What to expect from the Hebrew Home renovation

(photo: Wikipedia)

by Robinson Woodward-Burns

Petworth’s old Hebrew Home, which has sat vacant for nearly a decade, is getting closer to reopening as a senior and affordable housing development.

In a January 9th community meeting at the Raymond Recreation Center, developers Victory Housing, Brinshore Development, and the Bank of America Community Development Corporation presented updated plans for the renovation and expansion of the space at 1125 Spring Road, redubbed "Spring Flats." The century-old building housed elderly members of Washington’s Jewish community until 1969, when it was converted to a homeless shelter. The redesigned space will maintain this legacy, with 88 units reserved for affordable senior housing and two-thirds of the remaining 91 additional units as affordable housing.

Through an amendment to zoning maps, the redevelopment was exempted from some local height and zoning restrictions, allowing minor expansion to the existing building’s top floor. Plans for such an exemption have been on the table for some time, and in exchange, the Spring Flats development will offer community benefits, likely including a new bike share docking station, a renovated park facing Spring Road, a space for public art, and a community room accessible from 10th Street. In addition, 10th Street will be re-landscaped and returned to city ownership, with construction contracts promised to DC-based businesses.

During the meeting, the development team addressed concerns from two dozen attendees, mainly local residents interested in how the building’s increased traffic would affect nearby Quebec Place and adjoining alleyways. Nevertheless, George Saunders, a longtime Petworth resident, was pleased to see progress on the building after the failure of several prior redevelopment plans.

Lauren Spokane, another local resident, shared the sentiment: “There has been a lot of frustration on all sides throughout the years the city has tried - and failed - to redevelop this piece of public property…. Based on the first two community input meetings with the development team, I'm very optimistic that the project will both successfully create much-needed affordable housing for our community and also be designed in a way that's as responsive to community input as possible.”

The next community input meeting will be January 13th, 1:30 – 3:30pm, in the Raymond Recreation Center’s Multi-purpose Room.

Robinson Woodward-Burns

Robinson is a native Washingtonian, current Columbia Heights resident, a Woodrow Wilson High School alumnus, and an assistant professor of political science at Howard University, specializing in state and local politics and constitutional law. You can email him with story ideas on DC politics and can learn more about his writing and research on his website.

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