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I read Annys Shin’s “Brave Old World” (5/2), which centers on the history and some of the current controversies and problems at Potomac Place Apartments. As a resident of Potomac Place Apartments, I’ve watched from my balcony and observed the eyesore that consists of the concrete walls, rubble, dirt, mud, trash, and debris that have replaced the beautiful park where I used to walk and the benches where I once sat to read my books. Since construction began several months ago, I have been forced to contend with noise and air pollution and increased dirt and dust filtering into my apartment, in exchange for increased rent and reduced services within the apartment complex.
Yet these problems are only the tip of the iceberg. I never imagined, in my wildest dreams, that I would have to use my walk-in closet as a phone booth to make or receive phone calls. In addition to the interference of the high noise level, I have to contend with bouts of insomnia and unfortunately look forward to having intermittent air conditioning this summer and heat during the winter, because of the malfunctioning heating and air-conditioning system.
I am grateful that the Historic Landmark Preservation Committee designed Potomac Place Apartments and the adjacent artwork of Chloethiel Woodward Smith as relevant and important to the District of Columbia and its Southwest residents. With any luck, the owners of Potomac Place will be motivated enough to improve the quality of maintenance and services in the interior of the building, which the tenants deserve and long for.
There are reasons why we need grass and greenery in and about the District of Columbia. They offer peace and tranquility, and help reduce air pollution. The removal of the grass and greenery in the rear of Potomac Place is a clear example of bad things yet to come, as well as a classic example of the condescending attitudes of bad corporate decision making and its chronic habit of placing greed and profits over the needs and concerns of tenants. There are many pros and cons of overbuilding in the District of Columbia. The first is an increase in air pollution, and the second is the displacement of many middle- and low-income citizens, in light of an unstable economy and increased unemployment.
Shin’s article labels Potomac Place and other properties in the District of Columbia as failures. This, in itself, is a sham, because an apartment complex is only as good as the way its owner and management cares for its upkeep and their communication (or lack thereof) with its tenants. Too often, decisions are allegedly made in the best interest of the tenants, but the tenants are left out during the decision-making process. Clearly, in the case of Potomac Place, the owners did not enlist any input from its tenants and further did not consider the environmental impact of constructing an oversized building complex in such a tight space, amid the current Southwest residents who used to enjoy peace and quiet.