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The Rappaport Companies’ planned redevelopment of a shabby suburban-style mall on H Street NE between 8th and 10th Streets was one of the early big, new projects for the corridor (though Guy Steuart‘s Giant-anchored building got out of the ground on 3rd Street first). Since then, there’s been no movement, even as developers buy up the rest of the street. What is Gary Rappaport waiting for?

Just like everyone else, he’s waiting for the streetcar—-but tracks and a promised start date from the District aren’t good enough. Right now, Rappaport still has to negotiate termination agreements with the tenants currently in the mall, and doesn’t want to lose that rental income before bringing in the kind of retail and restaurants that a functional streetcar would attract. Then, he has to find a joint venture partner to build and own the 350 or so residential units. Neither of those things should be difficult, but Rappaport says he needs certainty before making any moves.

“The most important thing in bringing those two thing together is knowing when the trolley’s going to start,” he told me yesterday. “I can’t lease space now. I have to lease space when there’s a few more buildings up, when the Giant’s open, when there’s a trolley running.”

That’s supposed to be in 2013, but given that the District hasn’t even announced its selection of a firm to finish the design and buildout of a power station, overhead wires, and a maintenance facility, it’s looking increasingly unlikely.