Monday, October 20, 2008

the mighty warriors e x p a n d

I had literally just snapped a photo of the "storefront for sale" building pictured below when I heard someone remark through a car window "sold last week". A brief but all-smiles conversation and handshakes all-around later, I learned that Bethel Christian Fellowship's Mighty Warriors Ministry (remember the playground?) will be expanding into the storefront next door:

And although part of me wishes it were sold to a Top Chef contestant, a hip and happening gallery, or a used book shop entrepreneur, I'm glad for the space to be filled, and happy that this ministry can expand.

(one question, though: if the "exempting religious institutions from historic district/designation requirements" law is passed, does it include buildings that said institutions bought after the designation is in place?)


Richard Layman said...

Likely it would include all property owned by a religious institution, whether or not the property is used for a direct religious purpose, regardless of when the properties were purchased. In short, it's a blanket exemption.

It's a bad and poorly thought out law in many respects. The freedom to practice religion is one that is often separate, not part and parcel of owning real estate.

For example, the church that holds services in the movie theaters at Union Station or Courthouse in Arlington rents the use of a place to meet from for profit entities.

There are multiple examples of churches managing properties in deleterious ways, which justify that churches be responsible to follow city building regulations, including historic preservation regulations, when relevant.

Ironically, DC's local historic preservation law was created in response to the Capitol Hill Baptist Church's demolition of "historic" rowhouse buildings at 5th and E. Capitol Streets NE.

This happened despite the fact that the Capitol Hill Historic District had been created a few years before.

People discovered that the "legal protections" of being on the National Register of Historic Places as a historic district pertained only to federal government undertakings, and that stronger protections, covering all properties regardless of ownership, were necessary.

Hence the passage and implementation of an additional local law in 1978-1979.

Anonymous said...

The bill as currently proposed only applies to properties designated after 1993. If this site is inside the Anacostia Historic District and is considered a contributing building (it sure looks like one), then the bill should not apply, because that district was designated in 1978. Therefore, you should be okay.

The bill is bad for all the reasons Richard lists, but it's not quite as far-reaching as some fear. But if enacted, it would be a problem for future historic districts.

David Garber said...

thank you both!