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Shaw residents who have long wished for more cafes and restaurants in their up-and-coming neighborhood have some reason to hope: Shiloh Baptist Church, notorious for owning numerous fallow properties in the neighborhood, has undergone a changing of the guard.

Shiloh’s board of trustees is comprised of 10 members who serve no more than two three-year terms, and according to Shiloh trustee Ralph Lee, four tenured members’ terms expired in January, including the chairperson’s, and more progressive members have been appointed to the board to replace them. Lee says there are now enough board members who favor developing the church’s unoccupied properties, mostly along 9th Street NW, to get plans off the ground.

Lee says the neighborhood can expect changes soon. “We’re still in the planning stages with our architects developing our master plan,” he says. “It’s long overdue.”

Alex Padro, advisory neighborhood commissioner for the neighborhood and a longtime critic of the church, met with Lee and says he feels “encouraged” by the changes. Padro says the board hasn’t presented him with an official timeline or plan of action, but he says he’s hopeful.

“The difference is that the folks that have now been put into office have a clear mandate to move forward with the development rather than just continue to sit around on their hands and not make any decisions,” he says.