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As a resident of F Street NE, I found your recent article “The Merchants of H Street” (9/29) a bit off the mark. Your belief that H Street will amount to anything other than a blighted commuter highway is amusing. The problem with H Street is much more simple than a north- vs. south-of-H culture; it’s a pure case of supply and demand.
Capitol Hill, with vacancies existing on its more prominent streets, as well as Near Northeast, with vacancies on Florida and in the farmers’ market, are already overserved by mini-storefronts that are underutilized or suffer from neglect. With new retail projects underway in Northeast, you’ll never get a critical mass of development to pull off a revitalization of one of the city’s more notorious voids.
In an ideal world, the retail buildings on H Street would be replaced with park space. A bike trail could run along H Street and link the National Arboretum with the new Capitol Crescent Trail at Union Station. The road would be bounded by trees, basketball courts, and tennis courts. The current merchants could be relocated to fill abandoned space on either Pennsylvania or Florida Avenue. As for the Atlas, how about a bicycle and sporting lending center that accepts old bikes and sporting goods as charity to lend to needy children for use in the park? It could be staffed by city children badly in need of summer jobs.
Build something the two neighborhoods would enjoy together instead of wasting resources on a project that will fail miserably and divide even further.