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A building permit application was filed today with DCRA for 1000 New Jersey Ave., SE--the Capitol Hill Tower residential co-op--for "Interior Tenant Layout, First Floor, Medical Office. Georgetown University Health Disparities."
A Google search brings us to the Georgetown-Lombardi Health Disparities Initiative, which could be (or, I guess, could not be) the tenant applying for the building permit. The web site says the office "actively engage[s] in research focused on reducing cancer disparities among the underserved and ethnic minority populations in the District of Columbia including African-Americans, Latinos, and Asian Americans." They also state their mission as "addressing the biological and environmental basis of cancer health disparities via research, training, communication, and education." The group says it works closely "with the impoverished wards in the District, with particular emphasis on Wards East of the River," because the highest cancer rates in DC are found in wards 7 and 8.
This is first firm confirmation of the rumored tenant for the space; I tweeted about the possibility of a tenant 10 days ago and put out requests for confirmation, but received no reply from CHT's developer, and Georgetown University would not confirm their leasing of the space. A tenants' meeting at CHT seemed to provide little information other than that this 4,000-square-foot space would be used by Georgetown for some sort of "community outreach" effort. There is nothing as yet on the Disparities web site about a new location, though they do have a number of community and research programs that could be needing space.
CHT tenants were told that construction is supposed to begin soon (though not until that building permit gets approved!). Perhaps now that the word is seeping out, a little more information will be forthcoming. I've contacted Georgetown again (no reply yet), but wanted to get this out there before too many resident heads explode, given the fretting in this comment thread about who the tenant might be.
CHT's only other retail tenant is Congressional Cleaners, which opened in 2007. The residential building itself, with 340ish units, opened in 2006, along with its sibling, the Courtyard by Marriott.
Comments (40)
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Ryh03001 says: (7/28/11 5:47 PM)
This is the worst news I have heard in quite sometime. Talk about decreasing property values in CHT....

Eric says: (7/28/11 6:41 PM)
Why don't they grow a pair and open this branch actually IN Ward 7 or Ward 8? This sucks.

The Hoff says: (7/28/11 6:52 PM)
Best case scenario is that this is simply unexciting. Worst case is this will negatively impact property values in the building. While Georgetown University Health Disparities doesn't exactly roll of the tongue the effect it has on CHT might be directly related to what the space is actually used for. If we're talking pure office space the only off-putting part of this might be the name. If we're talking research and community outreach then there might be other effects to consider. Regardless of the seemingly worthy mission of the tenant I imagine no one is going to be all that happy about this as it just seems of out of place.

sgDC says: (7/28/11 7:00 PM)
Before anyone accuses anyone else of having a gut NIMBY-esque reaction to this news, let me put it this way. There are so many businesses that residents desperately need here. This is one that very few (none?) of us will be able to use, and it's outrageous we haven't been given the opportunity to give our feedback. I'd be very curious to know who's making money off this deal, and I'd love to talk with them.

sgDC says: (7/28/11 7:01 PM)
I'd also be curious to know what David Garber thinks. Dave?

Eric says: (7/28/11 7:03 PM)
What sgDC said. We need so many amenities around here and this is not one of them. This MEDICAL OFFICE could literally go anywhere. CHT is prime location for good retail.

The Hoff says: (7/28/11 7:23 PM)
I'm just not willing to concede property value impact until the use becomes more clear. Maybe that's naive. Maybe a little denial hidden in there as well.

As for who is making money off this deal - CHT's developer. The tenants had no say in this.

MJM says: (7/28/11 9:38 PM)
Worst news? Um, why will this decrease property value? Do people think there will be a line of people out the door waiting for medical/cancer care and scare people away from CHT and Near-SE? I would venture to guess its an office where people will work and do things. How many people use DoT on a daily basis? Or if this place was on the 7th floor of another building would it lower your property value?

BTW - why would you expect to have a say in what a developer leases out? Velocity didn't have a say about Justin moving in to the retail space.

sgDC says: (7/28/11 10:12 PM)
If it were an office, why would they rent a retail space? Makes no sense. Seems like it's going to be a medical center. And the reason why it may affect property prices is because "disparity health center for underprivileged people" isn't exactly the impression Near Southeast wants to give to newcomers. If CHT wasn't almost full, no way would the developer let this happen.

sgDC says: (7/28/11 10:15 PM)
Also, MJM, CHT is a co-op. Velocity is not. This is why residents might hope to have a hand in deciding what happens to the building they own.

JD says: (7/29/11 12:06 AM)
I might remind readers that there are 400ish units of public housing just a few blocks east of CHT, inside some of those lovely Capitol Quarter townhouses as well as in the buildings at 900 5th, 400 M, and 410 M. And there's another 300ish units still to come in mixed-income apartment buildings that will line the eastern side of Canal Park plus replace the trash transfer site.

And a lot of those residents lived in Near Southeast before anyone commenting here.

sgDC says: (7/29/11 12:44 AM)
I'm aware of that, thanks to your site, which is a real community asset. When I was referring to "residents," I meant CHT residents, so I apologise for being unclear. But considering Georgetown-Lombardi's expressed goal is to benefit underserved communities east of the river, is this really the best place to be based?

Eric says: (7/29/11 12:59 AM)
" might remind readers that there are 400ish units of public housing just a few blocks east of CHT, inside some of those lovely Capitol Quarter townhouses as well as in the buildings at 900 5th, 400 M, and 410 M. "

Pretty obvious looking at the crime map over on the right.

Eric says: (7/29/11 1:04 AM)
The best we can hope for now is a neutral outcome with office space and not an actual medical center.

But that's sounding doubtful. I was really hoping for decent retail that isn't just at the Yards.

MJM says: (7/29/11 7:34 AM)
Well I've contacted them about a retail space and they were open to it - just because there was a restaurant available sign doesn't mean it will be one. And while I don't live in CHT I'm pretty sure the retail space isn't part of the co-op or I've read that before. That place has been empty for how many years? The rumor is that place was never gonna be a restaurant based on the layout. Just be happy something is moving in three to increase your property value.

And if I want to open a retail store in there please let me know who I can talk to withon CHT to get approval....

F says: (7/29/11 9:46 AM)
This doe seem like an odd place to open a facility like that. Why did they wait until the vast majority of the public housing tenants moved out before they decided to come in? Theres only a handful living at Capitol Quarter and Capper Carollsburg.

As mentioned above I would like to get David Garbers take on this. With so much constituent response, it deserves at least as much of his attention as did his Market Deli preservation effort.

JD says: (7/29/11 9:58 AM)
No, F, there's not only a handful--as I said, there's over 400 units of public housing already occupied in the Capper PUD footprint. The seniors building at 900 5th Street is public housing, and the two buildings at 400 and 410 M are public housing. That alone is over 360 units, so you've got well over 400 people living in those three buildings all on some form of public assistance.

Capitol Quarter when finished will have over 90 public housing rental units and another 25 Section 8 ownership units. The first phase alone was slated to have around 40 subsidized rental units. (And that's not talking about workforce-rate housing, either.)

The entire M.O. of the Capper redevelopment is to replace the 707 units of public housing that were there with another 707 units, along with 800 ish units of market-rate and workforce-rate housing. And that's why the three apartment buildings slated for the east side of Canal Park, plus the building on the trash transfer site, and the Square 882 building just south of the Barracks on L Street will all also be mixed-income.

And, don't forget that with the city's Inclusionary Zoning law, every new building that goes up will have some amount of public assistance housing in it. That's one of the reasons that the Foundry Lofts building got stalled, was because they were having trouble financing the subsidized housing portion of the project.

F says: (7/29/11 10:15 AM)
I don't dispute your numbers nor the fact that those people need and deserve public assistance for medical care. However, I think theres no denying that there are thousands (compared to hundreds) of equally needy people living in Wards 7 and 8 as mentioend by some other posters.

If the goal is to provide assistance and medical care, then it seems to make more sense locating a medical facility closer to the majority of the people who will use it. The planned site at CHT doesn't do that.

I know about the Inclusionary Zoning law and I think its a good idea that the city include public housing units throughout Near SE as they are doing. The proposed GU Medical site still doesn't seem to serve the population its designed to provide for.

JD says: (7/29/11 10:20 AM)
And let me be clear that I'm not arguing for or against this location one way or the other. As always, I just want commenters to be factual with what they're posting, and so saying that there is no community in Near Southeast to be served by this is not accurate.

