At the Feb. 11 ANC meeting, Westminster Presbyterian Church was glad to share images and a short summary of what it hopes will be a positive addition to the neighborhood.
As recent as 2018, several DC area churches had to close their doors after 150+ years of services. Some are burdened by worn-out buildings and others by worn-out ministries. Others say you do not need to build a building to be the church, but that you can rent a theater or storefront, or just meet online. Westminster believes neighborhoods are strengthened by the presence of a faith institution that serves and reflects the community around it. As long as it is always transforming, a faith institution is like yeast in the dough, like a beacon in the fog, and we feel that it is vitally important to maintain Westminster’s presence in Southwest for another 165+ years.
After a long search process that started in 2014, Westminster, part of National Capital Presbytery, formed a development team with Bozzuto Homes, Dantes Partners and KGD Architecture. The plan includes the preservation and enhancement of the church, the creation of much-needed affordable apartments for seniors ages 55 and older, condominiums which will provide new homeownership opportunities, and on-site parking.
Iffat Afsana of KGD Architecture says of the design: “The church is open and transparent and welcoming. The softly backlit vertical element creates an identity for the church and establishes it as a landmark for the neighborhood. The apartment elements above are organized in a rhythm similar to sheet music. The church, apartment and condo each have their own identity but are tied together through a common architectural language.”
The affordable senior housing and condo buildings will both have great rooftop amenities, pet relief areas, and indoor amenities including a fitness room and gathering spaces. The condominium building looks toward the Duck Pond, affording its residents a great view of this beautiful neighborhood park.
Westminster has been in Southwest since 1853, before the Capitol Dome was finished. It started out as 7th St. Presbyterian, across from where the HUD building is now, and was started to serve the people who lived on what was then called “Tiber Island.”
This project gives the opportunity to not only maintain and enhance the church’s longstanding presence, but also provide a critical mass of affordable housing and homeownership opportunities. A copy of the preliminary plan is available at the Southwest Library.
By Rev. Ruth Hamilton