Gentrifying Congress Heights slumlord gets protest at his Cleveland Park home

Developer Geoff Griffis of City Partners is working with Sanford Capital’s Congress Heights redevelopment project that seeks to replace the Congress Heights apartments on Alabama Ave in Anacostia with a “mixed use” project of condos, retail and office space. Since he got control of the buildings, all maintainance has stopped on the buildings in an effort to force tenants to move. On Dec 16, community organizers, tenants of Congress Heights, and their supporters descended on Geoff Griffis’ posh Cleveland Park home at 3525 Ordway to object in front of his neighbors to his illegal attempts to prevent tenants from buying the buildings and staying put.

Since Geoff is seeking to displace tenants, one of the tenants called for displacing HIM, something repeat home demos have been known to do. The landlord of the Ga Ave Wal-Mart is reported to have moved after two protests at his home near Rock Creek Park. Vivisection/HLS protesters have found in the past that once someone has had protests at their home three times, activists begin to get results. In this case, activists are demanding that Geoff Griffis cease and desist his attempts to “redevelop” the four Congress Heights apartments and sell the buildings to to tenants if he wants out. Under DC law, tenants have the “right of first refusal” to buy the buildings.

With Geoff having been quoted in the Washington Post as saying no further maintainance would be done at buildings he wants to demolish, conditiond have deteriorated rapidly. What one tenant reported was a nice apartment complex not long ago is now overrun with vermin, bedbugs included. When the maintainance stopped, outsiders suddenly started dumping trash behind the buildings. All of this is an attempt to use conditions to unlawfully evict tenants if it is intentiona. The existance of a redevelopment plan that goes down the toilet if the tenants and their buildings stay is strong evidence that the “appalling conditions” at the Congress Heights apartments are in fact intentional.

Tenants are furious with Geoff and are vowing to return not only to his home but also to the Whole Foods he shops at, his lawyer’s office, and any other place he can be found. Anything and everything associated with Geoff Griffis is now considered fair game until he stops trying to throw people out in the street according to speakers at the rally. One of the last chants was “We’ll be back!”

Video highlights of the protest(2min 37 sec)

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