ReNewShaw Twitter

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

WaPo Blurb on Shiloh Gives Inaccurate Story

In an article in today's WaPo about churches capitalizing on their real estate holdings, the Post holds out Shiloh as a contrast:
Yet not all churches are playing the real estate game. Shiloh Baptist Church has incurred the wrath of neighbors in Shaw by allowing seven buildings it owns to sit vacant for years. The Rev. Wallace Smith said the church prefers to turn the properties into affordable housing rather than allow developers to build condos, drive up neighborhood prices and "displace persons."

"We have no intention of allowing people who ran away from the city to now come back and buy our properties for what they would consider to be a pittance," he said. "We've been here."
The blurb on Shiloh does not accurately reflect the situation. First, Shiloh's portfolio of vacant properties in the Shaw neighborhood currently consists of 8--not 7--vacant properties (1533 9th Street, NW, 1526 9th Street, NW, 1528 9th Street, NW, 1532 9th Street, NW, 1534 9th Street, NW, 1536 9th Street, NW, 1543 8th Street, NW, and 1600 8th Street, NW). Second, Shiloh has not "incurred the wrath of neighbors" but has instead subjected neighbors to Shiloh's own wrath: the vacant properties, even with their new roofs and newly boarded windows and doors, pose countless problems and hazards for neighbors. Furthermore, Shiloh's previous attempts to thwart liquor licenses of new restaurants have likely caused repercussions in the commercial development of Shaw that will be felt for years to come. Third, the Post's quoting of Reverend Smith does not give a full picture of the situation: As I posted earlier this year, Shiloh has been promising affordable housing since at least 1990, yet these properties still sit vacant. Also, as others have discussed, the displacement rhetoric that Reverend Smith uses--although it may sound compelling--does not really reflect the reality of urban renewal.


Mr. Ray said...

Nice response, Ralph. Hope someone reads it. Shiloh's "we were here first" mentality is erroneously self-serving. They were the newcomers when they came here in 1924, buying the church from Hamline Methodist, which sold due to "changing demographics" in the neighborhood. Sound similar?

Shaw Rez said...

To whom is Reverend Smith referring when he talks of "people who ran away from the city to now come back and buy our properties"?! I can't point to anyone who's seeking to buy in the area that left the area previously.

ML said...

WaPo distorts reality in Shaw? Shocker.

Just who is the good Rev. talking about when he mentions 'people who ran away from the city...'!? Last time I checked most of the cars from his flock parked on 9th on any given Sunday sport MD plates. The fact is most congregants aren't here - only their church is.

He can't be talking about me or most of my neighbors (DINK's, fairly recent home buyers) cause I wasn't even born until the mid-70's and only moved to the area in recent years. So I've only 'run-in' - never ran out.

And what's with the pious posturing of 'we're not playing the Real Estate Game.' The heck they're not:

- how much did they get for the Carter Woodsen related buildings?
- did we not hear that they're considering converting at least one of their delapidated properties into hi-end condos/apts?
- how long have we heard that there are plans to convert these properties into affordable/senior/assistance housing with no action? 20 years at least?
- how long have these properties sat vacant protected by the churches tax exempt status while neighbors have to deal with the bums, drugs, guns, prostitution, and general social maleficence they attract, while the property values continue to climb?

Sounds like classic slum-lord 101 real estate game playing to me.

Anonymous said...

I love how they make it sound like their vacant buildings are helping the community. They act as if the only option they have is to have million dollar condos built and that people will be driven out. crap.

Anonymous said...

Haven't people learned to ignore any and everything Paul Schwartzmann writes? He's responsible for more race-baiting, story-twisting articles on "changing neighborhoods" than any other single Post writer.