Now the asking price is $5 million, so Naylor said he plans to build around and over the three storefronts.
They can build, thats fine, Galustyants said. Its only going to be a plus for me.
The man who owns the barber shop on Galustyantss property is Johnny Cheeley, who has been cutting hair at Mop City Unisex Hairstyle Center for 42 years. One recent day, Cheeley focused intently on an older man with speckled gray hair seated in a barbershop chair, even as noisy trucks tossed dirt and tore down plaster walls outside. Cheeley said hes cut the hair of Muhammad Ali, Jesse Jackson, and Billy Dee Williams.
Asked if he could continue to wait out the construction, Cheeley would only say: Time will tell. Ive just got to wait and see. I dont know what Im going to do.
The transit hubs beginnings date back to the late 90s when Meek first advocated for the site. Her cause was later picked up by her son, Kendrick Meek, when he succeeded her in November 2002. With his aid, Congress appropriated $10 million to the venture. Carlisle is investing $24 million, and the county another $20 million in bonds and grants.
The plan almost went south in 2007 when a county inspector generals report found fault with the previous developer. The county returned the federal money and then-Mayor Carlos Alvarez warned the neighborhood of a trimmed-down plan, leaving some tenants who had already downsized staff and inventory in a quandary.
Edmonson, though, kept plugging away. The county retrieved the $10 million from the federal government, and Carlisle Development joined the effort. Edmonson made the transit hub the centerpiece of her reelection bid last year, posing for photos while seated in the big bulldozer that swung the initial wrecking ball blow to one of the buildings.
For a peek into the possibilities of the project, Carlisle representatives point 20 blocks west to Northwest 61st Street and 27th Avenue in Brownsville, where the developer recently completed a renewal of commercial space and living units for the elderly at another transit hub that has seen ridership increase almost 30 percent in the past year. Most of the Brownsville Transit Village was built in the former parking lot for the Metrorail station.
Street-level retail and widening the sidewalks, which will create more pedestrian life and plays right into the buses, those are some of the tenets of urbanism, Naylor said. At the end of the day, its going to be an amazing place to live.
Alison Austin remains skeptical. The chief executive of the Belafonte Tacolcy Center, which offers help to families and needy kids, understands the need for economic development and agrees that the community was invited to dozens of meetings about the pending hub. Despite that, she says, residents had little say in the final plans.
Austin said she would rather have seen a job training center than a performing arts space in the complex.
Nathaniel Wilcox, a community organizer and executive director of People United to Lead the Struggle for Equality, said he cant understand the naysayers.
For too long weve had to settle for the ragged, the tattered, Wilcox said of inner-city residents. This will bring new life to the area.