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New DC Land Trust Would Create 90 Affordable Units and New Museum at Bellevue Site

by Nena Perry-Brown

3801 South Capitol Street SW, courtesy of Google Streetview.

When the Douglass Community Land Trust (DCLT) was birthed out of the 11th Street Bridge Park project a few years ago, the notion of a land trust in DC was relatively novel. Now, as the DCLT works through various letters of intent to acquire its first properties, another land trust is setting its sights on a project.  

Last week, the Bellevue Neighborhood Civic Association (BNCA) was granted 501(c)(3) designation for the Bellevue Community Land Trust (BCLT), a nonprofit established to steer the fate of a few acres of land on Shepherd Parkway. If the BCLT succeeds at getting local and federal authorities on board, the plan is to preserve much of the green space fronting a 1.68-acre site at 3801 South Capitol Street SW (map) while constructing 90 affordable units for seniors and a museum using part of that property.

The National Park Service (NPS) controls this site and held a stakeholder's meeting on the property last month to determine its fate. BNCA president Kemi Morten represents nonprofit Unfoldment, which has been operating east of the River for over 40 years and which owns the 1.78-acre parcel adjacent to the subject site. 

BCLT's plan is to combine the two parcels into a mixed-use project which would also renovate the existing NPS office on the site to create a day care and an art center. Because both parcels were part of DC's largest plantation (which spanned more than 640 acres and included part of the St. Elizabeths campus and Bolling Air Force Base), the museum would honor the land's significance to Black history and the Civil War. 

Merton and BCLT are currently circulating a petition to request NPS support this proposal, and they also plan to ask Delegate Eleanor Holmes Norton to introduce legislation approving cession of the land to the District. 

This article originally published at http://dc.urbanturf.com/articles/blog/new-land-trust-sets-sights-on-bellevue-site/15639

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