D.C. celebrates hope for a new future at St. Elizabeth’s Hospital

Kathy Stewart, wtop.com

WASHINGTON – In one D.C. neighborhood desperate for revitalization, the city threw a party Saturday.

Plans are in the works for redeveloping St. Elizabeth’s Hospital, a landmark that could benefit the local community.

“This will create new job opportunities, new hope and new outcomes,” says D.C. Mayor Vince Gray, talking about the master plan for redeveloping the hospital’s east campus.

The master plan has already been approved by the city with input from residents. A zoning hearing is scheduled for October, according to Ethan Warsh, project manager with D.C.’s Office of the Deputy Mayor for Planning and Economic Development.

The mayor was one of the speakers at Saturday’s event, the second summer celebration festival held at the hospital site in Southeast D.C. The mayor says redevelopment is desperately needed in Ward 8, especially with an unemployment rate in parts of the city at 20 percent.

Warsh says the purpose for the St. Elizabeth’s summer celebration is to bring people to the campus to show them its beauty, opportunity and potential. He says it’s a 180-acre site with 90 acres of development and 16 historic buildings.

The plan calls for a mixed-use community that would include between 1,000 to 2,000 residential units, 3/4 of a mile of retail stores and a supermarket, which the community hasn’t had since 1998.

Warsh says the historic buildings would be ideal for housing a university or some type of school. He says they could leverage the Congress Heights Metro stop that’s already there.

If the zoning commission approves the master plan by next summer, Warsh says they should be breaking ground soon.

Michael Segal, executive director of the Ward 8 Farmers Market, says even though the market’s been open since July 7, today was like the grand opening.

“[Customers] are a little surprised to find that they are allow through this gate behind me, which has been locked shut for the last 30 years,” he says. “People are just very excited to be in here.”

He says the market is sponsored by the city’s Office of the Deputy Mayor for Planning and Economic Development.

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