Reservation 13: The Debate Continues

James Wright | 4/25/2012, 12:15 p.m.

The debate between neighborhood activists and city leaders over a plot of land in Southeast Washington rages on despite a redevelopment plan that has been in place for more than a decade.

Reservation 13, near RFK Stadium in, presently houses the District's largest homeless shelter, the D.C. Jail and a drug treatment facility.

Villareal Johnson, an advisory neighborhood commissioner in Ward 7, where Reservation 13 is now located, said the community needs to have greater involvement in the process before the Gray Administration makes a decision on what should be done with the property.

"I think there is a desire for the residents of Ward 6 and 7 to have more input on what will happen to Reservation 13," Johnson, 34, said.

"The residents in the wards want to be a part of the final decision-making process."

In 2000, then-Mayor Anthony A. Williams shuttered D.C. General Hospital because it was viewed as a stain on the city's financial portfolio.

In October 2002, the D.C. Council approved a master plan that would redevelop the 50 acres, known as Hill East, into a mixed-use urban waterfront community that would include some retail and residential components, but would be noted for its tree-lined public streets, recreational trails and waterfront park lands. However, the plans never materialized because of other development priorities of both the Williams and Adrian Fenty administrations.

Last year, redistricting led to a boundary change which moved Reservation 13 from Ward 6 to Ward 7. Ward 7 is represented by D.C.

Council member Yvette Alexander (D), who faced severe criticism and intense opposition because Ward 7 residents felt that she didn't fight hard enough to ensure that that parcel of land stayed in Ward 6.

Earlier this year, D.C. Mayor Vincent Gray and D.C. Council member Jack Evans (D-Ward 2) made overtures to Washington Redskins owner Dan Snyder making it clear that Reservation 13 would be available under the right conditions to the team. Gray, 69, and Evans said if the Redskins chose to relocate their training facility to Reservation 13, the move could jump-start economic development in the area.

At a March 22 meeting at the D.C. Armory, Gray and Evans, along with D.C. Council members Michael Brown (I-At-Large) and Alexander got an earful from residents of both wards, who said that they did not want

the Redskins at Reservation 13 and that they want to stick with the master plan.

Francis Campbell - an advisory neighborhood commissioner for 6B10 in which Reservation 13 is located - said that the master plan should be carried out.

"For Reservation 13, we the residents of this area want an urban waterfront with a medical complex, retail, housing and a farmer's market," Campbell, 60, said. "We want an area that is bikeable and walkable and would give the city a tax base."

Campbell said the Redskins moving to Reservation 13 would be a moot point because of zoning regulations enacted in 2008 that call for the area to be specifically for a school or a health care facility.