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Walter Reed Closure May Be Felt Most Along Georgia Ave.

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The flag lowering ceremony at Walter Reed July 27.
Armando Trull
The flag lowering ceremony at Walter Reed July 27.

"We watched the hospital being built and now were going to sit here and watch it be destroyed," says Alpha McPerson, who lives across the street from the storied hospital.

The flag lowering ceremonies held July 27 could be heard from McPherson's front porch. The retired Navy man says he was one of the first non-army patients admitted to Walter Reed 38 years ago.

"All but one of my children were born there," he says. "This has been a backdrop for our community, and Georgia Avenue without Walter Reed in unimaginable."

The District will have authority to shape development on the entire Georgia Ave. frontage of the Walter Reed site, and Mayor Vincent Gray has made the site a large part of his economic development plans. In May, Gray was reportedly courting massive grocery store Wegman's for the site.

But McPherson is concerned about plans to build retail stores and apartments in Walter Reed's stead, and cites a similar complex in Prince George's County.

"I've been hearing stories about the university town center in Hyattsville, and how that's been run over by crimes and other things," he says.

Ellen McBarnett, who lives a few doors down from McPherson, hopes that the green space Walter Reed provides can be preserved in some respect.

"I'd like to see this beautiful park right here and on the other side," she says. "I'd like to see restaurants stores and housing but Iā€™d like to see this beautiful park remain."

"We have to make certain that something will be placed over there that equals or surpasses what Walter Reed meant to this community," adds McPherson.

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