Jose Sueiro: The Columbia Heights Legacy of Bob Moore

moore_125x192History in our neighborhood of Columbia Heights. We are remembering the life and work of Bob Moore, who oversaw the redevelopment and gentrification of Columbia Heights. Moore’s is a mixed – but unmistakable – legacy. Without his work Sojourners would not have been able to gain nonprofit space in the new Tivoli building and could not have afforded to remain in Columbia Heights. Here’s an excerpt from Jose Suiero’s article:

“New residents to the Columbia Heights (CH) neighborhood of Washington DC have no idea the conditions of the area after the 1969 riots through the crack epidemic of the late 80’s and downturns of the 90’s, but it was a far cry from the prosperous, bustling, relatively secure, upscale neighborhood it has become. To his eternal credit, the late Robert L. Moore, longtime leader of the Development Corporation of Columbia Heights (DCCH) who just passed away, was the chief architect and promoter of this transformation. We owe him credit for rebuilding Columbia Heights into the thriving, multi-cultural urban village it has become. He need not worry about his legacy. It is everywhere.

When Bob took over the fledgling community development organization there were burned out vacant lots virtually on every side street of the 14th St. corridor from U all the way up to Spring Road. The Target shopping mall remained an empty lot for close to 20 years with the infamous Waffle Shop anchoring the corner at 14th & Park Rd. The Tivoli stood empty for decades, a hollowed out empty shell. The 1400 block of Park Road was a drug bazaar and Lincoln Jr. High one of the most violence prone schools in the city.

During the Barry years when the urgency of renewing the city core was a top priority the government reached out to Moore to help spur economic development in the ‘Heights’. With an extensive affordable housing background and experience in DC government as head of the DC Housing Authority, Bob took the lead in acquiring boarded up row houses, repairing them and selling them as affordable homes keeping long term residents in their neighborhood. Under his leadership DCCH designed and built a small strip mall along 14th St. at Belmont Rd. The Nehemiah Shopping Center was eventually demolished to build housing, but this first attempt at bringing retail back to CH was the precursor to the DC/USA mall. …” —Jose Sueiro

Read Jose Sueiro’s whole article here.

‘Waiting for Real Change’ in Columbia Heights

Sara Stahlberg, an American University student, who blogs at Trust Me: I’m A Reporter, has got a nice piece up about Columbia Heights and the public art installation at 11th and Park Roads NW done by Albus Cavus that I wrote about here. She includes a quote from yours truly:

Columbia Heights resident and author Rose Berger enjoyed what the exhibit represented in terms of the direction of the community.

“The Albus Cavus project with its panels of creative graffiti (as opposed to rage/wound-based graffiti) placed on the construction fence of the abandoned Bi-Rite represent a new generative force in the life of the neighborhood,” she said, explaining also that the “reclaiming of the Bi-Rite by a local green architectural firm committed to Columbia Heights (as opposed to the megalith big box stores that tower over 14th St) seems to have created a renewed affection for the neighborhood and the neighbors.”

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