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Land Revitalization Spring '07 Newsletter – From Rifles to Residential

Former National Guard Site Gets Makeover in D.C.

For more than 80 years, Camp Simms Military Reservation in Southeast Washington, D.C. was an important element of the District's National Guard. It included many field and officer training camps and temporary housing during the historically significant benefit protests by World War I veterans. In 1984, the 25-acre redevelopment portion of the Camp Simms property was transferred to the District of Columbia's Housing and Community Development office.

Scematic of 25 acre development

The look of the final product

Today, thanks to the District's Voluntary Cleanup Program, the property touts a residential subdivision with 72 single-family homes, and a commercial district, called "The Shops at Park Village" which includes a Giant Food Store -- the first major grocery store to open east of the Anacostia River in 30 years -- a pharmacy, an office products store, a florist and a deli.

The project team included William C. Smith & Company, East of the River, District of Columbia's Housing and Community Development, the District Department of the Environment's Voluntary Cleanup Program, and Environmental Consultants and Contractors, Inc.

In accordance with standard environmental practices for past military facilities, extensive investigations of soil and groundwater quality were conducted at the site by the District's Housing and Community Development office, the Army Corps of Engineers, and the redevelopment team. Once the Army had approved the site for development, the property was entered into the District's Voluntary Clean Up Program (VCP). The site was accepted by the VCP and successfully completed characterization and assessment requirements.

Site Cleaned Up

D.C.'s Volunary Cleanup Program turned this site around.

Before construction was initiated, a Clean-up Action Plan to address documented soil impacts and worker safety was formulated and approved by the VCP. Remedial actions performed included removal and off-site disposal of historic storm drain sediments, capping of soil that exhibited low levels of polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons, and personnel and perimeter air monitoring conducted during excavation activities.

During redevelopment activities, an unexpected orphan petroleum underground storage tank was discovered. This tank was incorporated into the Plan and successfully addressed. All VCP remedial actions have now been completed for the commercial section of the redevelopment, and a final "Certificate of Completion" has been issued by the VCP.

Site Cleaned Up

Homes and stores are taking the place of military training grounds.

Environmental issues due to past property uses can pose major obstacles in many urban redevelopment projects. The VCP Program and the liability protection that it offers are often vital components in redeveloping urban properties. Many times, the only way a developer can secure financing or satisfy lease conditions for commercial tenants is through partnering with the VCP program.

The successful redevelopment of a portion of the formerly contaminated Camp Simms property has returned a large tract of land to commercial viability and has benefited the city and its residents.

The next phase of the Camp Simms redevelopment will offer a 75-single family residences in a community called Ashford Court.

Article contributed by Jim McCreary

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Region 3 | Mid-Atlantic Cleanup | Mid-Atlantic Brownfields & Land Revitalization

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