By Paul Holston
Posted 7:45 PM EST, Sun. May 1, 2016
The closing of the two proposed Wal-Mart stores and future plans of The Skyland Development was the primary topic of discussion for 40 residents from Ward 8 during an Advisory Neighborhood Commission (ANC) 8A monthly meeting Mar. 1 in the United Planning Organization Building at 1649 Good Hope Road SE.
The Skyland Town Center development is a major project in Ward 7 of Washington, D.C. that has been in progress for almost 15 years, according to Gary Rappaport, Chief Executive Officer of Rappaport Development who is the lead development company on the project. Previously, a new Wal-Mart was in the works of being built for Wards 7 and 8 would have been in completion before the company’s drastic decision to pull out as part of closing 269 stores worldwide.
Out of the eight commissioners of ANC8A, only four commissioners were in attendance for the meeting. ANC Commissioner Troy 8A04 Donté Prestwood, who is the secretary of ANC8A commission, stepped in as chair for the evening’s discussion. “I am honored to step in and chair ANC8A’s meeting tonight,” he said.
During the two-hour meeting, ANC8A commissioners and guest speakers discussed a variety of topics, including legislative reports from the Office of Ward 8 Councilmember LaRuby May as well as discussing the upcoming Children’s National Health Center’s new location by June 2016 and the current status and future of the Skyland Town Center development.
Although optimistic, Rappaport said that the future of what corporate company will take the place of Wal-Mart is still in question.
Rappaport said that the company will continue to build the development as it was in terms of Wal-Mart, but the company would not be able to build the rest of the site until a major, corporate-life company would replace Wal-Mart’s place.
Without the anchor tenant–the major hub company that would garner the most monetary source in the development–no other sub-tenants would be able to lease a space on the Skyland Town Center.
“The first thing we have to do is to find an anchor [major] tenant to agree replacing Wal-Mart [in leasing agreement] before we can get other retail tenants to agree on [infrastructure] development at the site,” said Rappaport.
The meeting also provided the opportunity for a legislative office representative for Office of Councilmember May, introduce to the audience the newly legislative bill May proposed entitled “The Social Equity Empowers Dreams (SEED) Act of 2016.”
“This legislation is to bring long overdue equality to Ward 8 residents in the key areas of business development, education, health, housing, and workforce development,” said May in an official statement. “The SEED Act breaks barriers of access to healthcare in Ward 8 and makes healthcare equal to that in every other Ward in the city, increases funding for at risk youth in schools, creates more job opportunities for Ward 8 youth and returning citizens through tax incentives, and preserves wealth through tax breaks for heirs inheriting property in Ward 8.”