One of Ward 3's biggest battles. (StreetSense)

You know the real estate economy is back when groups that used to organize around new developments and subsequently went quiet—-given that there were no viable projects to argue about anymore—-start to come out of hibernation. Case in point: Ward3Vision, the “Yes-In-My-Back-Yard” smart growth advocacy group that formed back in 2005 to counter the strident upper Northwesters who oppose large buildings around Metro stations and more restrictions on parking.

The group’s activities died down during the crash, as projects like 5220 Wisconsin lost momentum and discussion around the Tenley Library finished up. Lately, though, some of those polarizing developments are coming off the shelf, like Douglas Development’s new condo building on Brandywine Street and the Tenleytown Safeway. And of course, the debate over the American University campus plan has been underway for a while now.

Next week, they’re throwing a kickoff for the “Vibrant Neighborhoods 2012” campaign with Councilmember Mary Cheh to “plan for Ward 3’s future in a way that encourages the diverse restaurants, housing choices, and amenities that we associate with vibrant neighborhoods like Bethesda, the Rosslyn-Ballston corridor, and others around our region.” (I don’t know what it says that their models for vibrant neighborhoods are in the suburbs—-perhaps places like Dupont Circle and Barracks Row would be too threatening.)

In taking their activities up a notch, the group hopes to keep pushing back against the alphabet soup of neighborhood associations that tend to pop up when new developments are proposed and then fade back after voicing their opposition. Could other parts of the city use similar efforts?