By Stephanie Liotta Atkinson
In February 2004 the H Street Community Development Corporation purchased 2321 4th Street NE. (See that empty lot in front of the National Wholesale Liquidators and behind the BP? That’s it.)
According to old “Think Rhode Island Avenue” documents, the H Street CDC planned to develop a 170-unit apartment building on the site after demoing the “Heroin Hotel” that sat atop the parcel. Nearly eight years later the Heroin Hotel is gone, but nothing has been constructed in its place. With its proximity to the Metro, and Rhode Island Row about to blossom, one must ask: why is lucrative development stalled here?
When I called H Street CDC I was told that the person responsible for the RIA project is out of town until January. Perhaps there will be a follow-up post when I get a hold of someone there…
It strikes me as odd that a corporation would simply sit on a mortgage and taxes for eight years. So, I also called the Office of Tax and Revenue to investigate a bit more. At 39,190 square feet, H Street CDC’s vacant land is assessed at $2,351,400. According to OTR, H Street CDC owes $38,798 in taxes per year on its RIA property. Incidentally, it hasn’t paid the September installment and what was once a $19K bill is now over $22K and climbing. Anyway, is H Street CDC simply carrying $38,798 in annual taxes plus financing and demolition costs without any meaningful redevelopment plan or way to recoup its costs? I don’t get it. (While I’m on the subject of empty lots, I also don’t understand the vacant parcel at 13th and RIA. Recall the graffiti-tagged sign asking whether it’s hot enough in Brookland? Yeah, I guess it’s not… More about that clusterF in the future.)
In any event, a look at H Street CDC’s website yields a noble plan for combating crime, drug-infestation and blight with a new 170-unit “mixed use high rise structure with housing, in-ground parking and retail” all within walking-distance of the RIA Metro. So, H Street CDC: we’re knocking on 2012 – what’s the plan?