Rehab Center Proposes 300 Bed Facility for Lower Barracks Row Neighborhood
Councilmember Charles Allen and ANC6B Voice Strong Opposition
by Larry Janezich
Councilmember Charles Allen’s office has received a letter from Core DC LLC, a resident rehabilitation center, notifying him they had submitted a response to a Bureau of Prisons request for proposals (RFP) for a halfway house with up to 300 beds to be located at 810 Potomac Avenue, SE, a stone’s throw from the “Blue Castle.”
Allen’s response was to write a letter to the Bureau of Prisons expressing his strong opposition to the project. In part, Allen’s letter reads, “Offender reentry services are of critical importance….However, we must work to strike the right balance between supporting these individuals and finding the appropriate location….The property at 810 Potomac Avenue, SE is not the right site.”
Allen listed a host of reasons for his opposition, citing incompatibility with the neighborhood, proximity to Richard Wright Public Charter School, uncertainty whether the proposed use is allowed under zoning regulations, and lack of support resources including employment, housing, and substance abuse treatment.
Further, Allen wrote, “I have discussed this proposal with the Metropolitan Police Department Commander for this area and share his serious concerns about the potential public safety impact of placing 300 or more returning citizens at this site.”
ANC6B weighed in last Thursday, stating their “unequivocal” opposition by a vote of 8 – 0. The commission had concerns in addition to those expressed by Allen.
“There are two condo projects underway; one of them at 818 Potomac Avenue, the other a block north (801 Virginia Avenue). These will add about 85 residential units to the area. Soon to be completed is a 190-unit DC Housing Authority mixed income apartment building a block west.”
“A tavern/nightclub that serves the area’s LGBT community is located next door and an open-air beer garden is soon to open a block away. Some leave these establishments inebriated at early hours of the morning, causing disturbances. We are concerned about the addition of the RRC’s residents in this scenario and resulting impact on both populations.”
“In addition, the owner of the building has said that CORE DC does not have site control and is actively negotiating with a major tenant.”
ANC6B Chair Kirsten Oldenburg told CHC, “This is an egregious thing to do to lower 8th, which is transitioning from being under-developed into a residential neighborhood.”
A representative from Allen’s office expressed frustration at the lack of transparency of the Bureau of Prisons who wouldn’t share what other responses to the RFP they had received or their timeline for making a decision.
A link to the Bureau of Prison’s RFP is here: http://1.usa.gov/1VeWJKU