Friday, November 21, 2008

st. martin's apartments groundbreaking ceremony

today was the groundbreaking ceremony for the st. martin's apartments complex in eckington. there was a lot of concern expressed on neighborhood listservs and blogs over the last couple years regarding this project, which will bring 178 apartments to the corner of summit and T streets NE, across the street from mckinley tech high school.

one of the big neighborhood concerns stems from the fact that 50 units in the building will be dedicated to the mayor's housing first program, which will take people off the street and out of homeless shelters, giving them the stability of their own apartment. some neighborhood residents believed that this was "warehousing" by putting this many former homeless in one location. i don't wish to get into the politics of this story one way or the other, but i'd like to just show a few pictures from today with some brief comments.

here's the old convent on the site, which will apparently be moved down the hill somewhat, closer to the corner of summit and T streets (away from the camera at this angle).

shovels and a fake pile of dirt were set up in the parking lot beforehand to the used for the ceremonial groundbreaking. there were seven speakers in the tent this morning, including opening and closing remarks from the emcee, ed orzechowski, the CEO of catholic charities of DC. following his welcome to the crowd, we heard from leila edmonds, the director of the DC department of housing and community development, allison ladd, the associate executive director of the DC housing finance agency, and michael kelly, the executive director of the DC housing authority.

in this photo, councilman harry thomas, jr., of ward 5 speaks, with community members around him (including robert brannum, alice thompson, and current and former ANC commissioners. councilman thomas, sporting a ballcap, talked about the long road that it took to get this project off the ground.

in a cheesy comment, he noted that he had driven from the wilson building in a v8-powered SUV, while mayor fenty had driven over in his smart car. councilman thomas told mayor fenty that he should abandon the smart car and get back in something with "more horsepower" so he could make it to these events more quickly. all things said, i'd much rather that those driving would all follow the mayor's example instead of barreling around in gas guzzlers like the councilman.

here's that smart car of the mayor's, parked outside of the tent, and not taking blocking sidewalks and street corners, like a lot of the other cars at this event. just sayin'...

speaking of the mayor, he had a lot to say about the need for low-income housing in the city.

the archbishop of the catholic church, donald wuerl, spoke as well and offered a prayer.

after the speeches, the assembled dignitaries left the tent to turn the ceremonial first shovelful of dirt. construction (mostly clearing and grading of the site) is already underway, as rumbling dump trucks made clear to everyone at the site.


Phil Lepanto said...

I definitely appreciate that the Mayor drives a Smart Car. I think he sets a good example.

Anonymous said...

What a disaster... dozens of zero-income tenants who will invite their criminal friends and relatives into the neighborhood. A big step backwards...

- JM

Anonymous said...

Harry Thomas is an idiot (and a racist! (see his comments re: black majority coalition))

Anonymous said...

Agreed about Harry Thomas... why Vicki Chambers supports him is baffling.

Anonymous said...

Thomas is a political slimeball and a racist too. He is Marion Barry's protege'. This project ensures that Thomas will have a high concentration of loyal voters in his ward (Ward 5).

Look for Thomas to put on a show for the public and the press involving the distribution of free Thanksgiving turkeys inside this tenement once it is open for 'business'.

I feel sorry for the people in the ANC where this multi-generational mistake is located.

Anonymous said...

Hmm, Harry Thomas openly mocks Mayor Fenty in public about his choice for personal transportation.

In the past, Fenty officially stated that his goal is to make DC the most pedestrian and bike-friendly city in America... and Thomas brags to Fenty about his SUV? I'm sure the mayor was verrry impressed!

Thomas is out of touch.

Anonymous said...

Marion Barry said to the Washington Post:

"I think it is truly tragic when so many people are unable to afford a meal at thanksgiving due to the massive loss of jobs and the impact of a slow economy," Barry said in a statement announcing his program. "America is focused so much on Wall Street and Main Street, but nobody is focused on the side or the back street where poverty is prevalent. We as a society of people just don't care enough and that cycle must change."

Ummm.... unemployment in DC is high no matter what is happening in the rest of the country/economy. THAT is the tragedy. He, as a politician, just exploits his constituents a great deal and that cycle must change.

Anonymous said...

I live in Eckington and I'm not looking forward to this. Our neighborhood has enough to deal with. Now we'll have to deal with the former homeless? Whatever, we already have to deal with the gangs and the homeless guy who sleeps under the porch across the street, now they'll be more living here with a permanent address? I can't stand this. I'm going to MoCo where my taxes buy safe neighborhoods, diversity, and GREAT school districts. If I stay here any longer I just might go crazy.