Renovation plans have taken over numerous parts of the District of Columbia, including area that some thought have been long forgotten.
H Street Plaza [the 600 block on the south side of H Street, NE] is part of a larger area that was sold last year to Jair Lynch Development Partners, according Washington Business Journal and a Lynch press release. The deal ran a whopping $51.1 million, and is part of a joint venture with MacFarlane Partners, an area real estate investment management firm.
It's considered the largest renovation agreement that's part of the new development plans for the H Street corridor; and while many residents and businesses are excited about the plans but some ask, "...at what cost?"
This is because toddlers and infants; along with expectant mothers and the elderly can be seen waiting in line in the early morning hours of any cold and chilly day to inquire about Medicaid, Food Stamps, or other social services.
You can see them waiting in the cold because one of the DC Department of Human Services offices that was once located at the sold plaza has been temporarily moved to 609 H Street NE (officials reached were not sure if it's permanent or not), and it has considerably less space resulting in a series of long lines that turn into a long wait.
Things can get so chaotic that staffers within this city facility advise patrons to arrive as early as 5 a.m. or 5:30 a.m. to insure they get seen when the building opens at 7:30 a.m.
Generally, you wait outside to get inside (in upwards to two hours - depending on how early you arrive). Once inside, you wait to go through the metal detector (being asked to remove anything in your pants pockets, removing your coat, jacket, or belt, and showing your ID upon entry);. You then receive a number and wait until that number is called, and depending on what you came in for may have another line to wait in. All in all, you can easily spend four hours waiting.
Chances are, if you finally get seen at - let's say...2 p.m., you'll probably not get seen by a case worker because you'll probably have up to 50 other people ahead of you.
DC resident Marc Fountain said this is ridiculous.
"On Monday I waited four hours to be seen by a case manager," he said, "only to be told I needed to come back because I didn't have something I didn't know I needed. So, I'm here now [Wednesday] in line - outside in the cold - for the last hour and a half. Maybe I'll get everything squared away today."
Another resident said she waited almost six hours before she was serviced. She was approved, but thought it would have been better if there were something positive that could help occupy the time of those waiting.
Several other residents have commented online about the development; below are just a couple.
One resident posted,
Those 5-story buildings on the south side of the [600 H Street NE] block look pretty new. Are those DC government offices? Will they be demo’d to make room for Jair Lynch?
Area resident Tom A. replied,
Let’s hope so, xmal. We have too much social service delivery on H street already. Perhaps the folks using these potentially relocated services can go hang out in Georgetown all day instead.
Are these the thoughts of the new residents of H Street NE? DC resident Michelle Smith hopes not.
"For a long time most people just avoided this strip, and now that the city has taken an interest in bringing businesses out here, new people would rather remove some residents, than have the decency to sympathize with their situation," she said.
It should be noted that the development company shouldn't be looked at poorly because of the plight of some city residents. In fact, Jair Lynch will construct a massive housing unit with retail options for the corridor.
“The emergence of the H Street Corridor redevelopment is an important step in reconnecting this part of the District to its vibrant commercial history. Jair Lynch is proud to invest in this transforming neighborhood and envisions building on the important work of the District and neighborhood stakeholders to create a great sense of place. We plan to continue its revitalization with the redevelopment of H Street Plaza in order to craft a new destination point for the Corridor at our site," said Jair K. Lynch, company president, in the release.
Throughout bringing the building to life, the city's ANC 6C’s Planning, Zoning and Environment committee met with developers on future development of that location.
Kevin Roberts, a Jair Lynch representative, presented the ambitious project. It was then announced that the now former 601 to 645 H Street NE will be a 240-unit 9-story apartment building; along with possibly a coffee shop, a market, a CVS, and up to 450 parking spaces. The 190,000 square feet structure would have a new look.
Officials and developers have long had an interest in development plans for H Street’s future since 2004 when D.C. government pushed the H Street Corridor Revitalization Plan forward.
Until something changes, residents and tourists alike can expect to see expectant mothers, the elderly, disabled and toddlers in long lines at 609 H Street, NE.