St Joseph

Michigan Park is a nice, stable neighborhood in the District, situated in the Northeast part of our city close to the Maryland border. If you’re not familiar with the vibe of the neighborhood, that might be because it often flies under the radar as a quiet place where city dwellers go about their business. In a neighborhood review on Street Advisor years ago, one DC resident called the area “stable, if not spectacular” going on to say that there’s “not much noteworthy about Michigan Park, but this isn’t necessarily a bad thing…community spirit is at the heart of these streets. In this case its rewards seem to have paid off in the form of a neighborhood with affordable housing and minimal complaints.” In addition to being a good place for simply living, the neighborhood houses some major private institutions that pose as amenities to folks living in the area (think Providence Hospital, St. Joseph’s Seminary, Whitefriars Hall, Howard University School, and more).

Since that review was published, Michigan Park has more or less stayed the course. But even quiet neighborhoods tucked away in the city’s corners can’t escape the hum of development forever. A recent article published by The Washington Post brings to light many developments that have come to the forefront as potential changes to the area. The two major developments on the area’s radar include St Joseph’s and The Divinity School.

St Joseph’s Seminary is a private school, with a main purpose of “the formation of men for service to the Church, as Josephite Priests or Brothers.” The school is a welcome part of the surrounding neighborhood, as much of its grassy patches are used for recreational games of soccer, small community gatherings, and general play time for the younger generations in the area. However, the north end of their property (and where most of the green space is), has been sold to EYA, a real estate developer. Speaking to losing some of the neighborhoods greens, one resident tells the Post it is the “lungs of the neighborhood,” going on to explain “That’s why it’ll be a big loss. This is where my son, Simon, and I played ball, ran the dog, and met a lot of friends.”

Michigan Park.jpg

What the land will become is still, for the most part, up in the air. Originally, when the land was sold, it was with the proposal of townhouses. But even since the conversations began back in 2016, there is still much unrest about what that could mean for the area and negative commentary coming from prominent neighborhood members. Some of the nearby population are worried about who, exactly, the townhouses will be targeting, fearing they will be priced for upper class instead of the middle-class population that dominates the area. In a 2016 interview done by Washington City Paper, one community member went so far to say “It’s not about ‘smart growth,’ it’s about greed. It’s about upzoning in a neighborhood that doesn’t want to hear about it …transforming our area where community members don’t want it.” EYA has so far been very receptive to neighborhood feedback, and respectful about how much their development could mean.

There has also been talks about development at The Divinity School and Providence Hospital, but details are still in the works to determine what that might look like. While Michigan Park’s future remains unclear, one thing is certain: change is on the horizon.

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