The DC Voice

Where are the attractions and amenities for residents at Art Place as promised?

The city has turned into a master blueprint with competition between construction companies as to who can position their crane in the densest corner space.  The community wants developers to demonstrate they care beyond the cashier’s checks collected to lease the space.  Not to mention proposed attractions and amenities that are not being delivered. That was the sentiment regarding The Moderns at Art Place at Wednesday night’s Ward 5A Advisory Neighborhood Commission meeting. The community wants developers to not just attend ANC meetings to console the community, then once the building is constructed; act like community care is no longer a concern.

“We allow you to come into our community. This is our community, not yours.  Give us what you promised,” expressed resident Charles Lockett during the question and partial answer session. Leaving room for many more questions that will need answers by September 4. Vice Chairman Commissioner Fletcher had to give a disclaimer informing residents to keep their questions to one being that it was a packed meeting. There were many hands up for questions about the next development phase of Art Place at Ft. Totten.

The four-story atrium plaza is a striking building and it will be a special place says Paul, a project zoning representative.  “What issues are you finding, that retail doesn’t want to rent the space?”, asked Ward 5 resident Reggie.  “Don’t know,” replied Paul. Perhaps that was the safest response at the time considering the current phase of Art Place at Ft. Totten.

Questions were coming from every corner of the medium-sized meeting room.  How project developers can increase the budget for security behind Building B was also a concern.  “We hear you and will address it moving forward,” Paul said after many questions with limited responses were presented to him and his partner.  Proposed amenities at Art Place include a children’s museum along with a family entertainment zone, but currently, if Mr. Lockett wanted to take his grandson to the sandwich shop there isn’t one for them to dine at.  There are also plans for a grocery store creating a lively pedestrian environment on South Dakota Avenue.  How will you get this done?  We can’t compete with Trader Joe’s, so what grocery store will we get was another concern coming from a Ward 5 resident. 

Some of Art Place remains vacant due to trouble finding reasonable incentives for vendors.  Residents suggest they provide free rent for a few months.  Paul suggested that findings reveal more success in leasing spaces on Ingraham Street and they are trying their best for more density and space.  “Do you understand what you’re building? Security should have been first. You’re building a community,” said Ms. Pate during the meeting.  She then had to clarify her question stating why the developers don’t understand they are building a community.  Concerns from wetlands to parking signs were addressed along with many other agenda items.  Tenant Association President Mrs. Gibbs wanted to know “Why can’t you put the parking signs back up?”  “Ma’am you’re out of order right now,” Commission Chair Edwards replied while going in order of the agenda items.

Next up on the 5A ANC meeting agenda was ABRA Application- 4Seasons Convenience Store, but we will table that conversation for another time because it has approached the 9:00 p.m. hour.

Mindy Hill

Mindy Hill

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