With the rush to develop D.C. to bring in more businesses and more money, those on the margins can get left behind. That’s why it’s good news that Justice Park at 14th and Euclid streets Northwest is also getting a makeover.
The old Justice Park was hidden from street view from high walls, which of course made it a prime venue for drug sales and other criminal activity. It was shut down more than a year ago, and the city began planning a new Justice Park across the street.
A vacant lot will become a new park featuring a 40-plot community garden, a central plaza and patio, benches and walkways, and more. It will be an attractive and beneficial addition to the neighborhood.
The old park site, meanwhile, is going from bad use to good. New affordable housing will be built on the site, something much needed in an area where housing prices have skyrocketed over the past decade.
Last Thursday, Mayor Adrian Fenty’s office announced that Dantes Partners, as part of a team that includes Capital Construction Enterprises and the Perdomo Group, will build a 37-unit rental building on the site. The apartments will be priced between 30 and 60 percent of area median income. The groundbreaking on the $11.5 million project is set for May 2012.
Of course, it’s an election year, so politics came into play. Fenty has been on the defensive against charges that he puts development ahead of the city’s poorer residents, and he made sure to be on hand for the announcement.
“I am extremely proud of the incredible transformation that has taken place in Columbia Heights over the past several years,” Fenty said. “Affordable housing projects like this help to ensure that residents of all income levels can continue to enjoy the multitude of resources this neighborhood offers.”