The July 4th fireworks did not exactly bring the neighborhood together this week. The issue has aroused an array of emotions and, predictably (can I see a show of hands of “new timers” who ignited fireworks this summer?), but unfortunately, carries a tinge of gentrification. I am not going to get into the singular issue of fireworks—the listservs have seen their share of comments and frustrations—but will touch upon the issue of a neighborhood on the cusp of inevitable change (via forces much stronger than the annual immigration of 10-20 new gentrifiers).
Ideally, we would witness a growing trend of small investments within our neighborhood boundaries—resident-desired service businesses such as the Big Bear Cafe (which is celebrating its first month this Saturday). Unfortunately, entrepreneurs with more than just profits on the mind, such as Stu and Lana, are proving slow to come to our commercial properties.
However, do not discount or dismay the influence of the large investments by private entities and governments in the NoMa Business Improvement District along our borders. Later posts on NoMa will follow, but for today:
Example 1: New York Avenue – Florida Avenue Intersection
- The D.C. Department of Transportation has New York Avenue on its radar screen (see New York Avenue Corridor Study), and the intersection of New York Ave and Florida Ave will be altered to ease traffic as well as allow friendlier pedestrian access around the Metro station. See that ring of shrubbery in the top left corner? That was your Wendy’s. It’s not being converted to a pocket park for beautification reasons, but instead, it is due to the widening of New York Avenue—leaving just 0.4 acres of undevelopable property.
- The opposite corner, in the wedge created by Florida and New York Avenues, is the Washington Gateway—a nearly 1 million square foot, mixed use (residential; office; hospitality) development.
- The new ATF Headquarters (opening this summer) will feature nearly 8,000 square feet of retail space along the street.
- Sandwiched between the re-opened 2nd Street NE and the Metro line is the Eckington Hotel by Marriott.
- Perhaps as early as this fall, work will finally begin on the section of the Metropolitan Branch Trail that runs from Franklin St to New York Ave—meaning as early as next summer, one could walk from Eckington to the Metro along this greenway.
- Constitution Square, at the corner of 1st and M Streets, NE, is a two-building project; the southern portion consisting of 620,000 square feet residential/retail. This project is included in this discussion due to its planned 50,000 square foot grocery store (rumored to be a Harris Teeter) that will be within walking distance for Eckington residents.
- More retail
- Grocery store accessible by foot
- More greenery
- Friendlier and more open pathways to/fro the Metro station
- More employees (who need more daytime retail services)
- More residents and visitors (who also need more nighttime/weekend services)
all leading to…
More residents and visitors walking and interacting along the neighborhood streets.