A decade ago, Art Monk and Charles Mann came to a neighborhood meeting in Anacostia and said they were going to open a job training center in one of the city’s neediest neighborhoods.
They never followed through on that pledge.
The former Redskins raised millions of dollars, both in federal grants and private donations, after saying they would locate the center at the old Carver Theatre building.
The DC Government gave control of the property, at 2405 Martin Luther King Jr. Avenue SE, to the Good Samaritan Foundation, a non-profit group fronted by Monk and Mann, in the belief that it would house the job training operation.
After initially leasing the historic theater site to the foundation, the city sold it outright to Monk and Mann’s group in 2004 for $255,235.
For years before and after the sale, the old theater lot sat vacant, despite all the do-gooder dollars thrown at it.
Neighborhood leaders wondered why such a prime real estate location, near the Metro stop and on the main drag in the business district, went unused and was left to go to seed.
The Good Samaritan Foundation held at least three groundbreaking ceremonies at the site, and put on several fundraising galas and celebrity golf tournaments, with proceeds allegedly earmarked to pay for the job training center.
Construction on the theater stopped and started many times. And through it all, group officials, including the ex-Redskins, insisted the opening of the training center was imminent.
But it never opened.
And it never will. The Howard Road Academy, a public charter school, now houses its middle school campus in the Carver Theatre building. The school newsletter says it opened for classes there last week, with 130 students.
And, according to the school’s business office, Howard Road Academy now owns the building.
Earl Murray, president of the Howard Road Academy’s board of trustees, says the school paid “just under $3 million” to the Good Samaritan Foundation this summer to buy the site.
“It’s a great location,” says Murray. “We were looking to expand in the neighborhood, and they were looking for a buyer.”
Neither Monk nor Mann have anything to do with the school, Murray says.
The Good Samaritan Foundation is no longer in operation. Monk and Mann now front a group called the Youth Power Center.
So, what happened to the job training center that was promised to the neighborhood by Monk and Mann in 1999?
What happened to the millions of dollars of taxpayers and golfers’ money given to Monk and Mann specifically to make the promised job training center happen?
Will that money be returned now that, by all appearances, the Good Samaritan Foundation cashed out on its real estate investment in Anacostia?
Cheap Seats Daily is awaiting calls from the Youth Power Center.