, 23 tweets, 16 min read
#thread I wanted to add some additional context to this story we published today that aimed to trace the origin story of Nationals Park by focusing on the people who worked and lived in the 21 acres that became the stadium footprint. 1/
I saw some asking why the Post would publish a downbeat story on the day of the World Series. That wasn't the story. It was an effort to show there was, despite what some might say, a kind of neighborhood, with real humanity, before the Nats arrived. 2/
In a way, this was a coda to this fine deep dive by my colleague @mffisher last year before the All-Star Game on the tremendous success of the DC's redevelopment of near Southeast. It traces all the ways the ballpark surpassed expectations. 3/ washingtonpost.com/graphics/2018/…
@mffisher I had covered the stadium public financing debate, which had cleaved the city along lines of race and class, just as economic development was sweeping the District. Adrian Fenty opposed the project and beat the Council chair, who backed it, in 2006 mayoral race. 4/
@mffisher BTW, the ballpark ended up costing closer to $700 million -- not the $440 in that poster in previous tweet -- in public money, some paid by taxes on ballpark concessions. Some of the cost overruns had to do with the city underestimating the costs of acquiring the land.
@mffisher I had met many of the people who worked or lived in the ballpark footprint during that period. City officials mostly assumed they just wanted to cash out; but some really did not seem like they wanted to leave. Let's meet some of them I featured in today's story. 6/
@mffisher Ken Wyban was an Army officer at Fort McNair who spotted a pre-Civil War-era brick home while jogging one day. He bought it with the goal of retiring and transforming it into a bed-and-breakfast. Here's Ken in front of the house from 2005.
@mffisher When news broke of the city's plan to seize the land from 23 property owners, Ken got a call. It was from a man in Maryland who explained that his grandfather, Alfred Richards, had been a master bricklayer in Washington who built neighborhoods and had lived in that house. 8/
@mffisher Richards was born in 1822 and died in 1894. Here are photos of his shop in Washington and his sisters. His descendants told Ken the sisters might be sitting on the stoop of the house he now owned. 9/
@mffisher The District offered Wyban $1.2 million. He presented an independent appraisal for $2.2 million. They settled for $1.5 million. The house was torn down. Ken, who lives near Cleveland, still saves two bricks and told me he is sending one to the Richards' family.
@mffisher Patricia Ghiglino, and her husband Reinaldo Lopez, were probably the ones who were most adamant they did not want to be uprooted. They rented/then bought a warehouse for a stonework restoration and sculpture studio around 1990, painting it yellow to cheer up the industrial area.
@mffisher Patricia immigrated from Peru and Lopez from Spain, where he was a master stoneworker. Their projects from the Anacostia River warehouse site included renovating the lobby of the Washington Monument, the lions on the Taft Bridge and visitors' entrance at Smithsonian Castle.
@mffisher Patricia remembers the city not responding to her calls to remove trash in vacant lots. They commuted from near Annapolis with four dogs in tow. On the day in Feb. 2006 the movers came, Patricia stood outside reading aloud from Machiavelli's "The Prince." 13/
@mffisher The couple tried to relocate to Anne Arundel County, Md., but Patricia said it was a "nightmare" and they gave up. Two year ago, they moved to Valencia, Spain. They are renovating a 1870-era apartment building. A Web site is all that's left of the studio dcsculpture.org
@mffisher Calvin Reid rented office space on Half Street, across from Ghiglino's studio. He was a longtime D.C. resident and owner of Atlas Manufacturing, a steel fabrication company. Here's his granddaughter outside the shop. He built a fence around it to prevent breakins.
@mffisher As a tenant, Reid was eligible for relocation assistance. He moved to Congress Heights and was hired by Clark Construction as a subcontractor during the stadium construction. Here's a picture he took of the composite metal deck he helped put down in Nationals Park. 16/
@mffisher When I spoke with Reid last week, he remembered Alton Majette, a neighborhood resident who tended to a community garden -- "the garden of love." My colleague @JDLand took this picture of the garden from that era. Her website jdland.com/dc/index.cfm is an invaluable resource. 17/
@mffisher @JDLand My colleague @JoelAchenbach spoke to Alton back in 2004 for a terrific Style piece on the neighborhood. Alton dreamed that his garden could survive the new ballpark. (It didn't.) washingtonpost.com/archive/lifest…
@mffisher @JDLand @JoelAchenbach The lede of my story today featured Joey Roubin, the third generation in his family to have worked at the old site in the family asphalt plant. He recalled being taken there as a kid in the 1980s and seeing the drug dealers and prostitutes in the area. 19/
@mffisher @JDLand @JoelAchenbach Roubin was 24, just out of college and working at the plant in 2004 when baseball game calling. A year earlier, the family had rebuilt the plant with new hardware after Senate Asphalt, which was leasing, left and DC gov, down to single provider, pleaded with them to restart. 20/
@mffisher @JDLand @JoelAchenbach It took years for them to reopen a few miles away but now Roubin said he believes the city did the right thing in redeveloping the area. He, his father and his brother will be at the game tonight in right field, sitting basically where the plant once stood. 21/
@mffisher @JDLand @JoelAchenbach None of the property owners I spoke with was embittered; they got sizable payouts, though most thought they deserved more; some are baseball fans and are excited about the Nats; others haven't followed the team. They've moved on and now view it as a closed chapter. 22/
@mffisher @JDLand @JoelAchenbach The final note is what to call the neighborhood. It used to be "near Southeast." The city calls it "Capital Riverfront." But my colleague @JDLand said her late husband Bill Walsh, the Post's legendary former copy chief, suggested it go by "South Capitol Hill," or #SoCHill 23/end
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