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The vacant property on Morris Road SE

Residents of Anacostia, where you can hardly go a block without spotting a crumbling building with the D.C. Department of Housing and Community Development logo on it, have long blamed the city for the surfeit of vacant property in the neighborhood. While private development in the area has begun to pick up, DHCD, they allege, has sat on property far too long, creating blight in a neighborhood that’s working to resurrect its reputation.

Today, DHCD took a step toward returning some of that vacant property to productive use. The city released solicitations for the development of 36 properties, among them eight vacant lots in Anacostia.

This is the second recent batch of solicitations from DHCD, which is trying to clear its sizable backlog of properties. In July, DHCD issued solicitations for 27 lots across the city, the largest group of solicitations in recent years. Today’s batch, which is concentrated mostly in Ward 8 with one set of properties in Ward 6, sets a new recent record.

The Anacostia properties are not the vacant houses and apartment buildings that neighbors most want to see renovated. Instead, they’re vacant lots—-as are the other properties in today’s batch, with the exception of a building on 6th Street SE in Congress Heights.

The building on 6th Street SE

In Anacostia, DHCD is seeking developers for four lots on West Street SE of about 4,000 square feet each, three lots on High Street SE totaling 35,000 square feet, and one 3,000-square-foot lot on Morris Road SE. Elsewhere, the city is hoping to develop 17 rowhouse lots on Kramer Street NE in Rosedale; seven lots on Skyland Terrace, near the planned Skyland Town Center development; an 18,000-square-foot lot on 13th Street SE in Congress Heights; and three lots on Forrester Street SW in Bellevue.

DHCD is requesting that proposals for the sites include an affordable housing component, with developers setting aside between 20 and 35 percent of the units for households making under 80 percent of area median income, depending on the site. Proposals for the various sites are due in February and March.

“This is our second batch of properties in less than six months,” DHCD Director Michael Kelly said in a statement. “I believe this shows our commitment and dedication to the elimination of blighted properties and developing vacant lots throughout the District, particularly in two of the city’s most underserved areas, Wards 6 and 8. While this brings me great pride, I am aware that we have a long way to go.”

The vacant lot on Forrester Street SW

Photos from the solicitations