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."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.
"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."
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: