A couple readers have reached out recently, wondering what’s happening on the north side of the 3600 block of Haverford Avenue. You may recall, several years ago, there was a plan floating out there to build a supermarket in Mantua, spanning four city blocks between 36th and 38th Streets, Haverford Avenue and Mount Vernon Street. Those plans included the taking of numerous privately owned properties by eminent domain, but they were ultimately thwarted when artist James Dupree successfully fought the effort to take his studio on the 3600 block of Haverford.
The City retreated on the matter for awhile, licking their wounds, and earlier this year they decided to make another go at a project for this location. In January, the PRA released an RFP, inviting potential developers to present plans to redevelop the two eastern blocks of the supermarket site (not counting James Dupree’s studio, of course). While the previous proposal centered around a supermarket (and a giant parking lot), the RFP specifically indicated that it would not prescribe what should be built on the site. It only provided vague guidance, indicating that the project should be both “beneficial to the community” and “financially viable under current market conditions.” The RFP further encouraged a focus on social impact, as if that made things any clearer on how to best win the project.
Responses to the RFP were due back in February, with the expected awarding of the project in the spring. To date, we haven’t seen or heard anything about what developer won the project, what’s happening, or when a project might be breaking ground. One would think, for such a significant parcel, there would be a great deal of pomp and circumstance associated with the selection of a developer, along with a ceremonial groundbreaking and a massive press push. Alas, there’s been no such thing. The only thing to happen so far is some dirt getting moved around on the site, as seen from Mount Vernon Street and Haverford Avenue.
Are we missing something? Has a developer been selected for this site and we’re just the last to know? Or is the PRA still trying to make a decision, and what we’re seeing is merely preliminary site work that would be appropriate for any possible developer? Perhaps someone that lives in the neighborhood has heard something and can shed some light on the subject?