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One Year After Shelter Protest, Anacostia Moves Forward

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The facade of the Anacostia Playhouse in southeast Washington, D.C.
Anacostia Playhouse
The facade of the Anacostia Playhouse in southeast Washington, D.C.

When Calvary Women's Services doors opened in December 2012, there was little fanfare from the surrounding community. It was exactly a year ago Anacostia residents held community protests against the planned move to the intersection of Good Hope Road and Martin Luther King Jr. Avenue — the neighborhood's fledgling commercial district.

At the time, residents worried the area wouldn't be able to absorb one more social service agency. Turns out, it hasn't held Anacostia back one bit.

New businesses are popping up all around historic Anacostia, with Grubb's Pharmacy opening just across the street from Calvary. That corner is also home to two Capital Bikeshare racks. Further up MLK Avenue, there's a newly opened optometrist and eyeglasses store, Eyedrop.

Kristine Thompson, executive director of Calvary Women's Services, says their move has gone as well as possible. "We have only had positive reception from folks in this neighborhood."

However, not everyone who lives and works in Anacostia is thrilled to have Calvary join he neighborhood. Duane Gautier, CEO of ARCH Development Corporation, has been working in the neighborhood for more than 30 years. He says, at this point, it's water under the bridge.

ARCH recently opened its second co-working space in Anacostia. The Hive and the Hive 2.0 have private desks and offices for small businesses and entrepreneurs getting their businesses off the ground.

Gautier says 2013 should prove to be an even bigger year for the neighborhood. The former D.C. Police evidence warehouse is being turned into an office building, the Anacostia Playhouse is building out its new space, and "almost every single vacant property that was up for rent has been rented or there's a letter of interest in renting it," Gautier says. "That is unbelievably positive."

A joint beautification partnership between ARCH and the D.C. Department of Housing and Community Development will give the neighborhood a new look in 2013. The DHCD has designated $750,000 to help building owners revamp their storefront, and bring them back their historic beauty.


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