Old Soldier’s Home Zone A Development Approved

http—www.afrh.gov-afrh-news-newslet-newslet_0708communicator.pdf – Adobe Reader, originally uploaded by Prince of Petworth.

DC Mud is reporting that Zone A of the Armed Forces Retirement Home has been approved.

They say:

“Zone A will host the most extensive development of the four zones and is slated for improvements to take on an “urban character with a building typology that is sympathetic to the character and scale of existing AFRH contributing buildings and landscape…” EEK Architects have been working with the development team, a partnership between the General Service Administration and Charlotte-based Crescent Resources, LLC, to create a mix of uses that could potentially include research, office, residential, hotel, retail, and educational uses through private leases. The maximum allowable gross area will be 4.3 million s.f. with over 6,000 parking spaces.”

So is this good news or not? Do you think a potential hotel would be successful in this location?

46 Comment

  • Its good news in that zones B and C will be preserved for now. Its bad news in that the neighborhood lost its negotiating chip to preserve zone B and C. Though I am one of the people who were firmly against development on any of the Old Soldiers Home land I think having a new area of town off of North Capital has its benefit. I will never feel that way about zones B and C. If you have not stood at the center of the OSH and looked west toward Park Place and Rock Creek Church Road then before you formulate an opinion please go to the Lincoln Cottage and do just that. It is the most beautiful view I have seen in a city. Additionally, study the history of Zone B and C. Zone C was a civil war tent hospital, then it has been used as agricultural fields ever sense. President Lincoln did his thinking there. Many books have documented how we hiked around the campus doing his most deep thinking. If we want future generations to have an understanding of who that president was then preservation of his only existing retreat is essential. Building on Zone C and B would be equivalent to building condos at Mt Vernon or putting townhouses on Monticello.

    Keep in mind that if DOD ever wants to build on Zone C and B again they have to start the whole process over again with a new set of meetings, new EIS, new master plan, etc. Hopefully, Zone A will put to rest the idea of any more development there at all. However, there are still some open issues as to weather or not DOD and GSA actually followed the law in this instance. One finaly note: this process has proven to me that NCPC does not comply with what it says its mission is.

  • This is terrible.

  • very bad news

  • Probably developers want to work in areas that were golf courses/gardens rather than former toxic waste dumps or industrial hazard sites

  • Ahhh…. I predict the future, and I see this headed for a 70+ comment mark. Anyway, I think its great to use some of this largest green space in DC for some new, sustainable, and well thought out development. So much of the space currently is just not able to be utilized by the residents and so lays waiting.

  • This will be great for AFRH and great for Petworth in the long run.

  • If it is well designed, I think it make sense to build density in the city, instead of in the outer suburbs were it is a given that everyone will drive every where.

  • Distance to Ga Ave/Petworth is troubling though. How far is the walk to the center of the development?

  • NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO…. byebye every single piece of green space in dc…. FTS

  • well, what can you do….i think that this will be great for property values, the economy, crime, etc. in the long run…and i didnt really move to the city for green space, especially not green space locked behind bars where i cant use it…. i give it a tentative 2 thumbs up, but i guess we will see!

  • I never understand why people bemoan the loss of this green space when they can’t even take advantage of it. All you can do is look at it while riding by.

  • A separate, but related, issue is whether the fence surrounding this entire property, which went up after the riots, will ever come down. The park was meant to be DC’s Central Park, for the people, but it is not–no one can enjoy it now, except, as a commenter above said: to look at while driving by.

  • Thank you Cristobal and Nate, I agree. Technically WE would be gaining green space as the developers plan on building with open green spaces in their plans, and since these new areas would be open to the public it would allow us access to green space that we previously could not get to.

  • For Cliff…DOD doesn’t make the decisions. AFRH does. The only reason they developed this land was to pay for the care of the occupants, but we have covered that as nauseum before.

  • Frankly, I don’t know which is worse, having green space that’s not usable or having it turned into apartments.

    I used to live near NIH and when they started chasing kids off that space or when they locked up the Bethesda Naval Hospital… what good is it? It’s like living near a country club you don’t belong to.

    Of course what Anonymous doesn’t quite get is that it makes a lot more sense to eliminate green space in DC than to convert working farms to townhouses in Prince William county and rely on Chile to provide us with imported NAFTA food. We’ll always have rock creek park.