F says: (7/29/11 10:28 AM)

Thanks. I haven't seem anyone say that there is no community in Near SE to be served by this, but that there are much larger numbers of people in neighboring Wards who could benefit from it.

JD says: (7/29/11 10:31 AM)
Other than some reader originally saying there was "only a handful" and that the vast majority of public housing tenants in Near Southeast have "moved out"? :-)

Michael says: (7/29/11 10:48 AM)
And to establish more truthiness:

The CHT coop does not own the retail space; the developer does, and can do what he wants with it.

F says: (7/29/11 11:04 AM)
...and I still hold that both those statements are correct.

MJM says: (7/29/11 11:47 AM)
Don't let facts get in the way of a good discussion. But can someone explain why it would decrease poperty value? And can someone explain what they will be doing there? Would like to see someone post what they think will cause problems.

For example, what if Back on My Feet were to move into 909 - would that mean we would see a line of homeless people outside 909 waiting to go running? No, every organization has an office where they do things for people, make phone calls, send emails, faxes, have lunch during the day and do good for people. Why would this place be any different?

And while we are at, lets run Ann out of town because none of the new residents go there and she doesn't bring increased value to anyone's property value??? Is that what some people are saying by the new tenant moving in?

sgDC says: (7/29/11 12:16 PM)
Not at all. Ann's is a well-established business and a beloved part of the neighborhood. I just think we were hopeful that the new business would be in keeping with the energy and dynamism felt in other parts of the area. Like the new businesses moving into The Yards, Justin's, etc. I think this new project sounds like a much-needed organization for DC, but it doesn't go with the image I'd (personally, and yes, selfishly) choose to project to people who are unfamiliar with the neighborhood. All I ever hear from cab drivers is how bad the area used to be, and how much better it is now. This doesn't feel like a change in the right direction.

Again, MJM, I can't imagine people would rent a retail space when there are so many offices nearby. From what I can tell from the Georgetown Lombardi site, their project entails outreach and research, one part of which (seriously) studies obese people playing wii, and the effect it has on their health.

BillP says: (7/29/11 12:25 PM)
LOL at some of the reactions.

First, it's not a methadone clinic, it's an initiative by one of the top academic medical centers in the country to "facilitate, stimulate, and promote synergy in addressing the biological and environmental basis of cancer health disparities via research, training, communication, and education." The notion that 4,000 sf of space supporting this effort will affect anybody's property values negatively is ludicrous at best.

Second, whether or not one thinks that this mission would be better served by being located elsewhere is completely irrelevant to this discussion and is also likely to be a very uninformed opinion, considering that there is no information available about the specific activities that will occur at this location.

Third, the notion that the developer or anybody else conspired to keep this space off the market for traditional retail tenants is laughable. Property owners and developers obviously prefer to collect rents on their space instead of having it empty and generating no income. Also, brokers only get paid if they find tenants for the spaces they represent.

Is this the best case scenario for usage of this space from a resident's point of view? Obviously not. Is it a potential blight on the community? Obviously not. The bottom line is that "one-off" retail spaces such as these remain a tough sell in much of our neighborhood (and many other areas of DC), especially since they have to compete with more established retail enclaves like Barracks Row as well as the forthcoming Forest City retail in the Yards (which, not coincidentally, took years of effort by a nationally-known developer with a very strong track record in order to come to fruition).

We should therefore be happy that the newly-announced 880 NJ project will have very minimal first floor retail space because it would also likely be vacant for an extended period of time and eventually occupied by a tenant that many area residents would deem to be inadequate for one reason or another.

Eric says: (7/29/11 1:41 PM)
I laugh at the idea of this space bringing in more office workers and staff to support local businesses. Have you seen how many people staff your average medical office/clinic? It's like 4-8. Get real.

Eric says: (7/29/11 1:47 PM)
I'm actually surprised I haven't much yet of the expected retort:

"Why do you hate minorities who have cancer?"

I just think this is a poor location for some very good retail space. Somebody get a hardware store and Loehmann's up in this joint before the empty retail at 909 becomes a zoo for endangered rattlesnakes.

