On Monday, January 9th, the Office of Planning and Economic Development held the most recent public meeting to discuss the upcoming Walter Reed redevelopment project. The meeting took place at Shepherd Elementary school.
After a review of the Local Redevelopment Authority (LRA) Project by Director Mr. Randall Clarke, the main items of the agenda were brought to the floor by the members of the Master Development Team.
- Construction: The project’s first tenant, DC International (DCI) Public Charter School is in an active construction phase and fully intends to have their building open for students beginning in the fall of 2017. Most construction activity that residents see today will be related to that part of the project.
- Site Operations: The development team notified the audience that two major points of emphasis for the campus are security and animal control. A security contractor has been hired to help protect property and staff while the area is mostly vacant. Various wildlife including foxes and deer have made themselves at home on the property. When construction begins in earnest, these animals will be humanely trapped and relocated. Finally, a rodent abatement program is in effect, although there has been little evidence of a rat problem so far. Finally, the grounds surrounding the parameter of the Walter Reed campus will be maintained, specifically, in the event of snow, the sidewalks will be cleared in compliance with DC snow removal laws.
- Economic development: Offices will soon open on site to accept inquiries from local businesses and residents who would like to learn about opportunities to work with the project.
- Interim Activation: This redevelopment will take place over the course of many years. During this project, the Authority will take advantage of opportunities to invite the public to visit many of the beautiful outdoor spaces on the site for events such as outdoor movie viewings and exercise classes.
- Transportation: On the big issue of the night the LRA left neighbors with more questions than answers. On the positive side, the widening of Aspen Street and the inclusion of a full-length bike lane were received well. Also of note, a third lane/turning lane will be added on Georgia Avenue to allow North bound traffic to turn into Walter Reed while allowing traffic to flow continuously on Georgia Ave. Less appealing was the revelation of the opening of the 12th and 13th street entrances of the property on Fern Street NW. Residents rightly fear a return of the dreaded cut-through traffic if these entrances are reactivated. At the same time, everyone recognizes that Georgia Avenue would be overburdened if there is not another route for traffic flow. Residents made it clear that they are not satisfied with the current state of the traffic plan and asked the Authority to come up with some different alternatives.
The LRA acknowledged that they haven’t done a good job of updating the development websites to this point and have pledged to improve performance in the future. The two associated sites are: