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Washington Post Reports “Central Union Mission in Talks For New Site in Downtown DC”

by Prince Of Petworth February 22, 2008 at 1:38 pm 19 Comments

Wow, big developement on this front. 

An exerpt from the article “Now the leader of the Central Union Mission said he is talking to District officials about finding an alternative location downtown. At the mission’s request, a zoning hearing, called to consider the organization’s application for a special permit to build its shelter at the edge of Columbia Heights and Petworth, was postponed from last week until fall. ”

Read the full article here.

  • e

    Read this article earlier. I do remember that Mr. Treadwell had stated much earlier that Georgia Avenue was never his first choice. If I’m not mistaken, another site had been chosen in NE prior to this current proposal. From all sides of the issue, downtown does appear to be a more appropriate choice.

  • Steve

    Read with caution everyone. From what the article said, they are keeping GA Ave as a backup plan. The cynic in me says they will be back with this locaion this fall, perhaps hoping that attentions in the neighborhood have gone elsewhere.

  • “The cynic in me says they will be back with this locaion this fall, perhaps hoping that attentions in the neighborhood have gone elsewhere.”

    Yes, I’m quite sure this is all part of some diabolical plot on the part of the homeless shelter to sneak one in the back door. Very clever, those Union-ists.

  • poo poo

    egh…
    oy….

    why can’t they build it in MD or VA?

    why are they so immune to having shelters?

    dc is 10 square miles, VA and MD are huge.

    i say, build it in bethesda.

    can u imagine the uproar?

    why does DC have to support all the … umm… CHALLENGED people?

    i think VA and MD should kick in their share, or else pay a toll to come into our city…

  • Noah

    The pushback against this shelter is, at best, extremely misguided. Of all of the issues Petworth is facing right now, the prospect of having a sleeping place for some homeless men in your backyard seems pretty benign. 14th Street in Logan Circle is, to put it mildly, slightly more upscale and developing than any place in Petworth, yet the presence of a Central Union Mission there doesn’t seem to be slowing anything down or offending the residents. Maybe people should worry about some more pressing issues, is what I’m saying.

    And DC is definitely not 10 square miles. More like 65, if I remember correctly.

  • David

    Noah,

    We have heard the same misleading line out of the mission for a year. 14th street and GA Ave are different places. There are countless documented issues of public safety and crime associated with the mission on 14th street, but not even that matters. Georgia Avenue is a unique place, and bringing a 170 bed homeless shelter here would be devastating. If you live in the neighborhood, then you know that we are on the verge of overcoming some of the problems that have plagued this area for forty years. That is why we are opposed to this plan.

    Sorry dude, but I can’t just can’t let this kind of lie slide.

    Let me also say that Jim Graham deserves our congratulations for his leadership on this. Thank you Mr. Graham.

  • em

    Many people have had positive experiences living by the shelter, but just as many have had negative experiences and I don’t think that should be ignored. Approximately 200 men sleeping in your “backyard” as you put it is hardly “benign”. I think that community has valid concerns since the proposed shelter is twice as large as the one on 14th.

    And furthermore, the shelter is not in Petworth. (It’s close so it will be affected, but it’s not Petworth.)It’s three blocks south of New Hampshire. Take a drive around and see how developed it is. The only completed “newish” project is one restaurant with a yoga studio on top. That’s it. So please don’t tell us 14th is only slightly more upscale.

    Let’s not forget development on 14th started fifteen years after the mission got there. It did not start immediately after its arrival. To assume that revitalization of Georgia will not be affected because 14th street was not is a little unfair.

  • Prince Of Petworth

    Ed note: Sorry I don’t know why some of the comments are going into a holding bin but don’t worry if you don’t see your comment right away…I promise it will be seen!

  • Anonymous

    I hear the comments of neighbors who keep insisting that proximity to the shelter is an enriching experience. I am sure in many ways it is.

    But why are none of you fighting to keep the beloved shelter in your neighborhood ?

