Saturday, July 24, 2010

DHCD Buys Big in Anacostia

There are few properties in Historic Anacostia more derelict than those at the corner of MLK & Good Hope and the 4 buildings on the Big K Liquor block. Both sites reek of greedy, out of touch landlords and a complete failure to protect the fragility of the buildings on them.

And, in the past five months, both have been bought by the Department of Housing and Community Development, the DC agency now headquartered in the neighborhood.

corner of MLK Avenue and Good Hope Road

The MLK & Good Hope site is the first thing people see when entering the neighborhood from the 11th Street Bridge, and has long been home to absolutely nothing. The site once housed an awesomely art deco People's Drug store, which has since fallen into itself and is now a faded and dangerous barricade of blue plywood.

DHCD is currently working with some really great artists and the Summer Youth Employment Program to put a mural on the corner. I know the folks in charge of this at DCHD, and they are working hard to make this corner better. The mural will be in place only temporarily while the agency works to either sell the property or find a development solution for it on their own.

the Big K Liquor site, spanning MLK at intersection with Chicago

The Big K Liquor site, above, is home to the liquor store, a rowhouse, and two very sad yet very incredible estate homes. Earlier this year the block was listed as one of DCs most endangered historic places (pdf).

The news that DHCD was purchasing buildings on the block came on Wednesday as I was preparing to testify on behalf of their preservation. While it isn't clear if the sale is final, the move certainly turns the DC government into a major landowner in the neighborhood (as if they wasn't already). I look forward to seeing something positive come out of these sales.


AnacostiaQ said...

Great post! I like preservation, but I do not like situations where properties seem to sit forever and create scary, unsafe or unsavory looking environments. As long as we don't open another hair salon, mom and pop or used car lot, I think we will be okay :o)

I remember one of the Big-K owners telling me how they wanted to start spending more time with their grand-kids in retirement, as opposed to being in Big-K all day.

Tim said...

One of the things that is really lacking in the area, given the large number of office workers at the D.C. government office building across the street and the office building up the street at 2041 MLK Blvd., are services: Not just places to eat, but a nice dry cleaners, a newsstand or bookstore, coffee shops, etc. That need will be even more urgent if the corner turns into another office building(s). With the trolley set to roll soon, having some nicer retail shops on the corner to go with these workers -- and to help provide a little service after-hours to people in the neighborhood -- would go a long way to making the area lots more livable and attractive.

nolacola said...

I just hope we don't get any more strange architecture. Whatever it is, it should be a little more sensitive to the neighborhood. Unlike that awful container sitting on Talbert & MLK!WTH was that supposed to be?

Anonymous said...

I took a walking tour of Anacostia few months ago and agree with Tim. I got off the Metro and was like, "OK where is everything."

I do remember thinking that the houses pictured/mentioned in the post would have been fabulous in their day and that it was sad that they had been allowed to end up in the state they were end.

Anonymous said...

Any update on whether the sale for the Big K block was finalized? I was just driving by today and thinking how gorgeous the estates must have been and whether or not the historic society was looking to preserve them. Glad I cam across this post.

Do you have further background on the houses, who owned them, when they were built, etc? Thanks!

Anonymous said...

any updates on 2228, 2234, 2238 Martin Luther King Jr. Avenue, SE? do you know the details of the history of these homes? thanks!

gidget967 said...

any updates on 2228, 2234, 2238 Martin Luther King Jr. Avenue, SE? do you know the details of the history of these homes? thanks!