The Art Place @ Ft. Totten is one development project that’s not getting enough attention.
Maybe that’s because it’s up in Ft. Totten, not a very densely populated area.
Maybe, it’s because the neighbors aren’t used to mobilizing and fighting development—-drive around there, and it doesn’t appear much has changed in decades, with one obvious exception.
Perhaps, it’s because the developer is a nonprofit organization, The Morris and Gwendolyn Cafritz Foundation, which seems less threatening than a for-profit developer or the city. And the Cafritz Foundation didn’t thoroughly publicize its plan to the community.
Or maybe, the resentment is just starting percolate, and we’ll hear more about Art Place @ Ft. Totten in the future—even though locals are already being asked to move to make way for construction.
This morning’s Washington Post reports on that situation over at Riggs Plaza, where neighbors have been told “Attention Packing Supplies are here! Please come into the office and pick up your boxes so you can start packing.”
Not surprisingly, they’re not having any of it:
Wilkins said residents are anxious. “I do think they should put something in writing about how long the residents will be in temporary housing,” she said.
A recent letter said she would be placed in a one-bedroom apartment, Wilkins said. “What am I supposed to do with all my furniture? Put it in the trash?” said Wilkins, who has lived at Riggs Plaza for 40 years. “I have the notice on my table, but I’m ignoring that.”
Six years ago, Sarah L. Moss, 73, was moved to an apartment building in the 5100 block of Fourth Street NE from one of the Riggs Plaza apartments on Kennedy Street NE in anticipation of the project being built. She was told that her move was temporary and that she would be in a permanent place in two years. Today, about a half-dozen boxes are still packed up in the corner of her living room. More are in her bedroom.
Her neighbor, 67-year-old Caroline Gibbs, who has lived at Riggs Plaza for 32 years, complained that the project will dramatically change the landscape of the neighborhood.
“This is too grand for this area,” Gibbs said. “This is not Wisconsin Avenue or Bethesda.”
I attended a meeting about the development over the summer, and typed up a few blog posts about what I witnessed. People were unclear of the parameters of the development. The ANC commissioners in the room were going through some disastrous schism—-with one woman walking out early. I think this headline says it all: The Cafritz Foundation’s Art Place@Fort Totten: The Neighbors Are Deeply Confused.