    Theoretically, can it not be remodeled and expanded over the adjacent lot instead of the proposed condos?

  • Noah

    I can’t pretend to understand all the issues Petworth has with the proposed shelter, I’m just saying that I don’t think homeless people are as big a threat to a neighborhood as some people here and elsewhere seem to think. Yes, panhandling could be an issue, but that’s true in some of the nicest neighborhoods in the city. In my experience homeless men are much less of a safety issue than many other factors that Petworth could be dealing with instead.

    Look, Logan Circle was absolutely up in arms when Luther Place church built the N Street Village homeless facility, but now the place is extremely well regarded by the neighborhood. From what I see, a shelter is not something that should be railed against by a developing neighborhood. Definitely just my opinion though.

    Oh, and “em”, I wasn’t saying that 14th is only slightly more developed. I was being hyperbolic to say that there’s a significant difference, and that the shelter there hasn’t hurt development at all, it seems.

  • Anonymous

    Noah;

    Development grew around the mission – creeping up from K street, up from U st, and over from 16th. Actually, the last holdout of abandon buildings on 14th are right around the mission so it can be reasonably argued that they have impeded development. Besides, Logan is a downtown neighborhood and thats a development advantage that middle Georgia Avenue will never have.

    Just to give you an idea of how badly ANC2F wants to get rid of the mission, at their October meeting last year they voted to exempt the developer of 14th and R from having to provide 3 units of affordable housing, exempt him from the arts overlay, and wrote a letter of support to zoning about allowing him to tear down a small historic part of the building in the back. Additionally, when the developer talked about the mission moving to Ga Ave he said that there was an overlay district that was complicating matters, and the chair exclaimed “great, this is jim grahams opportunity to throw a wrench in this whole thing!”

  • Steve

    For those who don’t think a large capacity shelter is a big deal, consider that the area proposed has been and is a open air drug market. It took many years to eradicate that from the 14th street cooridor around the current shelter. Why on earth repeat errors of the past.

    Besides large volume shelter are becoming a thing of the past. My understanding is that the state of the art homelss shelters are small facilities in communities where the residents come from, contain specialized treatment and job training facilities. Where this the approach, I think the uproar would be much, much less.

  • “To assume that revitalization of Georgia will not be affected because 14th street was not is a little unfair.”

    So is implying that the existence of the Mission hampered development on 14th St. The truth is that there were a great many reasons why 14th St. has taken off as it has. The Mission’s presence has had little effect–positively or negatively–on it.

    Georgia Ave. now is actually farther along, developmentally speaking, than 14th St. was in the early 90s.

    “Just to give you an idea of how badly ANC2F wants to get rid of the mission, at their October meeting last year they voted to exempt the developer of 14th and R from having to provide 3 units of affordable housing, exempt him from the arts overlay, and wrote a letter of support to zoning about allowing him to tear down a small historic part of the building in the back.”

    Whoah, pardner, that’s way off. I was at that meeting. (It was the December meeting, BTW–not October). First of all, there was no vote to allow an exemption from the “affordable housing” requirement–that issue was not even discussed. The only variances or exemptions granted were all related to the existing use of the building–a continuation of a non-conforming lot size, and continued exceptions for roof units of unequal height as well as from the arts-overlay requirements. Again, none of these variances or exemptions were new–all had to do with maintaining the structure as it currently exists and is being used for.

    Secondly, (and perhaps most importantly to the point you are trying to make)–the Mission’s building had ALREADY been sold. This was no sweetheart deal to the developer to encourage the Mission to move and the developer to buy; that was already a done deal. While the exact location of the Mission’s new home remains in doubt, the fact that they will no longer be located at 14th and R streets is not. The variances and exemptions granted were not at all out of line for those typically granted to developers seeking to redevelop or rehabitate existing structures.

    Those interested can view the ANC2F meeting minutes here: http://www.anc2f.org/1207anc.pdf

  • “For those who don’t think a large capacity shelter is a big deal, consider that the area proposed has been and is a open air drug market.”

