • Does anyone know if the AFRH will continute to be a secure facility? Will there be a barrier fence between the new development and the most secure old folks home in the world? This is an important question from a recreational user perspective. The park and path in the new development is pretty short, but it would be even better if connected to the AFRH. My wife and I have longed to be able to jog around the AFRH, but I guess we could blow up the retired vets there, so we are not allowed to enter.

  • Oh, a movie theater!!!!!! That would be SOOOO GRRRRRREEEAAT!!!! I wish they would put one in the DCUSA location on 14th & park – something like E street Cinima downtown. Maybe there is a location on Georgia Ave somewhere. In any case, I hope this isn’t day dreaming forever.

  • As long as the development is outward facing and seeks feedback from the neighborhood, this might be a good thing if handled well.

    Everyone just needs to keep on top of the plans, so those pesky DC developers don’t slip a fast one by everyone!


  • Amanda, it doesn’t seem the development closest to Petworth will be outward facing at all, it looks like a gated community of rowhouses that would fit nicely in the suburbs.

    My main concern with the proposal is the row-house like development proposed for the corner of Rock Creek Church and Park Place. The plan says there will be a very small park at the corner and 550,000 sq ft. of development (roughly 550 units) and 550 parking places. My preference would be to leave it as the meadow that it currently is or turn it into a larger park. However it appears that battle has been lost. If it has to be developed, there is an opportunity to really intergrate it with the neighborhood. Unfortunately, it appears that it will be a gated community of townhomes. If it was done really well, it could be a beautiful extension of the neighborhood.

    And I know my 100 year old rowhouse down the hill in Parkview with its old plaster and peeling paint isn’t going to look so good with an potential buyer who can choose from a brand new house. But, that’s a little NIMBYism in me.

  • It’s a great plan… for the developer$ who’ll gladly take their money and run.

    And, after all, we need more concrete in this city — screw all those trees and icky plants. In fact, they need to build even more crappy mid-rise buildings and cheap faux-rowhouses. I mean, what’s the worst that could happen other then they become vacant, trashy eyesores that attract rats and crime?

  • Wow…oden… pretty positive outlook for the community. lol

  • Oden – the faux row houses will go well with the vinyal sided “luxurary” apartments going up at the Ft. Totten metro station

  • Unless the new buildings are going to be low income housing, which doesn’t seem to be the plan, then I can’t see how they are what is needed at this time. Do we really need to add truly insane amount of sq ft to any area that has plenty of sq ft for sale and will have same for a while? There is no lack of small to medium commercial property along the Georgia Ave. corridor, nor is there any lack of rowhouses and other residential property for sale, including much better sites right at the Georgia Ave. metro.

    The mid-rises are particularly perplexing. Just ask yourself, what businesses are going to move into mid-rises 2 miles from downtown off North Capitol? Do you honestly think *Irving St.*, a mile away from a metro stop, is the next site of commercial development in DC? Across the street from the friggin’ trauma center? I can see the signs now: “Easy trauma hospital access means it’s a great location if you happen to be shot on the way to work!”

    And in a market as stagnant as this one is becoming who is going to buy a condo a mile from two metro stops when they can buy the same sitting OVER a metro stop? Or one of the zillions of condos on Mass Ave (or a dozen other better locations)? We have seen from the many comments on this blog alone that condo-dwellers prioritize “proximity” to metro stops above nearly any other concern. I don’t think you have to be Donald Trump to recognize that this is a deal that doesn’t make any sense for anyone but those selling the land and profiting from building these buildings.

    AFRA isn’t doing this because it make sense for the community, after all they are an organization that feels so deeply for this community that they have erected barbed wire fences to keep us from doing bad things. AFRA is doing this for the cash and really couldn’t care less about the consequences for the neighborhood — they’ll just build a higher fence if it becomes a problem — maybe an electrified one — BBBZZRRT!. That’ll keep PoP and his pesky camera out for sure.

    This plan is too damn dense, it provides nothing for the “community”, and if executed I fear it’ll end up (the commercial development in particular) a nearly abandoned eyesore for years to come. Encouraging massive development, everywhere — all the time, with no future plan is not a smart move. I would love to see AFRA make some money and open up some of this green space to the city. It probably does make sense to build something on parts of the property, but in a controlled way that reflects real demand (i.e. low income housing), and keeps the majority of the property a park. We do not need not some junior architect’s silly wet dream as the basis for massive changes to our neighborhood. AFRA may have such low regard for us that they build fences and think they can ignore our concerns, but I refuse to take a bite of a shit sandwich and say “yum” just because some millionaire developer and a unaccountable government-run organization says it’s good for me.

    Besides, DC government keeps “finding” $50MM here and $80MM there, why not use some of that cash to make the city nicer instead of selling it off chunks of it for crappy commercial development projects that only make concrete suppliers and bankers smile?

    A good park would do more to improve the quality of life and property values of Park Place and Petworth than anything they could possibly build — especially a soulless, boring, and fugly mid-rise debacle.

  • Just to put into perspective how INSANE this plan is, the development calls for 6.2 million sq ft of new space. The World Trade Center Towers were 3.65 million sq ft each. So what AFRA is proposing is that we NEED nearly the equivalent of both WTC trade towers on IRVING ST. NW!!

    It is stupidly, stupidly insane.

