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From the desk of Shaw ANC Commissioner Alex Padro: Shiloh Baptist Church is back to making promises about its vacant properties stinking up around the Convention Center and its surrounding blocks. The church has announced “that they will present their current plans for all the vacant properties,” Padro writes in an e-mail, at ANC 2C‘s meeting today at 6:30 p.m. at the Kennedy Recreation Center (1401 7th Street NW).
Before anyone gets their hopes up, the church has a long history of making promises and community presentations about its vacants. The promises have been going on for years. At different points, church leaders formed a community development corporation to deal with the properties. Among its proposals: a skyway connecting some of its buildings. Can anyone imagine a skyway on 9th Street?
In recent years, the city condemned the church’s properties. While its properties grew boards, the church got busy protesting at least one Shaw restaurant’s application for a liquor license. Someone even started a blog about the church’s issues. And many of its most senior members within the church leadership waged a campaign to oust its pastor over allegations of financial mismanagement. The lawsuit dragged on and on. The band of plaintiffs suggested that the church was using petty legal maneuvers to bankrupt their efforts at exposing the church’s allegedly crooked books. I’m not sure where the lawsuit stands now.
Padro is not so optimistic about tonight’s presentation. He writes:
“It is important to note that Shiloh’s pastor, Rev. Wallace Charles Smith, at last night’s Convention Center Community Association meeting, stated that financing was not yet in place for the renovation and new construction at 1531-33 9th Street, NW, much less for the more ambitious redevelopment of the church’s buildings on the west side of the 1500 block of 9th Street, which include ground floor retail as well as affordable housing. Specifically, the project for the buildings north of the Henry C. Gregory, III Family Life Center will not move forward without District of Columbia subsidies, which Smith said were not presently forthcoming.
This community has seen a number of renderings for proposed redevelopment of Shiloh’s buildings along Woodson Row over the past decade, and perhaps even before. It seems unlikely that these latest plans will move forward anytime soon. But the plans for 1531-33 9th Street, NW are moving to the Historic Preservation Review Board this month, and with minor modifications, should receive approval. If Shiloh is able to complete this project, it would certainly be a demonstration of good faith on Shiloh’s part after so many years of lack of progress.”
*photo by DCist.