ReNewShaw Twitter

Thursday, June 28, 2007

Washington Post Reports on Shiloh

Two articles appear in today's Washington Post about Shiloh Baptist Church.

The first article discusses an internal conflict at the church over the management of the church under Rev. Wallace Charles Smith. Critics are angry that Smith serves as president of Palmer Theological Seminary in the Philadelphia area and claim that the church is a financial mess and spiritually bankrupt. Of note, the article quotes Smith himself as well as parishioners and members of the Board of trustees.

The second article is about the city's "unprecedented" interest in holding Shiloh accountable for its portfolio of vacant properties. The article alludes to a variety of factors, including "the election of the new mayor, the changing dynamics of a rapidly gentrifying area, and local blogs that have focused on the church's properties," with an emphasis on local blogs. Smith reiterates the battle cry that the crackdown is due to developers "who envision million-dollar condos on Ninth Street" and "new urban professionals who want to drive churches out of the city." His rhetoric will likely entice a few, but could not be further from the truth. Interestingly, Smith apparently said that the "church is developing a plan for the properties that may involve turning two Eighth Street rowhouses into luxury rentals to help finance the development of affordable seniors housing on Ninth Street." Is the luxury rental market is a lot stronger and dumber than I think it is or does that not sound like a very viable plan?

9 comments:

Anonymous said...

the idea that the church has the expertise to "develop" these properties really burns me up!

Anonymous said...

Why should that burn anybody up. Of course the church will get expert builders to develop the properties. What's your problem anyhow?

Shaw Rez said...

Thomas Bowen once stated to me the obvious fact that the church is not in the business of real estate. I wholly agree with that sentiment.

I would welcome well-executed affordable senior housing. I worry that the church is not capable of providing nice living quarters for seniors (looking at the threadbare daycare center and life center, and having heard reports on how the church wasn't a great landlord to prior tenants of the now-condemned properties, I think I have reason to worry about that).

And with regard to the luxury rental developments Smith alludes to, I would think that, given the state of those properties presently, it would be hard to rehabilitate those properties into luxury units and receive enough in rent to finance--even partially--the senior housing. Selling those properties might give the sufficient cash infusion for the senior housing plan, but it sounds like the church has resolved not to sell.

Anonymous said...

Exactly, Shaw Rez. Given the church's history of real estate stewardship, there is no evidence of any ability (financial, experience-related, or otherwise) to effectively develop this property. Assuming they were able to finance some kind of renovation of 8th street properties (which would cost a significant amount), the church would be lucky if the rent covered the development costs. There is no way that a rental arrangement such as that would cover the huge job of renovating a bunch of condemned properties on 9th Street. It doesn't make sense - even if you think that being a landlord is something the church should be involved with (particularly given constant maintenance issues that arise in any rental apartments).

And that's even assuming that Shiloh is to be believed after *DECADES* of empty promises. The comment in the article about this plan was made, no doubt, without any calculations made, or building estimates received, no doubt. It's just more words. That is why it burns me up.

That being said, I would love to see well constructed senior housing to take care of the elderly or other low income people. It's just that history shows that Shiloh is not trustworthy on this issue. Perhaps they could sell the property to an organization that does have some expertise in this area, if that is really their goal. But I don't see that happening.

Clara Barton Dweller said...

Wait, "million-dollar condos" are bad but "luxury rentals" are good?

(Just as long as the evil gentrifiers can't actually OWN the property, all will be well?)

Anonymous said...

If this article was in the DISTRICT Extra to the Post, most of the Shiloh congregation (being Maryland residents) won't even see it...
We should make copies for them, along with the post re: how their hard-earned money is being thrown away on property taxes...and leave it on their cars...
Might make them question their "leadership" more...

Alexander M. Padro said...

I have to agree with several posters: luxury rentals aren't where the market is today, and the costs of renovating these buildings will be such that it would be a long time before they began generating profits to subsidize other renovations.

What I have been told by a Shiloh trustee, and has been confirmed by other members, is that the church will first renovate and redevelop 1533 9th Street, NW and the empty lots to the north of the Curtie Mae Turner office building (where the day care center is). What the truth is: no one, even the church, really knows. We could end up with another decade of no action, though I pray (and I don't do that often) that I am wrong.

If the church engages a competent consultant to work on these projects, the more likely strategy would be to sell the 8th Street properties and use those proceeds, plus whatever is left from the sale of 1540 and 1542 9th Street, NW, to the National Park Service, as a downpayment on renovating their vacant and abandoned buildings on the west side of the 1500 block of 9th Street into mixed use buildings (what they weere before the tenants were kicked out), with ground floor retail (to help subsidize the housing) and senior apartments above. But I won't hold my breath. I enjoy life too much to do that.

--Commissioner Alexander M. Padro, ANC 2C01

Mr Ray said...

Martin Luther King: "I have a dream"

Shiloh Baptist Church: "I have a scheme"

Mr. Ray said...

Deacon Howard is the fellow who stands out on about his church's coded race-baiting rants on gentrification the Shaw Historic Slum. Where does he live? Certainly not among us who must put up with the church keeping us a decayed dump for the transcient.