Friday, May 06, 2011

RP: The Real Story of H Street Revitalization


Richard Layman of Rebuilding Place takes issue with a WAMU piece that places the bulking of the credit for H Street's revitalization on the shoulders of the Rock and Roll Hotel (1353 H Street).


Anonymous said...

Joe Englert said:

1) Hey Richard, we never said we made H Street---NPR did....this is what reporters do....write and produce articles based on their slants........

2) You didn't piss me off. And if it took you 100 words to describe me, you took 99 words TOO MANY!

3) I hope no one who works with us craves credit.
Taking credit is a game for egomaniacs. Do we really
need to waste time propping ourselves up?
Let's make some money and make as many neighbors as possible happy.

4) Please neighbors, lean on your local politicians for smart parking solutions. We want to keep the neighborhood safe and pleasant for the residents.


Anonymous said...

LOL @ another 'whitey saves the day post". This blog is full of these.

Anonymous said...

Another "another 'whitey' save the day post"...there must be 10 a day on here trying to spark gentrification and race baiting discussions... (rolling eyes). Not everything is about color or income why always make it about them?

Richard Layman said...

I'm here to pummel journalists...

Tom A. said...

Great job Richard!

curmudgeon said...

Richard has made the argument before that a significant driver of revitalization on the H Street corridor has been the opening of the New York Avenue Metro stop. I've never understood this argument. Most of the "revitalization" has happened at the eastern end of the corridor, where that Metro stop is more or less irrelevant. I live at the eastern end, and I think it's fair to say that most of my neighbors never even think of that stop or of using it -- at 13-16 blocks away, it's too far away to matter. From 13th and H, NY Avenue Metro is no closer than Union Station, and not that much further than Potomac Avenue or Stadium/Armory.

I have no doubt that it's done wonders for housing values between H and Florida west of 6th, or maybe even 8th. But most of what's happened on H has been east of 6th or 8th.

What am I missing?

Tom A. said...


People who moved to the NY Ave. metro area are willing to walk to the great places on the eastern end of the corridor, because it's where the cool places are! It may have even been in their decision making process of where to buy. If fun, funky places open up on the eastern end, they will probably gravitate there. But it seems more traditional businesses seem to moving into NOMA.

But I agree, Union station is closer for a lot of us, and is one stop closer to downtown!

TGIF said...

I don't care who brought all these great places, but I hope they keep it up! We have so many cool restaurant options! East siiiiiddddeeeee (of H street :))

Sorry- I know that's corny, but I've got 63 more minutes before I can leave for the weekend and am losing it a bit!!!

Anonymous said...

For me, the decision to move the neighborhood was the NY Ave Metro station. I could be Metro accessible (which was a deal breaker) for a lot less than other parts of the city and still not feel so "removed" from downtown, the Mall, etc.

Since moving here in 2007, I walk down to the eastern end of H Street and frequent the businesses down there. As more pops up on the western end (Metro Mutts, Sidamo), I make it a point to spend $$ at those local businesses.

Dolemite said...

I am solely responsible for H Street's resurgence.

You're welcome.

Humbly yours,

Anonymous said...

anyone know what is coming at the SW corner of 6th and H Street?

Richard Layman said...

curmudgeon -- of course, it'd be easier to answer this question if we had some demographic data of the customers of the establishments.

Anyway, the investment @ NY Ave. was key to other investments in the corridor, including Abdo. But the neighborhood demographic change was key.

Not so much to the Atlas, what drove that was the fact that it was a big shell available for reuse.

The night life places at the east end are driven in part by the plan's designation of that area as entertainment, and the various planning processes that resulted in the Atlas getting out of the hands of the H St. CDC and into an arts-oriented group.

Joe E's realization of the opportunity there built off that.

It's many pieces that influence the investment in a community.

