Groundbreaking on Shaw’s Parcel 42

District government and Shaw community leaders break ground for new housing at Parcel 42. Photo by Pleasant Mann

In a recent review of Shaw’s projects in development, the real estate blog Urban Turf asked if Shaw was “DC’s Busiest Development Neighborhood?” In surveying 20 projects, the blog noted that “the neighborhood has seemingly gotten a shot in the arm, development-wise.”

Shaw got its latest shot in the arm on February 26 when ground was broken on long-vacant Parcel 42, a District-owned site that was recently conveyed to Dantes Partners, a local developer noted for building affordable housing. Bua Binitie, Dantes Partners principal, started the groundbreaking event by noting that Women’s History Month was about to begin in March, and that there were a number of prominent women that got the project finalized. In particular, he said that although disposition of the parcel was attempted by three previous mayors, it took the current mayor, Mayor Muriel Bowser, to get it finished. Binitie also thanked his mother, who was present at the event, for bringing him to the United States 20 years ago.

Mayor Muriel Bowser with daughter Miranda at Parcel 42 Groundbreaking. Photo by Pleasant Mann

Alexander Padro, Executive Director of Shaw Main Streets, who Binitie said he had worked with for 15 years on various housing projects in Shaw, was next to speak. Padro started with the history of the site, noting that before the riots, the lot was the home of Manhattan Auto, a dealership known for selling foreign sports cars. After the dealership was burned down during the 1968 riots, the site became the location of the Shaw Health Clinic for a number of years. Padro referred to the Beatles tune “Long and Winding Road” as a metaphor for the 20+ year effort to redevelop the site. He also noted that the vacant lot had been used for the past decade as the main site for Shaw’s annual Art All Night festival. Padro then announced that the Deputy Mayor for Planning and Economic Development had promised to help replace the site for the festival by closing R Street and using the field at Banneker High School for the one-night event, to be held in September.

Then Mayor Bowser took to the podium, noting that the project was the first to use the District’s “Our RFP” process to incorporate community input into government development decisions. “When we engage the community early, then we can deliver a project that people are excited about – and that’s what we are doing here at Parcel 42,” she said.  The mayor added “As much as we have been able to do in our city, there is still a big anxiety here. It is ‘I love what’s happening, but will I be able to afford to live here?’” She pledged to fight for more dollars for affordable housing.

Ward 2 Councilmember Brooke Pinto was next, praising how the project was adding to the development activity in Shaw. John Falcicchio, Deputy Mayor for Planning and Economic Development, started by thanking his staff, along with District workers at the DC Housing Finance Agency and the Department of Consumer and Regulatory Affairs for putting this project over the finish line. He noted that almost all the apartments in the 110-unit building will be affordable and will put the District closer to its goal of creating 36,000 new housing units by 2025. Finally, Catherine Buell, formerly chair of the District’s Historic Preservation Review Board and now director of the Amazon Housing Equity Fund, closed the event. The $2 Billion fund is devoted to providing more than 20,000 affordable housing units in the DMV. The $15.6 million loan that the Amazon fund provided to the Parcel 42 project is their first investment in the District, although Buell assured the crowd that it would not be the last one.  

Shaw’s Oyster Oyster: Nominated for James Beard Award as Best New Restaurant in the US.
Photo by Pleasant Mann

Shaw Restaurants Still Getting Recognition
If you wondered if Shaw had emerged from the pandemic retaining its reputation as a famous destination for fine dining, wonder no more. The James Beard Foundation has come out with its 2022 semi-finalist award nominations for all things edible, and Shaw has a number of places on the list.  The Michelin-starred dining room Metier is on the list for Outstanding Restaurant in the country, while upstairs, Anne Specker at Kinship is nominated for the nation’s Best Pastry Chef. Oyster Oyster, Shaw’s acclaimed plant-forward eatery, is nominated as the Best New Restaurant in the US. Finalists for nominations will be announced on March 16, with the final awards given in June.

Ward 2 ANC Redistricting Taskforce holds Town Hall
The Ward 2 ANC Redistricting Taskforce held a Town Hall, over Zoom, on February 17. The Taskforce was appointed by Ward 2 Councilmember Brooke Pinto to determine the changes needed in the ward’s Advisory Neighborhood Commissions (ANCs) as a result of the Council’s redistricting that was completed last year. The Taskforce has been meeting regularly since January and must come up with a new map of Ward 2 ANCs and their Single Member Districts (SMDs) by April 1. It held the Town Hall to get input from the wider community on any changes that should be made in ANC and SMD boundaries.

Affordable housing coming to Shaw’s Parcel 42. Graphic Courtesy of Dantes Partners

A large number of the participants in the Town Hall gave their opinions about the options for ANC 2D, which covers the Sheridan-Kalorama area of the ward. ANC 2D is troublesome because it has only two SMDs, both of which have populations well below the legislated requirements. Still, a number of residents in the area argued for keeping things as they had been in the past. The Town Hall also showed maps of possible configurations for the ANC in Shaw, tentatively referred to as ANC 2G. Both maps shown called for an ANC with six SMDs, taking some population from neighboring ANC 2F.

The Zoom meetings of the Ward 2 ANC Redistricting Taskforce are open to all to view, while the Redistricting Town Halls allow participation by anyone in the community. However, participants must register for meetings at The next, and final, Ward 2 ANC Redistricting Town Hall will be held on March 14.