  • 6000 parking spaces?! That’s an insane amount of wasted space and potential new traffic in the area.

  • To DCer’s point, the outter suburbs in many parts of the country are amond the hardest hit by rising gas prices and forclosures. It would have been nice, but AFRH was never going to find anyone to lease that land and maintain and police it as open space. I really think this is the best result for AFRH and as well as the community.

  • I generally welcome the development in that area except that 6000 parking spaces seem too much.

  • I also favor the development of the land here. DC needs more taxpaying residents, and the green space being lost would never be given over to public use in any case. If growth doesn’t occur in the city, it’s going to occur on the auto-dependent periphery, which is bad news for the region, and for the nation in general.

  • there’s plenty of green space in the city, much of which is neglected or inhabited by junkies and the homeless. this space should not be preserved, and i’d be totally happy if the whole thing was developed. think bigger picture here people – fast forward to the future of what dc actually could be and not what it is now. i think this is great for dc and great for petworth.

  • Steve – DOD has the final say, and DOD appoints and manages the director of AFRH.

  • New Hampy – you would take my favorite shooting galleries away? Where’s a guy to get his fix on? Where’s a guy to buy his fix? The crapped out DC parks and rec centers are the best places to do it.

  • Cliff – True about hiring the managers, however,as we discussed in earlier posts the AFRH has to have funds to run the place. Enhanced leasing affords them the opportunity to provide a constant stream of funding. You are kidding yourself if you think that the Sec Def has spent more that 2 seconds over the past 8 years thinking about AFRH. If they had, I am sure we would be getting the brilliant development that Ft Belvoir, otherwise know as fortress Springfield is getting. Thank you lucky stars that this will be non DOD and open to the public, unless DHS comes.

  • It will be great if they’re smart about what they put in. I live at 5th and Quincy, so seeing all that lovely green space right at my doorstep and yet unaccessible is very frustrating. Im just overjoyed that one day i may get to use this huge piece of property. Id also be pumped the development allowed through traffic to CUA, as i bike there often and biking around that huge park is a major pain in the ass.

  • Lets effin tear that effin fence down like the berlin effin wall people!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  • The hotel question is an interesting one. I was just thinking last night about where we would put family if they needed a hotel room to stay in and I can’t think of anywhere closer than the convention center area. It would actually be nice to have an option.

  • saf

    Anon above is making me laugh. I hate how security paranoia has closed off so much of our wonderful city, and I’d LOVE to see that fence come down.

    However, it’s also making me think of the LeDroit Park fence.

  • Wait, screw the development plans, lets move the junkies and dealers inside the fence – make a real life Hamsterdam. I think the old VA hospital would work nicely for that. That way we could get all our other greenspace back!

  • This is about this Home continuing to be available to all veterans for now and the future. If this Home did not exist or we have to rely on taxpayer money, then, the taxpayers will foot the bill and at a very costly expense. This Home must use all land available for development so we will have an income for the future. If DC residents want parkland then they need to talk to the Mayor and council members to lease space from AFRH. Otherwise, no parkland!

  • I think this is good news; Infill, in phases, and revenue for an important public institution. Sorry, Abe Lincoln doesn’t live there anymore

  • Gary- Why should we have to lease land that is at least partially supported by taxes already. The debate as to whether or not taxes help support the facility was hashed out in an earlier post and it was something like 500 million in taxes went there. The LEAST they could do is open up zones C and B in the picture to the public. it would improve the quality of life ten fold for the neighborhoods in walking distance. The reason it hasnt happened is the same reason that Klingle Rd will never be repaired. Racist Plutocrats.

  • No one has ever said AFRH should not be paid for zone C and B, it should be leased as parkland and both Mayor Fenty and NPS has said they would do that. In fact, NCPC was going to require this of zone C, and allow development on zone B but Tim Cox decided to pull zone B and C off the table rather than have to let those dirty,dirty petworth people in….

  • Anon 3:10 – not a penny of txpayer dollars are spent on the facility. Not one. There is an appropriation, but federal budgtary rules require congress to appropriate funds from Treasury manage trust funds, as is the case here. Enlisted and NCO paycheck deductions go to pay for the facility.

    Cliff – Where pray tell, is DC and NPS going to get the money for the lease? NPS can’t even pay for mainenance on the mall ($500 million in defered mainenance). Neither NPS nor DC can maintain the land they have. Better to leave the fence up until success or failur of this first piece can be determined.

