Most of the proposed development projects in the city encounter a strong reaction against them – often with valid arguments both for and against that need to be weighed.
It would seem the proposed joint development between Wisconsin Avenue Baptist Church and Sunrise Assisted Living, whatever its negatives, provides significant benefits to the neighborhood and city that merit its going forward.
First, it can deliver about 85 residential units for aging residents, many of whom might well be long-time residents of the neighborhood. I, like many, have experienced the significant challenges that come with making sure aged relatives have the best quality of life possible – that cannot always be achieved by remaining in the same home.
Families and the city want to keep seniors in the neighborhoods they have known, close to family and friends. All D.C. neighborhoods would benefit by having additional housing options for families facing hard choices. Having needed housing close by is a godsend to family members who often visit their loved ones daily or weekly.
Secondly, the development provides enhanced landscaping and, hopefully in conjunction with the National Park Service, an improved park adjacent to the project.
It can deliver a LEED building far more efficient and environmentally sound than the current structure.
It can offer economic opportunities by creating some 100 to 150 construction jobs and between 60 to 70 new permanent jobs
It can provide probably $400,000 in new property tax revenues to the city along with some other new taxes from employment and other taxes – funds the city would not otherwise receive.
It could allow the church to provide ministries and services at an improved level given the new space, and opportunities for community use – whether of rooms at the church or recreation and enjoyment of the improved park and grounds.
This proposal would seem to be a win-win-win-win situation. The church will be operating in a far more flexible, efficient and environmentally-friendly facility. Sunrise will be providing an important housing option to aged residents and their families. The neighborhood will see improved green spaces as well as a new housing option for some of its residents. Lastly, the city will see new taxes and job opportunities.
Furthermore, these benefits will be realized by a project moderate in scale compared to so many that go before the city’s zoning boards – a project seeking only slightly over 60 percent lot occupancy and some four stories in height – so far less than is so often proposed.
Hopefully all concerned can come to an agreement that allows these benefits to be realized.
Terry Lynch is the executive director of the Downtown Cluster of Congregations, of which Wisconsin Avenue Baptist Church is a member, and a Mount Pleasant resident.