No Go with the Trolley Barn near Spingarn?

DC trolley car barn angers Kingman Park Residents

The above article from the Root DC blog affiliated with the Washington Post outlines the displeasure Kingman Park residents feel about the area possibly becoming more industrial with projects like the trolley barn right off of Benning Road NE.  Comments posted on various blogs in response to the story vary from charges of  NIMBY-ism to anger about the trolley project ever being started. 

"I understand the concerns of the residents of Kingman Park. The trolley system is the play thing of the new urbanists and transportation planners who enjoy spending 1.5 billion of our tax money on their toys. Of course they do not live near the trolley barn or the transmission stations. If either were proposed for a different neighborhood like maybe Eastern Masrket, you can bet provisions would be made to move them to another location." comment on the Roots blog
"Honestly, we live in a city. It's loud. Hell, with the people that gather outside of my house every day, all day and all night, I never, and I mean never get any peace and quiet. At least the streetcar will be beneficial to the neighborhood.
I get the whole "industrial dumping ground" complaint. However, they are not looking at the big picture. Hopefully the streetcar will begin to encourage non-industrial businesses to spread up Benning. " comment on the Frozen Tropics blog. 
 Response from Richard Layman to the article:
"well, they might not build a nice one, but "ex-trolley barn" buildings in DC are considered to be significant community assets:
- Blue Castle at 8th and M Streets SE (http://dcmud.blogspot.com/2011/03/barracks-and-castles-and-gardens.html)- Trolley barn converted into housing on the 1400 block of E. Capitol St. NE- Georgetown Park Mall- "Trolley Barn" building in Georgetown (owned by Douglas Development, rented out in part to Georgetown U)- Upper 14th Street bus garage (http://planning.dc.gov/DC/Planning/In+Your+Neighborhood/Wards/Ward+4/Small+Area+Plans+&+Studies/14th+Street+Corridor+Vision+Plan+and+Revitalization+Strategy)
Interestingly, if you look at Census enumeration sheets from the 1890s to the 1920s, a significant number of Greater H Street residents were employed by the streetcar system (or the railroad), because 15th and H was a major staging point for streetcars, including a trolley barn that was extant into the 1970s (the location of the current Pentacle Apartments).
There is no reason why presence of the streetcar garage couldn't be leveraged as a jobs initiative for people in the area." 

Is it the size of the trolley barn that has neighbors upset? The architectural design? Or the threat that Benning Road will not become a Main Street/Great Street like H St or even Barracks Row with projects like the trolley barn and Tire shop? 

Disclaimer: The RCA as a group has not supported OR supported the current plan for the trolley barn. Hopefully more information can be gathered to do what's best for this project, the neighborhood and the city, where everyone feels that the gained something. Let's not throw anyone "under the trolley." 


IMGoph said...

Kathy Henderson claims it will block "vistas," though given that the location is at the bottom of a hill, I'm not sure what views out of Carver Langston will be blocked...

Anonymous said...

I'm completely baffled on what residents want in this area and how they are going to leverage this situation to get what they want.

Chris said...

I write this commenttoday to express my support for the DC Streetcar barn and training facility proposed to be sited just under one half mile from my home, at the Spingarn High School Campus at 2500 Benning Road Northeast.

If sited immediately adjacent to the high school, and if properly planned with a classroom and information systems facilities, and an educational mission integrated with Spingarn's curriculum,  this training center could be uniquely situated to provide a convenient and seamless vocational, technical, and engineering education experience for some Spingarn students, and other young people
and adults in our community.  If well planned and developed in concert with DCPS, our State Board of Education, and other relevant stakeholders, this barn and training center could be a national model in providing opportunities to train some of our young people in relevant job skills for the emerging  "Green Collar Economy" that President Obama has emphasized since his inauguration.

In addition to the above issue, I would be remiss if I didn't note the opportunity costs of waiting even more years than we already have for the streetcar system to be placed into farebox service.  While the tracks could be extended to alternative sites, consider that such sites could possibly require several years of land acquisition, "studies," environmental impact review, and other remediation work before being "shovel ready."

Those of us here in the neighborhood that eagerly await the higher standard of public transit the streetcar promises may not be as vocal or vociferous as others that weigh in on the streetcar barn.  Yet the greater good and real substantive benefits of getting the system going sooner rather than later, and at a location with an unique educational context, remain clear to many of us.

MiCoBa said...


I'm assuming the layout of the street car facility is drawn to scale and it's a decent size. There is also some images of streetcar barns in other cities. ALSO, there is a survey to let people weight in on what the trolley barn should look like.

Thenakedshort said...

II live on 19th Street and I am for the Trolley Barn, I'd rather be a dumping ground for industrial business than a dumping ground for crack & heroin addicts.

This article is ridiculous. It calls a housing project a landmark. What is wrong with you people? It's not like it would replace anything of value. Only birds and people up to no good hang out there. The barn would bring jobs and foot traffic to the neighborhood.

Maybe then the cops and the neighborhood would begin to care there are drug dealers working out of store fronts. What you thought that really was a t-shirt shop?

Anonymous said...

If the building is designed right, it could really enhance that strip of Benning. A nice street-front wall with windows and entrance would look like any other building. The streetcars are in the back, so you won't even see or hear 'em.

Chris said...

For what it's worth, there's a new "poll" on the issue of the streetcar barn at the Kingman Park yahoo group here: http://groups.yahoo.com/group/kingmanpark/surveys?id=2408199

It certainly doesn't take into account every possible sentiment on this issue, nor is it any substitution for a more in depth community dialogue or even a show of hands at a meeting of neighborhood residents. I do hope it inspires at least a modicum of critical thinking on this issue. Since Washington Post blogger Chris Jenkins reported that "hundreds of Kingman Park residents (are) organizing to stop a city proposal that calls for a trolley car barn near the eastern terminus of the H Street/Benning Road line" we could very well see (at least) dozens answering the poll in the coming weeks.