Shaw Street Named for Allen Y. Lew
A crowd gathered across from the Walter E. Washington Convention Center on Monday morning, Sept. 25, to dedicate a street in the name of District leader Allen Y. Lew. Lew, a project manager of public facilities in both New York City and the District of Columbia, died in June 2020, a victim of the Coronavirus pandemic. The ceremony celebrated changing the name of Mount Vernon Place NW to Allen Y. Lew Place NW in his honor.
Lew came to Washington based on the reputation he earned for his work on New York City’s Jacob K. Javits Convention Center, to manage construction of the District’s new convention center during the administration of Mayor Anthony Williams. The center was the largest project that the city government had ever attempted. Lew completed construction of the Walter E. Washington Convention Center on time and within budget, despite social, bureaucratic and physical obstacles.
Afterwards, Lew was tasked with preparing RFK Stadium for the arrival of the new Washington Nationals baseball team and later the construction of a baseball stadium. Mayor Adrian Fenty then charged him with the $1 billion effort to renovate DC’s public schools. Mayor Vincent Gray appointed Lew to be his city administrator, in charge of managing the District government and its 35,000 employees.
The ceremony began with greetings from Ward 2 Councilmember Brooke Pinto and remarks from DC Council Chair Phil Mendelson and At-Large Councilmember Kenyan McDuffie. Former Mayor Vincent Gray, now the Ward 7 Councilmember, related how effective Lew was as city administrator. Then friends and coworkers spoke about Lew’s role in their lives. Speakers included former Council Chair Linda Cropp, former Ward 2 Councilmember Jack Evans, Marshall Purnell, one of the architects of the convention center, as well as Garrett Lew, Allen Lew’s son. The ceremony ended with the unveiling of the new street sign for Allen Y. Lew Place on the corner of Seventh Street.
A committee to honor Lew after his death was formed by Warren Graves, who served as Lew’s chief of staff during his tenure as city administrator. The committee, made up of Events DC team members, local business owners and District government leaders, decided that renaming the street in front of the convention center, Lew’s first big project in the District, would be the best way to commemorate his work. The renaming of the street is a permanent change in the District’s geography, not just a ceremonial gesture.
Northeast Boundary Tunnel Completed
DC Water announced that it had completed the commissioning of the Northeast Boundary Tunnel (NEBT) as of Sept. 15. The tunnel and all related diversion facilities are in service.
The NEBT corrects the problems of the District’s century-old combined sewer system, which for decades caused chronic flooding in the Bloomingdale and LeDroit Park neighborhoods, at the Rhode Island Metro Station area and on Mount Olivet Road NE. These problems were dramatized recently when a storm flooded a Rhode Island Avenue business, District Dogs, threatening the lives of employees and leading to the deaths of dogs kenneled there.
DC Water initiated the construction of the NEBT to connect with the sewer system, significantly mitigating sewer flooding while improving the water quality of the Anacostia River. Besides controlling combined sewer overflows, the NEBT will reduce the chance of flooding in the areas it serves from approximately 50% to 7% in any given year.
While the NEBT will bring the District’s sewage system up to 21st-century standards, its construction disrupted life for residents and businesses. The project’s Shaw site was on a triangular block at R and Sixth streets. Now the neighborhood can look forward to the removal of all the heavy equipment and the reopening of R Street. Plans are to restore Cooper-Gordon Park on the triangle with a red historic fence, new plantings and a $75,000 stainless steel sculpture. The park is named for Margaret Cooper and Lillian Gordon, two long-time Shaw community activists.
Shaw 7-Eleven Reopens
A few years ago, Shaw lost a longtime business when a fire closed the 7-Eleven on the corner of Seventh Street and Rhode Island Avenue. However, the chain’s corporate owners decided to retain the location and started work to revive it. The 7-Eleven is ready to reopen, and the company will mark this milestone with a ribbon-cutting ceremony on Thursday, Oct. 12, at 11 a.m. Everyone is invited!