Construction of the new St. Matthew’s Evangelical Lutheran Church begins soon at 222 M St. SW, and congregation members invite Southwest neighbors to celebrate the project’s groundbreaking with them on Sunday, Sept.11.

Pre-construction work at the 1.19-acre site during the past two months includes construction of utility distribution vaults along property boundary lines and the upgrade and rerouting of a major sewer line in the southeast quadrant of the property adjacent to Delaware Ave.  The Reverend Phillip C. Huber, St. Matthews’ pastor, notes: “St. Matthew’s is really glad to know that with actual church construction beginning  very soon now, we’ll be able to greet Southwest neighbors much more often than we could at the church’s annual Christmas tree event or at St. M’s community garden!”

“We’re looking forward to sharing ideas: The St. Matthew’s ‘Sacred Grounds’ Coffee Shop will create food service training opportunities besides giving neighbors a place to meet for great coffee priced reasonably. We want to hear how neighbors think we can use our building to foster local artists and build community. We expect ideas to emerge as our church and St. Matthews’ associated community development center proceed through construction.”

The groundbreaking ceremony will take place about 11:30 a.m. Light refreshments will be served. Attractions for neighborhood children will include a magician, a balloon artist, and face painting. A DJ will provide music. Southwest residents who recall St. Matthew’s Christmas tree giveaways during the past two holiday seasons will recognize the big St. Matthew’s tent erected on site—to be used this time for shade from the September sun, or possibly September showers!

Limited parking will be available at 222 M St. The Washington Nationals Sunday, Sept. 11 baseball game against the Philadelphia Phillies begins at 1:35 p.m. If all parking spaces at the site are taken residential parking is available on Eye, L, and K Streets SW between Delaware Ave. and 3rd St. SW. Drivers who live outside DC Zone 6 are limited to two-hour parking.

Southwest residents who have attended various presentations by the Trammell Crow Company/St. Matthew’s/CSG Urban Partners LLC development team have seen that the church portion of the project will be constructed in the northeast corner of the site bounded on the north by M St. and by Delaware Ave. to the east. The lower floor of the church portion will contain classrooms, a large Fellowship Hall, and office space to be utilized by St. Matthews’ outreach entity, the Thurgood and Cecilia Marshall Community Development Center.

The larger portion of the project will be the construction of a 221-unit high-rise apartment building. Ninety percent of these units will be market rate apartments.  The remaining 10% will be affordable units, priced to provide attractive apartments available for rent to professionals such as school teachers, police officers, and DC firefighters. The development will include a landscaped common area for relaxation, reflection, and rejuvenation, which can be used by renters in the high rise and St. Matthew’s members—and also by other Southwest residents during daylight hours.

Clark Construction Company is the project’s general contractor. Current construction projections establish Sept./Oct. 2018 as the probable occupancy date for St. Matthew’s in its new building. For the past eight years St. Matthew’s has been worshipping with its sister Evangelical Lutheran church of America congregation, First Trinity Lutheran, at First Trinity’s location near Judiciary Square.

Rev. Huber and First Trinity’s pastors, The Rev. Thomas Knoll and The Rev. Wendy Moen, agree that the relationship has benefitted both congregations.   The congregations conduct some joint ministries, and First Trinity has participated and supported St. Matthew’s outreach efforts in Southwest.

“We absolutely seek suggestions and input from Southwest residents regarding programs to be developed at the Thurgood and Cecilia Marshall CDC” Rev. Huber said. “We’re very thankful we will have a highly adaptable physical plant that can be configured to meet educational and community needs in Southwest.”

“We welcome ideas and engagement,” he added.

Rev. Huber noted that there is a somber note attached to St. Matthew’s groundbreaking planning. Accordingly, he and Rev. Knoll planned to include a prayer of remembrance of America’s 9/11 tragedy during First Trinity’s Sunday worship service preceding the groundbreaking

By: Dan Felger

Senior trustee, St. Matthew’s Evangelical Lutheran Church

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