Saturday, September 19, 2009

Beauty in the East

I had the honor being invited to attend the ribbon cutting ceremony for the Overlook at Oxon Run. I encourage you to check out the site to get the facts. There is so much to say about this event, that I'm going to have to break it up over several posts. Given this project is a long time coming, I'm going to focus on the positives in this post.

Prior to being the Overlook at Oxon Run, the 12-story building was known as Parkside Terrace, which was described by Gerald Joseph, Vice President of Community Preservation and Development Corporation (CPDC), as representing "the worse of public policy." The building had been sitting vacant since 2005. Mayor Fenty called the former building, an "eyesore, dilapidated and depressing".

Board showing the former building

In the words of Michael Kelly, Director of the DC Housing Authority, the new building is a "wonderful symbol of excellence." Boy, is it a beauty. I couldn't wait to get back to the office to show my boss. In all my years as an urban planner, I've never seen an affordable housing project that was intentionally multi-generational. Usually there is an affordable seniors building and a separate building for families. The building is close to half senior housing and the other half family. I think this is a great concept.

One resident, Tantillya Samayoa, and her family recently relocated from the Columbia Heights area. Despite the adjustment to not having amenities in walking distance, Ms. Samayoa likes the fact that the building has a weightroom, a playground across the street, and a washer and dryer in her unit.
The Samayoas

I also spoke to one of the senior residents, Ms. Elsie Judge. She has lived in DC all her life and she worked at DC General for 20 years. She was so proud of her apartment that she offered to give me a personal tour. She even let me take photos.
Ms Judge

Photo in Ms. Judge's apartment

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