A few years ago, participants in the annual Caribbean Carnival began assembling their floats and lining-up for the parade across the street from the FGC complex. Florian Gardens members tolerated the noise associated with the weekend event, sometimes into the wee hours of the night; until after a concerted effort by residents and the co-op’s board of directors – that included discussions with our then councilmember, Charlene Drew Jarvis and parade organizers — the preparation activities were moved elsewhere. Occasionally, when the charter school across the street holds an outdoor event for the students, co-op members are forced to endure both the loud music and the DJ’s chatter. Nevertheless, such temporary inconveniences aside, ours is a quiet neighborhood and a nice place to live. There is relatively little vehicular or pedestrian traffic – but that is about to change. Walmart is coming.
I’ve lived in the same Brightwood neighborhood, in the same apartment complex for 36 years and I have seen a few changes in the area, but nothing major. Hechinger’s home improvement store, once a few feet away from our complex, was certainly a loss felt by many when it closed in December 1991. A Curtis Chevrolet dealership was previously located on the proposed Walmart site. Other businesses including Ida’s Department Store, Murray’s Steak House, and Posin’s Deli, all previously located on nearby Georgia Avenue also shut down. The beginning and ending of Metro’s number 73 Brightwood bus route – which traveled along Georgia Avenue – was conveniently located directly behind the Fourth District precinct, until the route was discontinued; sometime during the early 1980’s. In spite of all of our neighborhood petitions, we could not save that route. Paul Junior High school, my children’s alma mater, was converted in 2000 to the first public charter school in the District of Columbia. And the annual Georgia Avenue Day parade, which was the brainchild of former Councilmember Jarvis – who served on the city council from 1979 to 1996 – met its demise after Jarvis lost her seat to Adrian Fenty, who eventually became the city’s mayor.
If things go as planned the store is scheduled to open late next year. Anti-Walmart sentiment expressed at meetings; sign-carrying protesters; and objections by some neighbors, near and far could not stop it. So, this blog will be doing a series of posts about Walmart’s pending arrival in the neighborhood leading up to the store’s opening in 2013.
On Friday, Foulger-Pratt workers installed a concrete barrier walk-through adjacent to our property. It extends several feet from the driveway west, toward Georgia Avenue, and already residents are complaining that the barrier has eliminated valuable parking spaces and is causing traffic problems. The walk-through is merely a forerunner of the noise, traffic and chaos yet to come. So, FGC members take a good look at the block today; and while you watch the amateur video below, click on the following link and listen to the words of the great Sam Cooke as he sings, “A change is gonna come.”