DrRecker says: (7/29/11 2:45 PM)
If they put this clinic and clinical reasearch facility in Ward 7 or Ward 8 then you would have the lines around the block. They would have to aggressively turn away the applicants for paid clinical research. The way it stands now there should not be a problem as long as the research facility provides cab vouchers for the research patients to return home.

SML says: (7/29/11 3:13 PM)
How much do co-op fees run at CHT?

Eric says: (7/29/11 4:08 PM)
too much now, LOL

SBS says: (7/30/11 9:39 AM)
Got to say I disagree with those above about property values. While restaurants are nice to have close by, they produce noise, smoke outside and depending upon the owner and concept, are no assurance of increased property values. Hooters, anyone? A medical facility that seeks to serve and maintain connection with diverse and under-served communities doesn't at all seem like a bad thing: regular business hours when most people are at work make for quiet evenings. Georgetown University is obviously a quality tenant able to pay its bills, thus lends stability, continuity, and for the developer, I'm sure a hefty rent.

While an unexpected choice, on many levels it makes sense and aside from the lack of compassion demonstrated by many comments above (best case, and I won't even mention the more likely worst case interpretation of some remarks) this actually solidifies CHT as a stable investment for the long term. As a shareholder, for once, the developer has done something that not only makes sense for him, but for the individual shareholders. Now if he'd just take down those advertising banners before they cause more damage and repair what's already been done.

I'm sure the few blocks walk to the nightlife that will emerge on the riverfront soon won't hurt anyone, and there might come a day in a busier Near SE when residents are glad to live in a quiet, classy building just a couple blocks away from the hubbub.

I can't believe I'm saying this, but, well done Sheldon.

sgDC says: (8/2/11 10:31 AM)
Got an email from Georgetown today:

This new center will be our home base office for community outreach and engagement activities. We have had in place for the past 2 years a Community Advisory Board that includes residents from the various wards including Ward 6, 7, and 8, who are actively engaged in partnering with us. This space is neither a clinic or treatment center. We propose to hold meetings and conduct healthy lifestyle and cancer education activities.

David Garber says: (8/2/11 10:57 AM)
Hi All,

I finally spoke with the director of Georgetown's minority health and health disparities research office ( link this morning. Although the office will mostly cater to lower-income residents, they chose to locate where they did because of the building's proximity to populations in Southwest, Capitol Quarter, the two neighborhood senior buildings, and eastern areas of Ward 6. This new office will also be much closer to Wards 7 and 8 than their current space at Georgetown University.

I was reassured that this will not be a health clinic, and that it is better to think of it as the research center's "home base" on this side of the city. It will mostly be office space, and employees will spend most of their time outside the office at sites in Wards 6, 7, and 8, facilitating research on environmental health, obesity, and breast cancer research. I was told that no more than five clients would be visiting the office each day -- not as a medical clinic-- but that the space would likely also be used to hold meetings for the center's organizational and community-based task forces/committees.

I will be working with the center going forward, and will work to make sure that any exterior signage highlights its association with Georgetown University. Although this isn't everyone's ideal use for this seemingly prime retail space, I don't foresee this having any more negative affect on neighborhood retail leasing as the empty space has had for the past 5 years. I also anticipate a couple more exciting food-related retail announcements in the near future.

MJM says: (8/2/11 12:40 PM)
Whew disaster averted! ;p

Eric says: (8/2/11 11:46 PM)
Like I said, neutral at best. Forgive me for wanting new retail to ADD to neighborhood appeal. This might not detract, but that sets the bar low, doesn't it?

MJM says: (8/3/11 9:03 AM)
The area around the condo/apartment doesn't have much to begin with anyway for retail - the retail is gonna be Half St (when developed) and The Yards. We will just have to get used to crossing M St for retail.

Eric says: (8/3/11 5:37 PM)
Half street retail? That's like what, 15 years away?

jwg says: (8/7/11 4:14 PM)
Not sure if people are still reading this thread, but here's a question: how is a medical office actually considered "retail?"

jwg says: (8/7/11 4:17 PM)
Er, rather... if not a medical office, then a home base/office space for a research center... anyway, is this really considered retail?

(I could just be clueless here [likely], but I thought that space was zoned for retail. Unless I just don't understand what that necessarily means [entirely possible].)

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