  • There’s been much talk of the “glut” of unsold condos clogging up the DC real estate funnel right now…but I’m still seeing 2 BR places in so-so areas selling for $700-$800k. My guess is, if the developers/sellers of these properties shared the view of the marketplace as all of the pundits, and priced their units accordingly, you’d see a lot of that “glut” disappear rather quickly.

  • Oden – I agree that the plan is a bit nuts, but please don’t dump on AFRA too much for this. They are not appropriated one damn penny to care for the veterans who are there. By law, the operating budget comes from voluntary pay roll deductions from Non-Commissioned Officers and enlisted personnel in the Army, Navy, and Air Force. The only people who qualify to stay there are those ranks – no officers. The sister facility in Biloxi, MS was destroyed by Katrinia. In the coming years, AFRA is going to be overwhelmed with a small budget. The real property of the facilities are literally the only assets AFRA has. What would you do were you in their shoes?

  • PS the fence is a vestage from the late 60s and early 70s when the neighborhood was MUCH worse.

  • Maybe we can get our Ms. Norton in Congress to introduce pro-military legislaton that would correct this aweful budget problem the AFRA has? That way they could get the $ they need without having to sell their only resource. At first I meant this as a joke, but seriously, this could work! Especially now with everyone trying to “support our troops”, a congress looking for progress, and it seems to just make sense with more vets needing services in the future.

  • Here is the other question I will ask. How many of us attended the public meetings and provided comments on the Enviornmental Impact Statement for the Master Plan? There was a significant public involvment process for this.

  • Oden… more development = higher property values for everyone…. PERIOD. Don’t kid yourself that the current slow down in the dc condo/rowhouse market has anything to do with demand. Demand is still extremely high… easy money (however) is tight. As soon as the right buyer find the money, all the empty condos will be bought up. DC is like a blackhole, sucking up people from all over the world looking for a nice place to live. The city will be alright… and you will make money too.

    As much as you want to fight it.. you know you want this and every other development plan the city will throw our way. Stop hating and start cheering for the neighborhood.

  • I think Oden makes some good points. There could be some nice development that benifits the neighborhood at the AFRH, but does it have to be a mongo office park with weak transit links?

    Plus a master plan is just that a plan. It will not all get built at once and it is possibe and likely the plan might get changed down the road.

  • I believe the town house community planned for near the corner of Rock Creek Church Road and Park Place will reserved for military retirees and will be behind a relocated security fence. The new small park will be open to the public.

  • we don’t live in a “state”. we live in a district. none of us really have a say in any of this stuff.

    instead of being reactionary, allow DC to have a real democracy.

    THEN you might have a say in these sorts of developments.

    until then, live with the ramifications of living in a District.

    decisions are left to folks that definitely don’t have residents’ best interests in mind.

    stop complaining and actually DO SOMETHING.

    or is that too much work?

    if it is, then live with it.

    live with your hopes of Duncan Doughnuts, etc. arriving at your doorstep.


    make it happen before you move back to iowa, indiana, or wherever.

    i can’t decide if most of you folks just don’t care about the future development of DC, or just want to sit on your arse and hope that you get what you want, while you’re here.

    you live in a place where decisions are made for you.

    don’t like it? do something about it.

    i really dislike complainers….

  • Steve, the AFRH does get appropriations when they ask for them, and they have never had a request denied. Additionally, they just got a 550 million app. last year to fix Ms. Also, they already have the authority to take the manitory military pay deduction from .50 to 1.00 per pay period, but they choose not to. IThat means in my 15 years of service I have paid less than 100.00, not a lot of cash. DOD keeps saying its about needing cash, but they have yet to proove the claim. They refuse to say how much money they need, or what this income is projected to solve. The fact is the DOD does not want to be in the retirement home business, so this is about creating the conditions where the home becomes insignificant enough that it can be turned over to a private company to run or to VA, but you don’t care about that – its all about parks, coffe shops, and condos to you. Meanwhile, a resource that has served soldiers from many wars as a place of refuge and sanctuary is chipped away for good.

  • Prince Of Petworth

    Poo Poo, if the duck quacks at dawn, that it is time to get a new duck.

  • No Way – I think the home should be well funded. I don’t care where the money comes from. If the AFRH management refuses to request the approp, then shame on them. If I had to guess the cost of operating the facility is a pittance in comparison with the overall DOD budget request. I am in 100% agreement that the folks who are eligible to live there are served with the best service and highest dignity for the sacrifices they have made. As I understand it the conditions there are deplorable. That is a travisty. There is not a day that I pass AFRH and the adjacent National Cemetary and give thoughts and prayers of thanks for the service of those there – living and dead.

  • I worked in the movie theater business for almost ten years.

    PLEASE stop dreaming about movie theaters! Their profitability is almost zero and all the major movie theater chains are closing 10-50% of their screens.

    Movie theaters are no more, so please stop thinking about them.

    When I was in high school and college we’d go see movies once or twice a week. There are enough art films playing in the area for you to see movies twice a week. If you aren’t then you know why all the movie theaters are closing. end of story.

  • I met a realtor Friday who held the opinion that rowhouses would be better for fixing up the Georgia Avenue corridor than more condos. When I saw the new “townhouses” going up on South Dakota Ave, I saw her point. There are young couples who want that kind of home. And, a lot of Americans just want to be the first to live in a home, not move into a former flophouse.

  • What is the time line for the various stages of development?

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