For nearly a half-century a vacant two-story wood frame home has wrapped the corner of Maple View Place and Mount View Place in Historic Anacostia. Built in 1902, the home at 1220 Maple View Place SE, known colloquially as “Big Green,” is one of four long-abandoned city-owned residential properties recently transferred from the Department of Housing and Community Development (DHCD) to The L’Enfant Trust after more than a year long administrative tug-of-war between the Executive Office of the Mayor, DHCD and the City Council.
“The recent acquisition by the L’Enfant Trust is unquestionably a win for Anacostians and the historic district because finally, after decades, these houses, which are completely dilapidated, are going to be renovated and put back into use as residential property,” Council Chairman Phil Mendelson told East of the River. “The neighborhood is getting rid of blight, the neighborhood will be getting new neighbors and the city is getting rid of a safety liability it was incapable of resolving on its own.”
The L’Enfant Trust is no newcomer to Historic Anacostia. In the summer of 2014 the Trust led the successful renovation of a vacant home on 14th Street SE across from Market Square and a dwelling at the top of Maple View Place SE built in the late 1800s.
“The Anacostia River may separate Anacostia from other parts of the city – but all neighborhoods are important to the health and vitality of DC,” says Lauren McHale, President of the Trust. “We are taking these projects on as a charitable gift to the city – no taxpayer money will be used.”
According to the Trust, 1220 Maple View Place SE, the largest of the four properties, will be rezoned and reverted to its original design as a two-family dwelling. Construction on the three smaller houses at 1326 Valley Place SE, 1518 W Street SE and 1648 U Street SE is anticipated to begin late summer or early fall of 2018 after stabilization, architectural planning and permitting have been completed.
Once rehabilitation is finished, the five dwelling-units will be sold as Workforce Housing to qualified buyers earning at or below 120% of the Median Family Income, targeting teachers, nurses, firefighters and employees of the District government. The Trust will be working with the Ward 8 Homebuyers Club to focus on workforce residents looking to purchase their first home.
“The L’Enfant Trust does not believe affordable housing and historic preservation are mutually exclusive, and we see the value in creating quality affordable housing and increasing homeownership opportunities while at the same time respecting a community’s heritage,” McHale maintains. ““To further the level of affordability for these buyers, we will need philanthropic support from individuals, corporations, foundations, building material vendors, and beyond.”
The Trust’s first steps will be to secure the properties, stabilize the buildings and begin working on conceptual architectural plans. The Trust has five years to rehabilitate and sell the homes, but their goal it to have the smallest three houses completed and sold by late summer 2019.
As “Big Green” at 1220 Maple View Place SE is a much larger structure, the Trust plans for renovation to be completed on a longer schedule. The home is expected to be put up for sale by late summer 2020. The Trust has secured two low interest loans from The 1772 Foundation, a family foundation in Rhode Island, that will allow for the rehabilitation of each house. The proceeds from each sale will be used to pay off the loan.
“Once we have our conceptual plans, our hope is to have regular visits to ANC 8A, Historic Anacostia Block Association, Ward 8 Homebuyers Club and other organizations to give updates, answer questions, and to receive comments from the community. Whether you’re interested in purchasing one of the properties, have a concern, or you just want to know more about historic rehabilitation – we want to hear from you,” says McHale.
Resident and community reactions
Throughout the protracted dispute over the properties numerous residents advocated on behalf of The L’Enfant Trust to elected officials and agency administrators.
“The community fought for the properties to be transferred to L’Enfant Trust because the Trust has the level of expertise and proven track record to restore these historic properties,” says LaTasha Gunnels, a homeowner on the 1500 block of W Street SE.
“The L’Enfant Trust’s preservation of the four homes will improve the quality of life of the residents who live near the homes by reducing public nuisances of illegal dumping, rodent infestations, and other illegal activities,” says Gunnels, a healthcare professional.
“The preservation and restorations of these houses represents a rebirth and renewal of our community,” says Oliver Spurgeon, a homeowner on 16th Street SE who serves on the boards of the United Planning Organization and the Historic Anacostia Block Association.
“Rehabilitation of these houses is important, but it is about the continued resurrection of our community, home by home, block by block,” affirms Spurgeon. “It is not just about the physical appearance of the houses; it is about the next family who will call Anacostia home.”
“The Anacostia community’s strong desire to save the buildings and put them back into use is what made this cause so important to the Trust,” says McHale.
“We’re glad we helped shed light on the benefits of community revitalization and historic preservation, but it is the community and Chairman Mendelson and the DC Council that championed the legislation to save these long-vacant and deteriorating properties,” said McHale.
“The transfer of these properties to the L’Enfant Trust is a small, albeit important step for the future of the very fragile Anacostia Historic District,” says Rebecca Miller, Executive Director of the DC Preservation League, a longstanding advocate for the preservation of historic residential properties within the neighborhood and citywide. “Hopefully, the positive outcome for these buildings will result in other dilapidated historic properties being renovated for productive use.”
For more information on the Ward 8 Homebuyers Club please visit www.mannadc.org or call (202) 832-1845