Ebenezer Church Presents Concept for Row House Development

‘Ebenezer Flats’ Concept Includes Five Two-Unit Townhouses

'Ebenezer Flats' Proposed D Street Elevation. The plans call for the construction of five row houses as well as additions to two existing structures. Image: R. McGhee & Associates

On Tuesday, Ebenezer Baptist Church submitted a concept plan to Advisory Neighborhood Commission (ANC) 6B for consideration as a Historic Preservation case. The plan is for five two-unit townhouses or flats to be built on church property at 400 D St. SE.

The plan requires a subdivision of the existing lots for the new development. It also calls for renovations and third-floor additions to two existing row houses, and a renovation to a single family dwelling also located on the block.

The space is currently the site of a church parking lot and a playground that is used by many children and preschools in the area. Representatives from Ebenezer Church said that the church was looking for a revenue stream to support the church and the many community programs that are operated by the church.

Ebenezer Church has entered into a Community Development Corporation (CDC) with Evergreen Urban Development to build the flats. The church would retain ownership of the land and the CDC would lease the property. The row houses would be rental units managed by a professional property management company.

Neighbors affirmed their support for the church, but expressed concern about the lack of notice about the project given to the community. Many said they had only heard about the project July 6, the day after the ANC 6B Planning & Zoning Committee meeting.

Neighbors expressed concern about the height of the proposed structures. The townhouses would each be 37 feet tall, including three stories and a cellar. The existing row house on the corner of D Street SE and 5 Street SE is slightly shorter, at three stories total. The two story houses between the Ebenezer development and the corner building will each receive an additional story. Neighbors said the construction plus the proposed additions would create a wall on the north side of the street that looms over the houses on the southern side.

Residents were concerned about the absence of parking in particular. Eric Jenkins, representing the developer, said that parking plans had not yet been fully developed and could include underground elements.

Community members also expressed concern about the loss of green space and of the playground, with the representative of one preschool nearby noting that between 50 and 60 kids from neighborhood preschools currently use it twice daily.

Commissioner Daniel Ridge (6B09) argued that while the church had supplied playground and green space to the neighborhood for decades, alternatives could be found in the playgrounds of public schools.

As part of the overall development, the plans also include modernization of the church, including the installation of an elevator, meeting space and exhibit space.

The ANC voted 5-2 with three abstentions to take no position on the proposal, and to ask the Historic Preservation Review Board (HPRB) that they have an opportunity to do additional review of the case in September. They also moved to ask that HPRB make no final decision until the church had a chance to do additional community outreach.

Ebenezer United Methodist Church was founded in 1827 by black congregants. In 1864, the church housed the city’s first publicly financed school for black children. The current structure was completed in 1897.

Neighbors can view plans, still at the conceptual stage,  online.

Current D Street Elevation. Image: R. McGhee & Associates, Architects
'Ebenezer Flats' Proposed D Street Elevation. The plans call for the construction of five row houses as well as additions to two existing structures. Image: R. McGhee & Associates

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