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In November, ARCH Development opened its second Anacostia business incubator, The Hive 2.0, on Good Hope Road SE. The basement level, like its 1.0 cousin around the corner, contains small office and shared spaces at modest rent levels. But the fate of the ground level was an open question, and only about 20 percent of the basement office space is filled. Now, ARCH has decided on a course for the remaining space: It’ll be part arts center and part training space for people looking to get in on the upcoming action at nearby St. Elizabeths, which the city is looking to develop.

“It’s a hybrid,” says ARCH CEO Duane Gautier. “In other words, the top will be an arts center, and the bottom will stay The Hive, but as part of The Hive we will incorporate services for contractors and small businesses interested in taking advantage of the long-term activities taking place at the St. Elizabeths site.”

Gautier says demolition of the interior ground-level space is 80 percent complete, and expects build-out to be finished by the end of April. The arts space will include a small theater and cafe.

Downstairs, Gautier is anticipating funding from the city to assist D.C. residents who are hoping to win contracts for the city’s planned development at the St. Elizabeths East Campus between Anacostia and Congress Heights. Gautier says many of these people might not be familiar with federal contracting standards, so ARCH hopes to help them prepare their accounting for federal audits and earn their Certified Business Enterprise status. Eighty percent of the funding will come from ARCH (in part using funding from the city), with the rest coming from the clients.

Gautier anticipates that the arts space will also be funded partly through a city grant, and partly from renting out the spaces there. The arts/contracting hybrid might appear to be an unnatural mix, but Gautier says, “The whole concept here is taking an underutilized building in Anacostia to do economic development of two varieties.”

For at least one Anacostia organization, the timing couldn’t be better. African Heritage Dancers and Drummers, which trains people in traditional African dance, was evicted from its office on Good Hope Road SE this week for failure to pay rent. Founding Executive Artistic Director Melvin Deal couldn’t immediately be reached for comment, but he recorded a YouTube video lamenting the eviction during Black History Month.

Gautier says he’s temporarily providing Deal with free office space at The Hive 2.0, and hopes to bring him into the arts center once it’s up and running.

Photo by Darrow Montgomery