A few weeks ago, one thing in particular on the April Blagden Alley neighborhood meeting agenda caught my eye: “The Walnut Street Project at 917 M.” I didn’t make the meeting and have anxiously awaited receiving word of what was discussed. Thanks to Drew for tipping me to the following a few days ago (I've been slack at getting a post up...).
According to the May 4 Blagden Alley News, available here, Walnut Street Development (“WSD”) backed out of the project due to the condo market slump (I recall reading in the Washington Business Journal that WSD has backed out of other projects in the region, so we’re not unique). North Carolina-based Self Help (a group with which I’m vaguely familiar and about which I have heard excellent things) has purchased the project. Self Help seeks to build affordable condominiums largely using WSD’s plans (which I think look pretty cool). In broad terms, these condominiums will be covenant restricted, providing that only people meeting certain income guidelines can purchase the units and that the units can be sold for an indexed amount over their purchase price. Condominium fees and the various covenants will ensure that the building and grounds will be kept up nicely.
It appears that Self Help and the Blagden Alley neighborhood are engaged in discussions currently. I’m sure that neighbors have many valid concerns; hopefully through collaboration, neighbors and Self-Help will achieve a development plan in which all can take pride. This has the potential to be a great coup for the Shaw area by providing ownership opportunities in an increasingly pricey neighborhood, moving forward with a beautiful new development near the convention center, and bringing new home-owning residents, and corresponding foot traffic, to Shaw.