  • Steve. I gotta say. your stance on parks is just wierd. Ive seen you echo this sentiment before as if they are just these dirty drug filled dens of debauchery. But I have to say I quite enjoy them. I like to read in them. play sports in them. Run in them. all kinds of things. And while I know that most of the facility is sponsered by a trust I have heard from countless people that they receive tax money in addition. One day I will investigate for myself. But if its the case and I believe it is then there should be some allowances for the taxpayers on theother side of the fence in the form of some park land.

  • “But if its the case and I believe it is then there should be some allowances for the taxpayers on theother side of the fence in the form of some park land”

    This isn’t how taxes work, BTW. You pay to support the upkeep of all kinds of places you can’t go. Just because (a) there are trees there, and (b) you paid ,000001% of its upkeep doesn’t give you an automatic right to have a picnic.

  • Anon – I am not opposed to parks and greenspace, but when the ones we have a strewn with trash, are used as open air drug markets, and are in a generally decrepit state, I really don’t see the use in investing in more real property that requires policing and upkeep. I actually think the Park service does a commendable job with Ft. Totten, near my house, which incedently aside from the occasional dog walker and community gardens is grossly under used. Until that can happen, I would rather see my tax dollars go to other things, like economic development, fixing roads, schools, ect. I also recognize I moved to an urban environment one that probably needs to be higher density.

    As for the issue of taxpayer dollars, the facility has never received taxpayer dollars, by law – hence the mess it is in. It’s easy research – google armed forces retirement home and appropriation. You will see each year congress gives a line item for a certain amount of money to come from the trust fund.

    You can also read the authorization law, the last authorization was in 1991. It can be viewed here:

    Section 1220 talks about establishment of the trust fund and transfer of accounts from the predecessor and Section 1232 repeals all previouse authorizations, which give a legislative history.

  • Never said it gave tax payers an automatic right to have a picnic. but the fact that they accept tax money absolutly gives them the right to lobby the powers that be to open a portion of the unused green space in an area of town that desperatly needs some. And only a true idiot on a day like to today would not agree that tax paying citizens should be allowed to be having a picnic right there right now.

  • Anon – that’s not the way trust funds work in the goverment. The fund that provides for operation and unkeep of the home come from payroll deductions from active duty service members and not tax dollars. That gives those service members to right retire to the home – kind of like social security. It does not necessarily give you the right to lobby to have green space. If you served and if you contributed, it gives you the right live our your days there. The facility is pretty exclusive, and rightly so. It is operated without a cent of your money.

  • Here’s a potential volatile subject….

    Will there be a dog park in Zone A?


  • Only if the dogs served and contributed.

  • A last little bit to read, from 1996 testiomny on insolvency of the home:


  • If it is the case that they have never been granted any tax money. I would still wonder did they buy the land innitially or was it given to them? Do they pay property taxes? If they are completely private then they are simply shitty neighbors. Even the private colleges in DC don’t exculde neighbors from walking their grounds. If I was the mayor and they came to me asking for approval to develop the land after plea after plea from the neighbors to have some limited use of the land. I would tell them to go fly a kite. And they have plenty of land to do it on. I dont know what you get out of stumping for them steve. other than your continued over exageration (to the extent that I think you might need help for some sort of parkaphobia) about the state of parks in this city.

  • Steve – your giving out a lot of mis-information, red-harrings, and irrelavant sources. AFRH makes the same financial claim every couple of years so they can sell more land off to developers. First of all, AFRH has opted out of other revenue streams by choice. They have received tax dollars as mandated by the Military Supp. Act, National Defense Authorization Act, and more recently $45 million for AFRH-Gulfport. • $20.8 million for AFRH-Washington in 2006. They do not have a regular appropriation, but then again they haven’t asked for that.

    Its federal property. That means its all of our land and we have certain rights to it as well.

  • steve is either on the take. or really needs to get help about the whole fear of parks thing. I do not know a single park in dc that matches his description.

  • If I lived near Ft Totten I wouldn’t want greenspace on zone C either. No one uses Ft Totten because its in a crap area. AFRH would be used I think, and its not in a crap neighborhood, anymore.

  • Wow, that’s a lot of parking…

Comments are closed.