What's interesting would be to compare the processes in Highlandtown in Baltimore after the opening of the Creative Alliance at the Patterson, vs. the opening of the Atlas. Other than designating Highlandtown as an arts district, there has been less movement. But there are many other factors. Baltimore has a much different economic landscape. But had there been better transit in that area, it would drive more residential attraction. Etc.

reflexive said...

it what specific ways has the entertainment designation done anything? are there incentives to follow the designation, penalties for going against the designation?

Anonymous said...


Right on. The overlay is a dream and nothing tastes better than really sweet ones. Once enough liquor licenses are issued the biz interests will push for enforcement to protect their turf from any future encroachment. They will probably use their PR firm to start the buzz in a rag like this.

Richard Layman said...

there aren't any really. There is some arts district designation that the city can do but I don't really know what the benefits are. (Maryland has some specific benefits and access to development funds for their arts district initiatives.)

WRT the H St. plan, it was more about creative distinctive nodes and positioning strategies. For obvious reasons, given the presence of the Atlas, the east end was to focus on entertainment and the middle on retail.

But I didn't agree with the designation of the west end as mostly housing. We thought proximity to Union Station meant that retail development opportunities were present as well, plus there are larger pieces of land (other than the Autozone and H St. Connection lots).

WRT extending the arts within the arts district, but Vanessa Ruffin came up with an idea that I championed and fleshed out. Vanessa. who was on my H St. Main St. promotion committee, made the point that an "arts" district should extend beyond H Street, that artists should be encouraged, and other properties focused on promoting arts uses.

So where Connor Contemporary is now, we promoted the idea of those properties, as well as Jimmy's Tire (which since burnt down) as arts places. (I won't go into why those buildings are better suited for larger operations.)

And I came up with the idea of having the public schools in the area be refocused around arts in a variety of ways--performing, language, foreign language, visual, media-computing--with each school focusing on a different foreign language and culture.

One of the related points was that I suggested that the old E10 Firehouse and the old Precinct 9 police station and the old school building on the Miner campus be converted not into luxury housing or office buildings (the old school) but into combined art studios and facilities, e.g., back then the Washington Glass School was displaced due to the Nationals Stadium, and they ended up in Mt. Rainier instead of staying in DC.

The idea was that you could have artists in residence in some housing in the building, plus studios, plus production facilities.

Plus, I am pretty sure that I suggested that RL Christian "Library" could be re-launched with a specialized collection in arts.

But I got kicked off of H St. Main St. in late 2004 (people weren't into my directness and I wasn't into being subsumed) and so the concept never got further developed in a substantive fashion.

Now this part of H St. is more focused on the entertainment aspect. To be honest, I don't know what the ideal mix would be between arts as consumption and arts as production.

The Temporarium is a concept that fits into this, but much more in terms of redeveloping cultural infrastructure needs to be done.



It's probably too late to do this, especially once the streetcar fully primes the real estate market.

It's up to you all who live there now to move these kinds of concepts forward.

inked said...

last I heard it was supposed to be a sports bar. I think the name was Our Place.

Derek said...

That 'Sports Bar' hasn't been touch for quite a while. Suspicion has it that he will sell it when the market is right. But who knows....(but him)

Anonymous said...

Milton Friedman said:

Alas, the dreamer, the theorist, the activist, the businessman and the neighbor............shall never the twain meet?

Anonymous said...

Donna said:

"...But I got kicked off of H St. Main St. in late 2004 (people weren't into my directness and I wasn't into being subsumed) and so the concept never got further developed in a substantive fashion..."

Richard. Love you, but honestly... I was there and I remember that you were one neighbor among many with ideas and it was not your "directness" but your inability to work constructively with others (and no, you weren't the only one) that led to you leaving HSMS. Considering that the H St Playhouse (full credit to the Robeys) was already in place on the east end, much of the arts/entertainment focus flowed from there - even before the redevelopment of the Atlas. Your opinions and knowledge of H Street's development are well known and respected. No need to re-make history. It just undermines your credibility (and sounds petty).

inked said...

I agree, but I haven't heard anything more recent.

Hillman said...

Clearly it was my pithy and insightful commentary on Frozen Tropics that is responsible for all development in the H Street area.