Washington, DC's Leading Local News: Weather, Traffic, Sports and more | Washington, DC | WUSA9.com

'We did the right thing, but in the wrong way' | DC developer apologizes for padlocking businesses

Developer talks about his role in gentrification and the new way of doing business in DC.

WASHINGTON — Adrian Washington is a D.C. native and one of city’s biggest developers.

“It’s really an act of love,” said Washington, CEO and founder of Neighborhood Development Company, "we’ve developed a million square feet,” he added.

NDC has 12 projects in the works now -- two in Ward 8 and four in Ward 7.  “I grew up East of the River so it’s really like a coming home to me,” he said.

But his homecoming wasn’t so sweet in one Deanwood October. 

In fact, WUSA9 broke the news on what Washington now admits was a mistake. The owners of Little Jewels Daycare and Nooks Barbershop received a notice citing environmental concerns on a Wednesday; by Thursday morning their businesses were padlocked. 

RELATED: DC developer padlocks businesses with one day notice

“We did the right thing there was a clear health emergency, but we did it in the wrong way we didn’t communicate well we came in suddenly and people rightly felt disrespected,” Washington said. 

To make amends, Washington has offered the barbershop and daycare spots in the new building paying the same rent. 

He said he’s been apologizing ever since for the misstep. It served as a valuable learning lesson even for a developer who’s been in the business for more than two decades. 

“It’s really a balancing act,” Washington explained, “it’s about listening and using your skill as a developer to take those things everyone wants and get to a place where most of the people are happy and most importantly everyone feels like they’ve been heard.” 

Washington said his newest building at 4100 Georgia Avenue is an example of listening to the community. At first there was a lot of resistance to NDC moving into the Petworth neighborhood but now residents got what they wanted and needed: Fresh food and affordable housing – though a one bedroom will still run you about $1,000.

“When we first started 21 years ago people were happy for anything to get done because the city had been in such decline but now it’s like no longer the case," Washington explained. "People are hyper-focused on what’s going on and they’re more suspicious, they have more of a voice, so we have to accommodate that.

When asked if he felt some people vilify developers in the city, Washington responded, “yes absolutely. It’s tough. I’m a human being and I have feelings and like everyone else.We try to get up and do the best job we can, so sometimes it does feel that way, but I get it."

Download the brand new WUSA9 app here.

Sign up for the Get Up DC newsletter: Your forecast. Your commute. Your news.