Friday, July 8, 2011

A Neighborhood Once Again

Visiting at St. Paul's College, the Paulist Formation House in Washington, DC, one can not miss the big change that has taken place on the property, as acres of grass (including what was once a ballfield - still called that in my time, although of course no one ever played on it anymore) have given way to fancy new townhouses, that seem to be enveloping the monumental seminary building, as it were embracing the palatial structure. The buildings are going up quite quickly. (Perhaps, that is a side benefit of an economy in which there must be lots of contractors eager for work!) I took a walk through the new development this afternoon, and visited the company office, where two model homes are open for inspection. Even though I wasn't there to consider buying a place, I was nicely welcomed and shown around.

Of course, I know nothing about building construction and can't evaluate the structures per se. Esthetically, however, the homes are very attractive and seem as though they would be nice to live in. A good number of units have been bought already, and some seem already occupied. Remembering what it used to be like, I complimented the company representative on creating such a potentially nice residential neighborhood and opined that the one thing still lacking for it to become a real neighborhood was stores. He then explained to me that just about a block or so away, where a former CUA dorm once stood, there will be construction of commercial space - i.e., stores.

Presumably all this will make our property safer and more attractive (and probably worth more). In the end it should all be good for the Paulists and the other adjoining institutions, good for the University, and good for Brookland. Living there as a seminarian almost thirty years ago, our lives seemed one the whole quite disconnected from the immediate environment. we lived there and went to school there, but practically everything else - shopping, a movie, dinner out - involved driving somewhere else. We were, of course, a bigger group than today's classes and so had much more of a community experience within our own walls. Still, it might have been nicer to have had more on-the-ground connectedness with our environment.

Neighborhoods are good things. They are par tof what makes urban living work - and work well. Si it's good to see Brookland becoming a neighborhood once again.

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