City plans to raze portion of plagued Southeast shopping center

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Local,DC,Real Estate,Liz Farmer
The District expects to demolish at least a portion of a blighted shopping center in Southeast as early as the fall as it nears the end of its decades-long mission to seize the property by eminent domain.

A city jury awarded a Skyland Shopping Center landowner $1.85 million for a roughly 7-acre portion of the 18.5-acre site at the intersection of Good Hope Road and Alabama Avenue. The land is undeveloped and sits at the edges of the strip mall's massive parking lot. Property owners Mary Greene and the Ealing Corp. had asked for $9.8 million from the city.

The award, while still appealable, will at least for now give the city enough land to begin the revitalization effort it first announced during Marion Barry's administration.

A spokesman for the Office of the Deputy Mayor for Planning and Economic Development said the District plans to do "some phased demolition this fall on parts that we control" and is now beginning outreach with the community for input on the site.

"Right now, we're trying to get everybody ready for the development in and of itself," Jose Sousa said. "It will take another 18 to 20 months to settle all these cases."

The city scored its first deal in 2005 when it paid $2.39 million for 2 acres that housed a postal sorting facility. But it was a friendly transaction because the land was owned by an affiliate of the Anacostia Economic Development Corp. Gaining control of the remaining properties from each of the center's then-16 landowners has been slower.

Since 2005, the District has acquired three more properties, all along Naylor Road: a KFC, Hilltop Cleaners and a CVS, according to land records. The cost of the acquisitions wasn't included in the records, but their 2011 assessment values combine for more than $4 million.

But despite the planned demolition, a spokeswoman for developer Rappaport Cos. said the company can't begin signing tenants until the entire site has been acquired.

The city is still negotiating in court with other owners, including the Auto Zone and Discount Mart.

Plans for Skyland, which the city says attracts crime and contributes to neighborhood blight, call for more than 315,000 square feet of retail and restaurant space featuring a mix of high-profile national brands and established local shops. The project also will include 468 housing units.

lfarmer@washingtonexaminer.com

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