The front page of this week's print edition of the Washington Business Journal is dedicated to Anacostia Square, the future mixed-use project (40,000 SF retail; 30,000 SF office space; 80 residential units) at the corner of MLK and Good Hope. The article is essentially an announcement that the project, a joint venture between Douglas Development (Ventana, 7th Street Historic Row) and the Anacostia Economic Development Company (Anacostia Gateway), can now move forward after the Historic Preservation Review Board approved demolition of all but the facades of the historically significant--or at least aesthetically historic--buildings at 1909-1913 MLK Ave. Butch Hopkins, president and CEO of AEDC, expects construction to begin in August 2008. (!)
*Note: this very blog broke similar news over two weeks ago--though I acknowledge that WBJ still has a slighty higher readership.
Although initially focused on this Anacostia project, the bulk of the article is about the tedius process of trying to develop around structures deemed historic. Having worked for an infill urban development company in the past, I know firsthand the difficulty of trying to develop a financially feasible project, while also appeasing the DC Historic Preservationists.
Ultimately, however, I support the fastidiousness of preservationists because the end result usually has more character, a more human scale, and doesn't erase a past aesthetic that is, in most cases, entirely worth preserving when comparing the attention to detail and quality of construction and materials to that of today.
"Our purpose is to prevent the demolition of historic buildings," said Tim Dennee, architectural historian for the D.C. Historic Preservation Office. "What would happen if we allowed everyone to demolish their homes or buildings just because they've fallen into disrepair? We'd have no historic buildings in this city."Backside of 1913 MLK Ave, picture courtesy of Washington Business Journal
On a separate note, the article also mentions that there have been over 100 applications for the recently announced grants for up to $35,000 to spruce up Anacostia homes in historically sensitive ways. That is major news for the neighborhood. Thank you all!
images for header graphic courtesy of Washington Business Journal