Large-scale development has come to Historic Anacostia. Developer Four Points LLC partnered with property owner Curtis Investment Group in 2013 to transform the former Metropolitan Police evidence warehouse at 2235 Shannon Place SE into a 82,000 square foot office building currently occupied by various DC Government agencies including the DC Lottery and the Taxicab Commission. East City Art readers will remember the space as the “Lightbox” run by ARCH Development Corporation in partnership with Pink Line Project during LUMEN8ANACOSTIA 2012.
One of the next major developments in Historic Anacostia will also be led by Four Points and Curtis and will break ground in fall 2015. By late 2016, a new six-story, 68K-square-foot building will occupy a portion of the large gated parking lot on the corner of Chicago Street SE and Martin Luther King Jr. Avenue SE in front of 2235 Shannon Place SE.
The new apartment building at 2255 MLK Jr. Ave. SE will be one of several phases of a larger project called Reunion Square. 2255 MLK will consist of 71 one and two bedroom residential units while on the street level, six artist work-live spaces will provide a hybrid retail-residential experience similar to the Brookland Arts Walk. Four Points will co-develop Reunion Square with the Anacostia Economic Development Corporations (AEDC), a community development corporation based in Historic Anacostia.
The artist work-live space along MLK Avenue will provide residents and visitors with an arts-focused retail experience, a concept in-line with the neighborhood which has attracted a number of new arts organizations such as the Anacostia Playhouse in 2013 and Project Create this year. The front half of the work-live space will open onto a small garden which abuts the sidewalk, allowing visitors to access the studio directly. A moveable barn door will let the artist resident close off his or her personal space from visitors, separating public and private spaces.
Stan Voudrie, Principal at Four Points LLC, has stated that these areas have been deeded as permanent artist work-live spaces, an encouraging prospect for artists many of whom face displacement once neighborhoods become high-rent districts. Voudrie also envisions that the occupants of these spaces will set business hours adding more stops to the emerging Anacostia arts district.
Award winning artist Luis Peralta Del Valle, a long-time resident of Anacostia, is especially encouraged by the artist work-live space component of the development. “I think it’s a great idea. It gives artists an opportunity to live there. It’s affordable space.” However, in future projects Del Valle believes “it would be great to give artists the opportunity to own the spaces which would really empower them—perhaps, an opportunity to rent with an option to buy.” Del Valle is really looking forward to the opening of the artist studios and thinks “this type of project will get artists to come here. It will get people from the District and the D.M.V. It’s a wonderful opportunity for artists!”
Update (10/7/2015)—Reunion Square website is up and running at www.reunion-square.com