The current homeless shelter on Reservation 13 in Hill East will be demolished after residents are relocated to another building in November on the site along the banks of the Anacostia River, representatives from the DC Department of General Services (DGS) testified to the Zoning Commission last week. With the building demolished, that may clear the way for redevelopment of portions of Reservation 13.
Currently the Harriet Tubman Women’s Shelter is run out of building 9 on the parcel of land known as Reservation 13, located at the eastern end of capitol hill near RFK Stadium. But building 9 has a variety of environmental hazards including airborne asbestos and lead containing materials. The plan had been to move the homeless residents to building 27 while building 9 was remediated.
However, after consulting the local advisory neighborhood commission and evaluating the costs of upgrades at building 9, DGS has since decided to demolish building 9 and to retain the homeless shelter at building 27.
DGS determined the cost of demolition and remediation would run an estimated $2 million and was able to secure funding from the budget office for that work, Gbolahan Aganga-Williams a project manager for the DGS informed the Zoning Commission.
“I am glad to hear tonight from DGS that there is money in the budget to demolish the building, so I expect that to start happening,” said Commissioner Peter May. “I’m setting my clock.”
The ANC had hoped to place a limit of 2 years on the use of building 27 as an interim shelter, but the Zoning Commission approved a 5-year limit on the building to allow the Department of Human Services time to identify existing and build new structures in locations across the city to house the homeless women.
ANC Commissioner Brian Flahaven testified on behalf of the surrounding community about the preferences for the homeless shelter. He is optimistic the demolition could be a catalyst for the long-awaited development of Reservation 13.
“The demolition of Building 9 opens up the northern third of the Reservation 13 site (parcels B1, B2 and C) for development and certainly signals the city’s commitment to the Reservation 13 master plan. Overall, a good outcome for both the residents of the women’s shelter and for the development vision for the site,” Flahaven wrote on his blog.
Reservation 13’s master plan calls for mixed-use, dense development that connects the existing eastern portion of Capitol Hill to a new community and the Anacostia River.