Monday, November 7, 2011

Syphax Village and the Southwest Renaissance

Syphax Village and the Southwest Renaissance

The William Syphax School before renovation
Just twelve years ago, the historic William Syphax School located at 1360 Half Street, SW, was a picture of blight. The boarded-up school was regularly used as a location of drug use and the surrounding property a pathway for drug dealers.  Weeds and rust had overtaken the school playground and litter was abundant.  In short, the old school building which had been abandoned more than a decade earlier, was a major eyesore for everyone in the neighborhood.

Years of neglect and deterioration could not erase the building’s prestigious history, however.  Named after William Syphax, a tireless advocate of equal standards of education and the first African-American to serve on the Board of Trustees of Colored Schools of Washington and Georgetown, the 1901 school building was officially declared a historic landmark in 2003.

Wm. Syphax School after
When Manna acquired the site from DC Public Schools in 1999 the community plan from the start was to preserve the beautiful historic building.  And that is exactly what Manna accomplished. 

In January of 2005, Manna, its new homeowners, and many friends and supporters celebrated the final completion of “Syphax Village,” a 41-unit mixed-income condominium development made up of twelve loft-style units in the old school building and twenty-nine new affordable single family town homes on the surrounding land.

One of the best things about the redevelopment of Syphax Village was the overwhelming community support for the project.  Manna was asked by the local community organizations to redevelop the site met numerous times with the Southwest Neighborhood Assembly and other local residents to develop a plan for the revitalization of the school.  Manna’s largest construction project to date, Syphax Village represents everything good about community development.  It was accomplished with a mix of private and public partners and incredible community support, its large scale has already made a major impact on the neighborhood, and it combines very-low and market rate units into a single condominium development.

This was not the last time that this community was to see a major change in its neighborhood. In 2004, Major League Baseball announced that the Montreal Expos would relocate to Washington DC and become the Washington Nationals.  Many sites were considered, but the booming Southwest Waterfront area was chosen as the site for the new stadium.  By 2008, the stadium had been finished, and ready for its public debut.

The Townhomes at Syphax Village
Located just steps from Syphax Village, the new Washington Nationals stadium have brought more to this community than just baseball.  The neighborhood is now a prime destination for new commercial developments.  With more housing and restaurants being built in the area, the Southwest Waterfront community will experience a renaissance unlike it has ever done before.

Locals can hear the fireworks of the ongoing Nationals games in the spring and summer, and sit conveniently to summer time events that happen in the area. The best part of the stadium moving into the neighborhood is something that the residents cannot see. The property values of the homes of the Syphax village residents have increased.  For most, that is the best advantage of the Nationals stadium being built.

“Every time they score a homerun in Nationals Stadium they set off fireworks; before you might have thought it was gun shots, but since the stadium was built everyone knows it is noise of celebration.” – Eve Werbicki.

Manna helps people become homeowners everyday- now it's your turn to help Manna! Click here to help us reach our goal of $2,000 by donating on Give to the Max Day, November 9th

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