For this week’s City Paper, I spoke to residents in Eckington about a new residential project in their area.
The piece tells the story of a group of residents that tried to block a development by working with the D.C. Historic Preservation League to protect a historically significant building on the construction site.
Ultimately, the group’s strategy failed: The developer agreed to move the building and incorporate it into the structure. The League was satisfied. The project moved forward. Construction began in early November.
After finishing the story, I still had questions though. Locals that opposed the project clearly tapped the League as a tool to advance their own agenda—-stopping the planned development. I asked the organization’s Director of Programs, Erik Hein, if the League often felt exploited, and if so, how could/would the group respond?:
There’s no easy answer to that question. Each case is individual. It’s really important that we spotlight the fact that historic preservation and economic development can go together—that it doesn’t necessarily mean mothballing and saving everything. A city is a changing entity by nature, and if we can bring organizations together along with the development community and achieve our goal of preserving what is significant, you know sometimes you have to make compromises. Each case literally has—you’ve got market forces, historic resources, community opposition, zoning. You have so many different facets that it ends up being a giant puzzle that needs to get put together.