Work underway on DC’s “worst shopping centre”…

Mayor takes first swing at eyesore shopping mall.

With the swipe of a mechanical claw, D.C. Mayor Vincent C. Gray demolished a slice of a Ward 7 retail center that has been a sore point for officials and residents alike for two decades and symbolized the challenges that come with ambitious projects east of the Anacostia River.

The District plans to build 315,000 square feet of new stores, restaurants and housing at the site — including an “anchor tenant” in Wal-Mart — through its developers, the Rappaport Companies and William C. Smith & Company.

Mayor Gray beamed about the project at the long-dormant plaza of darkened and rundown stores where Alabama Avenue meets Naylor and Good Hope roads. The site has been a source of public struggle for the District since 1989, when the revitalization task force was formed, and spawned seven legal challenges — six of which have been resolved — after the city seized the site through eminent domain in 2005.