    Speaking as someone who lives only a few doors down from the Mission on R St., I can state unequivocally that i’d prefer to have the Mission down the street than an open air drug mart. There is still a drug trafficing problem at 14th and R, but it stems predominantly from the low income housing on the south side of the 1400 block of R St., not from the Mission.

  • Nikki

    So where do you all propose they put this shelter?

  • Anonymous

    14th and you

    Fourteenth street and Georgia are two separate situations. To equate them IS unfair. As stated above, 14th street corridor is in proximity to downtown, U St and 16th. Georgia ave does not have that advantage. Revitalization has been creeping in towards the shelter from all directions…a structure that was most likely on its way out. Developers aren’t stupid, they’re strategic…

    Long story short certain facilities are not considered attractive to overall development. Cold fact, but true.

    The shelter was relocated in the 80’s to a depressed area when downtown was being built up and now we’re seeing the same pattern repeat. Is it so hard to understand why people in the affected area are concerned?

    I’m quite sure that Central Union Mission are the good neighbors you have stated. I’m also sure that the majority of the men are just people who need a place to sleep. But other issues come along with it and this area may just not be able to handle it effectively. The volume is completely different from what you experience right now. At the very least, you have to acknowledge that difference.

  • “Fourteenth street and Georgia are two separate situations. To equate them IS unfair. As stated above, 14th street corridor is in proximity to downtown, U St and 16th. ”

    None of which mattered a hoot for most of the second half of the 20th century. Tell you what: I’ll drop the comparisons between 14th and Georgia if we can put to rest this nonsense that the Mission’s presence somehow degraded property values and rebuffed development along 14th St.

    I’m not arguing that Georgia Ave. is the best place for the Mission–I don’t know enough about the subject to comment effectively on that. All I’m attempting to do is dispel the notion that the presence of the Mission equates to an increase in crime, and that my neighborhood is anxious to kick them out. Facts don’t support either contention. The only ones I’ve heard who want to portray the Logan residents as anti-Mission are those who, curiously, don’t appear to live here.

    With regards to the proper placement of the Mission, it would seem from your comments that it is not wise to locate the shelter in a depressed area, but that leaving it in a resurgent area stifles growth. Which doesn’t appear to leave them with many options. I trust the Mission leadership to ultimately decide upon a location that best services their “clientele”, and wherever that is I’m fairly certain that there will be persons opposed to its relocation there. For the record, I have stated numerous times before that I–and many in our immediate vicinity whom we have spoken with–would welcome the Mission remaining where it is. Unfortunately, that issue has been decided.

  • Anonymous

    Fair enough 14th and you.

    I can respect your perspective having lived beside the shelter as it is. I hope you can accept my apprehension with living beside what they would like it to be (double the size). Admittedly I have concerns about the perception of shelters because whether they are misguided or not, there is still a resultant effect.

    In talking to some of the longtime residents (20 years plus) they feel as if they are continually being “dumped upon.” I don’t think their voices get heard because they aren’t the blogging generation. They are looking for options they’ve never been given before and they can’t see how that will happen if more underpriveleged individuals are brought into their already struggling area.

    Their continuing encounters with the homeless haven’t been the best i.e. crackheads on front steps, public fornication and urination, petty crime, and other extremes. I know this is not representative of the homeless population in general, but it’s pretty commonplace in this immediate area. It’s difficult for people in this community to imagine it would be any different from what they have already experienced.

    I guess all will work out as it should…I hope…for everyone’s sake.

    (For the record, this isn’t the same anonymous with the comments on the ANC2F meeting. I wasn’t there so I wouldn’t know. )

  • Honestly, Anon, the Mission has been a great neighbor. Their property–even the alley behind it–is well-maintained and clean. There are multiple security cameras around the building, and the desk is staffed 24 hours. It’s very rare to see loitering outside of the building, and the Mission staff rarely let it happen for long. Perhaps most importantly, it provides a critical service.

    I’m with you, though–I hope it all works out. Wherever it is they ultimately end up.

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